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Thread: Intelligent Lighting 101 tips?

  1. #1
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    Default Intelligent Lighting 101 tips?

    I'm making my first leap into the world of intelligent lighting moving head fixtures as part of my semi-annual Christmas laser and light show.
    I'll be using a pair of Chauvet Intimidator Spot 150 LED's, controlled with Enttec D-Pro DMX software (and triggered via MIDI from Beyond).
    I have several PAR-56 LED fixtures to go with them, along with a couple of Chauvet Swarm FX lights.
    Current plan is to fly everything from 10-foot truss system.

    Nothing too extravagant, but plenty for my hobbyist-size shows and a hobbyist-size (and usually blown!) budget

    I'll be depending heavily on visualizer software (Light Converse) for most of my pre-show planning, since I really don't have the time/place to setup the rig ahead of time for experimenting.

    I understand the technical aspect of programming everything, so what I'm looking for is perhaps some effective techniques to use when programming the intelligent lights -
    i.e. tips on positioning, color / dimmer / gobo transitions, etc. - basically, how to make things look good, without being too "over the top".

    Any tips for making the most of the gear I have available would be most appreciated!
    Thanks!

    Randy
    Last edited by Stuka; 12-09-2014 at 08:29.
    RR

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

  2. #2
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    In right there with you in the same boat, just on a little bit more expensive scale. I'm wading into the murky waters of moving head fixtures and trying to find information as well. I have 2 Chauvet Intimidator Beam 350's (which I'm looking to sell.) I just got 4 Chauvet Intimdator Spot 350's plus I have the 2 American DJ Vizi Beam Hybrid 2r's you saw at SELEM. (I plan on a couple more of those.) I'm getting somewhat proficient in "playing" them live with a regular DMX controller with sliders but, you can't do that and be juggling an APC40 at the same time. I'm not as up to speed on the programming of everything like you are and it's been suggested by Norty that I get a dedicated lighting desk to make life easier but, I also understand where you are coming from about wanting to hear about the best ways to use them in the first place.

    I'm learning that there are certain "patterns" of movements that designers sometimes follow with moving head lights - whether that's something like figure 8's or Z's, some of which are built into lighting software directly. I think every venue is different and therefore may require different planning but it will be interesting to hear about any "rules of thumb".

  3. #3
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    Hey Brad -
    You DO realize it's your fault I decided to take the plunge into intelligent lighting, don't you?!
    (SELEM 2014 has proven to be the money pit that keeps on giving - or should I say, taking - months later!! LOL!!)

    Depending on how thing's go with just two fixtures, I could definitely see adding more later.
    That said, I doubt I will ever take the plunge into a full-fledged dedicated lighting desk ~
    Most of what I plan to do (adding additional lighting to pre-programmed choreographed laser shows) I can do with software, and the MIDI integration is enough that my various MIDI controllers and iPad can provide all the realtime hands-on control I'll need.

    Hopefully...

    But yeah, any "rules of thumb" from those who already know what they are doing would be nice to hear!!
    RR

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

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuka View Post
    Hey Brad -
    You DO realize it's your fault I decided to take the plunge into intelligent lighting, don't you?!
    Yes.... I will "man up" and accept full responsibility for that. The spot 150's are a great start.

    Just because I'm evil.... check out Sweetwater.com. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/IntSpotL150 0% interest for 24 months. You can afford $16 a month, can't you? Absolutley NO money out of pocket and you'd have a few more for your Christmas display.

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    One rule of thumb is don't assume you'll be able to use your existing midi hardware with any software worth its salt. Most are locked to proprietary hardware to ensure they get some return on investment.

    Another rule is that no matter how fancy your fixtures are, if you can't contril them effectively, it's all for nothing. Do not underestimate what a good desk/controller can do for a load of cheap lighting. The opposite is generally not true.
    http://www.facebook.com/SubsonicSystems
    http://www.frikkinlazors.co.uk

    You are using Bonetti's defense against me, ah?

    I thought it fitting, considering the rocky terrain.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bradfo69 View Post
    Yes.... I will "man up" and accept full responsibility for that. The spot 150's are a great start.

