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Author Topic: Volunteer-focused console  (Read 410 times)

Jon Dees

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Volunteer-focused console
« on: October 16, 2017, 10:40:44 pm »

I am supervising a design-build contractor doing a new a/v/l contract in a rebuilt church sanctuary (bare walls and back up). The previous lighting and controls were via rheostats (!). They have a good base of technically focused individuals for live audio and internet broadcast of services, but zero background in lighting.

Services are more traditional/not quite liturgical, but as they have zero dynamic lighting background (unknown how far they might develop technical needs) and are currently broadcasting (needing to do more lighting control), I am planning for maximum lighting flexibility within a budget.

The contractor has proposed white ellipsoidals and RGBWA PAR cans to cover the stage area (Lightronics generic products...woo for contractor profit margins). I am ginning up a change order to add 4 movers (proposing 4 Rush 1's) so that other areas of the room can be lit (mounting is ad hoc on a high ceiling, so scissors lift if I want to re-aim or focus a PAR or ellipsoidal). I am also looking at adding additional movers over time as the capital budget allows.

To control all of this the contractor is not providing strong opinions on the 'right' control solution. Last time I was doing serious lighting was on ETC Expressions and Express's.
What is your easiest-to-teach board in the slightly serious market?
I have researched and found the following options moderately feasible (in order of perceived teachability on my part):

    1. Pathway Cognito2 - looks like they think about clueless operators and the price isn't bad
    2. Enttec d-pro with wings - cheaper than other wing based solutions but requires me to support a computer (bad)
    3. Strand 250ML - lots of user complaints about support from the company, looks EOL? price is right...
    4. Strand 500ML - software problems of the 250 and double the price...
    5. ETC Nomad Puck with programming wing and fader wing - for this price I should be getting flying faders
    6. ETC Ion Xe 20 - most comfortable with this, but also most expensive and playing with the software not as comfortable with training others. Anybody want to PM me a MAP type price and estimated ship date?

Definitely looking for more than 8 faders and easy to follow directions.

I am not currently excited about Martin M-Play based on playing with M-PC and the lack of labeling on the M-Play, buying the M2PC gets me into Nomad Puck territory and I still have to support my own lighting computer (bad) and probably buy an m-play to get more faders
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Mark Mattocks

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Re: Volunteer-focused console
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2017, 01:44:16 am »

I have had good installs with the Pathways Cognito in two different schools and several churches. The interface is visual and intuitive yet there are lots of powerful options for experienced users with dual cue stacks and customization.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Volunteer-focused console
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2017, 09:53:18 am »

Look into Jands Vista. Lots of church use their software. You might like it.
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Volunteer-focused console
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2017, 10:23:01 am »

The ETC Element is a reasonable hands-on board with lots of faders, and it programs similarly to how the Express worked.  The desk can handle movers and LEDs, but it's not efficient at doing them - lots of mouse setup.  As a mostly playback platform with occasional changes it would fine, and is a well-made hardware console.

If movers/LEDs will be the majority of your work, the ETC Cobalt series may be a better fit.  Jeff Lelko wrote up a nice review here: http://forums.prosoundweb.com/index.php/topic,164054.0.html

With Strand's business problems I wouldn't recommend anything from them.  I played with the Pathway Cognito and it may do what you want it to do, but it's a little toyish for my tastes.

All of the PC-based platforms - ETC Nomad, Martin M-PC, MAonPC, etc. are cost-effective ways to get into "real" systems, but they may not be the right choice in your situation as they require management of the PC, and aren't as integrated and polished as a hardware console.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Volunteer-focused console
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2017, 04:31:43 pm »

Hi Jon, you've gotten some good input so far and I'll do my best to provide some additional useful guidance. 

What is your easiest-to-teach board in the slightly serious market?

Knowing nothing else about your situation, I'd focus mostly on the Cognito2, and maybe the ETC ColorSource desks.  I've seen both the Cognito and a few Jands solutions successfully installed in many venues relying on volunteer support.  I think you've already picked up on the fact that the Congitos are designed with the novice operator in mind, yet still allow for rather complex programming.  The ColorSource consoles are ETC's current approach to entry-level desks, though depending on your total fixture count and number of moving fixtures this option may leave you wanting more.  How many light fixtures are you planning on?  Considering reasonable expansion down the road, what your "maximum" rig looking like?  From a control aspect, sometimes less is more so long as your needs are met. 

Cobalt is an interesting product, and thanks for the shout-out TJ!  I really like my Congo Kid for what it is, but I wouldn't recommend it for the average volunteer.  That's the trouble with any "big" desk really, is how approachable it is.  The Eos line is more industry-standard, but still pricey and possibly more than you really need.  Is your need really to program a few tasteful scenes and effects, and just have the volunteer operator play them back?  If so, I'd really push to use a smaller desk with less emphasis on streamlined rapid programming and busking versus one that can do anything in an instant, yet have no one capable of learning the programming aspect.  The Element gets a strong vote here if you don't like the Cognito or need more than what the ColorSource Series can offer.  As TJ mentioned, the programming aspect of moving light control could still be better, but if you're coming from the Express you'll still be impressed.  I personally find the Element to be a good combination of horsepower, ease of use, and affordability.  At the same time, if you don't mind learning the Cobalt syntax, it's hard to beat the busking capability and overall flexibility compared to similarly priced options.  Just my opinion though, and it all comes down to what you're willing to pay (and learn) just so that you can turn your lights on.  Hope this helps and good luck!

   
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Jonathan Hiemberg

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Re: Volunteer-focused console
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2017, 06:55:29 pm »

I personally find the Element to be a good combination of horsepower, ease of use, and affordability.  At the same time, if you don't mind learning the Cobalt syntax, it's hard to beat the busking capability and overall flexibility compared to similarly priced options.  Just my opinion though, and it all comes down to what you're willing to pay (and learn) just so that you can turn your lights on.  Hope this helps and good luck!   


Chiming in here as a pastor, and the general 'tech guy' in our church, which has two facilities in our city. The Element certainly has a lot of plusses. I installed ours having never used a lighting console before, and was able to navigate it (with some help from the manual). The magic sheets and busking have allowed me to create settings that our volunteers have a blast with (youngest is 11, oldest 16 in the lighting dept) . They can create their own scenes and 'looks' with ease, yet I can go in and program more complex things if need be. (We change the set every couple of months)


Our lighting in that venue has a lot of RGBW pars, nearly as many WW/CW LED pars, a handful of movers and just added some dimmers with conventional Fresnel's, plus the usual house lights, etc.


My opinion is it's a great & powerful console in a volunteer setting.
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