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New Lighting Board

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by LCTLight, Oct 20, 2003.

  1. LCTLight

    LCTLight Member

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    Hello all!!!

    Another question from me....yes it is a long one....have to keep with my style.

    I need to ask an opinion question of all of you. Please respond as completely as possible as I am putting together some ideas for a presentation to the executive director of my theatre.

    My community theatre is finally in a position where we can, and really need to, update our lighting control. We have a total dimmer capacity of 80 I believe, although we only technically have 56 circuits to plug in to on our rigging. Currently we are using an outdated NSI 7232 board. It is a board that a rep friend of mine referred to as a "DJ Board". In other words it is designed for a DJ setting rather than a theatrical setting. The board limits us in what we can do lighting-wise in our theatre because of its limited sub-masters, efx, etc. We do not use any intel lighting, it is all fixed, the usual fresnels, ellipsoidals, and a few cyc's as well as a scoop or two now and then. The board is beginning to have some problems. The rheostats are wearing out and we have a few channels that won't turn off, etc. I real nightmare. Our chase slider has some problems as well. from 1 - 100 is almost non-existant as it jumps to 100 when you so much as bump it off the bottom, and it has a mind of its own and won't hold a particular setting once you actually get it there....it jumps from 100 to 300 to 120, randomly. Anyway, suffice to say it either needs sent back to the factory for an tune-up or we need to something different.

    We rent our space from our a local club. Not ideal, but we are getting by. The current board is actually property of the club that owns the building and they generally refuse to spend any money unless absolutely necessary....."necessary" as determined by themselves of course. What we would like to do is buy a control system that we would own ourselves and maintain ourselves, and leave the current board with them for their needs. We also don't particularly want to "share" it with the club, so I have to consider being able to take it with me to storage once the show is complete. Since we are a community theatre, we would also like to have something that is easy for ANYONE to run.

    We are considering 2 options. Updating to a newer board such as the Colortran Innovator 24/48, or going with a computer and software package.

    I have looked into several lighting design and control softwares. WYSIWIG, Capture, and a number of others, but the one that I am liking the most is Everest 3D. I would like to couple this with Horizon for the control software since the two of them work together, and Horizon seems to be a relatively simple software.

    Can any of you tell me which you have seen and which you like best, as well as any recommendations that you might have. Any pitfalls or successes with any of the above mentioned items? Are there any considerations that I haven't mentioned above? Any ideas, suggestions, hints, tips, that any of you could provide would be most appreciated.

    Thanks everyone, looking forward to hearing from you.
     
  2. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Hiya, couple more questions for you--Do you have a budget in mind for this new console? PC based consoles while they can be fun--IMO they can be a hap-hazard thing for professional day after day use and ease for guests to use. Any planned upgrades to new fixtures or dimmers or movers/scrollers in the future? Do you want something to do cues with timing, or a two-scene preset style of console with lots of programmable subs? The ETC express consoles work well for small app's like yours and thats what I usually suggest to community theater groups as its easy to use.

    -wolf
     
  3. LCTLight

    LCTLight Member

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    Wolf-

    There are some plans in the not so distant future to upgrade fixtures. The fixtures themselves are owned by us so that is something we have some control over. The dimmers and circuits to the dimmers are how shall I say.....a part of the building if you know what I mean and getting the this club to do anything about it or spend any money on it whatsoever is like getting oil from a water spout or vice versa. I don't even have rigging that allows me to drop the bars. I have to climb a 14' ladder to hang and focus everything....major pain....

    My budget for the new system at this point isn't really set, but I have some rough ideas for where we are headed and I believe it's safe to say the $2,000 - $4,000 range. There may be more there may be less, it will kind of depend on if we want to update some badly outdated fixtures at the same time or not. Movers and scrollers could be in the future for our theatre, but I don't think immediate future. I want to be open to that possibility however as well. At least keep it in mind as something to think about.

    I think we want to move more towards a greater number of subs and timing cues and away from the push button scenes. I would much rather have a regular two scene preset style with a number of sub-masters and cues to program, however, I am definitely open to suggestions. I am fortunate enough to have 11 intels and 35 fixed fixtures out my church with a brand new Innovator 48/96. I'm kind of partial to the pages and pages of sub-masters. Like I said before, I'm just getting this thing going so I am open to all suggestions.

