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Author Topic: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?  (Read 1822 times)

Mark Scrivener

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Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« on: June 21, 2020, 01:56:47 am »

Hey Gang,

I've been spending time evaluating various DMX control programs and wanted to get some inputs. My usage falls in one of two categories:

1. Lighting for bands in small to medium settings. Blues, Country, Jazz, Rock/Pop. Just washes/spots/Pars/etc, no movers, no pyro, not EDM/Techno/Rave/Heavy Metal/etc or anything that would work with a big light show....more like theater lighting with some chasers now and then. I just can't see movers working for a small country band or a jazz trio.

2. Synchronized light/music shows - either live (playing to click with IEM) or pre-recorded (holiday light display, etc). Usually via midi commands embedded in a DAW track and sent to the light control program.

I also use my lights for event lighting, but that is typically static (uplighting/washes/etc) - just manually set the color and leave it. If there is a good reason to use DMX control here please educate me.

I'm PC only (no IOS devices), though I have some Raspberry Pi devices and android tablets as well. I've downloaded and looked at numerous programs. Here are the one's I've played with the most and my thoughts thus far....

  • Freestyler - the interface is a bit clunky, though it's the one I've used the most. Pretty basic, though I've managed to do a fair bit with it. Feels lacking in sophisticated commands....a bit like programming in assembly vs using a high level language.
  • QLC+ - just starting to dive into this one, but like what I see thus far. A little concerned about investing time into an open source, non commercial platform (again), but seems reasonably powerful and easy to understand.
  • Onyx - Very powerful, nice interface, though steep learning curve. Free version has timing limitations, dongle is expensive, but a basic console is affordable and gets around the license issues....except I really don't need nor want to drag another piece of gear around. I'm also concerned about the need for extra licensed software for things like triggering lights via midi from a DAW.

So what do folks like that is PC compatible and works for small band setups? (I know there are a lot of Luminair fans here, but that doesn't play in my "universe" LoL).

Thanks in advance,
Mark

Jim Shelton

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2020, 09:02:01 am »

Hey Gang,

I've been spending time evaluating various DMX control programs and wanted to get some inputs. My usage falls in one of two categories:

1. Lighting for bands in small to medium settings. Blues, Country, Jazz, Rock/Pop. Just washes/spots/Pars/etc, no movers, no pyro, not EDM/Techno/Rave/Heavy Metal/etc or anything that would work with a big light show....more like theater lighting with some chasers now and then. I just can't see movers working for a small country band or a jazz trio.





Hello,
 Well I was in the same boat as far as software I looked at the same one as you have. But ended up with Mydmx, started with the 2.0 and upgraded to the 3.0. I upgraded to Chamsys MagicQ20 nice little console with a touchscreen and the ability to have a iPad or android tablet connect via its own WiFi for an additional touchscreen.

2. Synchronized light/music shows - either live (playing to click with IEM) or pre-recorded (holiday light display, etc). Usually via midi commands embedded in a DAW track and sent to the light control program.

I also use my lights for event lighting, but that is typically static (uplighting/washes/etc) - just manually set the color and leave it. If there is a good reason to use DMX control here please educate me.

I'm PC only (no IOS devices), though I have some Raspberry Pi devices and android tablets as well. I've downloaded and looked at numerous programs. Here are the one's I've played with the most and my thoughts thus far....

  • Freestyler - the interface is a bit clunky, though it's the one I've used the most. Pretty basic, though I've managed to do a fair bit with it. Feels lacking in sophisticated commands....a bit like programming in assembly vs using a high level language.
  • QLC+ - just starting to dive into this one, but like what I see thus far. A little concerned about investing time into an open source, non commercial platform (again), but seems reasonably powerful and easy to understand.
  • Onyx - Very powerful, nice interface, though steep learning curve. Free version has timing limitations, dongle is expensive, but a basic console is affordable and gets around the license issues....except I really don't need nor want to drag another piece of gear around. I'm also concerned about the need for extra licensed software for things like triggering lights via midi from a DAW.

So what do folks like that is PC compatible and works for small band setups? (I know there are a lot of Luminair fans here, but that doesn't play in my "universe" LoL).

Thanks in advance,
Mark
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2020, 12:11:48 am »

Hi Mark.  Similar to your recent thread about picking LED lights, you have a fairly tall order here for what you need to meet the needs of every application.  Be ready for some sticker shock to truly check all the boxes on your list.

Most lighting controllers fall into one of two categories - those meant for scripted playback and those meant for designing on the fly, called busking.  A handful can do both equally well, but thatís a very small subset of whatís out there, especially at the Junior Varsity level.

Lighting concerts generally calls for a busking desk.  Synchronized playback can also be done with a busking desk, but depending on complexity might be better served with a desk designed for scripted playback.  For anything busking-related I would consider a wing at the very least to be mandatory hardware.  You can generally get away with playback on a computer-only interface, but for tactile operation and quick programming nothing beats having a wing when a full-sized console isnít available.

Out of the 3 programs you listed, Onyx (formerly M-PC) is the only solution that I would consider acceptable for professional use.  MagicQ PC is also an option.  DMXIS is another program you can look into that does simple busking and can be configured to work with a DAW for scripted playback, but is otherwise very limited in nature.  Iím personally an ETC Nomad (+ wing) user since all my hardware consoles are also ETC.  There are others out there too, but yes, the learning curve will be steep.  Hope this helps!

