Control/Dimming Why do pro lighting consoles have so many faders but so few buttons?

Dragonfire

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Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Location
Atlanta, GA
I'm still mostly stuck in the realm of DJ & small stage lighting, but I'm trying to figure out what consoles to consider as a longer term goal to set my sights on. Even though I'm having trouble deciphering the functional differences of the typical brands like MA, Hog, Avo, etc., I find myself asking the same question over and over again: Why do professional consoles for electronic music festivals and rock concerts have so many faders and yet so few buttons?

The way I'm used to doing lighting is to have some faders for the dimmers of different groupings of lights, some knobs for different parameters, and then a lot of midi buttons that are mapped to different cues, scenes, & builds, as well as pages that can be shifted to apply only to specific groupings. So I'll have a page that is just solid colors/palettes & movements/static positions for my spots, then a page with the same things for my washes, and another identical menu for uplighting. Because of this I can flick through the pages and play my lights almost like a musical instrument, fine tuning things here and there as well as flash & trashing when appropriate. Having buttons feels intuitively proper, and yet most of the big name show consoles have large banks of faders and few buttons besides menu commands. I get it for theatrical productions or churches, but festivals and concerts that have a lot of showy & busy lighting? I know I must be missing some knowledge about how the programming works but my efforts to figure it out have been unsuccessful thus far.
Can someone help shed some light on this and help me understand what I'm missing?
 

Dragonfire

Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Location
Atlanta, GA
I figured it was something like that, but I've been having a hard time finding out how each platform does that in their own particular way, minus the Chamsys MQ consoles. From what I've heard, each platform has their pros and cons but I can't find out what those might be
 

Ford

Sr Product Manager, Chauvet Professional
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Oct 19, 2007
Location
South FL
ChamSys Programmers and Users is a pretty great community on FB. They will be glad to answer virtually any questions that you have about how they approach pre-programming and busking.
 

cbrandt

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2011
Location
Michigan
What I've found is that while I can do a lot of things strictly with buttons (I miss my old Martin M-1), you can add a substantial number of options by including a fader. Mapping to BPM, fade time, effect size, manual fade between cues, etc. Explore those options a bit, and you might find that those faders become a lot more useful to you, even if they often operate just as buttons.
 
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Dragonfire

Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2020
Location
Atlanta, GA
My current setup has 3 different midi controllers, so I would definitely be trying to have those add on to whatever console I get. I know almost all of them support midi in. I'll look at the Chamsys community mentioned, and try to find more about the other options like Hog, Ma, or Avo. I really want to test out all of the software, or at least find videos of what programming on them is like as a way to compare the options.
 

Amiers

Renting to Corporate One Fixture at a Time.
Joined
May 28, 2009
Location
Phoenix, Az
So with Ma and Hogs the faders are used as playbacks. In each fader you have a cue stack. Those stacks have your “scenes” in them. The faders have buttons above and below them to act as anything you want. Bump, Strobe, etc etc. Most of the bands have everything preprogrammed and the show stays the same maybe some tweaks here and there. So it isn’t a true flash n trash busk slap show. You run through your stacks as the band plays their set. Big EDM and DJing that stuff is all also preprogrammed. DROP THE BEAT lights flash and blind lasers shoot off. Could be done from a OSC or some other form to make the console do what it needs to do down to the millisecond. Making the lighting OP a glorified babysitter/backup for if something stops routing.

Your use of midi pads are no different and just another form of control. The only downside is you don’t have ability to change that midi button on the fly as it’s a one and done. That’s why you have 3 pads. With the consoles if something doesn’t look right you grab those fixtures do your changes and update the cue and whala in however long it takes you to make the changes now you are good to go.


Pro consoles give you major flexibility that is their advantage.
 
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