Report on Strand Palette Lighting Boards


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I have have spent four hours this afternoon on a presentation of the new Strand Palette lighting boards.

This was more a talk then a hands on workshop but I got touch it.

The Strand rep came out from Los Angeles to do a three day promotion tour.

He had with him two of the models a PresetPalette which is the new replacement for the 300 series although it is more like a replacement for the 500 series. The other board was a LightPalettClassic.

Most of the time was spent on the PresetPalette. Of course the Light Palette can do what the Palette does. Apart from no. of channels one of the main difference is the LightPalette has hardware rotary encoders for intelligent whereas the Palette has them done with software using a trackwheel or the mouse.

I'll now stick to comments on the PresetPalette. The basic board has 300 channels but you can buy more.

The preset boards have a different number of presets depending on the model you buy. Eg 48/96 . They can be run as a preset board for learning purposes or if you prefer to set cues using faders instead of keypad entry. But they still have all the memory features of the non-preset boards.

The console is run on embedded Windows XP. It has been locked down so that people can't muck it up by loading their own drivers.

They have made all the modules such as the sliders, keypad etc connect using USB. They have designed a system where if the computer fails in the board you can connect the control boards through an externall powered USB hub. You then connect a computer running the software this will send out the DMX via the control board it also gives you access to the sliders and buttons.

The console has an ethernet connection which can be used for shownet or to connect to a local network for things like (according to the manual) internet access, printing show files, outlook express etc.

The console uses soft buttons like the 300 and 500 series.

The console can worked in two main ways, although you can use it in any combination. There is the standard push the button and use the track wheel and/or mouse to do things.

The other way is to go Windows and select options with mouse clicks and rolls. In this mode it is just like using any other Windows program. With on screen buttons, drop down menus etc. This will make it easier for people who have not used a lighting console but can a computer. I would probably use the console hardware buttons more then the mouse.

They have simplified a lot of things. For instance to make a chase you just click the channels on the live screen in the order you want to chase. Then you record it. Chase done. Of course you can edit it. You can also have more then one channnel change in each step of the chase.

When you record cues or subs when you press the record button it will bring up a windows box. In it you can put the cue no, cue time, cue label etc. Also a double click on the record button will record it withoput having to enter stuff in the box.

Intelligent light handling is definetly worth a look. What Strand have done is written their own fixture libraries. You can't make your own as Strand haved done some thing special with the fixtures.

Once you have patched the intelligent light you will probably not need to look at the DMX tables in the back of the fixture manual again.

Most of the things you need to control the fixture either have button options or drop down menues. For example instead of having to remember the DMX code for lamp strike you get a menu that has lamp on, lamp idle, lamp off and I forgot the other thing.

There are a number of options for selecting colour on a fixture. The Strand will take the option you select then convert the actual output to what the light fixture needs. For example we had a Mac 250 attached. This uses CMY for colour mixing. If you want to use RGB mixing you can. The console converted the RGB colour choice to the CMY for the 250. There are other options such as using HLI. You can also use scanned in colours. They had scanned an apollo swatch book. You could click on a colour and the 250 would do it's best to output that colour. The final outcome is dependent on your fixtures capabilities. But you can use these methods to get close to the colours you want. Then using the individual attributes you can tweak the colours.

Pan and tilt are now done in degrees. You don't have to remember the DMX values. The fixtures default when they are patched to a postion where the light is parallel to the lighting bar. The head is pointing straight down. This is the 0,0 degree position. When you move them you can specifiy the degrees to move. Or use the wheel /mouse to move them.The console calculates what actual Dmx values to use. If you have a zooming profile it will automaticaly be set for a beam angle of 20 degrees.

You can select how you want the fixture to handle the colour change between cues, how the shutters move etc. If you want the fixture to move from one place to another with the light still on you can specify how it moves. If you want it to move in a straight line it will tilt the head as well as pan so you get a straight line not an arc. When it is finished the head will be tilted exactly where you wanted it. There of course is an effects library.

So you can see there is lot to look at on these boards.

Depending on how many channels you need I believe these boards would be very good in school situations as well as larger venues. In schools you would have a good conventional board but if you hired or had intelligent fixtures then programming them would be really simple.

I know of a few venues that I would like to get one of these boards into.

I have no connection to Strand or any dealers. I just like Strand gear and was very impressed with these new boards.

Also I have been assured Genlyte is fully behind Strand so these boards won't become orphans. Look at how Genlyte improved Varilites position in the market. Also Strand will provide software upgrades. I have included a link to where you can try the offline editor.

This is just my personal opinon but I think if you are looking at buying a new board it would be worth at least getting a demo.


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Hi 'catlunch',

Thank you for posting that information. I had been looking at a variety of Stand Possibilities as I am organising an installation. I had read a little about the boards you spoke of, but couldn't find much. So thank you for posting what you learned at the talk from the Strand representative.

I'm sure I will be referring to your posting again to gain more information.

Thanks again.



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Catlunch, thanks for the write-up. You said that you CAN'T write your own fixture libs. Is that accurate? Kinda scary if everytime I want to add a newly introduced (or not yet introduced) instrument I have to wait until Strand writes the lib for it. Are the guaranteeing any turnaround time?


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Catlunch, thanks for the write-up. You said that you CAN'T write your own fixture libs. Is that accurate? Kinda scary if everytime I want to add a newly introduced (or not yet introduced) instrument I have to wait until Strand writes the lib for it. Are the guaranteeing any turnaround time?

I don't believe that is true. When I worked on one about 6 months ago I it was rather easy to go into a text editor and write a profile. Remember, this is re-hashed lightpallet software.
nice review catlunch, very informative. though im not looking to buy a new board, i think it is nice to see the different ways that the companies are going. this sounds like an impressive system if it is intended as a replacement for the 300, im more inclined to beleive it is a 500 replacement as our 300 has little in common with this by the sounds of it.

