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Author Topic: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control  (Read 406 times)

Jonathan Hiemberg

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Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« on: August 13, 2019, 11:35:38 am »

Hello,


We've got a venue that is currently using an ETC Element 40, along with about 60 LED fixtures, a mixture of PAR-type and basic movers.


I'm planning to add a dozen or so more moving fixtures, and would like to update the control system as well.


This is a church outreach venue, so operated completely by volunteers. Currently I have the Element set up with a few different magic sheets that allow volunteers (via touch screen) to select fixtures or groups, change the colors, and do some basic movement. The faders allow them to fade fixture groups and also the main front lights independent of the 'effects' lights.


The difficulty is it gets complex for them to create more involved looks, and adding movers with gobos and more effects will exacerbate this.


What I would like to do is move this over to a software based system that is more adept at programming intelligent fixtures, but add some hardware control to select groups, palettes etc.


I would also want to add a hardware fader bank (12 channels or less) for them to be able to grab and fade house lights, etc.


Moving to a software based system might possibly allow me to double up PC duty and add something like Q-lab for video content.


Can someone steer me in the right direction, what product families might get me in the ballpark?


Related - anyone want to buy a well-taken-care-of Element 40 with two touch screens? ;)
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Nate Zifra

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Re: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2019, 12:39:42 pm »

I use Elation Onyx (used to be MPC) with an MPlay/MTouch.  I think that would meet your needs.  You can create custom screens on the software, and custom faders/playback buttons on the hardware.


Hello,


We've got a venue that is currently using an ETC Element 40, along with about 60 LED fixtures, a mixture of PAR-type and basic movers.


I'm planning to add a dozen or so more moving fixtures, and would like to update the control system as well.


This is a church outreach venue, so operated completely by volunteers. Currently I have the Element set up with a few different magic sheets that allow volunteers (via touch screen) to select fixtures or groups, change the colors, and do some basic movement. The faders allow them to fade fixture groups and also the main front lights independent of the 'effects' lights.


The difficulty is it gets complex for them to create more involved looks, and adding movers with gobos and more effects will exacerbate this.


What I would like to do is move this over to a software based system that is more adept at programming intelligent fixtures, but add some hardware control to select groups, palettes etc.


I would also want to add a hardware fader bank (12 channels or less) for them to be able to grab and fade house lights, etc.


Moving to a software based system might possibly allow me to double up PC duty and add something like Q-lab for video content.


Can someone steer me in the right direction, what product families might get me in the ballpark?


Related - anyone want to buy a well-taken-care-of Element 40 with two touch screens? ;)
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2019, 07:50:55 pm »

We've got a venue that is currently using an ETC Element 40, along with about 60 LED fixtures, a mixture of PAR-type and basic movers.

Hi Jonathan, I think the natural route to pursue here would be to expand with ETCís Nomad product.  The software license includes ETCís EOS, Cobalt, and Hog products, so you can pick and switch your flavor of console depending on what works the best (Iíd vote EOS here for familiarity with your Element).  ETC sells various wings as well.  I just have a simple Universal Fader Wing for a few handles/buttons on small jobs when bringing out my larger ETC desk isnít warranted, but you can buy programming/playback wings as well.  Nomad is a bit more expensive compared to other options, but I feel itís good value for what you get.  Hope this helps!

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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2019, 08:12:01 pm »

Anytime I hear volunteers I say Vista.

Though, I'm pretty partial to Vista (v3 now).

I did a off-hand demo at a church while doing a sound install. We had the system running in less time than it took to get the laptop out of the truck. Basically sold on the spot.

And it will do everything you asked of it.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 08:23:59 pm by Nathan Riddle »
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Jonathan Hiemberg

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Re: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2019, 06:10:48 pm »

Thank you all for your input.


It looks like Onyx wins in the price-per-universe department, while Vista appears to be a little more 'volunteer-friendly' - which is a tight tradeoff at this point.


I like the Onyx M-Play controller, it seems to be the least intimidating on the hardware front, but it's just a few sliders short I think. I've googled but maybe I'm missing it, is it possible to use more than one M-play at a time? This would also have the benefit of adding another universe of output.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2019, 06:16:14 pm by Jonathan Hiemberg »
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2019, 11:13:16 am »

Thank you all for your input.


It looks like Onyx wins in the price-per-universe department, while Vista appears to be a little more 'volunteer-friendly' - which is a tight tradeoff at this point.


I like the Onyx M-Play controller, it seems to be the least intimidating on the hardware front, but it's just a few sliders short I think. I've googled but maybe I'm missing it, is it possible to use more than one M-play at a time? This would also have the benefit of adding another universe of output.

Don't forget programming, service calls, training, etc in the Money vs Volunteer decision.

If one console is easier to teach and support then it will cost less in the long-run.

You can run Vista console-less pretty easily with just a mouse and keyboard.
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John L Nobile

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Re: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2019, 12:57:52 pm »

I saw someone on the forum selling a GrandMa on PC command wing and a Fader wing. I have one that's been programmed by a real LD and even I can use it and look like a pro. Sometimes I have staff run basic scenes when I'm not around. I believe that system is capable of 6 universes. The command wing alone does 2.
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Jonathan Hiemberg

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Re: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2019, 01:33:34 pm »

Don't forget programming, service calls, training, etc in the Money vs Volunteer decision.

If one console is easier to teach and support then it will cost less in the long-run.

You can run Vista console-less pretty easily with just a mouse and keyboard.


Good points.


Is there any 3rd party hardware that works well with Vista - I'm thinking along the lines of MIDI button banks or similar.
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Nathan Riddle

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Re: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2019, 02:51:38 pm »

I saw someone on the forum selling a GrandMa on PC command wing and a Fader wing. I have one that's been programmed by a real LD and even I can use it and look like a pro. Sometimes I have staff run basic scenes when I'm not around. I believe that system is capable of 6 universes. The command wing alone does 2.

I think that's true of any (most) console(s). Programmed well they perform the roughly the same and are easy to use.

That said, I usually find that I'd rather in a volunteer situation to allow the volunteers to program their own show as they see fit. I don't really see that happening without some intermediate training on the GrandMa, ChamSys, Onyx, etc systems. Whereas Vista has the ability to with approx 5min of instructions allowing nearly anyone (who grasps computers, and colors) well to be able to program a 'show'.


Good points.

Is there any 3rd party hardware that works well with Vista - I'm thinking along the lines of MIDI button banks or similar.

Midi button banks can fire off pre-programmed cues. I have an APC 40 that I use for that.

Faders are not programmable though. Touchscreens can fix this as you can create "software" consoles.

The MX (Old M1) gets you faders and two outputs (channels dongle dependent).

The EX (Old S1-ish) gets you faders, encoders, buttons, etc...
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Software Controller upgrade - with hardware control
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2019, 03:53:44 pm »

It looks like Onyx wins in the price-per-universe department, while Vista appears to be a little more 'volunteer-friendly' - which is a tight tradeoff at this point.

How many universes do you need?  Everything comes with trade-offs, and oftentimes itís worthwhile to give away excess capabilities such as universes youíll probably never use in return for getting more faders/buttons or a better-fitting product all together.  That was my case when I bought my ETC Congo Kid - Iíd rather live within fewer universes but get more surface to use.  Even though my Nomad license is the 12 universe version I rarely need more than 2. 

Whatís your budget for the project?
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