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Author Topic: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!  (Read 5391 times)

Sean Mormelo

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What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« on: May 31, 2017, 04:49:56 pm »

Hi guys I've been around for a while and I've been searching and searching for a computer software console that fits my needs but that's also very visual and is easy for someone with no lighting programming experience to get up and running. I've tried D-pro showXpress myDMX 3.0, Luminaire, Vista and Lightkey. There are things I like about everyone of them but none of them seem to do everything I need which is:

Be visually-based so no punching numbers or numeric programming.
Have 2-D and or 3-D layout capabilities built in.
Built in effects. 
Palettes-programmable
Groups
Midi Show Control

Basically I want to preprogram a bunch of cues and lighting sequences and have able 10 live fire them off synced up to the PPM of the song etc. using MSC control.

I swear luminaire on the iPad does all of this better in to my eye easier to understand except that it does not have palettes and if I need to change positions of lights across all of my cues and sequences in my shell it will be impossible to do without that.

It seems to me the only software package that does all of this is Jand's Vista which I only messed with briefly and it looked too complicated even still.

ShowXpress seems to do most of what I need but there's no information in the manual about any of it midi capabilities. It looks like it only uses midi notes.

MyDMX 3.0 looks awesome to me but does not have Palettes presets!! WTF?? They seem to be some wonky workarounds but it looks like a lot of work and also it only uses meeting notes and it seems very complicated to be firing off my show just using Notes. A lot of extra midi BS to go through.

D-Pro has no way to sync with Abelton via Midi.. i'm at a loss here and I really need some guidance. I appreciate it.


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Rob Spence

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2017, 07:20:09 pm »

Budget?


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Jeff Lelko

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2017, 07:20:50 pm »

Hi Sean,

I've been following your posts (replying to some) and can't help but realize that you've been asking this same question in varying forms for over the past year.  A better question might be what is it that all the different programs on the market (and there are a lot) aren't doing for you?  Now, I certainly haven't used every program on the market so maybe there's something out there that fits all your criteria, but given that you're still searching a year later it might be doubtful. 

So Luminaire doesn't have palettes - got it.  And that's an understandable gripe.  The problem I think you keep running into is that you don't seem open to learning how to program a "real" software package.  I'm not saying that what you've done so far doesn't count, but there's a reason why many of the more involved platforms have manuals numbering in the thousands of pages...or well should I say 1,000+.  Point and click programs are easy enough for people without the time/skill/interest in learning how to really program, but these programs are also quite limited.  Once you hit the wall of what they can do you either have to expand your controller to a more capable software package or settle for what you have - maybe finding a few obscure workarounds to accomplish what you need.  To have the advanced capabilities that you speak of you might have no choice but to pick up a more involved product.  I've been a Cobalt user for almost 3 years now and a MagicQ PC user for over 10, and there are still new things I learn about them. 

I can't speak to ShowXpress but there are others here that can. 

Going with the "guidance" portion of your request, I'd strongly vote to stick with a mainstream program and take the time to learn it.  This could be MagicQ PC, M-PC, ShowXpress, or a few others.  I'd avoid the more obscure software simply because there are fewer users of it and that it might be harder to get help or assistance if you need it.  Your "no numeric programming" requirement is something that you'll likely have to look past if you want advanced features.  Just as a programming FYI - when scripting a highly choreographed light, laser, or pyro display, a single minute of "show" can take hours or even days to program and tweak to be right...and that's with a skilled programmer.  Hope this helps and good luck!
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Sean Mormelo

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2017, 11:38:13 pm »

Hi Sean,

I've been following your posts (replying to some) and can't help but realize that you've been asking this same question in varying forms for over the past year.  A better question might be what is it that all the different programs on the market (and there are a lot) aren't doing for you?  Now, I certainly haven't used every program on the market so maybe there's something out there that fits all your criteria, but given that you're still searching a year later it might be doubtful. 

So Luminaire doesn't have palettes - got it.  And that's an understandable gripe.  The problem I think you keep running into is that you don't seem open to learning how to program a "real" software package.  I'm not saying that what you've done so far doesn't count, but there's a reason why many of the more involved platforms have manuals numbering in the thousands of pages...or well should I say 1,000+.  Point and click programs are easy enough for people without the time/skill/interest in learning how to really program, but these programs are also quite limited.  Once you hit the wall of what they can do you either have to expand your controller to a more capable software package or settle for what you have - maybe finding a few obscure workarounds to accomplish what you need.  To have the advanced capabilities that you speak of you might have no choice but to pick up a more involved product.  I've been a Cobalt user for almost 3 years now and a MagicQ PC user for over 10, and there are still new things I learn about them. 