EDIT: I was just thinking about this and wondered about the possibility of getting a reviews section of the site? It would be useful for those of us buying equipment and would be interesting for the rest of us!


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Ok I will try and clear up a couple of my comments.
Yes you can edit profiles so theorecticaly you could make your own fixture profiles. But these profiles would be limited compared to Strand Fixture library. Eg you wouldn't get to specify the position of the fixture in degrees. You couldn't use the colour selecting options such as clicking on the swatchbook. If you want to move the light in a straight line you would have to make a series of cues and calculate each step yourself. You would have to know the Dmx values for each function.

So you could do it with a profile but the Strand library has over 99 fixtures and they are constantly updating. it. If you want to do it the hard way you don't need the Strand.

I was told the Palette was the replacement for the 300 series but it's functionality brings it upto more where the old 500 is. I got to the demo late so missed hearing what model the board was at the start. Later when I heard that I was looking at the 300 replacement I couldn't believe it either. It's just they have put more functionality in the lower end board. The LightPalette is the replacement for the 520 series I think.

There was so much to see yesterday I forgot to mention some features.
If you connect the board to another computer via ethernet you can, using macros, have the board control the powerpoint, and Media Player programs. These can be written into cues. The only thing the Strand guy said because of being over the ethernet you have to allow for some latency. If you only connect one computer to the console it shouldn't be too bad. The rep said that you can add delays to cover this.

On the LightPalettes they actually include a soundcard so Media Player is run right on the console.

This feature opens up the possiblty of things like pre-programmed multimedia displays that can run by one person. Also the rep said for schools this means they could just use an ordinary projector instead of needing a fancy one for synched media presentaions.

The macro system has been given a boost and now has a programming language including IF statements etc. But there is still high level macro commands. Eg there are ones that advance a Powerpoint slide with one command. You just have to record it as a cue. I think it might also be possible to put them on Subs?

Another feature that will tie in with the macros is called vision net. It has not been released yet. What it appears to be is an interface box that connects to the console via ethernet. You can, apparently connect different sensors to it. Eg you could have a postion switch on a turntable. Then you could set up a cue using the macros that you only change the lighting state when the revolve has reached a certain position. One interesting use for this I could see is wire it up to a button backstage that the last crew person hits when the finished setting the stage. The next cue wouldn't be able to run meaning you couldn't catch the crew on stage. Overkill but interesting thought.

I hope this answers a few questions.

Just a minor correction my username is Cutlunch not catlunch.

I forgot one warning because this is now a Windows based system you have to save the show before you close down the console else you loose the show. But you dod get prompted like in Windows. You can also set automatic save times like in Word to help with this. Another feature is there is a timed keystroke log. So as someone suggested you could do a rehearsal and just by looking at the first and last go times see how long it took. Probably more a nice to have then a must have.
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Excellent work Great review !


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The system designer put a new "Classic Palette" in for my new theater. When I went to LDI, I spent a lot of time lurking at the Strand booth to see if I was going to be happy or not with it. I spent a good half hour playing with it without a sales rep breathing down my neck at one point which was really great. The classic version is a really nice sleek design. It's got 32 submasters, two playbacks, and a minimal amount of buttons. At the same time, it has the same powerful Horizon/Marquee turned Palette software, you just access it by a combination of keyboard and mouse. I really like it and would recomend it as a solid choice for a theater with a bunch of conventionals where a two scene preset isn't needed. The software is great for moving lights, but it's a bit clunky in how you access it. I had a Sales rep show me how easy it is... You just press this to access the intelligent screen, then to the keyboard, then this function key, drop down this menu, select this icon... I'm lost. Yes it can handle movers and the real world language is great, but if you are using more than a few it's going to drive you crazy.

As for my situation, we are in a fundraising mode. If we are able to sell naming rights for our theater, then my lighting budget goes from $100k to $250k and a bunch of VL1000's and LED's are going in the rig. After three days with multiple reps telling me how easy it is to use movers on the classic palette, I finaly found an honest Strand rep. He admitted that if I do get the larger collection of intelligent equipment, I should be looking at something from the "light palette" series instead. While the software is essentially the same, the lack of encoder wheels and other function buttons would get really annoying.

I've always been a fan of the Horizon software. I was really excited about the Marquee when it came out. Now you have one of the biggest players in the world backing it all and sharing it with Strand. If you are using just conventionals and some simple DMX accessories like rotators and I-cues, then the Palette's are a great choice. They are much more elegant solution than ETC's idea of taking the old console and adding a PC. If I don't get the funding, I'm sticking with the memory palette. If I do get the funding I may switch over to the Marquee ILC instead of a "Palette"... but that's a different thread.

Oh yeah, and Amen to the product review section idea.
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I love the console, it has come great feature (as i have posted before) but my biggest gripe is the loss of the dimmer button (Yes I know its stupid, but it is pretty important).


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Just so people don't think I love everything about the board there is one thing concerns me.

That is the size and postion of the flash buttons. Apparently someone asked them to be put under the faders. Would that person please standup so we can throw rotten vegetables at them.

On the LightPalette the flash buttons are low level ones. So thats not a problem and some seem to be above others below (Good Morning Starshine pops into my head at this point). I haven't got a good picture of a LightPalette to check.

But on the PresetPalette the flash buttons are below and right next to the faders. Also they appear to use the same style switch cap as on a standard PC keyboard. This means that they are level if not slightly higher then the faders. The fader tops are also slightly smaller then on an average console. I can see there being quite a few flash accidents. If you don't need flash you maybe able to set them that if they get hit they don't appear to change the lighting state.

But that was my one concern over the console layout.

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