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Automated Fixtures Why is intelligent lighting "dumb" on an ETC Lightboard

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Mullet1215, Aug 20, 2008.

  1. Mullet1215

    Mullet1215 Member

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    Ok... I want to start by saying that I have never used Inelligent lighting before (as far as moving heads goes) and I am going to be working on a show later this year with between 5 and 10 Mac 500s. I am most familiar with using ETC Lighting Consoles but I have heard people say that "It is a sin to put anything above a scroller on an ETC Light Board." I already expect that it is going to take hours and hours of programing to get them to work and look the way I want them to. But I have been playing with the personalities on ETC's Offline Editor. And I decided that to try to simplify the programing I could make groups of the channels that controled color and gobo and so on. Then it will only leave me to adjust the pan and tilt on each which after a while should start to look familar.

    Anyways, I was wondering what makes intelligent lighting and ETC lighting consoles like oil and water? (as far as everyone says) because I have always had great experiences doing everything else on an ETC board.

    Feel free to point out something glaringly obvious that I may be forgeting or not completly understanding.
     
  2. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    It's better or worse depending on which board you're using. However with the new Ion and EOS board from ETC it has gotten MUCH easier. However programming moving heads on any Express board is a pain because it lacks encoder wheels and you're forced to use the trackpad which is slow and annoying. You'll get caluses on the tips of your fingers from all the trackpad rubbing. The Insight, Expression and Obsession boards have Encoder wheels and are much better. It's basically just difficult and time consuming whereas with the new boards it's much easier.
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I can't recall anyone on CB ever saying it was a sin, just that it's difficult, and there are better alternatives.

    Until the Eos/Ion, ETC lagged behind FPS/Martin/MA Lighting, and others (even Strand) in their support of Moving Light control. Most other traditional theatre manufacturers fell behind also. The addition of the five attribute encoders on the Expression3 in 1998 helped, but they were still working off of 1988 hardware and software designs. ObsessionII was better than orginal Obsession, but suffered similar problems.

    Unfairly, ETC takes the brunt of the blame because they're the most popular. Many other manufacturers klooged control of MLs onto their prior "Dimmer Only" consoles in an even worse fashion. Most of these consoles were designed after DMX in 1986, but before MLs became available to the masses in the late 1990s. It's sort of like watching a VHS tape (EP) on a 1080p Plasma TV; or if you prefer, watching a BluRay DVD on a B&W TV.

    What console are you using? I'm assuming some flavor of Express. See http://www.controlbooth.com/forums/lighting/8640-microvision-fx-intelligent-lighting.html for a map of how I like to lay out channels if possible. Make friends with "focus points" and the <only> key, which allows you to selectively recall IFCB parameters, what other desks call "masking." The stock ETC personality is Martin's mode2 for the MAC500's. The two channels one loses by not using mode4 are speed channels, which most people don't know how to use properly anyway.

    Using MLs on an Express for a play or musical is quite different, and significantly easier; than busking a rock show, which is almost impossible. What is the show, and what console are you using?
     
    Serendipity and (deleted member) like this.
  4. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree with Derek 100%. Having programed MLs on an ETC Express 3 and looking at that board like a relief from the pain and agony of doing it on an Innovator 48/96 I can assure you that it can be done.

    Also I think it's slightly amusing that you want groups for color and gobos (for which there are only really 2 x 9 for 18 posible colors and 6 + 9 for 15 posibilites with the gobo) where there are more or less infinate places for pan and tilt to go. What I would do is start out with focus groups for common locations (CC, lead guitar mic, etc...) and then you have saved yourself a whole lot of pan and tilt action. You may need to massage things some, but really when is massage not your best option.

    One last note, given that you're using 5 - 10 macs I'm gonna guess you've got some kind of budget, you might look into renting a board that handles MLs in a more natural manner (ETC Ion, any of the newer Strand Palettes or the 300/500 series, or even something of the Martin or HES variety if it'll fit what you're doing). Who ever is paying for it might not like the extra rental cost but if you can reduce your programing time drastically and possibly produce a even better show it might be worth it to them.

    EDIT: Derek caught me flat out and brought up a few other good points in a PM.
    1) It was an Expression 3. The 'ion' makes a pretty big difference.

    2) One could argue since there are two different wheels that there are actually 6 * 9 = groups to be had instead of 6 + 9 = 15 groups. This is one of those lighting philosophy questions and if this thread goes that way I'll dive into it deeper but I bet it's been covered more than 5 times already in easily findable threads. Basically I wouldn't want my groups to incompass all of the end results (54 gobo posibilities gets crazy if you add in rotation speed) I just want all of the possible gobos at easy access and I will mix, match, and rotate as I please after that. So all I would need is 15 groups and if I want one gobo from each wheel then I will call the groups seperately. This is by no means the only way but its the one that makes sence to me.

