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Hello, I'm a sound and lighting engineer working both as a house technician and band FOH. In all cases I run both boards. My history with lighting is ETA and Lightronics 2 scene consoles with bump buttons and chases and I got pretty good at that back in the 80's.

Currently working with a band that has Elation Operator, 5x 7ch LED strips and 4x mini motorized fixtures (need to get brand and model for you). Having some fun getting used to programming scenes prior to shows, aiming wigglies and doing some spot work on the fly during shows.

I've also purchased a band's old gear including PAR56 cans and Operator PRO console. I think this will serve me well as most bands like to use lesser current draw devices but I enjoy having some PAR fixtures for beams, front spots (with color gels of my choice). The array of DMX controllers seems bewildering but for now this is what I have.

Have spent some time reading on this Forum and have found some info but not exactly all that I need for now. Can you help?

The Op has 8 scenes x 30 banks = 240 whereas the OPro has (DMX side) 8 scenes x 12? for 96 total scenes is this correct?

Our stage setup is not the same every time and for now we put a wiggly on top of each speaker stack and the other two on the subs or floor. Therefore I have to spend a LOT of time reprogramming at each gig. This will not do. Seem that either need to standardize (very closely) the placement of light instruments and players or devise a better way to reaim. Hopefully the OPro will be better due to the joystick, I've not tried it yet.

Seems that there should be a studied approach to the layout of scenes and banks that makes for easier access and simple retreivability. For instance, when I programmed a bunch of color washes ROYGBV as banks on one scene button, I'd have to hit both buttons to make a change. So it appears that I could use banks for tempo of gobo change, or color choices, whereas the scenes of each bank could contain a 'quiet scene'(between song), lead vocal aim, guitar solo aim, dance floor party scene, all vocals etc. That way I'd get to a bank that was artistic to that song, and just hit various scene buttons to cue during parts of the song ( I think further work could be done as 'shows'? or is this the same term as banks?)

Is there any threads or charts dealing with approaches like I'm talking about? One thing I realized last time was to set my aims, REC, then make color or gobo change, then REC again. In this way many scenes could be made with same aiming. But I'm back to the same issue every show that every motorized light needs to be reaimed and scenes resaved. There has to be a faster way than recreating every show each time. HELP!!!
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You got the nail hit right on the head. You're going to have to do a lot of reprogramming at each show, and that's a limitation of the console. Stepping up to something better is going t be costly.

I'm using Compu Show. I only need to edit a couple of scenes each show, but our set is very standard. I have to aim a pair of movers. One for an on-stage aim to a center chair, then they move to "frames". I have to hit those spots. The other is some doorways.

If you're willing to take a Computer based approach, Compu Show has loads of features. Point, click, copy, change, it's all pretty easy once you get over the learning hurdle. It is intuitive, but it does take some learning. I mean, we're talking play with it for a couple of days, and then you can really dive into it.

Need to move movers? Make palettes to make it easy. Color changes? No problem! Over-ride something? You bet. Run complicated scenes, run simple scenes, run switches, run multiple scenes. Plus, you're going to love the Easy 3D environment, where you can design your stage and test your show! I design my shows without being there!

Plus, it can use MTC and sync to your playback tracks. You may want to get the top of the line SD+ interface so you have no restrictions. Trust me, it's worth it. I run a major show this way and it's freakin' flawless. MIDI triggering, MIDI control and more.

Download it and start playing. When you're ready, plonk down the hard earned dollars for the hardware and start doing your lightig.
Chris is, of course, correct that software has many advantages over hardward controllers. They have a few disadvantages too. For big shows the advantages of software usually overwhelm its disadvantages.

Hardware controllers have a different set of advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your situation, deciding between hardware and software is not easy.

While I hate that I can't use a computer to set up my scenes and shows (easier set up and 3D visualization), I've stuck with a hardware controller to run my band's light show. I can reach up and hit the button I want while playing keyboard more readily than I could fiddle with a QWERTY interface. And unless the band is using a sequenced backing track (which mine doesn't) midi control is very limited or cumbersome.

Many hardware controllers allow you to include moving head fixtures in your scenes and you can have them moving during scenes or fixed on a specific targets - all of which is set up in advance. Some hardware controllers, however, provide a solution to the masssive reprogramming job for each show, and others don't. Because, for example, the lead singer (a target) is not in the same spot from band to band, you need a way to adjust the target locations without reprograming all your scenes that use targets.

While I haven't used it (because I don't use moving head fixtures), I'm pretty sure the Magic 260 has that feature. See page 21 of its manual. [Hopefully someone at Elation will confirm or deny this.]

To answer another of your questions, "Scenes" and "Shows" are not the same thing. Scenes send specific DMX instructions to each fixutre, e.g., the brightness, color, macro on/off, speed, etc. are fixed the entire time a scene is playing. [Note: The lights aren't necessarily static because they could be told to go into a macro or movement routine, but whatever they are told to do, they keep doing it.] A "Show" is a sequence of Scenes.
Regarding most big shows:

I do see most still using hardware based controllers. There's reasons for that, mostly the operator prefers that, and when you're doing large events, they say "what do you want to use" and then they provide that.

For me, I don't have the time to learn a lighting desk nor do I want the space take up, the weight or the expense.

With shows I do, its more theatrical. Things are marked/spiked. They still miss their marks, but I did my job. If I need better movement, I got meat bags behind the follow spots.

Are controllers better than software? It's debatable. It can also go either way. Compu Show with a control surface such a the MIDICON can offer a lot of power in a good compact package. Still, familiarity with a console controller has its strengths too.

The strength of Compu Show is the 3D portion for off-line design, flexibility of design and initially easier to use. Shorter learning curve, compactness.

