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Review - Smartfade 2496

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by tbeck, Dec 17, 2005.

  1. tbeck

    tbeck Member

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    OK, let me start off by saying that I havnt experienced everything that this console is capable of doing, but I have set pretty much my whole show up so far with it.

    I will update this as I get more use out of the console for the week i have it and I will post pictures as well.

    *quotes from http://www.etcconnect.com/news/default.asp?239*

    Very true. Once i had all my lights and dimmers daisy-chained throughout our theatre/lecture hall. I plugged it in and began controlling the units.

    I have onoly experinced Normal and two-scene mode, both work very well.

    Although easy to operate, my board operators found the instructions difficult to comprehend. But once they got the hang of it they flew through basic programming. I have yet to use the timed crossfade, i have no use for it currently.

    Love the buttons, I can easily dim the buttons if i would like or i can make it so that every memory i have set lights up lightly when not in use. I like the use of various shades of LED's as well.

    If anyone has any specific questions about the console please let me know and i will answer them. :wink:

    Trevor
     
  2. asb002

    asb002 Member

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    Location:
    Rochester, NY USA
    My school is currently looking for a new board, and we like ETC things. One thing that turned me off from the SmartFade was the lack of VGA port.
    How useful are the on-console LCD screens?
    Does the SmartFade allow you to type in a channel and set its value, like the Express, or must you use the faders, only?
     
  3. tbeck

    tbeck Member

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    the on screen lcd screen (single) is ok, it shows you the level of the lights you are controlling and also allows you to chnage to different menus. You can patch channels via the board. I tested it out and i had no difficulty, it is quite easy, you just choose the channel one lamp is on and scroll to what you wluld like it to actually be.

    Granted it would be nice to have the VGA port, but this isnt an express, which allows for monitors.

    It is similar to the express when you ste the channels, but not exactly, you must utilize the faders to set values..
     
  4. tbeck

    tbeck Member

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    here are some pics, please excuse the large size
    i would make them show up, but they are huge and i dont have an editing program on the computer i am on right now.

    click for bigger

    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]

    and some pics from rehearsal ;)
    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
     
  5. ewards71

    ewards71 Member

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    Anymore thoughts or comments ? . . . I like the looks of it . . . but to be honest with you, I have never used a board with this level of "bells and whistles" I am used to the two scene X - Y crossover style . . . is this too much ? I will be using it for conventionals . . . so it can't be that hard . . . right ? :)
     
  6. LDSFX

    LDSFX Member

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    I used it for a small gig where I was running CXI color scrollers. The "next" button worked great cuz it allowed me to set my next color and execute a timed fade without being super sensitive on the faders and without paying top dollar for a memory console.
     
  7. BillynNC

    BillynNC Member

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    Hello
    this board has been suggested by our dealer.
    Will this board handle moving lights in the future.

    Or the next step up is the Smartfade ML????

    Billy
     
  8. nmccoart5

    nmccoart5 Member

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    I have used the Smartfade ML and from my experiences i will never use that board ever again. It took FOREVER to learn how to use and it was only a one week gig. With the lack of a good monitor display and limited keys i feel like its not worth the pain. If you are looking to use ML's and use them to their full capabilities, get yourself a good board that can handle ML's as well as conventional fixtures alike. As far as your question about the Smartfade console being able to handle ML's i assume so, but don't quote me on it, and like i said, it probably won't be fun.
     
  9. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I used the Smartfade ML for a one-off, and found it exceedingly easy to use. I loved how quick I could busk a show from such a small board without a monitor. I was able to program on it very quickly, and I understood the operating style rather well. I wish I could have one for the one venue I work in where we use an MLC16 - it would be perfect for that.

    But while I like it, it's not everyone's cup o' tea, so make sure you get a demo before you buy. But in my opinion, it's incredibly easy to use, very powerful, and quite possibly the best hardware moving light console you can buy for the price. There's another thread on this too, I can't remember where...
     
  10. Wolf

    Wolf Active Member

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    Location:
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    As far as the monitors, Yes there is no VGA out put BUT you can hook it up to a computer running the SmartSoft (off-line editor) and use that as a monitor via USB. In addition to being a monitor you can also use the mouse and the many different windows to edit the content.




