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Control/Dimming Strand Demo Day

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by icewolf08, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    So, as you may or may not know, the Pioneer Theatre hosted a Strand console demo today. We got to see the new Palette VL and the Preset Palette II. The demo was organized by General Theatrical Supply and conducted by none other than Bobby Harrel. I have to say, I was very impressed. I know that some of you have these consoles or have seen them, but I figured that some my want to hear some impressions.
    [​IMG]

    First off, one of the best things about the demo was that after talking to Bobby about what we do at the theatre and the scale of our shows and whatnot, he was able to taylor the demo to what would be interesting and useful to us as opposed to just having someone come in and tout all the new fancy features of their gear. The other thing is, talking to a real programmer and user of the console is much more intuitive and informative than talking to a trained rep. Having Bobby be able to tell us about his real world experiences with the consoles made the experience much more personal and useful.

    Now, the consoles themselves are really pretty. Not that aesthetics should influence purchasing. One of the design ideas that really intrigued me was the fact that under the hood, the entire CPU was self contained in a box and should anything go wrong with it, you don't have to send out the entire console to be fixed, just the CPU. This allows Strand to either just ship a replacement or loaner and all you have to do is drop it in. Also, all of the facepanel PCBs connect to the CPU via USB so in the event of of a failure one can take the authorization key (a USB dongle) and plug it and all the facepanel PCBs into a computer and the computer becomes the CPU and the facepanel still functions as a facepenel. At the moment this only works with windows computers but according to Bobby, Mac support is around the corner.

    In terms of console layout the new consoles are very similar to the old. Some keys have become softkeys, which I think would take some getting used to, but probably not so bad. From what I saw, almost all functionality can be accessed right from the facepanel, you don't have to use the mouse and keyboard. One thing I would have liked would have been to see the softkeys laid out all in a row so they correspond with the screen. I realize that space it somewhat of a concern, so the stacked block of 12 softkeys makes sense. The only other thing that I thought was interesting about the softkey layout was that the lower numbers were on the bottom, higher on the top. I suppose that is like the number pad, but I would have thought about sftkeys in the opposite.

    Strand has also taken the standpoint of "selling channels" as apposed to selling outputs. So if you buy a console with 100 channels, you can patch as many addresses/outputs to those 100 channels as you want. They also have done away with attributes, so no matter how many attributes a fixture has, it only takes up one channel. So, you could connect 100 moving lights to a console with 100 channels and control every attribute of every fixture.

    One of the great things about these new consoles is that they can import a variety of show files, or even your LightWright file. We imported our current show from our 500 Series show file, but the Palette OS will read Obsession, Expression, and some others. Along with that, the console can output ShowNet, ETCNet3 (Maybe, I don't remember exactly, thought they said it, but never actually saw it in any menus), Pathport, Artnet, ACN (E1.31), and I think there is one more that I am forgetting. This of course is in addition to straight DMX out the back of the console.

    Programming. As Bobby put it, and I think I agree: "The Palette OS allows us to program lighting, not program arbitrary data." Basic operation is very similar to the 500 Series, though they did add release back into the syntax. Programming conventionals is pretty straightforward, not a whole lot of change there. You can have individual timing per channel which is kinda cool. Cues can now contain up to 26 parts, you can have link and follow cues and set all kinds of parameters for each cue. Cues can be numbered up to 5 digits with an additional 3 digits after the decimal, which by my math means that you can have 99899001 cues in a single cue stack, each with 26 parts and individual timing per channel.

    Moving light control was pretty intuitive. The abstract control model makes a lot of sense. I like how no matter what color mixing fixture you have you can control it from any color space. So you can control with CMY, RGB, HSV, HSV', HSL, and HSL' for any mixing fixture. Color spaces can be specified per fixture, and can change how the fixture fades from color to color. Also, if you use scrollers and put all the colors in all you have to do is call all your fixtures to that color and any color mixing fixtures will get as close as they can. You can also set movement to follow a polar pattern (standard) or a linear pattern. This allows point to point movement without dips or bends in the track.

    The new auto move while dark or move in black (MIB) is great. Basic functionality is the same as on the 500 Series, however you can now set mark cues where you want them, and you can set them on a per fixture basis.

    I am sure that there is more that I am missing/forgetting, but it has been a long day. I would be happy to answer questions if I can, and I bet there are some users on CB who can too. Overall, I think these look like great consoles. Luckily my local dealer now owns a Palette VL so I may be able to borrow/rent/demo it for a show and put it to real life use.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  2. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    One interesting thing with the Palette consoles is that Strand is promoting open-source development of add-ons and extensions to the console (www.openpalette.org). We're using the remote Stage Manager display, and one of our students worked out how to control the console from his iPod touch.
     
  3. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    Nice to know strand is really comming out with some new ideas. I ran into a strand rep here in town a few years ago, and he was showing me their current console and telling me about what all they have comming up. Sounds like an extremely functional console. I'd like to play with one for a weekend.
     