I can't speak to ShowXpress but there are others here that can. 

Going with the "guidance" portion of your request, I'd strongly vote to stick with a mainstream program and take the time to learn it.  This could be MagicQ PC, M-PC, ShowXpress, or a few others.  I'd avoid the more obscure software simply because there are fewer users of it and that it might be harder to get help or assistance if you need it.  Your "no numeric programming" requirement is something that you'll likely have to look past if you want advanced features.  Just as a programming FYI - when scripting a highly choreographed light, laser, or pyro display, a single minute of "show" can take hours or even days to program and tweak to be right...and that's with a skilled programmer.  Hope this helps and good luck!

Hey Jeff...

Thanks for replying. I outlined what they are not doing. And you are right I do not have the time to fully learn how to be a lighting engineer. Along with playing live full-time I'm also trying to build this business shooting videos creating very involved backing tracks for our bands, working musicians up, being a husband and dad. I simply do not have the time to learn another heavy learning curve conceptual program to go along with the 4 or 5 major audio DAWs I know, all my adobe Suite of photo video software, office, Apple etc...I don't have the time to learn a pro level lighting console that is designed from a non visual pedigree. My mind doesn't work like that... I've offered you and several other lighting designers $$ to come help out, and consult specifically on my needs. Paid a LD to come out and run out rig for a video shoot. Did not turn out well.

My show doesn't have to be custom or crazy for every cue. A nice set of programmed cues and palette presets built up to choose from that I can tweak a bit will do. It's not Pink Floyd here




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Sean Mormelo

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2017, 11:39:28 pm »

Budget?


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Budget is not an issue


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Scott Holtzman

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2017, 01:19:32 am »

Budget is not an issue


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ShowXpress works great with Ableton.   What is missing is the palettes.  Am I correct in assuming that's the core deal breaker?  I completely agree.  The difference between toys and real consoles is the ability to align all the scenes at once (palettes).  If you want that feature you have to leap into the deep end.

It seems to me the lighting industry hasn't had a breakthrough product like the X32 was for audio.  I keep waiting for a lighting system to be introduced at a lower price point with pro features.  It hasn't happened to date.

With the removal of the budget limitations I believe you are very close to your answer.  It's too bad the LD you hired didn't work out.  I have had the opportunity to work with a great LD and it has opened my eyes that audio engineers who trivialize the role of the LD, that believe we can do a good job running lights as an ancillary role to our audio work or possibly even performing are deluding ourselves.  A sound engineer might be able to busk out a halfway decent show if the scenes are all setup.  A cue is bound to be missed under high workload situations. 

How much time did you give the LD to setup your show?  If you hire an LD and give them the time to design your scenes and work with you on the automation your learning curve is now reduced to setting the palette aiming of the moving fixtures. 

I suggest you try another engagement with an LD, fully communicate your goals and work together to get your show designed.  It's a good investment.

 
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Steve Kosiba

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2017, 11:58:06 am »

It seems to me the lighting industry hasn't had a breakthrough product like the X32 was for audio.  I keep waiting for a lighting system to be introduced at a lower price point with pro features.  It hasn't happened to date.

As a lighting programmer who works heavily on lots of different flavors of consoles, I beg to differ - the Martin M-PC paired with M-Play or M-Touch or M2PC is really a game changer and has allowed me to send out control packages with small tours at a before unheard of rate.  They've been picked up by tons of people who hadn't considered Martin consoles before, and while it is not an all-inclusive console - with a little ingenuity you can make it one with a computer and custom case.  Check out the Martin M-Series User Group on Facebook to see some of these great custom consoles.  The Chamsys gear is also coming down in price now that Chauvet is distributing them in the US, so that is going to make big waves as well.

One of the big things about lighting consoles is that they are either easy to use and weak or harder to learn but powerful.  What it seems OP is looking for here is one that's easy but also powerful, and the problem is that to get the pro features you have to learn how they work.  It takes time and effort, but thanks to YouTube, both Martin M-PC and Chamsys MagicQ PC are easy to pick up on if you invest some time.  You can also find someone locally to train you and help you set up your show, which I highly recommend.  Once you do that, there will be very little "punching numbers".

