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Programming Moving Lights on an ETC Express(ion)

Discussion in 'Collaborative Articles' started by Grog12, Jun 17, 2009.

  1. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Denver, CO
    While certainly not anyone's first choice, the ETC Express can be, and is used for programming Moving Lights.

    Getting Started
    1. Make sure you have the User's Manual for the moving light handy, as well as the User Manual for your particular model of Express. The Expression3 manuals, especially the "v3.1 Supplement," are useful as well, as, although the hardware is different, the software is the same/similar.

    2. Know how many control channels are available to you on your console, as well as how many channels all the devices you intend to control require.
    Each moving light is going to eat up at least 12 of those control channels, if not more. Make sure you or the designer plans for this when channeling conventionals and deciding on the number of moving lights. The 24/48 has 96 patchable control channels, the 48/96 has 192 patchable control channels, the 72/144 has 240 patchable control channels, and the 125 and 250 have the stated number of control channels (125 and 250 respectively). In short, the two scene preset console have far fewer faders than channels. The danger is, though, that if you have a full 96 rack on a 48/96 console, you cannot have more than 96 channels of moving lights. And with some moving lights taking upwards of 30 channels, those 96 other channels disappear fast, and you may have to twofer some things.

    3. Make sure you have updated your console to the latest software version. Current software versions can be found in the downloads area of ETC's site,

    4. If using a fixture not among the six or eight fixtures included with the desk, one must obtain or create the proper personality file (having the extension ".prs"). Most fixtures are capable or being used in more than one mode, and the file must match exactly the mode. Personalities for many fixtures can be found on the ETC site here. To create one's own, download the Expression Personality Editor, decompress, and follow the instructions.

    When patching the moving lights, in the latest software version, you will patch moving lights in "Setup/15-Moving Lights/2-Fixture Patch" not under "Patch." Here you will be able to choose your Moving Light Personality, Fixture Number, Patch ect. When the board says "Port" it means DMX Universe. The "Fixture Patch" will display in your normal "Patch" screen. In your normal "Patch" screen remember that the ETC Express sees DMX Universe 2 Channel 1 as "Dimmer 513."

    Due to their HTP functionality, submasters are not particularly useful when dealing with moving lights, except for the intensity channels. An Inhibitive sub again containing only intensity can be useful.

    One of the most important groups one should create is a group containing all of the fixtures' "Control" channels, for housekeeping purposes such as LampON, LampOff, and Reset functions. Another invaluable group would contain Intensity channels for all the fixtures.

    Focus Points
    Focus points are very similar to groups, with some major exceptions: There is a limit of 99 focus points. Updating a focus point will change all the cues that reference it. Specific data can be extracted but still referenced from a focus point with judicious use of the [Only] key.

    Use of The [Only] Key--Masking Parameters
    The [Only] key allows one to selectively recall certain categories of parameters from a Focus Point: Intensity, Position, Color, Beam. The syntax is [Fixture#] X [at] [Only] [Intensity, Position, Color, Beam] [focus Point#] Y.

    Effects and/or Subroutines

    See this thread:, and as well as the ETC forum: Lighting solutions for Theatre, Film & Television Studios and Architectural spaces : ETC.

    See also Expression/Express Moving Lights Programming Guide.pdf from ETC's site.

    A quick overview of the process (much of which reiterates the above):
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2009

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