    Thanks for your time wolf, I look forward to your comments and suggestions. Oh, and on the computer stuff. I'm thinking laptop. We take it with us. We are the ONLY ones who get to use it, and we leave the board that is about to die to them.
     
  4. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Long stuff is fine in my opinion. It lets the people reading understand what you are talking about.

    In addition to the ETC line, Jands makes some good small boards we use, in addition to a wealth of other companies such as Leprecon/CAE or yuck Strand. Expressing, Obsession, Express, Insite, Response,Celco. Colortran is owned by the same company Levition, that makes and owns NSI now. Not saying either are a bad company - it's good equipment, just needs maintinence as would anything else or that there are not differences between the brands but it's a side note.

    Too bad that they won't go in for their board to get in for a maintinence call - that would be simple. Perhaps they are waiting for you to split the bill or offer to pay for it, might be worth it. It's supposted to be in for a cleaning as well as the dimmers every year.

    In buying this light board, you might want to ensure what language it's going to be speaking to your dimmers. If a NSI board, it's either going to be DMX protocol or NSI Microplex. Both will not speak to each other without sn adaptor that cost $100.00+ each. Thus keep in mind a NSI board, they are making a bunch of controllers that are more set up for stage noe, and are good quality as long as you maintain them, for a reasonable price as new.

    If you go other brand, I would go onto a used lighting website either something that's web based and only sells used lights, or one of any number of companies that do lighting which are selling off their used light boards, or E-Bay and get something used.
    Light Broker.com (Used Lights & Equipment Distributor)
    http://www.lightbroker.com/index.htm
    Light Monger (Used Lighting Equipment Distributor)
    http://www.lightmonger.com/
    Used Lights.com (Used Lighting Equipment Distributor)
    http://www.usedlighting.com/
    Used Intelligent Lighting .com (Used Lighting Equipment Distributor)
    http://www.usedintelligentlighting.com

    It will save a lot of money even if not the most recent version of it, and if from a lighting company such as Bash/Fourth Phase, it will probably be in good servicable condition especially as equipment with the larger companies because of in-house service departments. Buy something from some theater comany that's going out of business or upgrading, and it's a 50/50 chance, same with some lighting companies that what you get will be on it's last legs. Could have been used and abused before sold. If Bash and other places with a reputation and name for themselves however, and they are anywhere like ours, what you get will be at very least what we would feel comfident in using if not factory spec. Such places have factory qualified service departments that will service the equipment upon the first notice of a problem, not try to sell it off when it's developing them.

    All that said, I personally have a bit of a worry about PC light boards. Don't know what it is, but I assure you that if they were that functional or easy to do a show with, each of our crew chiefs would be using them since they are already equipped with laptops from the company. Such things have Vectorworks and AutoCadd installed on them, and sometimes WisiWig, but no attempt is made to run a show off them. Fact is that they probably are going to be much more difficult to program for a real show and any virus you should pick up while surfing the web might just make you loose your show. Plus there is theft. The PC based computer while ideal for Disney with it's same scenes month to month, year to year, running a show off a PC, probably would fine, but not work on your level when trying to compensate for when an actor does not his his or her mark or when a fixture is out. It probably would not be a good idea. (F key does what, or transferring screend on a single laptop to that which you need to be in is not very easy while in live mode.) So much for surfing porn while running the show.

    Any light board that has been produced withing say the last 15 years should be fine for your level of theater. No offense, but I made magic with a 24 channel two scene preset TTI board given it had a patch panel and a few extra dimmers on the side. Having a hundred faders, and self patching is a luxory not necessity for art. That indipendant switch mode - as if another fader/group control came in really useful.

    As long as you take out the light board itself, I'm sure you can install and leave in place the monitiors you will also need for a quality and easy to use board. Just take away the light board itself, perhaps even the NSI board will benefit from the use of your monitors. In that way, even a old ETC Vision if not their Vision Lite or what ever it's called would suffice and be very easy to program and control. Just in the case of the Vision, ensure that it's got the latest upgrade and that it does not have corrupt memory. Something like a 30day play test before you pay should suffice. Good and simple light board, easy to learn and very usable for your application for it's going price. That's what I would recommend for a good basic light board that should be easy to use and take away for a good cost.