I'd suggest going the Chamsys route having just played with an MQ80 demo and liked it.  You can assemble a very decent Chamsys PC setup for not too much money.  You'll need to get the Chamsys dongle to unlock stuff like MIDI control, but that's not too much.  You can build a setup with no physical interface if you really want to just go the MIDI control route.  If you want more physical controls, you could get the PC Wing Compact and hook it up to your computer.  I always encourage a dedicated machine to run lighting, you don't want to run this on the same computer as a multi-track playback/recording software.
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Sean Mormelo

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2017, 12:31:29 pm »

As a lighting programmer who works heavily on lots of different flavors of consoles, I beg to differ - the Martin M-PC paired with M-Play or M-Touch or M2PC is really a game changer and has allowed me to send out control packages with small tours at a before unheard of rate.  They've been picked up by tons of people who hadn't considered Martin consoles before, and while it is not an all-inclusive console - with a little ingenuity you can make it one with a computer and custom case.  Check out the Martin M-Series User Group on Facebook to see some of these great custom consoles.  The Chamsys gear is also coming down in price now that Chauvet is distributing them in the US, so that is going to make big waves as well.

One of the big things about lighting consoles is that they are either easy to use and weak or harder to learn but powerful.  What it seems OP is looking for here is one that's easy but also powerful, and the problem is that to get the pro features you have to learn how they work.  It takes time and effort, but thanks to YouTube, both Martin M-PC and Chamsys MagicQ PC are easy to pick up on if you invest some time.  You can also find someone locally to train you and help you set up your show, which I highly recommend.  Once you do that, there will be very little "punching numbers".

I'd suggest going the Chamsys route having just played with an MQ80 demo and liked it.  You can assemble a very decent Chamsys PC setup for not too much money.  You'll need to get the Chamsys dongle to unlock stuff like MIDI control, but that's not too much.  You can build a setup with no physical interface if you really want to just go the MIDI control route.  If you want more physical controls, you could get the PC Wing Compact and hook it up to your computer.  I always encourage a dedicated machine to run lighting, you don't want to run this on the same computer as a multi-track playback/recording software.

I just looked at Chamsys.. we are all on Mac computers so at least this runs on Mac. But other than that you have numeric keypad and a bunch of BS. I'm going to tell you there's no reason why lighting software can't be visually-based and have a friendly GUI. The only reason is they cater to people who have been doing this for 20 or 30 years before that. You're right there is no middle ground it seems the only software that to me as a visual GUI and pro features is Jands Vista. All of the low-end software consuls do everything I need except for being able to adjust the scenes globally position color tilted Cetra. Palettes

I don't need to buy any overpriced hardware programmer wing.

As far as hiring a lighting director I tried to find one and I even offered someone from this board thousands of dollars to come in and get a show started. I hired a very well-known LD here in the Orlando area to come in make some cues and then run his system live for a two day video shoot last summer and he couldn't even be bothered to have profiles from my rogue movers. I was supremely unhappy with the results and we ended up having to make a lot of lights and augment the effects video post production. If anyone has any names feel free to PM me!


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Nathan Riddle

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2017, 12:35:14 pm »

My show doesn't have to be custom or crazy for every cue. A nice set of programmed cues and palette presets built up to choose from that I can tweak a bit will do. It's not Pink Floyd here


I'm a Jands Vista guy so I'll comment from that perspective.

What wouldn't Jands work for you?

These are your requirements correct?

Be visually-based so no punching numbers or numeric programming.
Have 2-D and or 3-D layout capabilities built in.
Built in effects. 
Palettes-programmable
Groups
Midi Show Control

The only thing Jands can't do is the 3D layout, most programs can't natively anyways and it will seamlessly work with any 3D lighting modeling program (same as any other console/software that outputs art-net).

I use Capture Argo, but there are others; including free ones.


A more detailed analysis of your requirements for future posts:
I've tried D-pro showXpress myDMX 3.0, Luminaire, Vista and Lightkey. There are things I like about everyone of them but none of them seem to do everything I need which is:

1) Be visually-based so no punching numbers or numeric programming.
2) Have 2-D and or 3-D layout capabilities built in.
3) Built in effects. 
4) Palettes-programmable
5) Groups
6) Midi Show Control

Basically I want to preprogram a bunch of cues and lighting sequences and have able 10 live fire them off synced up to the PPM of the song etc. using MSC control.