    Just because I'm evil.... check out Sweetwater.com. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/IntSpotL150 0% interest for 24 months. You can afford $16 a month, can't you? Absolutley NO money out of pocket and you'd have a few more for your Christmas display.
    Fortunately - or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it - I have a close business relationship with my very own Sweetwater sales rep.
    Between building my "hobby studio", and now adding to the lighting inventory, I'm a frequent returning customer.
    Good thing they don't sell high-end laser equipment!

    Quote Originally Posted by norty303 View Post
    One rule of thumb is don't assume you'll be able to use your existing midi hardware with any software worth its salt. Most are locked to proprietary hardware to ensure they get some return on investment.

    Another rule is that no matter how fancy your fixtures are, if you can't contril them effectively, it's all for nothing. Do not underestimate what a good desk/controller can do for a load of cheap lighting. The opposite is generally not true.
    No doubt that the proper control rig would open up some possibilites, especially for live control.
    That said, since my primary goal is programmed playback (I have little interest in the club scene, raves, etc...I outgrew most of that in the '90's...), my main interest is making the most - visually - out of what I do have. A high-end control desk isn't going to give the lights I do have additional features - everything they are capable of doing can be done with software control, perhaps just not as conveniently in real time. I'm already aware of the limitations and capabilities that my current control system might have, and I'm 99% sure it's going to meet all my "requirements" (as if a hobby really had any...) for the foreseeable future.

    So I guess what I - and maybe Brad - are looking for are some tips on techniques on how to best "visually utilize" intelligent lights, regardless of the system being used to control them.
    Head positioning, transitions, etc. that might be useful and visually effective, especially when combined with lasers.
    Last edited by Stuka; 12-09-2014 at 11:53.
    RR

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

  7. #7
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    I am not a light guy by trade, but.... I believe what Norty said is dead on. The built in chases in most lights are pretty worthless. The low-end software is pretty worthless. I have seen guys at shows with 40 fixtures using cheap chuavet and ADJ controllers look like a a glorified wedding dj on crack. I have seen shows with 8 martin 101's and a hog controller look awesome.

  8. #8
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    The lights and software are plenty capable; zero reliance on crappy DJ controllers or built-in chases.

    SO, going back to what I DO have...

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuka View Post
    ...So I guess what I - and maybe Brad - are looking for are some tips on techniques on how to best "visually utilize" intelligent lights, regardless of the system being used to control them.
    Head positioning, transitions, etc. that might be useful and visually effective, especially when combined with lasers.
    RR

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

  9. #9
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    I am a 20 year veteran of the lighting industry, have designed and programmed tiny clubs to 400 fixture mega raves with all of the major consoles/lighting software. I can tell you that good programming is key above everything else. You can make a dozen cheap 150w Elation/ADJ/Chauvet heads look like the mothership just landed with some good programming. That being said, you don't need the $75k consoles or $5k consoles for that matter either. The simplest setup if to go out and buy an Enttec USB to DMX dongle for $175 and download Chamsys MagicQ PC software for $0 and start learning. The Enttec software is also a good alternative.
    Chamsys makes full size lighting desks that are used professionally all over, and the free software is the same used on the larger desks so you have pro level capability in a much smaller package for next to nothing.
    The software takes MIDI trigger inputs so you can fire lighting cues from your laser control app.
    As far as actual programming, I would say if you want the laser show to be the star of the show, stick with having the movers create a dark colored base layer like dark blue or red. Slow movements that scan the floor, slow fades and changes work best to contrast the beams and don't draw attention away from the laser show.
    I like to create smooth fading chases that match the music tempo to create some extra 'movement' to the lighting. I stay away from jarring movements or really fast changes unless the music calls for it then you can speed up the rates a bit.
    Adding little embellishments like bumping the pars to white, quick strobing, and color changes help to liven things up on the fly.

  10. #10
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    I glazed over the fact you already had software. Sorry bout that. After re-reading your first post I would say get as much time behind your gear as possible. I personally hate seeing gobo wheels change. I don't know why? Just hate it. Things I think look cool: Slightly offset movements. For example; if you are doing a figure 8 "can can" type movement a slight offset of a few degrees from fixtures has a cool look. Also a big fan of fades to black (when musically appropriate). Offset strobing is cool. Example, if you have 4 fixtures, flash 2 of them. Then when off and the other two are on change position of two that are off. repeat. Makes a cool dynamic movement.

    I have a enttec dongle too. It has been flawless over the last 2 or 3 years. Nice piece.
    Last edited by logsquared; 12-09-2014 at 13:12.

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