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New Lighting Desk

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by inspector_gizmo, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. inspector_gizmo

    inspector_gizmo Member

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    Hey everybody,

    I need some help, I have to spec a new lighting equipment, and my usual position is sound. My director has asked me to research a new lighting desk for our small theatre (~250 maximum capacity). He wants a desk that we can use well into the future, i.e. capable of supporting 100 instruments or so, intels, color scrollers, and our current 12 channels of conventional dimming. He also wants a desk that can be programmed with cues and all of that (midi would be nice, but not required). The last thing is that we have about $7000 to buy the new desk and accessories.

    In doing some research of the desks our vendor has to offer, I settled on a few. 1) The Rosco Horizon computerized lighting controller, 2) Martin Light Jockey, 3) A couple of desks from lepricon, and 4) a couple of desks from etc. If anybody has any other suggestions, I am open to hear them, and if anybody has had any experience with the above desks, I wouldn't mind hearing that too.

    Remember that I can't spec anything too much more than $7000 in total, and my director would love if we had some extra cash to buy additional equipment. I also would love it if i could get a quick reply because my director has to make a final decision by friday.

    Thank you in advance for all of your help, and I look foward to your reply.
     
  2. JP12687

    JP12687 Active Member

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    I would look into the ETC Express line, maybe a 48/96. I believe they run around $6k-7k, but i'm not sure.

    ETC makes good boards they are very adaptable and a good base.Its also a great board to learn on
     
  3. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    Strand 300. there are a few topics around here dealing with that.
     
  4. jyenish

    jyenish Member

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    I'd go with the ETC if you ever want to use WYSIWYG. They are great pieces of equiptment and with all that's packed into them they will be functional for several years.

    I have been running shows off of a Colortran Innovator for the last few years so pretty much anything is better that what I have.

    Plus ETC will usually work with you to get to know your space and needs and P.T.O once they know what you need.

    By the way P.T.O = Price To Order
     
  5. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    With a budget of up to 7K - I would be asking for some demos or at least talking to the suppliers to see if what they have to offer is really going to suite your needs.

    7K is a lot to blow on a bad decision.

    You said that you had narrowed your choice down to four and I am wondering if you would mind sharing your methods/reasons for placing those at the top of your list, and discounting the others as either not suitable, or out of budget (I assume that would be the starting point).

    This will allow us to better understand your needs and desires and may also turn up some alternatives that you had not considered.

    By the way - how many channels do you think you will need, given the desire to run over 100 fixtures (including) intels?
     
  6. koncept

    koncept Active Member

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    I use the strand 300 series in 2 theaters, You can use WYSIWYG on both of them using WYSIWYG Pro, its an aditional program. I have yet to use a WYSIWYG program. I hear they are nice but cannot speak from experience.

    I wouldn't mind the etc series, they look nice...
     
  7. jonhirsh

    jonhirsh Active Member

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    Umm if you want to controll movers i will just point out that using an etc express is not the gratest of choices it can be done but is a real pain in the arse. like i said it can be done but its really not ment to do it all though they tell you it is. As well there is the moving desks by zero 88 the frog range although i hate these boards with a passion and would never spec one on my show they are quite inexpensive and have a tiny itsy bitsy bit more functionalaty when it comes to movers then a Etc. Express. think of an Fat frog as a Jands ESP II with a chicklet controller for movers. I have used light jocky and for theatre its not so great it works and is far better then the two previous for movers but if you were to use conventionals i would get an express.


    I would say your best bet is to rent till you have 14 or 19 grand and buy a used hog2 which will controll your movers your conventionals and anything else you could throw at it but hey not all of us are that patient we want gear now...

    JH
     
  8. inspector_gizmo

    inspector_gizmo Member

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    First of all, thank you to all of you with your quick responses, I knew I could count on all of my fellow CBers.

    I have heard some bad things about Strand consoles, but then again I might have read posts wrong or whatnot, this is the reason as to why I did not list a Strand desk.

    Mayhem I couldn't agree with you more, 7K is a lot to blow on a bad decision which is why I came here, and I am also going to contact our vendor tomorrow and see what they would suggest. Secondly, I narrowed my choices down to the four because our vendor doesn't have a ton of selection, and we are stuck with this vendor because we have been using them for years, and they offer us an educational discount. In addition to issues with the vendor, I'm a computer guy and I thought that using a PC based system would give us flexability for the future in both control of various instruments and position of the lighting board. (our booth is very small.) As a side note, I thought that if we had a PC based system, we could move lighting to FOH using just a laptop, a network connection, and software like pc anywhere for shows in which we are low on crew.

    The above systems in addition to the two other systems I listed are ultimately affected by price. My director suspects that we are not going to see this much money for a while so he is trying to milk the cash cow for all its worth so to speak. Most of the control systems that I have looked at are all in the 3-6K range which leaves us money for some other things.

    Honestly, I don't know all that much about lighting, I know the simple stuff, but when it comes down to it, I have a simple knowlege which I aquired from CB. I just looked at the manual for the express off the etc website and I was beginning to get a headache trying to figure it all out. This is why I looked to people on CB to help me out.