It seems to me the only software package that does all of this is Jand's Vista which I only messed with briefly and it looked too complicated even still.

I'm not sure why you think it is complicated, every volunteer I've thrown into the fire has quite easily picked it up (provided they are already musically minded).

If you have Jands Vista questions I can answer them easily.

I'll even record a video to help (I'm working on more for my channel, but the Jands videos get the basics pretty quick/easy 6x ~10min videos).
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2017, 12:37:22 pm »

As far as hiring a lighting director I tried to find one and I even offered someone from this board thousands of dollars to come in and get a show started. I hired a very well-known LD here in the Orlando area to come in make some cues and then run his system live for a two day video shoot last summer and he couldn't even be bothered to have profiles from my rogue movers. I was supremely unhappy with the results and we ended up having to make a lot of lights and augment the effects video post production. If anyone has any names feel free to PM me!

Hah, fly me to wherever you are and I'll start you a show  8)
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Stelios Mac

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2017, 02:50:28 pm »

Why do you want to avoid numeric programming?
It's not rocket science or anything. In fact, if you arrange your fixtures in logical groups you don't really need it anyway. You can also arrange your fixtures in a list or layout view.
It's only a time saving tool (For instance, instead of manually bringing up the dimmer encoder for your selected fixtures, you can just type "at 70" - But you can still use the encoder if you wish.)
It's certainly no reason to avoid a console.

Every software is going to have a bit (or a lot) of a learning curve next to Luminair. Almost everything you'll come across is the same software used in 5-figure consoles, designed to be used by designers who do this for a living and need to be able to control hundreds of fixtures quickly and efficiently, with great flexibility.
Luminair is not quite that.

You do not need to learn all of it however.
Any 20 minute or so tutorial on YouTube should get you to a point where you can achieve result equal to, or better than what Luminair can achieve.

I think MA2 will work with MSC. It's probably much more costly and advanced than you need though.
Not sure if M-PC and dot2 work with MSC as well, but do check them out. And by check them out, I mean spend 10 minutes watching a "getting started" tutorial for each one to get a feel for the workflow. There's no point in going through the software without any sort of guidance - You'll only be confusing yourself.
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2017, 09:43:06 pm »

As a lighting programmer who works heavily on lots of different flavors of consoles, I beg to differ - the Martin M-PC paired with M-Play or M-Touch or M2PC is really a game changer...

I'll let Scott speak for himself but I personally disagree.  While you can't argue the fact that right now the M-PC with M-Touch combination is by far the best bang to buck on the market for getting advanced features with a control surface, I wouldn't call it a game changer the same way the X32 was.  The X32 ushered in the era of full sized and very capable digital mixers being affordable to even the lounge level and weekend warrior group - a product that until then could only be had by those with a much more lucrative budget.  M-PC hasn't done that.  Nothing against the product, but an M-Touch is a far cry from a "real" light console, even an entry-level pro one.  Now in many cases you don't need a "real" console hence the success of the product, but to me it felt like something that Novation would produce to use for MIDI control of something.  Despite really wanting to like it I just couldn't grasp the touch strips and the fact the whole product felt like a DJ tool.  M2PC is a nice improvement but hardly a budget option.  That's just me though. 

Scott, you bring up an interesting point and I don't know if we ever will see a widely accepted console with things like flying faders, equally capable busking and theatrical playback, and adequate control for everything from conventional lights, to LEDs, to movers, to media servers that's easy to use and sells at a very low price.  I hope we do though!  In my opinion as opposed to sound, lighting is so open-ended with nearly limitless fixture and programming options that I don't think there's a one fits all (or 95%) product.  X32s can be found everywhere from schools to churches to community theaters to bars to mobile operators to everything else!  It's a remarkably versatile desk which is what I think helped its success.  I can't think of an equivalent light console that would be at home equally well in all those different settings.  A few come close though, but at the expense of a steep learning curve and a rather high price tag.  With Chauvet acquiring ChamSys and ETC acquiring High End, we might be in for a surprise or two in the coming years!

I just looked at Chamsys.. we are all on Mac computers so at least this runs on Mac. But other than that you have numeric keypad and a bunch of BS. I'm going to tell you there's no reason why lighting software can't be visually-based and have a friendly GUI. The only reason is they cater to people who have been doing this for 20 or 30 years before that.

