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Author Topic: Elation show designer 3 "dancefloor" console architecture problems  (Read 1268 times)

Jeff Heart

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I have not heard back from the techs yet at Elation but I addressed two issues with the fairly expensive (out of the lower end boards) Show Designer 3 Console. I wanted to see if anyone else has this console and if they have run into similar issues when it comes to "on the fly" playback. Can anyone let me know if I am doing something wrong and this board can actually do what I am trying to do. I am more of a live dance music lighting guy as opposed to stage and theatre so I am wonder if the design of the console was made for theatre where everything is usually preprogrammed but I would still think you would need the features I am having problems with (listed below) from time to time.

(this is what I sent to the Elation guys) :

I was able to thoroughly work with the Show Designer 3 this weekend
past and have come up with what I feel is valuble feeback for you. Do
you have input into the research and developement process? If not, I
would highly suggest that this info is directed towards the
individuals that have the power to make changes in the functionality
and future updates of this board. I have worked with many many
boards in the past 15 years and this board contains some features of
some of the very high end boards but it has a counter-productive
offset mixed within it's architecture.
These two issues that I am about to explain are so large in importance
that we are contemplating selling the board because of it's lack of
capability to do these two functions. It is literally two of the most
important functions (in my opinion) when controlling a nightclub "live"
environment. Furthermore, I think it can make the difference between
selling a lot more boards for the nightclub application when consumers
are debating between products such as a hardware console or software
like Showpro or Light Jockey.
The issues :

(A) NO FIXTURE RELEASE COMMAND : When you are working on a live show and
the lights are moving, attributes are changing, and you have this cool
sequence running......You grab control of a fixture and position it to
highlight someone on the dancefloor. All the other lights are still
running the sequence. Now, you can not release the fixture you grabbed and
it is stuck under your control until you restart the sequence which in
many cases is too abrubt. No matter what changes you make to any amount
of fixtures while a sequence is playing back, you should be able to hit a
command that releases all the changes and movements you altered, back to
the programmed running sequence(s) state. What good is a light that is no
longer moving around the dance floor while all the others are playing
back? When the fixture is deselected, it should simply revert back to
it's preprogrammed state and release any attribute that you changed on the
fly (unless ofcourse you record it before deslecting it)

This is the worse of the two issues. Let's say I have 20 color change
fixtures (this issue can happen with any attribute). I have presets
recorded in which simply adjust the color Channels. I have included all
the fixutres when making the preset.
Button 1: Red
Button 2: Green
Button 3: Blue

Now, I play back the fixtures and turn 10 of them on blue and 10 of them
on red. Lets say they are moving heads as well, so they are spinning
around and lighting up my dancefloor. In a club situation, the light guy
is workiing on the fly with the DJ to compliment his music with the proper
colors. I want to change the red fixtures to blue and also the blue
fixtures to red (swap them). I select the red fixtures only and then tap
the preset page button....Now the problem appears......the BLUE preset is
already lit up because some fixtures are already blue. So you can NOT
change the red fixtures to blue using the blue preset button even though I
only have the RED fixtures selected. Since the blue is already lit up,
hitting it can not turn it ON since it is already ON. Instead, hitting
the BLUE preset button turns off the blue preset, thus shutting off the
fixtures that were already blue (even though they are not selected) and
the red fixtures stay red because I just turned OFF blue. Now, when I hit
blue again..the red fixtures I have selected will turn BLUE and the
fixtures that were blue simply stay OFF because they are not selected.
The only work around is to use the same scenerio except use the jog
wheels to rotate the blue channel on and the red channel off, then do the
opposite after selecting the other fixtures. THat will just not work in
a live environment where everything is happening on the fly and changes
you being made extremely quickly.
In order for this problem to be corrected, the board would have to know
to shut the preset off when fixtures are selected that DO NOT use that
attribute. SO when I select ONLY the red fixtures and then go back to
the preset pages, the blue preset will not be lit (even though some
fixtures are using the BLUE preset(unselected ones)). This way, I can
now hit blue and turn my red fixtures to blue without shutting off the
already blue fixtures.
A board that addresses these issues very well is the NSI MLC-16 and
could perhaps be a board to look at and copy some of it's architecture.
The Show Designer is much more capable and fuller featured but the NSI
has the leading edge (at more than half the price) in the "nightclub"
application architecture.