One can argue either way. Great consoles are worth the money and the weight. Compu Show is great too.
Thanks guys, the response here is very quick. The DVD for Operator Pro will be on the way shortly.

Let's make some assumptions and move forward.

The band I'm working with will insist on using their OP controller and I may use my OPro with them from time to time. I need to let other guys fill in from time to time so that hardware is etched in stone for now. Besides I'm an old hand and don't mind some programming during a show and can hit my cues pretty quick.

If I can use something else to light my performers (PAR 38 footlights with amber gel) Possibly bringing my two Martin CX4 and setting them up in tree at FOH, that frees the wigglies to be just general scenes, dance floor etc.

Given these parameters, are there any tips for how to use banks and scenes in a way that is intuitive and easy to remember? I'm thinking some advance thought into it, maybe making up an XL spreadsheet. I could possibly use some of the banks for one set of physical wiggly locations, and another group of banks for a secondary setup type (wiggly 3,4 on subs vs on floor for instance) This would eliminate most of the reprogramming for each show. (see second to last paragraph in original post for some of my ideas on this topic)

Does anyone have a file or suggestions for settings to get me started?

Thanks again.
Great question. I'd like to see others' comments on this. I don't know how well what I do with the Magic 260 will translate, but it might help. [The M260 has Pages of 24 Scenes or 24 Shows (chases)). I only run in Show mode.

Since I'm playing keyboard, I can't do any programming during the gig.

While I have many other fixtures to spice things up, the foundation of the lighting system is two poles each with four Par 56 type fixtures. I aim each of the six outside fixtures at one of the six band members, and use the inside fixture on both sides to side wash the opposite side of the stage.

So to highlight any member, I select a Show that sends a intense burnt amber on him and dim all the other fixtures using a color consisten with that particular Show's hue.

Handily the Magic 260 has four rows of six buttons across. In general, on every Page of Shows, each button across highlights a particular band member - lead singer is always button 1, lead guitar is always button 2, etc. (For the first three rows of buttons only - see below).

Each Page is a different color scheme. The first row is a tame Show in that color scheme. The third row is a rowdy Show. The middle row is something in between.

The fourth row is for special situations. The first three buttons on that row will be double highlights, e.g., for duets or duel guitar solos. The fourth button is a wild finale light Show (to be played while the drummer is going nuts at the end of a song). The fifth button is Blackout (I don't use the Blackout button because I don't want there to be zero light in every fixture). The last button on each Page is a low, between songs setting.
Thanks for responding, that's what I'm looking for. On my Operator and OpPro I have 8 scenes readily accessible with buttons. Seems that a color or color combo could be chosen for each song and use that in the BANK settings, then I'd just change scenes during the song.

Here's what I've got on paper. Going to grab some fixtures from band today and practice programming.

1- quiet basic color scene for between songs, after blackout, quiet songs.

2. Aud Left
3. Center stage
4. Aud Right

5 slow tempo gobo/color change
6 med tempo
7 fast tempo

8. party mode dance floor.

Then for banks I'll start with some basic colors and then mix em up. Trying to keep this fairly basic on the wigglies so I can have a coordinating color on the LED's.

various split colors and color wheel effects

also banks for general disco lighting, maybe a couple to turn all the wigglies to stage locations, ceiling of venue etc.

We're looking at moving the wigglies from positions on subs and mains speakers (where they change every show necessitating reprogramming- ugh) to putting two each on tree at rear of stage. At that point the 'Aud L/C/R' scene positions will just become something like straight ahead, skewed, crossed beams.

Is this making sense?

I can trigger any instrument (LED, PAR, Wiggly) button and do a quick 'accent' for instance fixture 1 is LED bars and I can pop the strobe fader at beat of music. Not happy with the 'chase' scenes I'm getting from our Mega Pixel LED's they don't make much sense at all.

BTW we're using fixtures Chauvet SPOT LED 150 and Mega Pixel LED Am DJ.
Some really good knollege on this post...But, respectfully, i have to say i agree and disagree with some of the posts. Yes, not all controllers are created equally....some hardware controllers are great at user ability, but lack in the ability of amount of ways to use it. Where a computer controler has a learning curve, but does have MANY more features than i see it getting credit for.
So, how do you pick one? Best way for you is different as it is for me, and like wise, it is different for each and every one of us. Some people like small compact units, and some like large 1000 universe consoles. All fine and dandy, but what is it you want and realistically what you NEED? It was mentioned earlier that the computer controllers are limited on larger shows, which i can personaly say from running a concert tour show with CompuLive, isnt entirely acurate. Now, with that said, i did it in a pinch when my Main consol went down. Not my first choice in controler for the show. However, i was able to run a show LIVE with little to no programming prior to the event using just my mouse on my laptop. Something, most large consols do not let you do. Our Show room here at Elation, for example, is being run by Compu Show with 10 universes of fixtures, video, and audio cues....ALL by one computer. Over in the ADJ showroom we are running over 150+ personalities of lights inside Compu Live that supports the universes and audio. Just something to think about when it comes to the computer they have advatages and disadvantages? absolutly... But, are those what you are looking for or what you are able to work around? that is what you look for in buying a lighting console. Large hardware controlers are great in many ways and i would say i usually use one as my main board, but, i ALWAYS have my Compu running right there next to me just in case...has saved me many times :-D
I am assisting at a variety show at the local high school and the problem is that when lights are maxed out there is a high frequency strobe and when we dim to lowest level the strobe is way more powerful like a full strobe ( almost like a lightning theater effect. we have 4 of these (DP-DMX 20L) hooked in series and the indicator lights strobe on the lights that strobe. this is effecting 2 of the 4 modules. need help 48 hrs till showtime! all are on dedicated 20 A circuits. Please and thanks!
Last edited by knownothing

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