I'm not sure what you mean by BS.  How else are you supposed to do everything from patching to setting palettes to building sequences to setting MTC triggers with any degree of precision?  I can do without faders, encoders, and touchscreens if need be, but I'd find it nearly impossible to script a show without any sort of numerical input.  Many of the other buttons relate to programming tasks such as fanning, masking, and recording.  Honestly, it's much quicker, easier, and more precise than fidgeting around with a touchscreen.  I don't see where you're coming from with numbers and buttons only being there for people with 20 or 30 years of experience either.  I've had the unique pleasure of using a few vintage "consoles", where the user interface is a wall of levers where you need to flip the right ones at the right times to match the script.  Mild shocks were also quite common, as was tying levers together and using both hands and feet to hit everything at the right time...back in the day when being a board operator needed much more skill and practice than just pushing "GO".  With LEDs, moving lights, and integrated media become more commonplace everyday, non-computer consoles are becoming more and more obsolete.  I don't think anyone is complaining either. 

As far as hiring a lighting director I tried to find one and I even offered someone from this board thousands of dollars to come in and get a show started. I hired a very well-known LD here in the Orlando area to come in make some cues and then run his system live for a two day video shoot last summer and he couldn't even be bothered to have profiles from my rogue movers. I was supremely unhappy with the results and we ended up having to make a lot of lights and augment the effects video post production. If anyone has any names feel free to PM me!

I'm not sure if you're talking about me here, as I recall chatting about the event but my needing to decline the offer due to a lack of availability, but what else didn't work out?  I seem to recall you having a very optimistic timeline along with very vague expectations.  I still think it's unacceptable that your LD didn't come prepared though.  If you go this route I think you'll get the most out of your LD's time by providing some better input as to what you need, either by way of sketches, YouTube videos, or similar.  An analogy would be for me to hire a professional chef who I tell to cook me something I'll like.  Not knowing me, he makes a dish of peach cobbler.  I hate peaches, thus I'll hate his work even though he did his job to both his liking and the satisfaction of others with different tastes.  Lighting design is very similar - it's much like art.  That's why I stand by the advice I gave you last year.  Even if you hire an LD to help build your basic scenes and give you insight as to how painting with light is done, you'll still want to know how things work so you can tweak and adjust to match your exact tastes.  It'd be one thing if you're a museum or theme park that plays the exact same show everyday without change, but since you'll have to be editing palettes anyways why not learn the whole platform, or at least enough to add your personal touch to your work?  That way you're also not needing to hire the LD back in every time you add a new song to your inventory. 
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Sean Mormelo

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2017, 11:24:03 pm »

I'll let Scott speak for himself but I personally disagree.  While you can't argue the fact that right now the M-PC with M-Touch combination is by far the best bang to buck on the market for getting advanced features with a control surface, I wouldn't call it a game changer the same way the X32 was.  The X32 ushered in the era of full sized and very capable digital mixers being affordable to even the lounge level and weekend warrior group - a product that until then could only be had by those with a much more lucrative budget.  M-PC hasn't done that.  Nothing against the product, but an M-Touch is a far cry from a "real" light console, even an entry-level pro one.  Now in many cases you don't need a "real" console hence the success of the product, but to me it felt like something that Novation would produce to use for MIDI control of something.  Despite really wanting to like it I just couldn't grasp the touch strips and the fact the whole product felt like a DJ tool.  M2PC is a nice improvement but hardly a budget option.  That's just me though. 

Scott, you bring up an interesting point and I don't know if we ever will see a widely accepted console with things like flying faders, equally capable busking and theatrical playback, and adequate control for everything from conventional lights, to LEDs, to movers, to media servers that's easy to use and sells at a very low price.  I hope we do though!  In my opinion as opposed to sound, lighting is so open-ended with nearly limitless fixture and programming options that I don't think there's a one fits all (or 95%) product.  X32s can be found everywhere from schools to churches to community theaters to bars to mobile operators to everything else!  It's a remarkably versatile desk which is what I think helped its success.  I can't think of an equivalent light console that would be at home equally well in all those different settings.  A few come close though, but at the expense of a steep learning curve and a rather high price tag.  With Chauvet acquiring ChamSys and ETC acquiring High End, we might be in for a surprise or two in the coming years!