    3) On a final note, it was brought to my attention that doing MLs the hard way is a good practise so that if you are forced to do it the hard way later on you can. This comes down, in my mind, to the question of are you doing this show as a student or something of that nature or are you being hired to be the most up to date cost efficient stage hand possible (I realize that for the most part we are all life time students of theatre but I bet you can figure out what I mean).

    I can only give my point of view here because to be honest this is my first encounter with the OP (probably due to my extended absence from the board). Right now I'm paid the same no matter how long it takes me, my equiptment will be exactly the same for the forseable future, and I'm a lighting geek so I'll be looking into equiptment that I'm not using anyway cause that's the way I am. I'd rent a Maxxyz because it handles all kinds of moving lights in a stupid easy way, it's what I'm using now, and like I said I've already done it the hard way a few times.

    If on the other hand you are a high school student looking to graduate and go into technical theatre or a college student lookin to get paying gigs in or around the city your school and the theatre doesn't mind paying you a few more hours (something it sounds like they're willing to do already in your case) it would probably be a great idea for you to do it the hard way so that when theatre X goes we have old board Y from the mid 90's and we want MLs for our show not only are you going to know how to do it but you are going to have a good knowledge base as to what can and can't be done (example you'd never get 10 MAC 500's on an Express 24/48 there just aren't enough channels).

    Theres my 2 1/2 cents, you got an extra half tonight hope the info is useful and not just me blabing. PS Derek I'm sorry I went over it but I don't have my spell check right now.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2008
  5. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    ETC consoles are not easy to program with movers mainly because they were originally not designed for them. Programming the lights to move and set themselves in position during a blackout is not very easy. Then if you want the fixture to go to blue, you have to look at the dmx chart for the fixture and set the value proportionately. If you just guess through it until it turns blue you may find out that it will actually slowly transition to another color (chosing a very slow color roll rather than the indexed blue value). Also moving lights have control functions such as home, lamp on and lamp off. You will have to find the values and enter them in. Also (especially with martin) they do not have a seprate control channel, the control fuctions are on the strobe channel. So if you are trying to get a real fast strobe, you can easly lamp off the fixture or re home it. If you lamp off a fixture while its good and hot it can take between 5 and 10 min for it to lamp back on. Also you will quickly learn that say for example you have an actor who is slightly off spot, you cannot simply move the fixture onto that spot, if you touch the touch pad the fixture will go flying off stage and then you will have to move the fixture into the appropriate area, which is completely unacceptable for actual performances.
     
  6. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree with Derek 100%. Having programed MLs on an ETC Express 3 and looking at that board like a relief from the pain and agony of doing it on an Innovator 48/96 I can assure you that it can be done.

    Also I think it's slightly amusing that you want groups for color and gobos (for which there are only really 2 x 9 for 18 posible colors and 6 + 9 for 15 posibilites with the gobo) where there are more or less infinate places for pan and tilt to go. What I would do is start out with focus groups for common locations (CC, lead guitar mic, etc...) and then if you have saved yourself a whole lot of pan and tilt action. You may need to massage things some, but really when is massage not your best option.

    One last note, given that you're using 5 - 10 macs I'm gonna guess you've got some kind of budget,you might look into renting a board that handles MLs in a more natural manner (ETC Ion, any of the newer Strand Palettes or the 300/500 series, or even something of the Martin or HES variety if it'll fit what you're doing). Who ever is paying for it might not like the extra rental cost but if you can reduce your programing time drastically and possibly produce and even better show it might be worth it to them.
     
  7. TimMiller

    TimMiller Well-Known Member

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    I'd pick up a hog 1000. It is easy to program and has a very close syntax to the ETC consoles.
     
  8. indyLD

    indyLD Member

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    After having attempted to progam a few scanners on a Jands Event Plus years ago, I swore I would only ever use a proper moving light desk. Although I haven't used many ETC consoles, I can see that the control surface of the older desks (as has been said) was not designed for this purpose. It looks like hard work - but hey I find the 300/500 series too much like hard work.

    I agree with the sentiment about trying to get another control. Theres no point in have the abilities of moving lights, only to be hampered by what you can do with them. And if you are not an experienced programmer, it is 500% worse trying to get your fixtures to do what you want.

    A general point about using non-moving light controllers is htp vs ltp channel control. Just thought I'd mention it for any newbies reading.
     
  9. SerraAva

    SerraAva Active Member

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    When using movers on a ETC Express line, groups, subs, and macros are your friends. Don't forget you can also still set channels between HTP or LTP and turn on Independent mode in the Channel Attributes menu in Setup (11). Those few things help. Focus Points help as well, though they are just groups with a different name.

