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Author Topic: Can't get my head around light boards  (Read 1606 times)

John L Nobile

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Can't get my head around light boards
« on: November 09, 2022, 10:50:19 AM »

I recently upgraded my GrandMA on PC with 2 touch screen monitors. I had it programmed by a good friend of mine so that I could busk it. Was working pretty good for a few years. Other LD's have used it and it all worked fine afterwards for me. After the last LD used it, my faders wings (2) no longer address the fixtures that I normally use. I don't know what changed. I thought saved programs would be the same when recalled but apparently, they're not.

So now I have to learn how to program the board. I can easily wrap my head around digital soundboards, DAW's, pretty much any audio related program. But when it comes to lighting, I just can't wrap my head around it. Guess I have to think differently to figure it out.

On to YouTube video land. If anyone has any advice on programming this board or why changes made by another LD changed things for me (I loaded a file from a backup not on the computer), I'm all ears.
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Erik Jerde

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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2022, 04:41:24 PM »

I recently upgraded my GrandMA on PC with 2 touch screen monitors. I had it programmed by a good friend of mine so that I could busk it. Was working pretty good for a few years. Other LD's have used it and it all worked fine afterwards for me. After the last LD used it, my faders wings (2) no longer address the fixtures that I normally use. I don't know what changed. I thought saved programs would be the same when recalled but apparently, they're not.

So now I have to learn how to program the board. I can easily wrap my head around digital soundboards, DAW's, pretty much any audio related program. But when it comes to lighting, I just can't wrap my head around it. Guess I have to think differently to figure it out.

On to YouTube video land. If anyone has any advice on programming this board or why changes made by another LD changed things for me (I loaded a file from a backup not on the computer), I'm all ears.

It's been a while since I've run MA2 (or MA anything) so I can't give you specific tips.  There is a Facebook group for MA desks that you could check with and ACT lighting (the North American distributor) has always been helpful - though I've never had to call them on something like this.

Lighting is a real PITA compared to audio though, don't feel bad for not being able to get your head around it.  Where on an audio desk the same concepts pretty much always apply across brands lighting is just the wild west.  You can be a world class pro on one brand of lighting console but if you're put in front of another one that you've never seen before you'll be pretty much lost.  At least with audio if you're high level competent on one modern desk you can usually figure out how to be productive on pretty much any other modern console out there.  I've run lights using many of the major player desks and the knowledge almost never transfers from one to another.  Sound is just so much easier, I've never had a problem walking up to a digital audio console and getting it to do what I wanted.

Good luck!
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Scott Holtzman

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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2022, 05:34:58 PM »

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It's been a while since I've run MA2 (or MA anything) so I can't give you specific tips.  There is a Facebook group for MA desks that you could check with and ACT lighting (the North American distributor) has always been helpful - though I've never had to call them on something like this.

Lighting is a real PITA compared to audio though, don't feel bad for not being able to get your head around it.  Where on an audio desk the same concepts pretty much always apply across brands lighting is just the wild west.  You can be a world class pro on one brand of lighting console but if you're put in front of another one that you've never seen before you'll be pretty much lost.  At least with audio if you're high level competent on one modern desk you can usually figure out how to be productive on pretty much any other modern console out there.  I've run lights using many of the major player desks and the knowledge almost never transfers from one to another.  Sound is just so much easier, I've never had a problem walking up to a digital audio console and getting it to do what I wanted.

Good luck!


Don't feel bad, same situation here.  I spent years programming a Chauvet ShowXpress to do exactly what I wanted, movements, color and gobo all on different layers.  It didn't have any kind of palette capability so moving the show to another venue was a days work. 


One of the members here recommended an ETC Congo series box,  I got a deal on one, set it up in the shop with a couple of movers and some washes.  Thanks to this members patience after about 3 hours I had fixture profiles and basic pallets and could busk.  Problem is I then spent a month in the hospital and can't remember anything.  I am thinking of flying him in but he is busy, I also don't know what direction the business is going to take.  So don't feel bad lighting programming has no analogies to audio.  Good luck, you should be able to find a GrandMa programmer without tossing out too many rocks.
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Scott AKA "Skyking" Holtzman

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Jeff Lelko

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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2022, 08:28:34 PM »

Hi John, let me see if I can help...

After the last LD used it, my faders wings (2) no longer address the fixtures that I normally use. I don't know what changed. I thought saved programs would be the same when recalled but apparently, they're not.

So this touches on Executor Assignments.  Either the Executor Assignment itself was changed or the content referenced by the Executor (Sequence, Macro, Effect, etc.) has been changed.  A saved show file should contain all the necessary content needed to fully recall and populate the MA in the state it was in when the file was created.  One caveat here is that MA only allows show files to roll forward and not backward.  It's possible that if the guest LD saved his work over your show file the MA isn't ingesting your other saved file as it's perceived to be an older file.  The fix for this is to clear the board before trying to load from your USB stick.

I can easily wrap my head around digital soundboards, DAW's, pretty much any audio related program. But when it comes to lighting, I just can't wrap my head around it. Guess I have to think differently to figure it out.

Yep, and here's the crux of it - at the end of the day audio can be boiled down to inputs and outputs.  You've got a number of inputs coming into the mixer, DAW, etc. which get processed, EQ'd, mixed, and then sent to any number of outputs.  Digital and networked audio has certainly increased the levels of capacity and complexity in many cases, but at the end of the day it's still inputs and outputs that a mixer has adjudication over.