I'm not sure what you mean by BS.  How else are you supposed to do everything from patching to setting palettes to building sequences to setting MTC triggers with any degree of precision?  I can do without faders, encoders, and touchscreens if need be, but I'd find it nearly impossible to script a show without any sort of numerical input.  Many of the other buttons relate to programming tasks such as fanning, masking, and recording.  Honestly, it's much quicker, easier, and more precise than fidgeting around with a touchscreen.  I don't see where you're coming from with numbers and buttons only being there for people with 20 or 30 years of experience either.  I've had the unique pleasure of using a few vintage "consoles", where the user interface is a wall of levers where you need to flip the right ones at the right times to match the script.  Mild shocks were also quite common, as was tying levers together and using both hands and feet to hit everything at the right time...back in the day when being a board operator needed much more skill and practice than just pushing "GO".  With LEDs, moving lights, and integrated media become more commonplace everyday, non-computer consoles are becoming more and more obsolete.  I don't think anyone is complaining either. 

I'm not sure if you're talking about me here, as I recall chatting about the event but my needing to decline the offer due to a lack of availability, but what else didn't work out?  I seem to recall you having a very optimistic timeline along with very vague expectations.  I still think it's unacceptable that your LD didn't come prepared though.  If you go this route I think you'll get the most out of your LD's time by providing some better input as to what you need, either by way of sketches, YouTube videos, or similar.  An analogy would be for me to hire a professional chef who I tell to cook me something I'll like.  Not knowing me, he makes a dish of peach cobbler.  I hate peaches, thus I'll hate his work even though he did his job to both his liking and the satisfaction of others with different tastes.  Lighting design is very similar - it's much like art.  That's why I stand by the advice I gave you last year.  Even if you hire an LD to help build your basic scenes and give you insight as to how painting with light is done, you'll still want to know how things work so you can tweak and adjust to match your exact tastes.  It'd be one thing if you're a museum or theme park that plays the exact same show everyday without change, but since you'll have to be editing palettes anyways why not learn the whole platform, or at least enough to add your personal touch to your work?  That way you're also not needing to hire the LD back in every time you add a new song to your inventory.


Right. Good advice and I've learned CONSIDERABLY since last year. Vista was one of the first consoles I ever messed with but since then I've spent time with just about all the lower end ones and was easily able to grasp the concepts but it has become painfully clear that there are a few pro level features that I require. I can make and edit my cues and sequences, program all my palettes, sync Midi and do everything Needed. Just have to learn the operation of the specific console.

Thanks for all your input. It has been frustrating. I thought it would be easy to find a lighting director to come in and help us get started get set up etc. but that has absolutely not been the case sadly. So I have been handling it myself. I mistakenly thought I could use a lower end software solution that did not require me to learn the complicated console. It's clear now I can't!


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Scott Holtzman

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #13 on: June 02, 2017, 01:37:57 am »

I'll let Scott speak for himself but I personally disagree.  While you can't argue the fact that right now the M-PC with M-Touch combination is by far the best bang to buck on the market for getting advanced features with a control surface, I wouldn't call it a game changer the same way the X32 was.  The X32 ushered in the era of full sized and very capable digital mixers being affordable to even the lounge level and weekend warrior group - a product that until then could only be had by those with a much more lucrative budget.  M-PC hasn't done that.  Nothing against the product, but an M-Touch is a far cry from a "real" light console, even an entry-level pro one.  Now in many cases you don't need a "real" console hence the success of the product, but to me it felt like something that Novation would produce to use for MIDI control of something.  Despite really wanting to like it I just couldn't grasp the touch strips and the fact the whole product felt like a DJ tool.  M2PC is a nice improvement but hardly a budget option.  That's just me though. 

Scott, you bring up an interesting point and I don't know if we ever will see a widely accepted console with things like flying faders, equally capable busking and theatrical playback, and adequate control for everything from conventional lights, to LEDs, to movers, to media servers that's easy to use and sells at a very low price.  I hope we do though!  In my opinion as opposed to sound, lighting is so open-ended with nearly limitless fixture and programming options that I don't think there's a one fits all (or 95%) product.  X32s can be found everywhere from schools to churches to community theaters to bars to mobile operators to everything else!  It's a remarkably versatile desk which is what I think helped its success.  I can't think of an equivalent light console that would be at home equally well in all those different settings.  A few come close though, but at the expense of a steep learning curve and a rather high price tag.  With Chauvet acquiring ChamSys and ETC acquiring High End, we might be in for a surprise or two in the coming years!