    When I said 100 fixtures it was a sort of dream number. Right now we have about 24 fixtures that are, I believe a mixture of conventionals that are all about 500 Watts each going into 12 1Kw channels run by an analog board. I know my director in the future wants somewhere around 100 fixtures in the end, but that probably translates to 75 channels worth of dimming at max. Forgive me if I don't make sense, I don't know lighting vocabulary as well as sound.

    Intels were only a dream, I doubt my school will ever have the kind of money to buy something decent like a Mac, color scrollers on the other hand is a pretty good posability, so I do need a system that can control those.

    I would love to have a hog II, I have seen it in action, and its a beautiful desk, but when I showed my director the price, he nearly passed out. I would think the hog II would be a waste at my theatre too because I doubt many of the students at my school would be able to program it, and all of its advanced features would just go to waste. Renting and waiting isn't really an option because our board is really old (I think its from the early 80's) and is starting to slowly die.

    To wrap up, we need a system that can control all of our conventionals and probably a few color scrollers in the future. Intels are a bonus, but they arn't a requirement. It needs to be able to be programmed easily because I will be leaving in 2 years and I'm the one who usually works with all the new equipment. (This is the reason why I liked light jockey and the Rosco system because if I had to, I could program the show at home easily.) Lastly, it must be under $7000 no matter how much I wish we could have an ETC expression or a hog II.

    From everybody's replys, it seems I will be recommending an ETC express to my director after talking to the vendor. Thanks for everybody's help, and I will be happy to answer any more questions.

    P.S. If somebody wants to recommend a specific express to me, I would love that too because I don't understand the whole 96/48 thing.

    ...And I am sorry for such a long reply.
     
  9. jonhirsh

    jonhirsh Active Member

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    Um the way the express boards are numberd is this

    24/48 means there are 24 chanels of controll with an a/b preset type of style so you can have one thing going on in A and then preset something in B and then reveal B and preset something in A i would guess that your analog board is a two scene preset board.

    But the second number 48 means that in wide mode it can controll 48 chanels of dimming it is used more in programing then it is in a live show. it is used manly for cue stack style work. it conversts the second row of faders into its own chanels for example A would be 1 to 24 B would be 25 to 48


    depending on the type of shows you do you need to choose how many chanles you will need in the end and how you will be using the board

    i think you would be best with a 72/144 this means you have 72 chanels of faders in two secen mode and 144 in wide mode now you said you might have 75 later its best to buy a bigger board and work into it then find out you didnt get enough. and if you do get movers they do take up a fair bit of chanles. one light can use up to 22 chanels so your best to get a big board if thats a posibliity in the future.



    You mentiond that you have a board that is anaoloug now and it controlls analog dimmers just a question i pose can your dimmers take DMX if not you may need to get a converter or replace your dimmer beach with brand new ones.


    JH
     
  10. lights11964

    lights11964 Member

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    seriously check out the ETC express Boards. they come in three sizes for your differing needs. we have an express 48/96 and we love it. you cant go wrong with an express. (o god i sound like a salesman) haha
     
  11. inspector_gizmo

    inspector_gizmo Member

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    Thank you for clearing up the Express numbering, I tend to make things harder than they need to be, and I suppose I think that way too, which is why I couldn't understand their rather simple numbering scheme. :roll: Now that I thnink about things, our analog board is a two scene preset board. Which is another reason as to why I want something simple because I doubt our LD will want to learn anything much harder than our current setup.

    As for our dimmer packs, One of them is fairly new (and can accept dmx) and the other is old, but I already thought of the DMX input situation, and I found some dealers who offer DMX converters. Once I acquire a DMX converter, I doubt it will be much of a problem to connect it because I am fairly proficient with a soldiering iron and other tools.

    Thank you for all of your advice and foward thinking, people thinking ahead and helping others is what betters the online community.
     
  12. propmonkey

    propmonkey Well-Known Member

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    the new strand 300 memory boards come with wyswyg. i have used etc boards and general dislike them. everyone says its so hard to run intels on them. i love strand i plan to use them as much as i can in the future. its easy to control intels and scrollers and such. hell i patched a few intels(not having any) when i was board one day. with the strand xconnect you can run it from a laptop in the middle of your house.for a Strand 300 48/96 youre looking at about $5g+- depending who your vendor is. yeah you should stay loyal to your vendor but it comes down to rpice and selection. please look into the Strand 300 more.
     
  13. koncept

    koncept Active Member

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    I would have to agree with propmonkey. The strand series is very nice. I have never had any problems, and find it very easy to patch intels in on it
     
  14. Mayhem

    Mayhem Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    Loyalty to a specific supplier is a nice thing and hopefully you are rewarded for this loyalty. I too have a couple of vendors that I use and recommend over others and ensure that I get the best price. However, I certainly look around for comparative products and prices. Most of the time there is no comparison but it doesn’t hurt to explore all your options. As such, I would advise that you do explore other vendors to see what they recommend and can offer you. You will probably stick with the person that you are currently using but it good to know what else is out there. You may find that your vendor can get the same gear in but may not actually stock it.