    5-10 Macs though, would look into renting a console at that point as others have stated already. That's quite a lot to do on an Express line. If using an Expression 3, it will be easier. An Insight 3 would be the best thanks to 1080 subs, 10 pages of 108 per page. I would strongly suggest going with a moving light console if you don't have ample time to program.
     
  10. sclausenETC

    sclausenETC Active Member

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    It's so nice to have so many folks that can help with questions like these! :)

    I have only one thing to add here, and that is in response to the comment that Focus Points are just Groups with a different name. This is misleading. Focus Points are referenced groups - meaning that if you have channels (parameters of fixtures) set to reference a Focus Point instead of simply setting levels for those parameters, you can update the Focus Point with new data and ALL CUES that reference that point will have that updated data on playback.

    Groups do not perform this function in the Express/ion line.

    Stepping back into the shadows...

    Sarah

    Sarah Clausen
    Controls Product Manager
    ETC, Inc.
     
  11. indyLD

    indyLD Member

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    I have a question that has always puzzled me about the semantics of lighting control. We all know that different consoles use different terminology but...

    Why do *certain* consoles use the term Groups when they clearly mean Pallettes, Focusses ( or pretty much any other word that isn't Groups) ? I'm sure that the CBerati will be able to help me with this one.
     
  12. Mullet1215

    Mullet1215 Member

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    In response to the getting caluses on my fingers you DO know that you can use the [+] and [-] keys to "scroll" through intensities, right?

    So from the sound of it it is actually possible it just takes a long time to do. As far as focus points will someone explain to me how they are similar to groups because as far as I was aware they were more like a memory of a certain spot on stage (pan-tilt wise) that could be recalled later. Is that acruate? And how much if any of my programing can I do without the lights sitting in front of me?
     
  13. Mullet1215

    Mullet1215 Member

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    Also, Will I have to have seperate cues for my moving and my conventional lighting? (conventional on A/B fader and Moving on C/D Fader) I need a new cue for whenever a ML changes position right?
     
  14. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    Yes I know you can scroll through intensities with + and - but it's much easier once you setup personalities properly to just type in [FIXTURE] + [FIXTURE NUMBER] and then use the Trackpad to control and set PAN and TILT. Focus points are pretty useless to me because usually in the productions I do the director rarely ever stands people in the same spot more than once unless there is a podium there or it's a key spot for monologues.
     
  15. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Expounding on Sarah's comments, "Focus Points" are more valuable, and work differently, than groups in that they can store all parameters, and be recalled selectively by using the [only] key. On the Express, I think it's a softkey. (Recalling from memory from 6 years ago, syntax may not be exact!, check the manual.) [Fixt] x [thru] y [at] [only] [color] [focus point] z [enter] [rec] [cue] a [track] [enter] [cue] a [go-ab] [rel] [rel] [rel]. Then if you decide the color is wrong, changing the color in FP# z will also change it in all cues that reference FP# z.

    Yes, you need a new cue for whenever a mover changes any parameter, not just position. Conventionals and movers can live on the same fader-A/B, leaving the C/D fader available for sub-routines (chases, can-cans, ballyhoos, rainbow color chase, etc.).

    Again, since you haven't answered the questions previously asked, is the show a play, musical, variety show, or concert? Are you intending on cuing the entire show from start to finish, or will there be busking? Which ETC console are you using?
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  16. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    No, not always, at least not in my experience, but my experience is all musicals and drama. We have 4 Apollo RightArms at my college and while they are much more simple, the basics of programming are the same. You will need a cue for each time you change any attributes on the fixture, but I found I can usually incorporate these into other already existing cues. Some examples would be if I'm using an Arm or I KNOW I will need it in the next cue and it's not being used in the previous 2 cues (I'll explain why 2 cues in a sec) then I will move it in THAT cue. This will get it into position for when I need it. Now the reason you need a 2 cue buffer is because if you're using it only 2 cues before...when you hit GO the fixture will start moving to it's next position before the light fully goes out. So you have 1 cue to black it out and then 1 cue to move/focus/set gobo's...etc it and then 1 cue to bring it back up with the new attributes.

    These cues most of the the time can be incorporated into already existing cues and don't need their own cues. However they do sometimes need their own cues if you can't get that 2 cue buffer. I've found on the ETC Express board the easiest way to do this is to set a follow cue. So you would have one cue to black the fixture out and then you would save the cue again with only the attributes of the fixture changed. For example I usually number Follow Cues with a .5 or .2 at the end to make it easy for the SM understand that this is a follow cue and they don't need to call it out. So

    Cue 1 would be the scene before the mover change
    Cue 2 would be the Fixture Fadeout this cue would have an Auto-Follow set for however long the cue takes to go (so if the Fadeout is 3 seconds then the follow needs to be 3 seconds)
    Cue 2.5 would be EXACTLY the same as Cue 2 EXCEPT for the moving fixtures attributes would change to the next needed values (Position, Color...etc.) This cue would go automatically due to the previous cue having a follow on it.
    Cue 3 would bring the fixture back up to the needed intensity

    I found it was easiest to keep the movers position CAPTURED and just trained myself to never hit the release button twice so they would always stay in the last position. This is fine for me because I usually build every cue from scratch using Submasters and Fader Bank on the 48/96 which is our main board. Using the [FIXTURE]+{FIXTURE NUMBER] method of changing the PAN and TILT of a fixture captures the channel attributes.