*****

As an aside since you mention it even though you arenít using it, it is never acceptable to control any pyrotechnics via DMX alone. 
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Mark Scrivener

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2020, 02:45:38 am »

Thanks Jeff...yes I realize I probably need two solutions, one for busking and one for scripted playback. What annoys me about Onyx is a USB key is 3x the cost of their basic console...the console unlocks the software just the same as the key, but I don't really want to lug the console around with all the other stuff I have to bring.

And OMG, I can't imagine someone using DMX to control pyrotechnics without all sorts of interlocks and other safeguards =:0. Like I stated, I'm no where near that level....just spots, color washes and a few chasers here and there. Think jazz trio and other small ensembles. Not a light show, just making the act look a little more polished.

Jonathan Goodall

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2020, 05:03:57 am »

What about something like this https://www.workpro.es/ls_core
1/2 rack space, onboard wifi connects with one of your tablets, 2 universes on board.
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duane massey

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2020, 10:01:16 am »

Not sure of your budget, but a Showdesigner 1 is a pretty useful controller for what you are describing. Once you have it programmed you can trigger scenes via midi, you can play back scenes from the controller, and you can manually control the fixtures directly once you get the hang of the controller. Very powerful, can be rack-mounted.
Like ANY solution you are considering you will need to spend some time learning the controller and pre-programming most or all of what you will normally use.
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Duane Massey
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Mark Scrivener

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2020, 02:51:19 pm »

What about something like this https://www.workpro.es/ls_core
1/2 rack space, onboard wifi connects with one of your tablets, 2 universes on board.

Yes, I've briefly looked at the Lightshark series, and the LS-Core is very intriguing. My audio mixer (Soundcraft Ui24r) is basically the same concept. I should dig further, but what stopped me thus far is not being able to play with the software to evaluate it. Soundcraft, for example, has a web page where you can pretend to mix a show using their Ui24r, and thus get a great feel for how the software works and if it is right for you. I know they have training videos for the Lightshark stuff, but haven't found the interactive demo yet.

Jonathan Goodall

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2020, 03:00:12 pm »

Hmmm, I am not aware of an online demo version being available. I have the full console version (purchased over lockdown to learn something new) and it seems pretty good so far but I get you about checking the workflow.
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2020, 10:34:18 pm »

Yes, I've briefly looked at the Lightshark series, and the LS-Core is very intriguing. My audio mixer (Soundcraft Ui24r) is basically the same concept. I should dig further, but what stopped me thus far is not being able to play with the software to evaluate it. Soundcraft, for example, has a web page where you can pretend to mix a show using their Ui24r, and thus get a great feel for how the software works and if it is right for you. I know they have training videos for the Lightshark stuff, but haven't found the interactive demo yet.


We are Blizzard dealers and they use to OEM the Lightshark.  My demo came broken then Blizzard dumped them.  Not sure what is going on. 
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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2020, 11:09:52 pm »

What annoys me about Onyx is a USB key is 3x the cost of their basic console...the console unlocks the software just the same as the key, but I don't really want to lug the console around with all the other stuff I have to bring.

I don't think that statement is 100% true.  To my understanding of the product comparison on the Obsidian website (copied below), Universes 1-4 are free and can accessed via Art-Net or with any of the compatible USB-DMX interfaces.  The USB key is for unlocking 128 universes, which you surely don't need right now.  There appears to be a restriction on OSC support as well when using the free version of Onyx, hence my prior comment about sticker shock if wanting every feature that you mentioned in your original post.  MagicQ PC follows a similar product/pricing architecture.  Check the website to be sure before making any purchases, but the entry cost to Onyx has always been quite reasonable for what you get.  Hope this helps!

Per the Obsidian website:

Note: Onyx will send out FREE Universes numbers 1,2,3 and 4 over Art-Net, sACN or ONYX USB devices when no license key is detected.

In FREE (Red) mode, OSC Playback faders and buttons will be delayed in execution. Full OSC support remains available for licensed systems (Onyx Keys or with ONYX control surface) and all consoles.
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Mark Scrivener

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2020, 06:15:06 pm »



Per the Obsidian website:

Note: Onyx will send out FREE Universes numbers 1,2,3 and 4 over Art-Net, sACN or ONYX USB devices when no license key is detected.

In FREE (Red) mode, OSC Playback faders and buttons will be delayed in execution. Full OSC support remains available for licensed systems (Onyx Keys or with ONYX control surface) and all consoles.

Thanks Jeff. I initially miss-read the Onyx restrictions and failed to recognize the OSC restrictions only applied to use of the OSC remote app. I wrongly assumed the random delayed execution applied to any free use of Onyx (not just remote use via OSC). Indeed 4 universes is more than I ever anticipate needing, so Onyx should fit the bill.

Now my only (very minor) annoyance with Onyx is they have deprecated support for my DMX interface. No big deal, I'll just stay with version 4.2.1057 until I feel like investing in a new DMX interface. Thanks!

Lance Hallmark

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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2020, 05:14:13 pm »

You can get a full access dongle for Chamsys MagicQ for about $120. MagicQ is free to download and runs on PC/Mac/Linux/console. As powerful as the big players, you should be able to do everything you need to do. A PC Wing runs about $2300, 1/3 price of similar by GrandMa, Hog, etc...
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Re: Thoughts on DMX Console software for small shows?
¬ę Reply #11 on: July 10, 2020, 05:14:13 pm ¬Ľ


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