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User Friendly Light board suggestions?

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by KaR356i, Nov 20, 2007.

  1. KaR356i

    KaR356i Member

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    Any suggestions on light boards that are user friendly and are capable of using a few moving lights with? (for people who have no experience with ML's or anything more than a simple two scene preset board)...

    And of course, they would be on a budget...

    Thanks!
     
  2. JD

    JD Well-Known Member

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    Here is the thing, there is an inverse correlation between price and ease of use. Meaning, the least expensive boards can be awkward, and to some extent, when you put out more money they get easier. There is a point where this abruptly reverses itself, and you end up with a board that requires training before use. Most likely, each person that responds to this thread will have their favorite. An inexpensive choice would be the Elation DMX Operator Pro (~ $325) It can run eight fixture groups (up to 16ch each) with 96 scenes. It also has eight stage dimmer channels for straight dimmers, so it gives you a little of everything at an entry level price.

    I think if you search this forum, you will find a lot of threads that already cover this subject in one form or another.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2007
  3. jeffheart08

    jeffheart08 Member

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    An NSI MLC-16 is a good moving light board all though it has little quirks here and there as do most boards in the lower prices. With a disk drive, it is about $1200 so I dont know if that counts for being on a budget but compared to real deal lighting consoles, 1K is a drop in the hat. Download the manual and read up.

     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I think the big questions are: What is your budget? And What is the application?

    Answering those questions will be able to focus the responses you get to ones that are actually useful to you.
     
  5. soundlight

    soundlight Well-Known Member

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    I'm going to go right to the top of the budget range and say ETC Smartfade ML, at about $2200. Great board, easy to use, easy to set presets with, familiar fader controls, can be used as a preset, submaster, or cue stack board, with basic ML control.

    That said, it's probably out of your price range. But well worth it if you can afford it.
     
  6. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I almost fell out of my chair laughing at this post....top of the budget range hehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehehe $2200 hehehehehehehehehehehehehehe

    Two words....grand MA easy to use runs ML's like a dream...and definetly out of price range....

    Look into an Express...decent ML interface but not great...easy to pick up and program.
     
  7. SerraAva

    SerraAva Active Member

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    He can always go for the Jands Vista Grog, thats a fun one too. Budget would help, so would applaction. If its just moving light control with little conventionals, Hog PC or Light Jockey. The lower end would be stuff like Elation's Compu Live or Chauvet's ShowXpress. This stuff is just PC control, very easy for to use for ML control. There are also a bunch of cheaper consoles out there that can control MLs, just not as easy as these PC controls.

    If you need a theatric console, I'm with Grog. An ETC Express works nicely, easy to learn, and ML control isn't very hard. Not the best for ML control, but if your in a theatre setting with only a couple of MLs, then you can't go wrong with it. Cheaper would be Smartfade ML.

    Cheaper then that, you are looking at DJ/Club/Bar stuff, not really for theatre at all. If you are just looking for something to control a couple MLs for a theatric show and can't spend the money for a Smartfade ML, I would say look at using two consoles. Your two scene preset for conventionals and and something like what JD suggested for MLs or a PC controller above. As stated again by JD, the more you spend, the easier it will be to control MLs. Also, it will be easier to included conventional fixtures as well with higher dollar ML consoles.
     
  8. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    Nah, don't use an Express, sure its possible, but its really clunky and not at all made to do movers.

    I'd vote for a HogPC. I assume someone somewhere has a windows box you could use for the shows, or that you could get one cheep. Get the programing wing so you don't pull your hair out trying to program on a keyboard or mouse.

    Great console, reliable. Just ran a show off of it with 96 dimmers, a handful of CXIs and 6 Mac2Ks, worked great. It may be a bit complex for people now, but I had no trouble learning it after being raised on ETC Express. While it does have some complex advanced features, you can always ignore them.

    I also second the vote for the Smartfade ML. Never touched one, but what I've seen online makes it look nice.
     
  9. KaR356i

    KaR356i Member

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    Thanks for your help! For this particular application, I think the ETC Express is nearly perfect, but I wanted some outside opinions. They bought a Leprecon board, and as was suggested on here, it's pretty much a pain. They have now asked me what kind of light board I suggest.... I didn't want to say the Express right off the bat, but in my opinion, it is plenty capable to handle the movers they have. I just finished a show in that theatre using the Express (instead of the LP) and I had no trouble whatsoever. But before giving a suggestion, I just wanted to do a little research on the other consoles out there.

    I will look into the Smartfade and the Hog PC!

    Thanks!
     
  10. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Since finding an Express may prove difficult since they are no longer made, you might think about looking into the Expression (used as well). They are much more ML friendly than the Express, but they program exactly the same. while you are doing that, you might also want to look into a used Strand 300, the strand OS has a much better ML package than the Express/ion line.
     
  11. SerraAva

    SerraAva Active Member

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    Still not sure of your price range, but if you like the Express, an Expression is the same protocol with more channels and two monitors. It also has wheels for X/Y, 6 encoder wheels, and encoder page select buttons. It is, however, more costly then an Express. At that price range, you could get a Hog 1000 as well. If you are in a theatre and use a couple movers often however, an Expression would be an easier time then an Express. Easier still would be an Insight 3, but that is even more costly still.

