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Thread: Intelligent Lighting 101 tips?

  1. #11
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    Thanks guys -
    That's exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for, and I do appreciate the tips!

    I still have a lot of practice to do yet with the D-Pro software, so for the upcoming Christmas show I'll probably keep the DMX lighting effects pretty basic, but hope to do MUCH more with DMX lighting and lasers over the next year!

    So far, the Enttec interface and D-Pro software seem to be working out quite well for me, plus the software can simultaneously send via the interface or artNET, which is a big plus since I can use it and the Pangolin software simultaneously with Light Converse.

    Seeing that my "lighting studio" is a 1-bedroom apartment, that last capability is huge for me!!

    Appreciate any tips from anyone who wants to share!
    Last edited by Stuka; 12-09-2014 at 15:52.
    RR

    Metrologic HeNe 3.3mw Modulated laser, 2 Radio Shack motors, and a broken mirror.
    1979.
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  2. #12
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    Not technical advice. But one thing I learnt a long time ago from watching good UK producers, and arising from the generally different approaches of US and UK producers, is try and keep the lasers and other lighting separate. That doesn't mean never mix them, but 90+ % of the time, keep them separate. Laser looks far better when not washed out by general lighting and general lighting looks better when it doesn't have weak looking laser mixed in with it. You also give your audience eye cooling breaks by taking this approach. Obvious I know, but it's something that seems to get passed over a lot in the US in favour of having as much lighting on as possible at the same time, especially those dammed LED screens.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by White-Light View Post
    Not technical advice. But one thing I learnt a long time ago from watching good UK producers, and arising from the generally different approaches of US and UK producers, is try and keep the lasers and other lighting separate. That doesn't mean never mix them, but 90+ % of the time, keep them separate. Laser looks far better when not washed out by general lighting and general lighting looks better when it doesn't have weak looking laser mixed in with it. You also give your audience eye cooling breaks by taking this approach. Obvious I know, but it's something that seems to get passed over a lot in the US in favour of having as much lighting on as possible at the same time, especially those dammed LED screens.
    Good point on keeping everything separate ~
    And I agree about the LED screens; seems like every one I've seen in action lately has been so "over the top" it washed out everything else around it!
    RR

    Metrologic HeNe 3.3mw Modulated laser, 2 Radio Shack motors, and a broken mirror.
    1979.
    Sweet.....

  4. #14
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    As with all good music it's a case of dynamics and light and shade. Firing off strobes works much better if everything is in blackout. Also, if you have dimmers on the fixtures use them. Even very subtle shifting of a chase from full snap to a little dimming can have an impact on the overall feel of a show.
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  5. #15
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    Question aimed towards Norty but anyone can chime in. It was going to be lengthy but I don't have time to type it all so, in a nut shell, when using a lighting desk or controller... since every venue is different when your going in and setting up, do you have to sit there before the show and dream up all of your scenes and get them all programed at each different gig? (Hopefully I used the right term) How many different scenes to you come up with and program in that case?

    I understand that with a concert tour, since the stage is pretty much identical every time it's set up, that hundreds or thousands of scenes can actually be programmed but, for someone with a handful of moving heads that might be in a different venue for a wedding each weekend, when you arrive and set up, that must be an extremely lengthy process to have to get your pan/tilt/color/gobo/effect positions set up, evaluated, programmed and tested. Sometimes you don't have that kind of time... am I understanding the process correctly?

  6. #16
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    Hi Brad

    I can explain it from the perspective of the sorts of shows I do which are 'busked' shows rather than very accurately programmed 'scened' shows (which are more traditionally theatre style setups - move from cue 1 to cue 2, to cue 3, etc)

    I set up the desk to give me fast access to a wide variety of looks and effects that I can use on demand, and a lot of this makes use of a thing that all half decent desks have - an effects engine.

    I actually have a default patch on my desk of all my fixtures I own, along with some basic setup stuff, pan and tilt sine waves on faders for the movement, some chases generated by the FX engine, some standard 'position' cues.

    So, lets say I do a show with 6 movers and a couple of Atomics.

    I'd probably have some position cues called 'In', 'Out', 'Cross', Dancefloor, DJ, 'Environment', etc which are basically just scenes or 'looks' which point the heads in an appropriate direction. They either do a job (light the DJ, light the dancefloor, pick out architectural features, etc) or look pretty (light the air in an aesthetic static pattern), or do both. I have them as soft buttons on a touch screen in my software. Note, they are ONLY positions. Pressing a button just makes the heads move to that position, they won't come on until I add a dimmer cue and perhaps a colour.
    I would usually record these as palettes first, then as cues, as palettes are better ways of working for all types of head, particularly when moving between venues as you can edit the palette and all derived cues will track the changes.

    From there I have 2 physical faders which I record a sinewave to the pan and tilt attributes of the heads. The height of the fader is usually assigned to the speed of the movement (although it can be size or other attributes, I tend to set size when i record it to the playback fader, although its easy to adjust on the fly. This is mainly to stop it rotating 540 degrees all the time, by focussing it on the place I want it. I hate seeing moving heads wanging around all over the floor/ceiling/back wall when you really want the eye candy beams facing towards your audience as much as possible)

    So, I can now point my heads where I want them, and then can apply some movement, centred around those target locations. Equal amounts of fader on pan and tilt will result in a circle. My desk allows FX to be spread over multiple heads, so at 0% they all do the same thing, at 100% they will be equally spread over the cycle (Imagine a circle. If you had 4 heads with 100% spread you would have heads pointing at 0, 90, 180 and 270 degrees). This is entirely configurable on the fly, so you can do ripples (around 10%), pairs (200%) and all sorts of other combos. You can choose whether the sine is smooth, or snapped, or somewhere in between, and many other attribute options. Again, I don't need to program any of these directly, I can manipulate them on the fly as required.