I really like the board and hope that these issues are considered
serious enough to address. It seems as though it should be a firmware
issue and something that can be changed with a chip update of firmware
upload. I can easily see changing the protocol so that one function
of the "BACK" button could be to release the fixtures as explained in
the first issue.
As for the other issue, it just needs to know to deselect the presets
when fixtures are selected that do not use that preset trait. Not
deactivate the preset (since other fixtures are using it), just deselect
it so it can be reused for the newly selected fixtures (which are not
already using it)

I'll give you a call to talk about this and see if this is serious enough
to have it put on the R & D team's plate of things to have a meeting
For now, I don't want to sell the board if I think there may be a fix down
the road, but if your team thinks it is not an issue to deal with for this
particular console model, then the board will ultimately serve me no
purpose for club application.

Jeff Heart
Wiggle Productions LLC
A/V, Lighting, Photo, Install, Rentals, Sales

Chad Costanzo

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Re: Elation show designer 3 "dancefloor" console architecture problems
« Reply #1 on: November 27, 2007, 10:22:41 pm »

Call and talk to John Lopez.  He is the national sales manager.  He will want to work this issue out with you.  
Chad Costanzo

Pyxis Industries
Dealer: Elation, ADJ, Audix, Shure, Audio Technica, EV, Midas, KT, Heil,  Global, Avant, Antari, Hosa, & MORE

Jim Brooks

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Re: Elation show designer 3 "dancefloor" console architecture problems
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2007, 08:32:01 am »

I'm certainly no expert on the show designer,
but I have been mixing on one for a number of years.
It took me a while to get a better understand how it works.

I don't think mixing on the fly is the best way.
The console is more scene oriented.
I would do similar scenes with the minor changes you want.
A scene can also be programed to be a chase.
We do 60 to 90 shows a year.
Each night I fine tune the scenes as required.
Once the show starts I pick the scene's I want.

John Lopez knows his stuff too.

Jim Brooks

Brian Levy

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Re: Elation show designer 3 "dancefloor" console architecture problems
« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2007, 02:18:40 am »

until recently, i was using a showdesigner 1, and i know these problems well.

here's what i did to solve the preset problem. for all the fixtures that share color presets with other fixtures, program two presets for each color. activating the other one won't black out fixtures on the same color.

my fix for fixture release is a bit more complicated, but it works good for me.  my showdesigner is in add mode, and i also have a 49 key and a 61 key midi keyboard hooked up with a midi merger. i program scenes that affect only one attribute of a certain group of fixtures. one bank for colors, one for pan/tilt positions, one for chases, and half-banks or less for things like strobe speed, color scroll speed, gobo rotation speed, prism speed, vector speed, focus, shutter open/close, etc.  all the midi keys are labeled with bank/scene number, and what they do. to set up a scene, it takes 5-10 midi key presses.  i choose colors, positions, effects, and whetever else for all the fixture groups, then when i want to activate the scene, i just hit my "shutters open" midi key. to grab a fixture, i select it and control it with presets and faders.  to release it, i look at what the other fixtures in its group are doing, and activate either scenes from the midy keys, or presets using the double preset trick.  for example, if the other fixtures are yellow, slow strobing, and moving, i hit midi keys: yellow, slow strobe, and whatever chase, so in a few key presses, the fixture is back in the scene.

one thing to note about add mode though, you need to be careful.  say you activate a center stage position with a scene button or midi key, then activate a chase with a chase button, then you want to go back to the center stage position. if you hit the position scene, you expect the chase to stop and the lights to move to the position, but instead the whole rig blacks out. its because the same scene was hit twice in a row. to fix this, i program a blank scene that does nothing.  whenever i come back to scenes, from presets or chases, i hit the blank scene first to ensure i don't accidentlly stop the show.


Duane Massey

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Re: Elation show designer 3 "dancefloor" console architecture problems
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2007, 09:34:02 pm »

I doubt that you will see any changes in the SD 3; the Showdesigner series is based on compromise to provide a useful controller for a reasonable amount of money, and the SD 1 and 2 pretty much nail this goal for most applications. They are not ideal controllers for someone who prefers to operate "on the fly", nor are they ideal for theatrical use, but they do very well for most club systems where the operator adapts to the controller or the DJ also runs lights ( a very common scenario in Texas).

Given a choice, I'd hardly choose the MLC-16 as a board to copy. It's programming issues far outweigh it's "live"-friendly features for me, but most of my work is done as a programmer for venues without a house LD. Certainly understand your issues with the SD 3, and it may not be the right controller for your application.

Just curious. why the SD 3? Do you need that many channels?
Duane Massey
Houston, Texas, USA
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