    I am very curious how you used this board to busk a show. I am actually using using this board right now with 6 Mac 575 Kryptons. The way I am running the board is im going in pre-show (concerts) and setting memories. Is this anything like you're doing? If you could please share with me/us how you are running the board I would very much appreciate it. Thanks
     
  11. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I ran it live by having RGB + Strobe control for LEDs, some intensities and positions and movements in faders, and then I mostly just used the palettes directly for live control of color and gobo. It worked great. I also had the tilt for all fixtures on a fader, so if I wanted to sweep them over the audience at the end of a song, I could just push that fader up.

    I did actually pre-program a few songs, though, and used a memory page for every two songs. That worked wonderfully. I just had to have a pad of paper and a littlite to make sure that I remembered which faders were which since I paged through them. But I rehearsed some of the songs beforehand, so I had a pretty good idea of what faders were what.

    Also, throw frontlight on a fader, a center (frontman) special on a fader, blinders on faders to use bump buttons, and make a strobe fader so you press the button and the whole rig strobes (I had a slow and a fast strobe button on my "home page" of busking).

    My rig was 4x MAC250 Entour, 10x LED PAR 56 cans, some mini-flood blinders, some pinspots, PAR46s, and then a bunch of mini-strobes on the truss (the little 25 watters, great effect for small audiences).

    Also, that sounds like an awesome small rig - the 575 Kryptons look like great fixtures, I'm sure you'll have a blast. Make sure to put up pictures!
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
    Theater Manager & T.D.
    Location:
    Seattle, Washington
    The Smartfade was created for use in extremely simple applications such as DJ's, VERY small theaters and corporate events. Someone mentioned a comparison to the Express above, a Smart Fade is no where near the level of power and complexity that an Express provides. It's more like a tricked out version of a basic controller you would purchase from Chauvet or NSI.

    Someone commented on on the bells and whistles... I laughed. Compared to any other ETC product the "bells and whistles" on a Smartfade are a joke. True it's fancier than an old 2 scene preset... but not much.

    It is a cheap basic controller that is designed for a very specific low budget corner of the market. Soundlight is about the only regular around here who has used one and really liked it... but he was also using it under the very specific conditions that the SmartfadeML is really designed for. No you don't want to try to control a rig of 50 conventionals and a couple dozen movers with one. But a small club concert or a theater that only has 20 fixtures this could be the board for you.

    I have never used one but in three of the four demos I've seen the ETC rep got confused trying to run the thing (and I wasn't impressed). I can think of very few typical theater applications where I could recommend one. Most of us around here would probably recommend you go with a Champsys software based control solution for a while, save your money, and buy a real console when you can afford one. The pricing on a Element or a Strand Basic Palette is around $4k. But you get SO much more for your money with one of those other consoles.

    GET a demo. If you are doing the small club sort of thing then yeah it may be for you. If you are running a theater it's not the right product. Then get a demo of an ETC Element or a Strand Basic Palette and see what a real theater console can do. USE THE SEARCH function, a lot has already been said about Smartfade here.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2009
  13. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I should add some qualifiers:

    I would never use the SFML with a rig of more than 48 conventionals and 24 devices (movers, LEDs, dmx strobes, anything else that takes DMX and is not a dimmer), 'cause that's what it can physically handle. Any more than 10 actual moving lights and I'd be grasping for other features like none other. I would NEVER use it for theatre - it isn't designed for theatre and should NEVER be used for theatre - the cue stack is a joke.

    But I would use it over an Express in a pinch for busking a show with 24 parcans, some blinders, ACLs and mini strobes, 8 movers and 16 LED pars. That's about the max rig I would do with the SFML, though. It's not designed for theatre and not designed for large systems with 24 actual moving lights and 48 channels of conventionals.

    I would also probobly not use it for something like a bunch of MAC700s or VL3000s - not enough beam and color palettes to satisfy my desires when fixtures have so many options for beam and color, and it doesn't have the programming style that I would use with such fixtures with a huge parameter list with all sorts of different channel values. Also, for 10 VL3000s or MAC700s or the like, there's too much that I want to see on a screen, and too many parameters for which I want snaps. I just think that this console has uses, which are really small corporate one-offs, small band gigs, and medium-level club lighting systems.

    BUT, for the niche market it's designed for, it's the best board in its class, great for the price, and the operational style is superb. It makes so much sense, and the featureset is crazy for a console of that price.
     

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