    I'm not talking about a Kliegl Preformer II here, it might be last generation lighting, but it did a lot of good work than and can still do good work now.

    Than again, my light board experience is limited in other than two scene preset.

    Hope anything above helps. Current light boards are not my specialty. DMX protocol programming gives me hives.
     
  5. LCTLight

    LCTLight Member

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    Ship-

    Thank you for your comments, I really appreciate your suggestions and references. I will definitely look into those things.

    On a side note, I am pretty sure the language we are using is the proprietary NSI language/microplex. However, we have a NSI IF501 protocol coverter unit and everything that I read assures me that it will convert anything to anything, it's just a matter of setting the jumpers and dip-switches correctly. Since that is the case, I am not very concerned with the protocol, mostly just that I get the most bang for my buck if you know what I mean. I want the best possible board for my situation for the least amount of money.

    Part of the problem that we have with our current situation is that the club we rent from had the board worked on last fall. It worked fairly well for about 3 months, and then we started to have problems again. I understand that the most economical solution would be to send it in to NSI and have a $200-$400 workover. The only problem is that as I said before, getting this club to spend any money on the lighting is nearly impossible. To them, if the lights come up, what's the problem. They also have 2 NSI wall stations in the auditorium, and honestly, they suffice for most of what they do, so they just don't see the need.

    I guess that's why we are wanting to do something on our own. That way we have more control over its maintenance, etc.

    I've read various things on the different brands and it is very difficult to comprehend the differences in boards and brands. I know that each board has its own little nuances and "extra features", but to me, they all seem to do about the same thing. I would guess brand preference is based mostly on prior experience. I haven't heard just a whole lot of good things about leprechaun and strand. The biggest complaint I've heard about Strand is that you pay too much for not nearly as much. I guess I'm partial to the Innovator because I have one at church that I already know how to run. Plus, I do like the multiple submaster function. Our current board has 4 submasters.....2 of which only work if you're having a VERY good day.

    I will look into these other brands and check the websites and look at some various boards. Perhaps you and some of the others can give me some insight as to the differences between boards/brands. It appears that both you and wolf aren't a fan of the software idea so I guess I will table that idea unless someone else would like to talk about it.

    Thanks for your help, I look forward to your continued comments, as well as any insight from others..
     
  6. lnut

    lnut Member

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    Leprecon makes excellent low end manual control consoles, they are good for hands on control for running lights for bands. If you are going to do theatre then I would not go any lower than the LP1500 because you can insert point cues and see the status of the channel levels in each cue. The big drawback though is that you are limited in the number of channels. If you buy a 24 channel two scene board, then that is all you have-24 channels. If you were to add moving lights or scrollers later, than you are not going to have the channels to run them.

    The nex step up are the low end memory consoles. These have the monitor, disk drive and hand held remote capability. The NSI/colortran Innovater is an exellent board for price and features but it is rather bulky if you need a compact board. Another drawback is the Innovater does not have an off-line editor like the ETC and Strand consoles.

    The ETC express line of consoles has also been very popular but the drawback here is the express line of consoles does not allow you to plug a keyboard in to label your cues and the board has a trackpad for moving light control that can be a little bit clumsy to use.

    Even though Strand has been given a bad rap for being difficult to use there 300 series console has a lot of features for the price. With their 24/48 version 300 console, you get a two scene preset board with 24 submasters just like the NSI/Colortran Innovater and the ETC Express consoles. Plus you can operate the console in memory mode with 50 channels(dimmers) and 50 attribute(for moving lights) channels. The board can also be upgraded if needed in the future to 600 channels. In memory mode you get all the features available to you as their top of the line consoles. You can also plug in a wired or wireless remote.

    A lot of this is personal opinion, so you are better off going to the websites of Leprecon, ETC, NSI/Colortran, Strand, and any other manufacture and check them out for yourself. If they have an offline editor, then try them out, they will give you an idea of how the console will operate.