  4. bdkdesigns

    bdkdesigns Active Member Fight Leukemia

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    Sounds like fun! I tried getting Strand out here to Montana last year but they never came. It was kind of shocking to me too since we had CD-80s for dimmers and an LP-90 for our desk at the time. I really liked their consoles from what I got to play with at LDI but it just wasn't the same as you implied. It's much better to get a customized demo in your space tailored around what you would be using it as.

    In the end, we went with an EOS and two IONS because ETC came out here twice for demos: once was a general demo of what it can do, the second time was what it could do for us in our situations.

    I really do love that CPU idea that Strand has too. I could see the potential for a huge market for selling just the bare bones and using your computer for the CPU...do they sell them that way? Talk about a good way to make the entire rig more affordable for your average high school looking for a cheap console without the need for a lot of power. Just buy the shell, and hook up a school computer and take off. Sounds like a good market if they are willing to do it.
     
  5. Darthrob13

    Darthrob13 Active Member

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    They are fun.

    I feel the need to clarify something that the OP said. Authorized channels limit the number of controls coming out of the console. If you have a 100 channel console, you can distribute these 100 output channels to any range of Control channels. That is....1-100 outputs to 1-100 control channels, or 1-100 output channels to control channels to 1-10 (this would put 10 outputs under the influence of control channels 1-10).
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I was fine until you muddied the waters again, Rob.:)

    How many DMX universes (of 512) does the 100 Channel version allow? If, as Alex said "So, you could connect 100 moving lights to a console with 100 channels and control every attribute of every fixture", a Fixture counts as only one Channel, the 100 channel version would be able to control one-hundred HES X-Spots, which would be 3,800 DMX outputs, or eight universes. True? What about one-hundred Showpix™, in 421-channel mode? One-hundred universes?
     
  7. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    According to Bobby and the Strand Rep, Strand is now selling channels, not outputs. So, the 100 channel Palette could control 1000 outputs if you patched 10 outputs to each channel. There is a limit based on processing power, but it is a number of universes.

    Derek you are correct according to what I was told. The 100 channel console could control those 100 X-Spots in 421 channel mode using 3800 outputs.
     
  8. STEVETERRY

    STEVETERRY Well-Known Member

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    Alex--

    Are you sure those consoles were speaking ETC Net3? If so , that would be big news to us. Streaming ACN (E1.31), of course. ETC NET3, we doubt it.

    Cheers

    ST
     
  9. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    Uh.... if that is so, then i hear the lawsuits flying already..... Kinda like highend will still not release the source code to their status cue.....
     
  10. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Possibly my confusion. E3.31, yes, but I felt like I heard Net3, though I could be dreaming. Put it this way, I never actually saw Net3 in the list of choices.

    (BTW: Edited OP to reflect this)
     
  11. fredthe

    fredthe Active Member

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    A qucik check of the OLE revelas the following output choices:
    DMX
    Shownet
    E1.31
    Pathport
    Color Kinetics
    Artnet

    -Fred
     
  12. bharrell

    bharrell Member

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    Just a quick reply to clarify some things that seem to be confusing here.

    Channels. If you a 96 dimmers then you can use 96 channels. 1 to 1 for example. If you want all 96 dimmers controlled by 1 channel then that's all you use up...1 channel. In fact, you could patch up as many dimmers to as few a channels as you desire. That's what I meant about selling channels, not outputs.

    If you have 4 movers that have 25 attributes each, then that will take up 100 channels. Every control parameter takes up a channel. Intensity, pan, tilt, color, gobo...etc. If you add these 4 movers to your 96 channels from your dimmer rack then you are using up 196 channels. Remember that you can purchase more and add channels at anytime.

    On to protocols. E3.31 is ACN. ACN is the network protocol that is being developed by most, if not all, major manufacturers. So whomever speaks ACN will speak this protocol. This means that a Palette console will work on ETC Net3 as it is speaking ACN.

    Hope that clears things up and if anyone needs any additional info, please email me at [email protected].

    Happy programming!
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Welcome to the Booth Bobby Harrell! You have been spoken of often around here... I assure you all good. Be sure to stop in once in a while if you can. I think you'll find the conversation stimulating.

    A question for you (or [user]Darthrob[/user]). I'm a pretty happy Classic Palette owner. I've ranted way too much around here about The Basic Palette as a great option for a school, church, or small community theater install. My main point being that it's got a lot of power while being priced right for facilities with 96 dimmers or less and no intelligent gear. At the same time if they decide to add some intelligent gear it can be upgraded. What's the maximum number of channels you can upgrade a Basic Palette to? I think someone told me that all the Palettes are the same under the hood and that the Light Pallets have a little more horse power... is the Basic Palette on the same level as the other Palettes?
     
  14. Darthrob13

    Darthrob13 Active Member

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    There are indeed two "flavors" of processors for Palette/LightPalette. The Palette is slightly lighter weight, but they are still pretty butch. It really isn't a question of channel count, but more what you are doing. The Palette could technically be authorized for just as many channels as a LightPalette, but depending on what one were doing with these thousands of channels it would be possible to crowbar the console. For the size of console though, the processor is more than powerful enough for the applications.

    PM me if you had a specific question in mind about real limits.
     

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