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Author Topic: Software Control Solution for Laymen  (Read 1224 times)

Scotty Myers

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Software Control Solution for Laymen
« on: February 19, 2019, 08:50:10 am »

I've taken over a few lighting installs at a high-end gym and want to know if I'm using a reasonably good control solution, as I'm new to this.  This facility has a cycling room that in rave-ish.  They had in place Lightkey as their light control software, so I simply embraced it.  After learning the software, it seems to work fairly decently for such an application, but am curious if there may be better choices.  The operators of the lighting are not DJ's or lighting techs, but rather aerobics instructors who need control to be simple.  The lighting will end up being about 25 LED par lights, several light bars, 2 moving heads and a few "multi-function" fixtures, as well as a hazer.

What I like about it this software
  • Lightkey is a super supportive company.  They answer all questions usually in the same day.
  • I can limit the cues to simple buttons that any instructor and worker at the facility can understand.
  • I can set up sequences and timers that the instructors start with a simply button push.
  • I set-up only the faders I want them to have control of;  There are no unnecessary buttons or faders showing anywhere.
  • Midi control via an iPad is simple to set-up and customize with TouchOSC.  The buttons/faders on the iPad can match that on the computer software or at least be a subset.

The Negatives, or at least those things that are neutral points worth mentioning
  • Software solution - Not generally as stable as hardware solutions.  They have had it crash due to a glitch in the USB ports.  However, a software solution may have to be the way we keep it due to having very simple user interface and not just a hardware console with a bunch of faders/buttons that are meaningless to the aerobics instructors.
  • Subscription service software.  Cheap up front cost, but you have to resubscribe every year.  This is a double edged sword.  It means you are always paying, albeit a small amount, but you also always have the latest software.

So without starting a typical flame of what I'm now using, I'd just like ot hear if there is something that might be better.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2019, 09:29:40 am by Scotty Myers »
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2019, 01:22:23 pm »

I like Luminair3
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2019, 05:29:02 pm »

...it seems to work fairly decently for such an application, but am curious if there may be better choices... 

Better is a subjective term.  A better question might be what does your current solution not do.  "Better" to me personally is ETC's Nomad product, as it's a virtual console for the hardware desk that I own.  This wouldn't apply to your situation, so it wouldn't necessarily be "better" in this case despite it having a much higher pedigree than what you currently use.  MagicQ PC and M-PC (now called Onyx) are two very popular choices, both from reputable manufacturers.  They have a rather high learning curve though, so again, might not be better than what you currently have - especially if your users can't figure it out. 

Depending on your budget, you might want to look into a simple hardware interface solution such as the ETC EchoTouch or just a small stand-alone playback device. 
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Scotty Myers

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2019, 08:23:11 am »

I like Luminair3

Interesting... but their explanation on their website is crap.  But if I understand what I read, the control all comes from a single iPad.  There is no computer running a control app anywhere.  So if the iPad is dropped and destroyed, you are out of luck until you get a back up loaded.  Is this correct?  Can you run two iPads at the same time to control the same lights?  Like having one at the console location and one at the performer location?
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Scotty Myers

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2019, 08:36:24 am »

Better is a subjective term.  A better question might be what does your current solution not do....  MagicQ PC and M-PC (now called Onyx) are two very popular choices, both from reputable manufacturers.  They have a rather high learning curve though...


What the current solution doesn't do is quite bit.  Without going into detail, I'll just say it's really simplistic and with that, it really limits how you can control the lights.  It's a great program and nice interface.  It was suggested by a guy who does church lighting, which is generally pretty simplistic at most churches.  But when you start getting into multiple fixtures of complex effects lighting, it really doesn't have the horsepower to do the job... at least not in a straight forward manner.  At least not at this point.

Both of these look promising.  Onyx may be the winner with it's 2-D cue page.  I'll have to take a harder look at them.  I'm an engineer.  I can handle the learning curve.
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frank kayser

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2019, 09:09:51 am »

Interesting... but their explanation on their website is crap.  <snip>


I paid for Luminair 3, and I have to agree, the website and manual are... ahem... lacking, IMNTBHO.
I found the Luminair 2 manual, and found it far better, and explained much, but still left too many holes.


I'm still at a point where (forgive the pun) the light bulb hasn't clicked on.  I still don't get it.
I cannot (or have not figured out a way) to take an existing fixture definition, disassemble its definition, and make sense of how it works.


The list of fixtures is severely limited, and I have not found a third-party source of defined fixtures.  I would have liked to find ONE fixture definition that matches one I have.


Their videos just don't cut it for me.  I'm left with at least as many questions after viewing the vids. (that banal background music.  Uggh!)


I do know it is good software.  Folks are doing wonderful things with it.  I still don't get it. I know it's me. I like to reverse engineer things to understand how others have produced their solutions.  I could not find a way to edit even a simple scene.  Third party vids are few and far between, and like many YouTube and Vimneo vids, many are not worth the time.