    Good Luck
     
  7. fishyswishy

    fishyswishy Member

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    HAHA old light boards. let me explain my theory on useless P.O.S. Lighting consoles. call up some old techies from your school tell them to bring a bat or light bar base and have some fun with the board. Just alittle anger management. then afterwords take the remains and frame acouple of the pieces. I highly recomend it. :twisted:
     
  8. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    What's a light bar base? All the bars I know of such as a lamp bar are things that are normally mounted horizontally with clamps. Are you thinking a Boom Base which would be a standard term for the theater.

    As for the rest of the trash talk theory that could result in you and the other "old techie" cohorts getting criminal charges of destruction of property and vandalism should you not get permission to do so, since it is assumed that you would not be the owner of the property. Not smart or recommended, much less something to brag about here where someone might get the wrong idea from your joke or figure out who was responsible for the act.

    I highly recommend not doing this to put it lightly.
     
  9. Lampy

    Lampy Member

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    I'm sorta in the same boat here, so I'll post on this thread instead of starting a new one...

    I've currently been conned into teaching a tech course at my old high school. The problem I'm having, is there is no board for me to teach the students...
    for the past three years, the board in residence is a Hog-500, which is a nice board, but has several major flaws in this situation, the biggest hurdle being;
    The school is only equipped with generics, all supplied by Strand [fresnelite 6" and 8" as well as lekos of an undeterminable series], apparently a strand 200 series board [shows you how old this set-up was] also came with the package... where it went to I couldn't tell you. The dimmer is a CD80 SV

    This board is a bit overkill for this set-up, and is almost imposible to use in a basic teaching enviroment. It would be great to teach to advanced students, but I'm starting ground-up here.
    I was taught on the Hog-500, and when I went out into the field I had to reteach myself to program without all the shortcuts of a nicer board.

    I need some suggestions on a board that's somewhat affordable, with good generic capabilities, as well as be able to handle intelligent lights [updating our fixtures is next on my list] that is good to teach on [meaning not a complete breeze while also not impossible... ]
    I have been looking into ETC's smaller boards, as well as Zero 88 [of which I have not seen any opinions about on this thread]
    As much as I despise Strand, would it be safer at all to go with one of their consoles seeing as they supplied the set-up?

    also, if anyone has good suggestions on some good teaching reference sites, I need all the help I can get...

    thanks much!
     
  10. wolf825

    wolf825 Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Hiya, well I would say this is a great teaching reference sites ;). However there are a few resources you can check out in the LINKS area and on places like LightNetwork and Prosoundweb.com in their lighting forums that could also be of help. In general tho--if you have any questions you are welcome to post them here and we can try our best to answer and provide suggestions for you.

    In reference to the other question about consoles, ETC is a fairly standard console around the industry and easy to learn on. Strand while a bit more on the programming heavy is also a good console to be aware of. The more various console programming skills you can know the better and more flexible a tech you will be--so don't limit yourself to just one console manufacturer if you can learn more, or if you can get some local company's to sponsor or demo a console to your students for a day and have then get a few keystrokes in you can get a variety of experiences going for you and your students. The Zero88 is a console I have not used yet so I can't comment on. I agree that having a Hog500 while is NICE, but having no movers to use with it is not. The Hog 500 is a shake-down version of the Hog--which you will find is a fairly standard console in the industry. Differences between programming a Hog 500 and a Hog are the added key-strokes and menu's you have to sift thru on a Hog 500 to get things done as opposed to the Hog which has the touch screens and shortcuts. Its much more limited then a full blown Hog 1000 or a Whole Hog...but still its giving you the skills and ideas of how different manufacturers create their command structure language to program those consoles. All is helpful...

    I'd stick with seeing if you can get your students a Strand or ETC first, and save the bells & whistles boards for later. Many company's if you can make some friends there will be glad to do a "demo" of a console or two at your school...or if you have a small class see if you can get a field trip going to the company and show them around and get a few lessons on some things for them. Some companys are glad to do this kind of stuff in the dead-times of the season, and some of the sales guys will make the time and efforts if they think they can add your school to their list of sales clients and you will buy a board or gear from them. Worth a few calls at the very least--plus it gives you a few different boards to consider for purchasing.

