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  • Episode 18 – How Do I Get Started Controlling Stage Lighting for Under $500?

 May 29

by David

Lighting News

This week in lighting news we do have a grim story but it needs to be discussed. There were a couple of accidents in China and Brazil where trusses fell down during a live show. Unfortunately, some people were hurt and passed away.

What I want to talk about is that if you’re not fully insured or completely confident you should really work with someone who has done this type of work in the past. If you’re hanging lights over people or dealing with high volt electricity bring in someone who is trained and fully insured!

Main Segment

When I first started in the business about 10 years ago it was unheard of to get a lighting console for under $500. But with technology advances, these products are becoming more available at an affordable price.

Last week, we covered how you can get started controlling lights under with $100. These are the basics but it will get you going. Be sure to check out last week’s episode:

How Do I get started controlling lights for less than $100?

Types of Consoles

Chauvet Obey 40 – Starting with the simplest first if you need the most basic functions such as a couple of faders, a few lights, and LEDs I would suggest the Chauvet Obey 40. It’s not a complex console and can handle just a couple of basic functions. These normally cost less than $150.

How to Begin With The Chauvet Obey 40

ENTTEC DMXIS – The next console I would recommend is the ENTTEC DMXIS. If you already have a computer to work with, ENTTEC’s DMXIS is software based and really easy on computers. They don’t take a lot of space and if you have an old computer the software can handle it. This runs for $290. Buy DMXIS here!

The interface is very simple and easy to use. Some features you can use are saved presets and creating banks. You can also import DMX as a VST file to work with individual lights or scenes using Ableton or another DAW.

How to Program With DMXIS

Enttec D-Pro – For a more creative and professional approach I highly recommend the D-Pro. You’ll get 2 universes of output and you’ll need to get an interface to control your lighting. These run on a Mac or Windows The interface is easy to set up and run a more complex show. With the console and software, this will cost about $350 – $400.  Buy D-Pro here!

How Do I Begin with ENTTEC D-Pro?

Elation M-Series Software – This is a professional console that is used in big shows, churches, corporate events and more. It’s reliable and becoming more popular.  Even better, the software is able to be downloaded for free, and they offer some of the most competitive

How Do I Begin With M-PC?

Elation M DMX Box – If you need 2 universes of DMX and retails for under $250. You’ll get the full software functionality. As well as RDM which talks to your fixtures and change menu settings.

M-Touch and M-Play – For physical software I recommend the M-Touch or M-Play. These are interfaces that you have playback faders and buttons. The M-Touch has a programming and playback section. With either of these, you can get started under $500.

Review: M-Touch Lighting Console

Review: M-Play Lighting Console and Wing

Showcockpit – If you already have MIDI Controller, ENTTEC boxes, or an M-Touch and just want to add more to it I would recommend downloading Showcockpit. You can connect MIDI Controllers, joysticks, game controllers with the basic license for $85. There are more licensing options available.

Showcockpit: http://showcockpit.com


Tim – I recently took over running lights and sound for my local small town theatre. They have an ETC Express 48/96 with 96 various pars, spots on the dimmer rack, and a few Blizzard Puck 3 LED’s. We’re looking to switch to a PC-based console and want to be able to have the audio in sync with the lighting.

Running something PC based will be the best option for this ideal set up. If you have a Mac I would recommend Q-Lab which has a Lighting Lab program for $399. There is also a rental option for $4 a day and even a Rent to Own option. This is a solid program that will run lighting and set up the audio to play. If you do go with Q-Lab you will need to get Art-Net so be sure to check out the links below for more info.

Q-Lab: https://figure53.com/qlab/

My Art-Net/sACN post: What are Art-Net and sACN? 

A less expensive option would be the Enttec D-Pro which will work with Windows. It retails for $200 and you can design the cue list to play with the audio. Enttec does have a Demo version so you can see if this will be a good fit. I have a post about what functions you can do with D-Pro below.

How Do I Begin with ENTTEC D-Pro?

The last option would be to use Ableton Live Light and bring your tracks and use that to send out MIDI Controls. Then use M-PC or another software controller for the lighting.

Daniel – Having a connection issue because after a couple of minutes my lights begin to flash. I purchased Lixada Stage Lights and Controllers. It may be the 100ft cord or possibly my DMX Controller. How would I troubleshoot this?

If it is by chance the 100ft cord I would get a shorter cable and plug it in to see if you do need to replace the cord. Another possibility is that it may be your lighting. Lixada is a very cheap lighting option and you do get what you pay for. Lixada’s are known for being sketchy with DMX.

If it is your lighting, unfortunately, Laxada does not offer customer support and the warranty usually does not hold up. Even if some are looking for a cheaper lighting option I usually recommend more solid companies such as Chauvet, Elation, and Blizzard because the warranties are honored and they have good customer support.

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