    I agree with jonhirsh in saying that get as many channels as you can afford to as it is easier to fill empty channels. Not so easy to come at the problem in reverse.

    With regards to the DMX converters - send a PM to DMXtools, or contact him via his web site http://www.dmx-tools.com/. He builds and sells DMX converters and from what I understand, his prices are very good and he looks after controlbooth members.
     
  15. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Some thoughts:

    1) How important is reliablility and service ?. In this area ETC takes all prizes for consoles that rarely fail, are easy to service and easy to get a rental replacement.

    2) Or, are you not as worried, but would like better functionality for movers, scrollers, etc.. Strand does a very good job here, just has mediocre service. As others have stated, the 300 series is a lot of console for the buck, though don't get fooled by the new Strand agreement with Cast (WYSIWYG). I have had a Strand 520i demo and was underwhelmed by how Strand has incorporated WYSIWYG into the consoles. Yes, you get 3D visual, but you CANNOT do off-line editing of the console data, WITHOUT having the console linked - I.E., the console is doing all the editing, WYSIWYG is just doing the visualization.

    This is MUCH different then ETC/Emphasis, where the console is WYSIWYG and which allows off-line editing and show creation without the faceplate (main lighting desk).

    Problem is, Express 24/48 PLUS entry level Emphasis (2D/500 ch.) puts you in the $8,000 range, but probably has the greatest future expansion.

    3) Others:
    - Horizon. Great in theory, fairly reliable, does theatrical cueing very well. Is a poor ML programmer.

    - Leprecon: Nice stuff, generally reliable, but only one service center. Never seen the newer ML controllers, but I once owned a LP1500 and loved the programming syntax.

    - Martin Light Jockey: Cool console. Very intuitive. Very difficult for hands on stuff as it's all on the display. Good ML system, but not as intuitive for theatrical style cuing.

    My $.02

    SB
     
  16. koncept

    koncept Active Member

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    I was able to do off-line editing with the cast software, but since i do not have a console, I am not sure as to how well it realy worked.
     
  17. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    koncept wrote:

    "I was able to do off-line editing with the cast software, but since i do not have a console, I am not sure as to how well it realy work"

    True, but mu understanding was that with all the cue info residing in the console, in Strand format, without a console, you have nothing to save.

    Note that this isn't unusual with WYG, which originally (and still does for all I know) requires SOME form of console to generate DMX, unless your using WYG Perfom.

    FWIW, this is different then Emphasis in that WYG is the core of Emphasis, thus anything done off-line is in Emphasis format. Note sure though if you can use Emphais offline AND visualize at the same time in WYG.

    SB
     
  18. MSwan

    MSwan Member

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    I haven't really used any current Strand boards but I can say that most bigger houses on the East Coast use the ETC line of consoles (in my experience at least). I would take a look at the Expression 3 as it can handle 400 channels min. and has a Moving Light Module that can be purchased at a later date (when you actually have some movers). It is a bit higher in price but perhaps your educational discount will bring it into budget range (ETC will sometimes help schools). This would also allow any students that want to go on and do theatre professionally the chance to work with the standard brand for theatre. ETC boards are not the best for on the fly type shows but for most theatre shows with only a few movers they are one of the best. When you have lots of movers I prefer the Hog II but it has a learning curve from h**l.

    http://www.etcconnect.com/products/products.asp?3

    just my preference.
     
  19. RonaldBeal

    RonaldBeal Active Member

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    Throughout the 1980's, Strand pretty much dominated the theatrical lighting console market with the LightPallette family of consoles. Colortran was a distant second. These days it seems Colortran is fairly rare, and ETC has supplanted Strand in the console market. Don't get me wrong, I Like Strand (and in fact own a Strand Mantrix II console,) but for students I would recomend an ETC desk. I have been touring constantly for the last ten years and played almost every major venue world wide. I've seen small theaters and major arenas. I would say, currently ETC outnumbers strand 10 to 1. (strictly a guessimate.) Most of the lighting vendors I deal with have loads of ETC consoles and 1 or 2 Strands. If you learn an ETC desk, there is a greater chance you'll see one again.
    Hope this helps, and good luck
     
  20. inspector_gizmo

    inspector_gizmo Member

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    Thanks for everybody's opinion,

    I gave my director my suggestion today, a Strand 300 125 Channel 24 Submaster light board. It's up to him in the end, but after much discussion with a few friends of mine who are LDs, this forum post, and some internet surfing I decided upon the 300. I read the manual for the Strand and I think its the best for us. I did take a long look at the ETC, but I think in the interest of discounts and ease of use for the future, the Strand is better for us.

    Ronald, what you have said surprises me because in doing my research I have seen a lot of strand and not a lot of ETC. Most of the people I know either own a strand or use a Hog II. However, I do not have the experience of someone like you who has toured the world, I only know what the houses around me in CA are using.

    Thank you all once again for the great input and suggestions, they helped lead me in the right direction. I now know to go to CB whenever I need advice.
     

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