    Once again, the Focus Point button is basically useless to me because the Director never usually places a person in the same spot consistently.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2008
  17. sclausenETC

    sclausenETC Active Member

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    Howdy -

    Regarding the cueing thing, Express/ion consoles do not really work like any other multi-cue list console, so thinking of separating your movers from your conventionals in that way will only get you into trouble. ;-)

    Regarding the naming of console functions, the answer is simply that there is no standard. The term "palette" for example is not the standard term. It's simply become the de facto standard because of the Hog 2 console. To my knowledge there is only one console that calls palettes groups, but that is because it's actually using the group object for a new purpose. In other words, if you record group 1 you cannot also have a focus group 1... I may be mistaken in that though.

    As a console developer, I actually wish we did have some standard names for these things. But more importantly I wish that moving light manufacturers would standardize the naming of parameters. Managing parameter names is probably the most painful aspect of moving light control nowadays...

    Getting off my soapbox now :)

    Sarah

    Sarah Clausen
    Controls Product Manager
    ETC, Inc.
     
  18. Mullet1215

    Mullet1215 Member

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    Sorry I forgot to answer these questions earlier. It is a variety show with music, dance and comedy acts, but the movers will probably only be used for the music and dance acts. It is my intention to cue the whole show from start to finish because I may need to train a board op ( and I would really like to only depend on someone to press [Cue Go]) And finnaly I will be using (or I currently have in my order) a Express 250.
     
  19. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Remember as well that when Expression, then Express were released - early 90's ?, there was no Vista, nor GrandMA, I don't think Hog1 had been released and at this stage in console development, the manufacturers were still learning (and still are to a good extent) how to deal with ML's, all while the movers themselves were changing and growing.

    Thus the Express/ion uses terminology that was appropriate to the era, groups being a common term for exactly what it is - a group of channels, which is something most theatrical designers call/ed them.

    Palette was a console from Strand, until Flying Pig used the term for what ETC called Focus Points - which in my mind is very descriptive, except when using it for something other then position. The learning curve is still climbing here.

    If you want a sense of how consoles develop and change, go thru a years worth of posts on the ETC Eos/Ion and Congo/Jr. forums and see how consoles are no longer being developed in secret in the factory by a bunch of engineers, but instead by a lot of theater people with a website where they get feedback from other users in the field and then subsequently and frequently adapt the console to what all those users requirements and experiences represent.

    It's a remarkable step forward in console development, IMO.

    Steve B.
     
  20. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    First I'd like to correct an error in my last post it was an Expression 3 that I programmed on not an Express 3.

    Moving on. You have now told us that you have an Express 250 and want to program 5 - 10 Mac 500s. Lets take a little walk down math lane here. The Express 250 has 250 channels. A Mac 500 takes up 12 - 16 channels per unit. So you are going to need anywere from 60 to 160 channels just to control your MLs before even taking into concideration your conventionals. Well that's a big range, so lets look at what I would call your most common layouts.

    First of all, please get pairs of lights unless you have a specific reason to have an odd number. I'm going to guess you don't so I'm going to only use the numbers 6, 8, and 10 as posibilities.

    Second, channel usage. Two of the possile extra channels are for 16 bit pan and tilt over 8 bit. 16 bit isn't exactly fun on an Express and in your situation it's two channels you can save. Vector movement is another option but having never used it myself and reading over it's description in the users manual I'd say scrap it and save channels. So 12 channels per unit it is.

    Math time, this is where you look at your current plot and figure out how many lights you are going to use to see what you have room for. Here are the options that I've narrowed down to:

    6 fixtures @ 12 channels each = 72 channels
    8 fixtures @ 12 channels each = 96 channels
    10 fixtures @ 12 channels each = 120 channels

    So if you only have one rack of 96 dimmers you can get the full load of 10 fixtures with room to spare. But if you have 192 dimmers and you want to use all of them you might want to look into renting another console or just getting 4 Macs as that is all that will fit channel wise.

    Final thought, since the express can output to two different universes I would HIGHLY suggest running the MLs on universe two if it is currently unused as is commonly the case. This way you don't have to worry about overlapping control channels and dimmers.
     

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