October 16

by LearnStageLighting.com

Learn Stage Lighting Podcast

In this week’s episode, we dive into the Mailbag for the Free Q & A Tuesday! This is where I take questions from listeners and walk them through my through my thought process.

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.

Mailbag (1:35)

Matthew (1:38) I am setting up a DMX lighting system for the church. We have converted all the pendant lights over to dimmable LEDs and now I want to add a dimmer pack where the switches currently are. All the switches are on switch loops up to the pendants. Are there any DMX dimmers out there that can support a switch loop?

I am not an electrician but you always want to talk to someone who is familiar with it. As far as I know, there isn’t a way to do this.

But I would recommend is taking the switch loop and disconnecting it from the light. If you’re not able to reach the wiring you can just wire the switch loop together, as if the switch is always on. The put a cover plate over it and then add the dimmer pack in.

Lucien (3:23) I am working on a building to install over 4 floors and 13 universes. (lots of pixel tape). I have been working out the network drawing the basic layout is 2 universe per split level for the upper floors and 5 universes on the ground level. The question I have is do you distributor the universes via DMX and isolated splitters or do you distribute with art net/ snet?

I would go with Art-Net or sACN for many reasons. Each floor only needs 1 network cable to it from your Network Controller. This will save you a lot of frustration, network cable, and so much time. In the future, if you need to add more or make changes, it won’t be difficult.

Matthew (5:20) We have a church that uses a very basic lighting setup with about 20 LED lights total.
Ideally, we want to set up 5 or 6 scenes (e.g. 3 different ones for worship, one for when the MC stands up, one for the preaching slot), then have our unskilled operators press the ‘scene’ button at the appropriate time. The only problem with that is that our current desk instantly changes to that scene. It doesn’t seem possible to have it fade to the next scene. I checked a few other desks out and they all seem the same. Perhaps we could use software with a dongle to control the lights?

Our budget would be about $400-700USD (though we are in New Zealand) to solve this problem. Any ideas?

I would definitely recommend the software route. You do have a couple of options and I do recommend going with a Software-based controller.

My recommendation would be the ENTTEC DMXis which you can get for about $300 USD. You get the output box and the software comes free with it. You would just patch in your lights and I do have some great tutorials on how to do that: How to Program With DMXIS.

Armando (8:42) I know that there are many different types of moving heads available on the market, but does anyone actually demonstrate what’s new and available. I hear a lot of names, but I don’t know what a Viper does, how do I learn what to buy for what effect? 

There are a few ways to check out new gear. The best option would be is to check out videos on YouTube. If you follow the manufacturers you will be able to see the new products. Also, the manufacturer’s website to see the latest features.

Chad (11:37) Looking for a computer program that can be ‘pre-programmed’ … with multiple programs stored… each stored program is the length of a song being played, that follows and is sync to the song… example: when the song says “ everyone to the left, to the left” all the moving head lights will move to the left and when it states; “ everyone to the right to the right” the lights will shine to the right in color beams pre-recorded on program… I want the light program to make the music come alive.

I have two recommendations.

ENTTEC DMXis is a product I highly recommend and it has a sister program that you can work with called Showbuddy. Show Buddy allows you to bring in tracts and set up the music and lights to work together. This program is more designed for Bands.

How to Program with DMXIS

Show Buddy

Another program option is more designed for DJs and that is ShowXpress from Chauvet. This program has a mode called Timeline that will allow you to line things up with a song. This program is great for those who work on the fly.

Terry (14:05) We are purchasing and installing hanging truss for our stage. We are a new church, and we need more stage lighting than what we have. Like most church plants we have a strict budget. Currently, we are thinking 8 LED par 64 lights with barn doors. I want to create back lighting as well but we don’t know exactly what to get. Currently, we are using a small lighting board however we want to upgrade to a software system so we can set presets and change colors with a click of a button. I’m not sure that LED Par 64 lights is the best to use, but from my research, I feel they will work great. Currently, our greatest need is to eliminate shadows from faces. I need direction on getting power to the lights, what cables do I need to run from the lights to the software or how to set it up wirelessly to a transmitter? I have a generally good idea on what and how to accomplish this task and would like someone with greater knowledge to consult with.

