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  • Episode 28 – What Should I Program on the Faders and Buttons of My Lighting Console?

 August 7

by LearnStageLighting.com

This week on Episode 28 we dive in on how to set up and program the Faders and Buttons on your Console. I’ll help you get started with some great tips on how to program your console.

If you’re new here, I have a Quiz that will help me send you a customized Guide on getting started with Lighting: FREE Guide @ LearnStageLighting.com/quiz.

Main Segment (2:37)

This week’s podcast we are going to review if you should program your faders and buttons of your lighting console. When I first started in lighting this was something I struggled with. So, I want to go over this to help you get started.

Defining Your Console

Before getting started you want to define what faders and buttons you have available on your console. Whether it’s on paper or in your head, you want to figure out how many faders you have, can you add more?

Does your console have the ability to have MIDI Controllers? Can you get MIDI Faders or MIDI Buttons? You can read more on How to Use MIDI Controllers in Lighting.

You also want to consider Touch OSC which is great for playback and programming. Here’s more info on How to Use Touch OSC in Lighting.

Check with your console and see what you have and what you may be able to use with it so you can figure out what you have available to you.

Start with Faders First

Once you know what you have available you can start laying things out. My personal preference is to start with Faders first because Faders are more powerful. With a Button, you press it, and something happens. But with a Fader, you can do much more.

In most consoles, you can also configure your Fader to adjust other parameters such as color, effect speeds, gobo rotation, tilt, etc. This is what makes using Faders more powerful.

Setting Up Your Faders

This is just a brief overview but for starters, I like to set up Faders for Intensity. Take a moment to consider parts of the stage that you would want to adjust the Intensity for.

Then, I start building effects. You want to be able to have a few Faders that can do Intensity, Focus, Color, and Beam. We covered this in a previous Podcast Episode: The 4 Letter Formula I Use to Make Great Lighting Design.

Faders are primarily for Effects. However, others like to use faders for positions.  While I do steer away from that method, it really just depends on your preferences and what you have available to you.

Programming Buttons

When programming Buttons I like to have 2 cue on it. Depending on the parameters programmed, the Button is usually set up to switch something back and forth.

For example, the first cue may be Red/Blue and the second cue would be Blue/Red. You can do half and half but there are times I set it up as Unbalanced. Meaning, If you have 50 lights setting 30 lights to Blue and 20 to Red. Then, the second cue is switching 30 to Red and 20 to Blue.

Setting Positions

Next, I set up Positions and then setting up Combinations. Again, I set up the buttons to have 2 cue. There is an article on How Do I Focus Moving Lights to help you with the setup of positions.

There was an interview I had with Nook Schoenfeld that we go over how to set up positions and combinations for your lighting that you can check out here: Interview with Nook Schoenfeld.

Then I add Gobos, Prisms, and anything else I like to have programmed.


If you come in with a plan and then build on it as you go that’s all the complexity you need. Sometimes, keeping it simple is better. When you’re running lights live and you have a simple set up will give you more control.

Be sure to Subscribe and Tune in to Next Week’s Episode “What is Dynamic Range in Stage Lighting?”

If you’re new here and new to lighting be sure to check out the Quiz that will help me send you a customized Guide on getting started with Lighting: FREE Guide @ LearnStageLighting.com/quiz.

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