I'm not sure what you mean by BS.  How else are you supposed to do everything from patching to setting palettes to building sequences to setting MTC triggers with any degree of precision?  I can do without faders, encoders, and touchscreens if need be, but I'd find it nearly impossible to script a show without any sort of numerical input.  Many of the other buttons relate to programming tasks such as fanning, masking, and recording.  Honestly, it's much quicker, easier, and more precise than fidgeting around with a touchscreen.  I don't see where you're coming from with numbers and buttons only being there for people with 20 or 30 years of experience either.  I've had the unique pleasure of using a few vintage "consoles", where the user interface is a wall of levers where you need to flip the right ones at the right times to match the script.  Mild shocks were also quite common, as was tying levers together and using both hands and feet to hit everything at the right time...back in the day when being a board operator needed much more skill and practice than just pushing "GO".  With LEDs, moving lights, and integrated media become more commonplace everyday, non-computer consoles are becoming more and more obsolete.  I don't think anyone is complaining either. 

I'm not sure if you're talking about me here, as I recall chatting about the event but my needing to decline the offer due to a lack of availability, but what else didn't work out?  I seem to recall you having a very optimistic timeline along with very vague expectations.  I still think it's unacceptable that your LD didn't come prepared though.  If you go this route I think you'll get the most out of your LD's time by providing some better input as to what you need, either by way of sketches, YouTube videos, or similar.  An analogy would be for me to hire a professional chef who I tell to cook me something I'll like.  Not knowing me, he makes a dish of peach cobbler.  I hate peaches, thus I'll hate his work even though he did his job to both his liking and the satisfaction of others with different tastes.  Lighting design is very similar - it's much like art.  That's why I stand by the advice I gave you last year.  Even if you hire an LD to help build your basic scenes and give you insight as to how painting with light is done, you'll still want to know how things work so you can tweak and adjust to match your exact tastes.  It'd be one thing if you're a museum or theme park that plays the exact same show everyday without change, but since you'll have to be editing palettes anyways why not learn the whole platform, or at least enough to add your personal touch to your work?  That way you're also not needing to hire the LD back in every time you add a new song to your inventory.

You hit my point exactly with the x32 Jeff however after reading your post the problem with the comparison is the roles are a bit different.  Certainly an affordable console might change things for the lighting market and drive it downward but the folks that can afford an LD are not price sensitive on the consoles.  You don't see weekend warrior LD's.  From a product management perspective a lower price point is not going to move the console into the role the OP describes.

Chauvet is in a unique position with the breadth of the product line to specifically address the need of what I am calling the "tertiary operator", lighting being a secondary duty to the techs primary function.  A high degree of automation is needed for this role and flying faders and some type of pallet function for quick aiming on fixtures.  Chauvet could provide an integrated solution leveraging the entire product line.  This is an underserved market, utilizing cobbled up solutions.  The best part is it would not erode the professional line as it's a different demographic.

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Kevin McDonough

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #14 on: June 02, 2017, 07:33:46 am »

I would definitely suggest having another look at Chamsys.

I was in the same position as you, as a Sound Engineer wanted something that would have a pre-programmed show and just play the cues along to midi notes sent from backing tracks. And the same as you I found that the simple software was too limited for what I wanted to do.

I'd looked at chamsys before and for a non-lighting guy it was a bit of a confusing and scary interface, however I wen't back again a bit more determined to work through it and actually realised that it is VERY easy and quick to get your head around, just looks scary at first.

I even ended up writing a very basic tutorial for other sound engineers to get their head around the interface.

http://forum.speakerplans.com/chamsys-for-dummys-sound-engineers_topic94203.html

k
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2017, 08:09:24 am »

You hit my point exactly with the x32 Jeff however after reading your post the problem with the comparison is the roles are a bit different.  Certainly an affordable console might change things for the lighting market and drive it downward but the folks that can afford an LD are not price sensitive on the consoles.
I think it's hard to compare lights and sound as the workflows are so different.  On the audio side, knobs and faders as well as a lot of physical IO are required.  This is better served with a hardware solution.  On the lighting side, you need a few faders and a couple DMX outputs (or just Ethernet), but what you really need is a big touch screen and a few keys.  This is much closer to what PCs already are, so a wing makes a lot of financial sense.

Don't get me wrong - I'd like a GrandMA2, WholeHog, or Martin M6-sized surface for $3000, but the reality is I'm pretty darn functional with am M-Touch, a big 24" touch screen and a laptop or other PC of some kind; much more so than the various iPad-only mixers out there.