    A Hog PC, while a great console, isn't the best for theatre, unless your theatre is nothing but moving lights and needs many cues stacks often. That last time I did a theatre show with a Hog was one that was mover heavy in the cues, and included 10 movers, 6 washes and 4 spots. Since I had 10, many of them where doing different things at different times, so I needed the cue stacks and the Hog's palettes made things much easier for programing and editing.

    The other problem with getting Hog PC is for easier use, your going to want to get the wings and monitors. You also need a computer dedicated to just Hog PC and nothing else. After is all said an done, 2 grand for the dongle for one universe, 3 grand for 4, 6 grand for playback and programing wing, and a grand for a PC and couple of monitors. Add the touch monitors, add another 2 grand or so then. Now unless your looking at buying a Road Hog or Hog IPC down the road, its not really worth getting all this stuff when you can get an Expression 3 since your in theatre. If your are doing shows with lots of MLs, then go for the Hog PC.
     
  12. SerraAva

    SerraAva Active Member

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    Hey Icewolf, when did they stop making Expresses? They are still on the website and I can still order new from a bunch of websites and local vendors. Don't see why the would get ride of them with no replacement in place.
     
  13. sclausenETC

    sclausenETC Active Member

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    Express and Expression are not discontinued. We still make both.

    Thanks -

    Sarah

    Sarah Clausen
    Controls Product Manager
    ETC, Inc.
     
  14. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I guess I was fed mis-information then, I was under the impression that they were no longer, but I guess we have heard it right from the people who know. So now we know, and knowing is half the battle!
     
  15. thebikingtechie

    thebikingtechie Active Member

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    I've been using an Insight 3 (at the local theatre) and like it a lot. It's quite simple to learn, especially if you've used etc's before. It might be out of your price range though.

    For a simple and easy to use board, I've used the Smart fade (the normal one, not ML) and liked it, though I'm not sure how it can handle movers.
     
  16. SerraAva

    SerraAva Active Member

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    Thanks Sarah for clearing that up. You had me scared for a bit there Icewolf :lol:.
     
  17. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    When I said Express...I totally meant Expression...**** I get those names mixed up constantly.
     
  18. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    I have an Express/Emphasis system, and while I think it's a great console(s), one thing it doesn't do very well is control Movers, even with Emphasis. IMO Expression is only a bit better then Express and I would not at this date recommend either if you want easy ML control - Sorry to Sarah and all the great folks at ETC, for that comment.

    The bottom line as of today, is both Expression/Insight and Express consoles are dated controllers with ancient hardware (the single biggest issue with the consoles currently) and I suspect that once Ion gets really rolling and ETC comes out with a console between Ion and Eos, that ETC will discontinue first the Expression/Insight followed by the Express.

    That said, the Smartfade and Smartfade ML are very good replacements in the lower end of the line, with Ion at the middle and both are the ETC controllers to consider, as both are reasonably good at ML - or so all the street buzz is telling us.

    My $.02

    Steve B.
     
  19. SerraAva

    SerraAva Active Member

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    While the Express hardware might be old, it doesn't change the fact that it is tried and true. One of the best things to have in a console is the ability to know its bulletproof, and DOS based is just that, bulletproof. Windows based consoles crash, its just a fact of life. The Jands Vista, which I love, crashes quite often when I am using it. Hog 3 use to be real bad with crashing. Hog PC has many things that can crash on it. The dongles being one which can lead to real problems and the reason why you need back up dongles. I have even seen a Ma crash on a few occasions. I have yet to this day seen an Express OS based console crash. I have logged far more hours on Express OS consoles then anything else. I have also never heard about one crashing that didn't have something internally wrong with it, bad solder joint, bad disk drive, etc.

    As stated, Express OS is not the easiest for moving light control. He said it was for a theatre, and thats what the Express/Expression/Insight are made for. They control moving lights, and do it easier then his two scene preset. There isn't that much in the way of a cue stack, moving light control, and subs for easy theatre use out there and cheap cost. Also, the Express OS has an Offline Editor and Personality Editor. This makes things much easier for making personalities for those oddity moving lights, or you can edit the ones that already exist for your tastes. You can also take an Express OS show, load it on any Express, Expression, or Insight console that is using version 3+, just watch your channel count and in the case of the Insight to other consoles, your sub count.

    I would love to recommend the Ion, but if the Expression is out his range price range, the Ion most certainly is. The Ion is also brand new, so bugs have yet to be worked out. I have no doubt that one day, the Express line will be replaced, or maybe ETC will refresh them. That day isn't today, so I can't say not get one because its old. A Hog 500/1000 are also old, doesn't change the fact that people still love, use, and buy them everyday.
     
  20. PhantomD

    PhantomD

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    LSC Lighting Systems all the way.

    They make VERY user-friendly boards, with a full on moving lights controller at a very competitive price.

    I own their equipment and I couldn't be happier with it.
     

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