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replacement board for an Expression 3

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Ravenbar, Mar 16, 2019.

  1. Ravenbar

    Ravenbar Active Member

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    The school I light the spring musical for is looking to upgrade there lighting system. I've got a fair idea what I'd recommend for their system upgrade but unsure of what board I'd like.

    I'm fairly out of the loop as far as up to date equipment.

    I originally learned on an ETC Express 24/40, and a little on an Expression 1. The School has an Expression 3. Currently rig is primarily conventional fixtures, although we'd like to update. Currently have 120 dimmers(about 10 dedicated to a unison house light system). I'd like to see them keep the 96 dimmer rack and upgrade the 24 rack to a 48 or 96(even if it electrically means dropping to 1.2k dimmers).

    I'm only there a couple months a year, during the spring musical. They understand little beyond submaster.

    My idea is that the board needs to be verbally similar to the ETC expression 3 so there isn't a giant learning curve for everyone, and that it needs many, many submasters/faders.

    I graduated college college in 2008, just as EOS was coming on the scene and the Express/Expression line was being discontinued.
     
  2. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    There's not much reason to continue putting money into new dimmers. Everything is going LED and if you're putting in new power distribution I would account for more relays rather than more dimmers. Dimmers may handle the fixtures they have today but very few venues moving forward will be buying into tungsten fixtures.

    With that many circuits you're probably looking at in the neighborhood of the Ion XE. I wouldn't fit it out with "many, many submasters/faders" because it's not an efficient way to program modern consoles. Throw a touch screen on it and give the students a magic sheet function to play with. Between the comments here and in the other thread about DMX distribution, you may want to look at ETC's wireless Colorsource relays that transmit DMX and flip power on/off to the fixtures. Might save you from having to pull some new DMX cabling.
     
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  3. Ravenbar

    Ravenbar Active Member

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    They don't "program" the board. Student's don't use the system. 1 teacher doe and they have no lighting experience. Tghe past director, who mentors them, grew up with 2 scene preset consoles and they fight any attempt to do things different. I've actually had to go for a walk, resisting the urge to walk away from the job, when I've spent 2+ days programming the show, and it gets thrown out in favor of running it o submasters, as it immediately fixes what they see is wrong, and in addition is more flexible as far as students missing their mark/cue.

    The 2008-era install we're currently using included (2) relay circuits, and they're mostly used for over audience effects(i.e. Jellyfish for "The Little Mermaid"). Last year I parked a couple dimmers at full, as they were being used to power toys(A couple Chauvet USB Abyss fixtures and a couple cheap RGB Pars.) Controls were via an antique Colortran Status 24/48. That's the era the people I'm working with understand.
    such. Every year, I personally pick up some sort of low budget toy, so that 1. I get the experience, and 2. they see what's possible.

    Basically, I'm slowly adding in DMX controlled toys and but their main way of thinking revolves around conventional fixtures. There is also a distrust of what they don't understand, and DMX fixtures falls into that category.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019
  4. BLPisani

    BLPisani Member

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    You *might* be able to sell them on an ETC Element, but it doesn't do 2-scene preset, though it has a lot of submasters. There are few if any consoles sold anymore that really do 2-scene preset. The ETC SmartFade I've heard is a nightmare, but it offers 2-scene preset.

    I can understand people distrusting what they don't understand. I'd make sure they have the opportunities to learn about them, including making sure they know they can go to things like SETC, USITT, and LDI to see the new technology, and that most distributors are willing to set up demos for them. Almost every (if not every) console manufacturer has training available. It isn't cheap, but it *is* available.
     
  5. Ravenbar

    Ravenbar Active Member

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    We don't actually use 2-scene preset, that's just the era of technology they learned on and it was an easy transition from that to submasters so that's what they understand.

    Ultimately, I've really got no say in what they end up with. They consult with an architect, who specs the job and it goes out to bid. What I'm hoping for is that they'll forward my input to the architect.

    My hope is to avoid the issues we've experienced with the current system in that dimmer distribution is not meeting needs(42(only 30 in the area we use most) out of 110 circuits are FOH, the rest are over stage, We never have enough FOH and there are extras over stage.) The other major issue is that the fixtures they purchased last time were Altman Shakespeares and parts availability is limited since they were discontinued. I would rather this time around that they purchase something with a longer lineage and parts interchangeability(i.e. Source 4's or another industry standard). Had they gone with Source 4's, for example, last time, we wouldn't be looking to replace everything, but rather just filter in LED lamps as money was available and I wouldn't be taking units out of service, as parts to fix them aren't available(standoffs that hold the socket in place snap off when attempting to replace socket.)
     
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  6. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Our TV Center used an Express 72/144, mostly in single scene mode, to control all the overhead 120 dimmers as well as some of the side wall stuff.

    When I helped them out last year and found out the keyboard was dead as was the disk drive, I replaced with our older XP Ion with 2 touch screens. I then built a Magic Sheet of the grid layout, circuits being channels in a 1:1 patch, plus some @ level buttons plus a Go to Cue Out button. They quickly learned how easy it was to call up circuit 108, etc, @full, etc...... and dump to a fader/sub or cue when i got them to that level. Nobody ever said they missed the Express.
     
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  7. Butch!

    Butch! Member

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    I think the industry has missed the boat when it comes to what many high and middle schools need. Hey if you're in a big city with huge schools and a huge tax base then you can have a staff TD who knows all the latest technology or a theater arts teacher who has a really good idea of how to do things. And you can do LED upgrades and get movers and all the toys.

    But out in the rural world where you graduate a class of 75 to 200 kids it doesn't work that way. All the administration wants is basic white light for assemblies and maybe some color for the musical. There's no money for upgrades when the health insurance costs for staff are going up 15% a year and State funding is dropping and the local government is condemning houses and taking off the taxes rolls when the demolish them.

    We have music, art, English, science teachers and janitors who have to deal with the tech in the auditorium. They can't understand the concept of patching a dimmer and if they plug something into the plug numbered 28, then the only way they will be able to turn it on is by moving slider number 28. Calling a channel from a keyboard is too much. The schools that do the best have Express 48/96's running in single scene mode. They use the individual channel faders to set up a scene and record it to a sub. They run a show with 24 subs and that's it. No patching, no cues. It blows their mind to find out what the GO button does, but they don't have the time to learn how to write cues, or the time in the production process to do it. One school insisted on upgrading to an Element and it's been a disaster and they want their 48/96 back.

    It's a shame that as things "evolve" this segment of the market has been left out. It will be decades before these schools go to LED and they will never have movers. We have one school that finally managed to scrape together enough money to retire their old Altmans. I'm not talking about radial 360Q's I'm talking about whatever it was that came before the 360Q. These fixtures were original to the 1956 auditorium. There are a whole lot of places that just need a simple console like the 48/96. Can't anyone get that?

    =end rant=
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
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  8. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Good points, but could you maybe learn to break it up with some paragraphs, what is known on the internet as a “Wall of Words” ?? Makes it hard to read.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
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  9. microstar

    microstar Well-Known Member

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    I think this idea was discussed a while back, and I'll reiterate my go-to favorite for the"many channels/many submasters" basic console...the Dove Systems Techmaster lineup with the Sublime submaster modules.
    Techmaster.png Sublime.png
     
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  10. lwinters630

    lwinters630 Well-Known Member

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    ETC Element. They can still have subs. Based on their skill, I'd set it for Cue only vs Tracking.

    In that setting they could use subs to record cues and group sub to pull it out of cue.

    You and I would a lot of other functions, but at least they will start using the board.
     
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