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Author Topic: I want a freakin' manual!  (Read 1253 times)

Brian Jojade

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Re: I want a freakin' manual!
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2019, 01:06:11 pm »

I agree 100%.  Written detailed reference manuals can make finding a solution very easy when the manual is laid out correctly.  Even better is a searchable PDF manual.

Training videos have their place, but are not really a substitute as reference material.  Freaking millennials don't know how to use real reference materials. :/ (yeah, had to say that....)

It does blow my mind how manuals are completely skipped, although, when was the last time you bought a product because it had a good manual over a similar product with the same capabilities that was cheaper?  With all of the cheap China stuff out there, every penny counts towards driving the price down.  Paying someone to write a good manual isn't inexpensive and could significantly increase the cost of the item, especially if it is not a high volume product.

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Bob Charest

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Re: I want a freakin' manual!
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2019, 01:10:08 pm »

Searchable PDF format is great. Having a printed manual is really helpful to avoid going between screens.

YouTube videos? Mostly yuch... with a few excellent short helpful examples.


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Will Knight

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Re: I want a freakin' manual!
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2019, 07:36:38 am »

Recently, started assembling a set of “reference” binders by segment (e.g.-Sound, Lighting, Networking, Stage/Venue ec) with printed copies of manuals that are available.  Even taking the time to “translate” into normal English those skimpy, helpless Asian 2-page lighting guides. Has come in very handy on those rare occasions of a “senior moment” or when my better half offers to assist in setup only to asked “where are the manuals?”...  ;)


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Debbie Dunkley

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Re: I want a freakin' manual!
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2019, 09:15:23 am »

I have a PDF version of all my manuals which I keep on a flash drive.
I started doing this a few years ago when I found so many companies were not providing printed manuals.
Fortunately the only times I have not been able to -or struggled to - find a manual online is for inexpensive DMX lights, no name brand stuff or discontinued products.
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frank kayser

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Re: I want a freakin' manual!
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2019, 10:35:05 am »

I agree 100%.  Written detailed reference manuals can make finding a solution very easy when the manual is laid out correctly.  Even better is a searchable PDF manual.

Training videos have their place, but are not really a substitute as reference material.  Freaking millennials don't know how to use real reference materials. :/ (yeah, had to say that....)

It does blow my mind how manuals are completely skipped, although, when was the last time you bought a product because it had a good manual over a similar product with the same capabilities that was cheaper?  With all of the cheap China stuff out there, every penny counts towards driving the price down.  Paying someone to write a good manual isn't inexpensive and could significantly increase the cost of the item, especially if it is not a high volume product.


I, for one, highly dislike videos, in general.  Not searchable.  Not complete.  Too much opinion, and not enough fact.  Difficult to cross reference one part with another.


Mostly, videos take too much damn time.  "News stories" that can be summarized in a short paragraph take a couple minutes to realize they haven't told one something we already know.


Just print it so I can easily visually scan for what I need, and can avoid the endlessly repetitive pages of obvious don'ts that masquerade as government required safety, or things dumb lawyers need to pack the front 1/3 of the manual with.  Oh yeah, the videos don't have ANY safety requirements, and there are those without a lick of common sense that think the way to test for voltage is put the terminals against the tongue - fine for 9v batteries, but not ideal for household voltage and the like. 


Not to discount videos completely, they can be good for showing detailed information which would otherwise be hard to describe.
(whew! Take a breath, frank!)



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James Feenstra

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Re: I want a freakin' manual!
« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2019, 03:18:32 pm »

99% of the time I just want to see the menu structure (usually to find out how to change modes) or the dmx charts

I do not need a training video on the fixture, give me one sheet of paper with that info on it and I'm good

the other 1% I'm RTFM for an error code, and in this instance a training video on how to fix the error would be useful, but still not usually something I'm looking up on site, especially if it requires replacement parts
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Chris Grimshaw

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Re: I want a freakin' manual!
« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2019, 07:32:22 am »

Training videos have their place, but are not really a substitute as reference material.  Freaking millennials don't know how to use real reference materials. :/ (yeah, had to say that....)

As a millennial, I find it amusing that everything is (apparently) our fault. Now we've even killed instruction manuals! Whatever next?


+1 for James Feenstra's comments - a menu structure and DMX chart on a bit of paper would be all that's needed. I've done the research and bought the product, so I don't want all the marketing rubbish in the paperwork. Error codes would also be useful.

I can see videos might be useful for a lighting desk, though. Have it connected to a rig with some standard components (pars, movers, couple of strobes, maybe some dimming racks), and run through how to program and op it.

Chris
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: I want a freakin' manual!
« Reply #17 on: February 04, 2019, 10:49:32 pm »

For me, it all depends what the manual is for.  For light fixtures, all I really care about is are the physical specs, DMX traits, error codes, and maybe a menu tree.  Exploded diagrams are also nice for when I have to dive into the unit for troubleshooting.
 Manuals were certainly more detailed back 15-20 years ago, but that's also when DMX was still evolving and fixtures had more "special functions" built in - thinking of how Martin's protocol flipped pins 2 and 3, and how some fixture (High End Studio Beams for example) had the ability to record and playback shows from the fixture itself.  These days the horsepower has definitely shifted to the light console, as it should have.

I do like manuals for things like consoles though, but they're big.  I know my ETC Cobalt manual is over 1,000 pages, though it's good reading - especially for a complex product.  Thankfully ETC has a full library of tutorials on Youtube for reference.  ETC was also thinking ahead by putting the whole manual in the board itself with the ability to access it at any time via the "?" key.  I wish A&H would fill out both their dLive manual and demo video library.  My new favorite term while still learning the software is "I know the board can do this - I'm just not sure where the button is...".
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: I want a freakin' manual!
« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2019, 10:02:44 am »

There are two issues - what the buttons do, and when should you push them.  For what the buttons do, manuals are unparalleled.  For workflow questions, videos are often better.  I suspect Duane's comment was related to M-PC, which I also struggled with for a long time.  That's not because it's a bad product - it's actually a fantastic value, but because I hadn't used a full-featured lighting package before jumping in.  If I was coming from Hog or MA, I would already know the workflows and my questions would be more "where did Martin put that", things that manuals are good for.  Since most of my early questions were about how do you start so you don't get boxed in later, the videos were invaluable.

Specifically this series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pukVttOJOKw&t=20s
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