January 29

by LearnStageLighting.com

Learn Stage Lighting PodcastThis week on the Podcast we have our Free Q+A Tuesday! I’ll take questions from other listeners and help guide them through my thought process.

Opening Segment (2:25)

Last week we had a great review come in about the Podcast:

I’ve been so happy with this show and the amount of knowledge it has given me that I’ve gone ahead and joined “Learn Stage Lighting Labs” Really a fantastic podcast. – By Mhey via Stitcher – January 7, 2019

Since officially launching the Podcast last year we’ve covered a lot of different topics. As we take on the new year we want to know from you what topics you would like to hear about on the show.

Whether it’s listening to interviews, series, or specific topics, I want to know from you what you would like to see come from this Podcast. There is a survey available that will only take a few minutes of your time. It would be greatly appreciated and we would love to hear from you.

2019 Podcast Survey

Main Segment (4:25)

Ron (4:31) I am working on a lighting project where 65 choir members sing in a Christmas tree. We have done this for over forty years. Last year 2018 the lighting controls failed. Each year 6-7 thousand people view in eight presentations. We have eleven months to get a new control system and modernize. The tree lights are currently ten rows of incandescent T9 strings. They were dimmed by a NSI hdr 8000 SCR Microplex control. The system had a hybrid control interface by Spectacular Celebrations now defunct operated by an 18 year old window 98 computer. There are 40 Potter Brumfield relays that connect the lighting strings to the ten rows of RGYB plus white twinkle and star. 

My wish list for new components include:
Windows 10 software (user-Friendly)
DMX 512 decoder
NSI Microplex/DMX. 501 controller to control SCR. Question, will T9 led bulbs which state dimmable by triac Work with this?

40 channels to operate the P&B relays.
DMX control to operate pixel LEDS (replace the twinkle light & star)
11 rows

My first recommendation would be to definitely go with Computer Based Software that is User-Friendly. There are a lot of options for software that could do what you need it to do but I would personally suggest Onyx or even ENNTEC’S D-Pro or DMXIS. There is a great article about choosing your next console that I want you to check out: How Do I Choose My First (or Next) Lighting Console?

If your Microplex Dimmer is in a good shape then you may just need a Converter. If it isn’t in good shape you may want to go with a DMX Dimmer Pack. You’ll want to weigh out which would work better for you financially. For your Pixels, you’ll want to get a Pixel Controller.

There’s a lot of questions and depth in the project you are working on. With this, I would recommend checking out Learn Stage Lighting Labs that has a library of videos about the different consoles, action plans, including the Custom LED Design that covers everything you need to know about Pixels. It’s a great resource that will definitely get you pointed in the right direction.

Troy (10:00) Hi, I was wondering if there is a free computer lighting software that I can get or download to test lighting effects like in your vids?

There are some free Visualizers on the market but those are only able to work with certain consoles. The Visualizer I personally like to use is Capture. There is an article that goes through the Free Visualizers as well as the Paid versions that I recommend checking out. You can read more here: So You Want A Lighting Visualizer.

Mathis (10:58) Hey, do you have experience with lighting in regards to (indoor) carnival that you would like to share? 

The term Carnival can mean different things in other countries. But if I am working with an open-air space filled with multiple booths and no central location I try to focus the lighting on the environment. In the past I use LED Lights to light up the sides of the space. to help the feel of the space I’ve used a mix of white and colored lights. If you want to take it a step further then use textures and Gobos.

If this is for a Circus style production, then you would put the focus on the stage and the performers. Moving Lights would be great for this. I would suggest using a white and colored wash.

A great resource for more on this is How to Create Movement (Without Expensive Moving Lights)

Robert (13:44) My church has the NSI NCM 6200. However, the manual is nowhere to be found. Where can I get a copy so I can learn what all it can do and how to do it?

Most NSI products are Leviton products just a fyi for others who may have an NSI Product.

NSI NCM 6200 Manual

Edward (15:20) Hi! Your channel is so good and it has helped me a lot to programmed the stage lights for my church. I just want to share my problem hope that you could help me to solve it.. so here is the problem.. usually, back in the day I used M-pc to program my light but there is always a bug that I have to face it so I decided to change it into Onyx version.But then while programming the lights with onyx suddenly one of the lights (we have 4 lights ) turned off I’ve tried to reset the light power and re-open the onyx software but there is nothing happened so I thought the problem was in the software so I uninstalled the onyx and install the mpc again..at the first time using the mpc again there is no problem but after 30 min it happens again and after you reset the power things got normal again after about 30 min it hain. Do you think it’s because of the lights or the software? Thanks.

If it’s only one light and you have multiple lights then it’s most likely the light itself. A good way to test this is to use a cable to connect the light directly to the console and see if the problem persists.

M-PC is now Onyx and it is the same staff that created M-PC so switching to Onyx should be no different. What’s New with Onyx?

Josh (17:45) Hi, I have a couple of questions about time code cues. I’m looking to program a light show for a band and make it very easy for someone to run them but keep them in sync with the songs. What’s the best way to do this? Time code cues with a manual launch for the beginning? Or cue lists with a Go for each part of the song? Just want a little help figuring out the best way to do this since I’ve not programmed a timed show before. Any help is appreciated.

It does depend on what console you’re using so I’m going to walk you through a few scenarios.

At the Simplest Level if you’re using an ENTTEC’s DMXIS you can use ShowBuddy or another DAW Program and drag your cues to a Timeline. Then, someone would hit Play and the lights will go with the Music.