    If I have an effect programmed for 6 heads, and then the next job I do only uses 4 heads I can 'clone' the effect onto only 4 heads, and then go up to 8 or 16 for the next job. As required really.

    For basic head chases I don't tend to use a 'chase' as you might understand it. I use the fx engine again to do a dimmer chase.
    I tend to use my desk in a psuedo theatre style for this, as I have a playback fader doing a core set of dimmer functions.
    Usually 4 in the following order - Full open/Half tempo faded chase/On tempo snap chase/2x or 3x tempo random chase.
    These are all based on using a standard dimmer chase fx, just setting different attributes like head order, snap, pulse width, etc differently. I can program that dimmer playback in about 3 or 4 mins.

    what this means is that I have a fader that controls brighness, and stacked up on that are 4 different states that I can cycle through forwards/backwards using the go/stop buttons associated with the fader. So I can select an appropriate look very easily. I may do some other special dimmer stuff on a second fader as 4 is about the limit of usability. Otherwise you have to go through too many other states to get the one you want (and bear in mind you're usually doing this whilst the fader is up). So I can go from full on to very fast snap chase (strobe is you will) just by pressing the back button once (they loop round).

    Colours I tend to have soft buttons for most of the nice colour options, and set up some for mixed colours combinations (blue/yellow, red/white, blue/amber, cyan/deep blue). Again, once set up as palettes they are easier to re-use.

    Gobos are the same.

    Atomics I tend to do a small stack of 3 or 4 cues on a single fader (which controls intensity) just like for the dimmers. So maybe 'Single flash in time with tempo'/Double time single flash/fast Strobe/Full Blinder in that order.

    My desk has a thing called 'Swap' which basically means that certain playbacks or cues can be set to 'solo' (usually when using the flash buttons for a playback. So, if the strobe is set to swap, pressing the button will automatically turn off everything else that may be up, for the duration of the button press. With a few playbacks of different stuff setup you can 'play' the flash buttons for some cool effects.

    Also, with a few small changes to that, I can make the show go autopilot to a certain extent, for those slow dragging gigs at 5am when you've been up for 20 hours and lack the impetus to 'drive' the thing on full manual



    So, with a patch like that, I'd go into my new venue, set up the lighting, adjust the 'cloning' for the correct number of heads on the job, edit each of the position cues so they point at where the DJ is/nice piece of architecture is, do a few 'specials' perhaps, and thats it.

    This is why i bang on about people using a half decent control solution, preferably with physical control surface. Aside from having clever and intuitive controls, it really makes things easier.
    Effects engines just make life so much easier, as do palettes.
    Knowing your desk helps a lot too.

    Fundamentally though, programming a rock'n'roll/DJ style show these days is not about recording loads and loads of individual scenes. Its more about defining some core stuff and letting the power of the computer calculate paths dynamically.

    I [almost] NEVER record a cue with pan/tilt/dimmer/colour/gobo on it as this is too specific. I program a position cue, a colour cue, a gobo cue and a dimmer cue and the combinations can be changed on the fly.

    That probably doesn't make much sense but I don't have time to go back and check it right now, bvut you did ask! It's actually much more straightforward in practise than having to type it out!
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    You are using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?

    I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain.

  7. #17
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    Thank you immensly! I know that was a lot to write as it was a lot to read and digest! But it helps a great deal in figuring out how best to run these moving heads I seem to be snapping up almost as fast as laser bits! LOL

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    I've been looking at the Elation Show Designer 1 or 2 and also saw a High End Systems Hog 1000 although I know you talked about not buying something that's a couple years old as it's older technology. I just can't help but wonder how bad a Hog can be though.

    I liked the idea of downloading the Chamsys software and using my Entec box. Do you see that as viable over a proper desk for the time being? It seems like going with a desk with an effects engine means your buying something designed to run like 50 fixtures in a theater. I'm using maybe 4-6 moving heads.
    I don't want to overbuy, if I can help it. I'll probably never recoup the investment in the first place.

  9. #19
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    Brad, when I say 'proper desk' I mean the newer generation of control which includes Chamsys MagicQ and Avo Titan one PC solutions. I use Chamsys on a PC with touch screens and a PC Wing.
    Fixture count is not the stat you should be measuring these things by. Iirc that Hog is DECADES old, not just a few years.
    I can only really advise you about what I know but I've been lighting stuff since 1992 from Pulsar Masterpiece and Enigma Micro up to the current stuff, using freeware and all sorts along the way.

    You can use Chamsys just fine on the PC but it'll never be as good as using it with a wing. The whole point of a lighting desk for shows is the interface it brings between your hands and the fixtures
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    You are using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?

    I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain.

  10. #20
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    Ok. Ok. I get it.... (I know you probably feel like you're talking to a brick wall at times!)

    I just know I had seen someone suggest getting the MaqicQ software and using an Entec box and thought that could be a good start since I only have a few lights. (I downloaded it already and I have an Entec.)

    I also figured most of the stuff in the HighEnd Systems Hog family was sort of an industry accepted "standard" and could be worth considering. That, and MA, of course. I'm still scouring eBay though and the Elation siad it had an effects engine.

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