Lighting has been digital since the dawn of DMX (and even for a bit prior to that).  The 1990s and early 2000s were simple enough in that most typical systems were just faders controlling dimmers and maybe some basic handling of early moving lights (Martin Roboscans, HES Trackspots, etc.).  With the overwhelming commonality of LED fixtures and complex moving lights since around 2010 along with media serves increasingly becoming part of lighting design the philosophy of system control needed to evolve.

Imagine if an SM58 had 12 unique input parameters to control and a JBL SRX812 needed 28 channels of output plus HDMI?  You'd see a whole different philosophy of control being implemented on digital mixers!

My point being is that lighting has evolved to the level of complexity where a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work.  You also can't program thousands of DMX channels for each single cue by hand.  There's actually a fair degree of commonality between light consoles in programming tool concepts such as palettes, dynamic effects, content masters, etc., aside from the different consoles having different buzzwords for these tool implementations. 

Choosing a light console has a lot more to do with workflow preference than available horsepower.  An MA3, Hog4, Congo Kid, and MagicQ PC can all control a Martin Mac Ultra just fine.  How the desk implements control philosophy is where the selling points are, similar to the ongoing Windows vs. Mac vs. Linux discussion.
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Paul Johnson

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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2022, 02:44:51 AM »

My Chamsys is exactly the same. This season, I paid no attention to the control as the guy doing it did a great job and I could spend my time on other things, sound this season. I fill in the weak link areas. Stage and lights were fine, sound wasnít. Same lights as previous, same DMX infrastructure but the Chamsys screens, the internal and external one were configured totally different to how I installed it. This is not something stored in showfiles. Itís set up by the users. My touch screen Exec screen now does totally different things. Things I donít even understand. The basic display has big differences and many buttons have functions slightly different. Itís going to take me a long time to strip this down and restore my preferences. Apparently my preferences could have been saved, but werenít. Modern controls just allow this customisation of the work surface and there really isnt a manufacturer standard  any more apart from the factory reset.
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John L Nobile

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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2022, 01:21:45 PM »

I managed to get my settings loaded in. Not entirely sure how it happened but I think it had something to do with loading a backup from a USB stick.

Now to get back to sound for this weekend.
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Tommy Nikiforov

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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2022, 05:54:08 AM »

I managed to get my settings loaded in. Not entirely sure how it happened but I think it had something to do with loading a backup from a USB stick.

Now to get back to sound for this weekend.

Setting files transfer over with showfiles , but you can also import your own settings in setup - view settings - import settings.
Always worth having your own separate settings file on a stick to use on any other chamsys desk you come across.
not ALL settings move over though, settings with a small red flag in the settings window are desk dependent not showfile dependent.
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Brian Jojade

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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2022, 01:07:55 PM »

Lighting is a real PITA compared to audio though, don't feel bad for not being able to get your head around it.  Where on an audio desk the same concepts pretty much always apply across brands lighting is just the wild west.  You can be a world class pro on one brand of lighting console but if you're put in front of another one that you've never seen before you'll be pretty much lost.  At least with audio if you're high level competent on one modern desk you can usually figure out how to be productive on pretty much any other modern console out there.  I've run lights using many of the major player desks and the knowledge almost never transfers from one to another.  Sound is just so much easier, I've never had a problem walking up to a digital audio console and getting it to do what I wanted.

Yep, Every lighting console is different.  There are a few common ones out there, but the way they work is all VERY different.  Which ones are the easiest to use depends on how similar your brain functions to the engineering team that designed that console.

They all mostly do the same things, but some I find infuriating to use compared to others. Other LDs think the ones I like are impossible and they love the ones I hate.

Trying to learn multiple consoles is mind numbing at best.  I guess that's why I'm stuck still using my Avolites Roll-a-Cue pearl from 1998. :)
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Brian Jojade

Tommy Nikiforov

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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2022, 09:20:44 AM »

Yep, Every lighting console is different.  There are a few common ones out there, but the way they work is all VERY different.  Which ones are the easiest to use depends on how similar your brain functions to the engineering team that designed that console.

They all mostly do the same things, but some I find infuriating to use compared to others. Other LDs think the ones I like are impossible and they love the ones I hate.

Trying to learn multiple consoles is mind numbing at best.  I guess that's why I'm stuck still using my Avolites Roll-a-Cue pearl from 1998. :)

well, most modern consoles use the same preset/palette based workflow so thats a commonality across most of em, different names in different places but the functionality is more or less the same be it ChamSys , MA, Hog or Avolites
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James Feenstra

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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2022, 11:22:13 AM »

I recently upgraded my GrandMA on PC with 2 touch screen monitors. I had it programmed by a good friend of mine so that I could busk it. Was working pretty good for a few years. Other LD's have used it and it all worked fine afterwards for me. After the last LD used it, my faders wings (2) no longer address the fixtures that I normally use. I don't know what changed. I thought saved programs would be the same when recalled but apparently, they're not.
sounds like they saved over your show file, or the console is loading the show file they used. Should be easy enough to re-load a previous backup (assuming one exists)

Quote
So now I have to learn how to program the board. I can easily wrap my head around digital soundboards, DAW's, pretty much any audio related program. But when it comes to lighting, I just can't wrap my head around it. Guess I have to think differently to figure it out.

On to YouTube video land. If anyone has any advice on programming this board or why changes made by another LD changed things for me (I loaded a file from a backup not on the computer), I'm all ears.
lightingtrainer.com has some good resources;
https://lightingtrainer.com/consoles/ma-lighting-and-act-lighting/

Alternatively I know a guy who hasn't been up your way in a while but has some free time in December ;)
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Re: Can't get my head around light boards
¬ę Reply #9 on: November 25, 2022, 11:22:13 AM ¬Ľ


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