Even something simple like deleting a scene does not work consistently (for me) and I can't figure out why.


I REALLY WNATTO LIKE IT.  So far, I can't.  This old dog is having trouble learning new tricks...


frank
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2019, 04:49:50 pm »

I'm still at a point where (forgive the pun) the light bulb hasn't clicked on.  I still don't get it.
I cannot (or have not figured out a way) to take an existing fixture definition, disassemble its definition, and make sense of how it works.

I think that's one of the many reasons that there are many different consoles and software packages on the market.  Though at the end of the day DMX is still DMX, some people find certain approaches to getting there more intuitive than others.  That's why I'm a big advocate of downloading the free demos to play with before spending any money.  Some programs just make more sense than others, and at the end of the day, the best controller for you is the one that you're comfortable with and can use to the best of its abilities.

I REALLY WNATTO LIKE IT.  So far, I can't.  This old dog is having trouble learning new tricks...

I'm the same way with M-Touch.  I still can't get past not having a tangible fader where there should be one!  I still stand by that it's the best sub-$1000 solution on the market today, but to me it's just not quite enough tactile feedback to make me happy. 

Both of these look promising.  Onyx may be the winner with it's 2-D cue page.  I'll have to take a harder look at them.  I'm an engineer.  I can handle the learning curve.

Great!  Let us know what you end up deciding on!
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John Fruits

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2019, 05:05:34 pm »

Although not a software solution, you might also take a look at the LIGHTSHARK.
The interesting thing is that it is browser based, you don't have to download an app for this and an app for that.  It will also communicate with up to three devices so you can have different screens.  One suggestion I have heard is to use a touchscreen Chromebook. 
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Dave Garoutte

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2019, 05:07:09 pm »

Frank,
I gave up on the manual and started futzing around.
I always make custom fixtures, which you can save.
You can eliminate the channels you don't need.
On one fixture I have, it has a dimmer control, which you don't need when you use the color wheel fader, so I have it hidden and full on.  I just dim with the color fader.  One single fader does RGBW and fader.
There are lots of effects you can add easily, so I don't use those DMX channels either.

Don't get me wrong, there are some things I wish it could do, but I need something I can remember how to use from occasional show to show.  I had MPC and had to re-learn it each time I went to use it.
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Steve Garris

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2019, 12:53:03 am »

Frank,
I gave up on the manual and started futzing around.
I always make custom fixtures, which you can save.
You can eliminate the channels you don't need.
On one fixture I have, it has a dimmer control, which you don't need when you use the color wheel fader, so I have it hidden and full on.  I just dim with the color fader.  One single fader does RGBW and fader.
There are lots of effects you can add easily, so I don't use those DMX channels either.

Don't get me wrong, there are some things I wish it could do, but I need something I can remember how to use from occasional show to show.  I had MPC and had to re-learn it each time I went to use it.

I've been looking for something new as well. I've been using Luminiar3 for a while now, and feel comfortable with it's features, but I'm not liking the iPad buttons on this thing. I use an iPad to mix, which I'm very happy with, but when I punch a button on the iPad running Luminair it often doesn't register. Very frustrating at my live shows! BTW, I learned when programming a profile for a light that has more colors than RGB, you cannot use the color wheel! You have to define each of your RGBWA...etc., on its own fader.

I have a Magic 260 that is perfect for push-button scene changing, but it does not really work with any of our movers or effects lighting. I was looking for a simple iPad solution, which brought me to Luminair3. I've now decided to move to a pc or Mac based program. I'm currently playing with Show Buddy Active (formerly Dmxis), which has a very rudimentary 2D visualizer. The program doesn't look as nice as Lightkey, but it's certainly less costly, and runs on a pc as well as Mac. The fixture editor is an online thing, and will likely take you a few tries to get it right. I looked breifly at Onyx, and decided I would give Show Buddy a run before trying something more complicated.

Question to the OP; How are these lights set up? Are they mostly on the dance floor, behind the dj? What kind of "complex effects" are you looking for, and is this for busking?
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TJ (Tom) Cornish

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Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2019, 10:53:51 am »

I have used M-PC for several years now.  It's very powerful and the M-Touch/M-Play surfaces give you at least something for your hands for thousands less than other wings.  That said, any lighting package with any amount of capability has a significant learning curve, as you need to learn not just what the buttons do, but how to think and how to have a functional workflow.  The M-PC community is pretty large and there is a lot of help available via YouTube, but anything you pick will require a significant time budget with your rig learning how to run it.

I installed it at my church a year and a half ago and setup a bunch of pre-built groups and palettes as well as submasters to run the house conventional rig.  People are still making errors - accidentally recording groups over each other instead of cues, etc.  This isn't a flaw of M-PC as I'm confident they would do the same thing on any other package, but I mention it to set expectations that it's a skillset that requires an investment. 
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ProSoundWeb Community

Re: Software Control Solution for Laymen
« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2019, 10:53:51 am »


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