    Hope this helps...
    -wolf
     
  11. cruiser

    cruiser Active Member

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    I recommend a Jands Event 36 or 48.

    In Australia, almost every school has an Event, They are a great al round console, they are programmable, stackable, have external monitors and are able to do moving lights.

    I have a Event 24 of my own, and absolutely love it!!
     
  12. Lightingguy32

    Lightingguy32 Active Member

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    I would recommend an ETC Express 24-48 or 48-96. Both boards are extremely easy to learn how to use and program and have very flexible set up options. Both boards use one external monitor. The Express 24-48 can control a maximum of 96 channels. The Express 48-96 can control at most 192 channels. The 24-48 has two banks of 24 faders per bank. Depending on which mode the board is in, the bottom bank of 24 faders are either channel faders or submasters. The 48-96 has 2 banks of 48 faders each for channel control of 96 channels and unlike the 24-48, it has 24 independent submaster faders. Both boards give you 10 pages of submaster memory.
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    If your budget is in the $2k-$4k range you can't afford an ETC Express or any of the new Strand consoles. You might be able to afford something from the ETC Smart fade series... which you should take a good look at.

    If you are willing to go used I would try to find a used ETC Express, or Strand 300 in your price range. You will get so much more power and bang for your buck with either of these consoles. I believe they all run over $7k new but used you should be able to find something down in your price range.

    Also keep in mind the ETC Express series is about to be replaced by the new ETC ION. It looks like ION will be introduced at LDI in the Fall and start shipping next winter. There might be an opportunity to get a really good closeout deal on a new Express when that change over happens. So start sweet talking your dealer.

    Trying to not start the NSI war again...
    There are some around here who feel that NSI makes a quality low budget product. And their top consoles are in your price range and quite a step up in abilities. There are others around here (Van) who feel that wouldn't trust an NSI console as a boat anchor... even if it is gafftaped securely to the back of a Mac.

    I'm a big fan of Horizon as a solution. It's not as easy as having a bunch of sliders right in front of you to grab and go, but with the submaster wing panel, it's a great option. It's cheap and powerful. You might want to consider the Marquee P.C. it's a variation of the Horizon software.
     
  14. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    It' s comforting that I can leave it( the program, PC's and lights) alone for a year and then come back and be up and running in two minutes flat.
    It's very user friendly!
     
  15. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    This thread is from three years ago, just to state the obvious. I don't see a point in this, because many other and more recent light board recommendation threads exist if you want to post a new view on a board.
     
  16. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    CRAP... got suckered in again by an old thread. I hate when that happens. That's why I started the other recent thread was to put a bunch of good information in one easy to find space that is focused on just what people like.
     
  17. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    This is why I hate necro posts. It really doesn't help anyone. If you have something to say, start a new thread instead of trying to help someone that is LONG gone.
     
  18. lighttechie5948

    lighttechie5948 Active Member

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    I think that you should get an ETC Express 125 or an ETC Express 250. The 125 gives you 125 channels, the 250 gives you 250 channels. I would stay away from the 24/48, 48/96, and the 72/144, because you don't need an indiviual fader for each channel. My High school 4 years ago (before i was the LD) installed a Express 72/144 and Now i think it was a waste of money, it is soo hughe it requries like 3 people to carry it, and it has 240 channels, we could have gotten the Express 250 and gained 10 channels and saved 2,000 dollars.

    Also, If you have extra money try and get color scrollers and moving lights. Thay help so much at the community theatre i work at because you don't need to have additional strips or Pars to get More Color, and you still can get more color than if you had strips all over the stage. And as for Moving Lights you don't need to hang more lights as specials.
     
  19. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't recommend using pc control unless

    a: you have mostly moving lights
    b: you are doing mostly party type stuff (dances, etc.).

    If you have mostly conventionals, you'll want access via faders and most pcs don't offer that, unless you spend the money and get a fader board that can run into the pc. Lightjockey can accept dmx in, so you could attach a dmx fader board into it. But the one time I tried it there was a lag between fader and dimmer that was quite noticable. May have been something else, I never got a chance to diagnose it.
     

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