I agree it will be interesting to see what Chauvet does with Chamsys. 
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Erik Jerde

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2017, 10:03:20 am »

I've got two audio guys who quickly picked up MA programming without much difficulty and now enjoy doing it and are pretty fast at it.  Probably took them less time to get adequately skilled in it than you have spent posting here about how no good solution exists.
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Stelios Mac

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2017, 10:31:55 am »

I've got two audio guys who quickly picked up MA programming without much difficulty and now enjoy doing it and are pretty fast at it.  Probably took them less time to get adequately skilled in it than you have spent posting here about how no good solution exists.

I'm an audio guy.
I started with MA2 onPC when I first got interested in lighting like 3 or 4 years ago. I figured I'd just go for "the best that's out there" in the first place.
I couldn't even wrap my head around the concept of tracking at the time - My experience was pretty much limited to a Scene-setter 48.
Despite all that, I was able to figure out all of the basics following a 20 minute YouTube tutorial; I could've stopped there (I originally only intended to supplement my audio skills with some basic knowledge in lighting), but a console this powerful is kind of addictive!
You can literally build you own "console". It's what kept me interested in lighting.
Last month I had to use a Scene-setter again, I couldn't figure out how to get that bloody thing into record mode  ;D ;D
« Last Edit: June 02, 2017, 04:08:11 pm by Stelios Mac »
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2017, 11:55:43 am »

Bummer, looks like this thread was a victim of the forum glitch that happened yesterday...  I was all ready to keep debating on what we might see as the X32 of the lighting world too!  I think I caught during the day that Sean got what he needed to start his next step in the process before the boards went down, but it's a shame that some good posts were lost... 
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Mike Karseboom

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2017, 01:11:21 pm »

If Luminair meets most of your needs you might try this approach for sort of a palette for XY movements.


Basically it involves creating a scenes that activate only selected parameters.  That is, only set the parameters for the xy positions or movement efx for selected fixtures and make sure all other parameters are de-selected.


Depending on your needs, this might one or more scenes that affect all movers or a combination of  these and other scenes that just affect selected movers.


You can then invoke these scenes manually or as part of a sequence and they will "layer" on the defined movement to whatever is already happening.


Then, for a new venue, you just have to tweak the XY settings in each of those scenes.  It is not quite as nice as just being able to set new maximum boundaries or have a recallable position/effect name, but it can work.


The key to this approach is:


first - a general commitment to using the "layering" (or "tracking") concept for the entire project.  That is, have some base scenes that set all parameters for all fixtures and then create layering scenes for color, position, etc. that only affect specific parameters and no others.


second - really planning ahead to minimize the number of different XY position/efx scenes you need.  Because you will need to tweak each one of those.  So you want to try and reuse them as much as possible.


There are lots of little tricks and workflow techniques that can result in pretty sophisticated shows from Luminair.  You can combine the "linked" fixtures feature, "press and hold to bump", custom sequence timings, etc. to do a lot of things.  But in mind they are mostly awkward workarounds that hare hard to figure out and easy to break. 


I like the Luminair a lot but have resigned myself to keeping things fairly simple.  For more complex shows I have been using Martin M-PC with a laptop, large touchscreen, and a couple of outboard iPads.  It is much easier do what you want with a program like this.  But as you have discovered, there is a long learning curve if you are coming from an audio only background.  I must have 100 hours into playing with M-PC and I am definitely still novice.
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Sean Mormelo

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #20 on: June 05, 2017, 01:34:43 pm »

Has anyone tried elation emulation pro software? I just found it and it seems to have all the requirements including palette presets.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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Sean Mormelo

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2017, 01:35:59 pm »

double post tapatalk glitch
« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 08:32:57 pm by Sean Mormelo »
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Sean Mormelo

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Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2017, 08:32:21 pm »

Bummer, looks like this thread was a victim of the forum glitch that happened yesterday...  I was all ready to keep debating on what we might see as the X32 of the lighting world too!  I think I caught during the day that Sean got what he needed to start his next step in the process before the boards went down, but it's a shame that some good posts were lost...

Yes I thought I couldn't reply using my phone tapatalk because it wasn't showing up. I see my response here on the computer.
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: What Software Console fits my requirements? Help!
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2017, 08:32:21 pm »


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