If you have a more complex show then you would probably want an ONYX Console and use Timecode. In that case, you would probably have to have someone that is more familiar with setting up these kinds of shows. Timecode only works when a band stays on schedule or it’s not going to work.

If you want to keep it simple and you are using a number of lights the program can handle then I do suggest ENTTEC’s DMXIS because it is easy to set up and program. It’s really going to depend on what would fit your needs better.

Evan (23:15) I’m just starting to learn about stage lighting & DMX control. I’m an A/V guy with a client who is building a commercial fitness studio. They want an exciting, immersive light show to accompany music during group workouts. With that in mind, what’s the deal with sound active mode and why aren’t you a fan? How in the heck does the lighting system respond to audio? 

Also, listening to the podcast, it sounds like LightShark or Chauvet ShowXpress (maybe even ADJ myDMX?) might be a good fit for my needs. For something of that caliber, what could allow me to create a show and be able to deploy it to multiple installations?

I am not a fan of Sound Active Mode because within 10 minutes you’ll see every color under the sun and strobe lights. It often looks like chaos and very disorganized.

I do not recommend going with Lightshark or even ADJ because it doesn’t seem to be a good fit for what you need. I do have two products that I would recommend for your set up.

ENTTEC’s ELM is a Pixel Driven software that I have seen other fitness companies use in a similar environment. If you have pixels then this would be a great program to use. You can read more about it here: How Do I Control Pixels With ENTTEC’s ELM?

Another great program is Light Jams which is designed to control all types of lights (moving lights, pixels, etc). You can control the lights and be able to control it with installed controls and music. You can program it to respond to music.

Both products are great at controlling lights and working well with music that will put on a great show for the environment.

Matt (29:12) Hey man! I’ve watched a ton of your videos and there are so much lighting software and stuff out. I’m the worship pastor at a church of 1000 and we are running 20+ led washes, no movers yet but I am wanting to upgrade out lighting software/console. Right now we just use a console and it is taking forever to program lights because I have to use faders to color mix each light. At churches in the past, I’ve used vista stuff and was going to go that route because I like the presets it comes with and ease of use. But I didn’t know what you suggest. Our volunteers run the program and during the week I program the lights. We have different looks for every element and program each song with different scenes for verse/ chorus etc. From watching your videos I was looking at Vista, Onyx or Lightshark and didn’t know what you think would be best. Also, do I need a controller or should we just do everything on the computer? Thanks so much! 

Any of these consoles will do what you need so how do you choose one? I want to share with you a video that I made:

Should I Use Grand MA3, Vista, Hog, Chamsys, or Onyx?

In my mind, it takes the same amount of time to train volunteers on these consoles, especially when you are the one programming everything.

Onyx is very easy on computers and you don’t have to have a top of the line unit to run it on. For $200 you have a console and 4 universes of output. With a Vista and the same amount of output, you’ll already be at over $1000. I go more into this on the video above. But I would rather see you spend the difference on getting more lights or equipment you would need.

In short, if the Lightshark feels limiting to you then go with Onyx. If Onyx feels to complex for you then I would go with the Lightshark.

If you do have more questions then I would recommend checking out Learn Stage Lighting Labs where we have videos about the consoles and training how to set up and program your lights.

Rob (38:55) I desperately need your help, I’m trying to program a light show for my band and nothing’s working as I imagined… I want to program everything using midi notes inside my DAW (Pro Tools or Logic) and this midi will then be exported to a module used to play our backing tracks, this module can also play midi files alongside the audio and avoids any risks of computer crashes. I have 2 LED sunstrips (Stairville Show Bar TriLED 18x3W RGB) and 3 par cans (Stairville LED Par56 MKII RGBW), all lights I want to use to their maximum capacity so max amount of channels, they’re connected to a Showtec SM-8/2 lighting console. I’ve done all the assignments on the fixtures and can control them using the faders on the console, what I can’t figure out is how I can draw a midi note in my DAW and have that note make the fixture do something, I want to be able to control every parameter of my fixtures using midi notes, I assumed the light console would do the midi to DMX conversion but I guess I’m missing something and I can’t find any info whatsoever about how to do what I want to do…
I know about DMXIS and other software that can do that but once again, we won’t have a computer on stage, I just want to be able to write raw midi data into my DAW to then be able to import it into my backing tracks module, I know it’s possible, I’ve seen people say it’s possible but nobody’s saying how…. 

In all honesty, I think you need to work past your fear of working with a computer. Computers are mostly used in setups. I’ve spoken about this before and if you keep a designated computer off of the internet you can have a great system used in your lighting. I go more into this with this article: How Do I Set Up a Lighting Console “Show Computer”?

Stig (42:35) What I’m looking for is a DMX USB controller, like Enttec DMXIS or similar.It should be able to do following. Include 3D visualizer, Timeline with a spectrometer for programming, able to run a file containing both audio and video, approx. 250Gb and 3 hours long, and Have at least 512 channels. I will be SO happy if you can recommend a device for me.

What you’re looking for does not exist yet. But Showbuddy Active is the closest program that would work. For Visualizers, you can pick the one best for you refer to So You Want A Lighting Visualizer.

Closing (43:51)

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Don’t forget to check out our survey and let me know what you want to hear the Podcast. This will only take a few minutes of your time. It would be greatly appreciated and we would love to hear from you.

2019 Podcast Survey

Next Week’s episode we will be talking about How to Add Video to Your Show. Can’t wait and we will see you next week!

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