One of my recommendations is to check out Learn Stage Lighting Labs where we have Courses and Tutorials for setting up lighting. One of my courses is setting up lights for churches and you can watch from step 1 how to set up lights, equipment, and software. There are also Forums where you can communicate with others on any questions you may have.

LED Par 64 lights can work great but it’s mostly about how you set it up. I would recommend buying quality brands equipment as opposed to items that will only last you a couple of years.

Andy (18:40) Is there any solutions out there that supports programming an automated lightshow from a video track? I need lights to sync with a video, so when I pressed “play”, video will streamed to a TV, and lights will flash or move with respect to the video timeline. I can’t find any software out there that is all-in-one and capable of doing this. I used ShowBuddy and DMXIS for lightshow that’s synchronized with audio, but it doesn’t work with video. 

There are not a lot of solutions for what you are looking for. But short answer is that No, there isn’t a program that does all of this.

However, pay close attention to DMXIS because there has been promised a new software, called DMXIS Platinum, than can do all of this.

It was set to be revealed in September but with some setbacks it hasn’t been completed yet. But I would just hold tight because I will definitely be talking more about this when it is released. You can see more about this on the DMXIS Forum.

Jim (20:10) My company is adding a DMX system to a small church using the M-Touch/Onyx. There are currently no moving head fixtures. There are two Source 4 LEDs fixtures and the rest are straight dimmers. I personally have no interest, at this time, in knowing the intricate details of setting up a show or cue sheets etc. The lighting person at the church will be learning and implementing all of that going forward. I would like to find a very, very, very basic tutorial teaching a step by step procedure as to how to add 1 straight dimmer through the patch, then how to associate it to a fader strip. All of the myriads of tutorials assume that I want to set up something complex and also assume I already know how to assign things, I don’t. Once I get the visual in my head how to make one channel respond then I will be come interested in controlling a group. After that I will need to know how to set up the LED and so forth. Once I have basic control of the systems fixtures I will then be interested in expanding my knowledge of setting up shows etc. I have sent your information to the lighting engineer at the church who will be developing this out further and may well be interested in subscribing to your more detailed sessions. So, is there any basic step by step tutorial that takes me from a blank slate to the ability to actually control a basic generic dimmer?

Most tutorials are more complex because of the abilities of the console. But if you want to check out my Youtube Channel for the Beginning with Onyx Series.

On the video series, once you install Onyx if you haven’t already you can check out the Patching Videos. Basically, you can patch the generic dimmers, and set them up, and click record. You can bring up the Fader and press Play which is a Cue. For more assistance be sure to check out my video series to help get you started.

Show Sponsorship (23:33)

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Jerry (26:28) Last fall the church changed lighting desks from an Avolites Pearl to Martin M-PC. So I’m learning how to operate this system and appreciate the few videos of your I’ve so far. We have loaded many songs for the services in the Playback section in random order by title. I was wondering if there is a way to re-organize (sort) the songs in an alphabetic order in one batch step or will it require a song by song “Move” process.

There is, unfortunately, no quick solution for this. At least once you get them in the playback section they will be in order for the future.

Will (28:03) I have a question about DMX cables. I am designing a large theatre and I would like the best and safest ways to keep my xlr and DMX cables out the way from tripping up everyone. Is there a way I can do this without using big cable mats and covers?

It depends on the number of cables. But your best option is to hang the cables above and have them laid out behind the curtains.

Another option is that there are companies that make floor pockets, troughs with doors, etc.

Giar (29:59) Are you able to give me some advice on lighting a church stage small in the first instance with the ability to grow over time?

The best way is you want to plan this is to seriously think about the future. What I would recommend is before buying a piece of equipment is seriously considering how will it be able to work in the future if the Church grows.

Don’t just buy an equipment that will last it temporarily. Buy equipment that will help you as the Church grows.

Ahmed (33:58) Is there any way I can make ONYX run on a Mac?

Unfortunately, there is no way to run ONYX on a MAC. The reason why is that most controllers do not function on MACs because we’re not in a large industry. Developing software to work on Macs can be very expensive.

What I would recommend is getting a Windows PC for $300 that will be designated for running the Onyx program only.

Closing (35:18)

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.

In next week’s episode, we’re going to talk about How Do You Create a Show Network? So be sure to Tune In!

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