May 7


Learn Stage Lighting Podcast

This week on the Podcast we answer your questions that are sent in for our Q + A Tuesday. We’ll cover topics such as pixel controllers, M-PC, and more!

If you have a question you would like to share be sure to submit it here: Contact Form and there will be an option to allow you to leave your voice message.

Lighting News (2:15)

There’s a new podcast in the lighting world that launched in January, it’s called Geezer of Gears. It’s from the people at If you want to check out the Podcast you can do so here: Geezer of Gears Podcast

If you’re not familiar with it’s a site where used equipment is sold. The Podcast is hosted by Marcel and Henry. They’re both industry legends and really know their stuff.

Not only do they discuss what’s upcoming and happening in the lighting industry. They also discuss the history of lighting, which they’ve worked in for a long time.

Brightness of Light (3:47)

One of the topics that piqued my interest and what I was discussing with one of the students at Learn Stage Lighting Labs was the brightness of light. As technology advances, we realized the lights keep getting brighter, why is this?

One of the questions I get very often is “how bright does my light need to be?”. I actually went into this in one of the previous podcast episodes.

How Bright Does My Light Need to Be?

I often respond with as bright as your stage or show needs it to be. I say this because it really depends what your location or venue needs. If you have a dark venue then most likely you will not need extremely bright light. But if you have incoming lights from a window, house lighting, etc then you need to bring in stage lights to lighten the stage.

Ultimately, what it comes down to is that our shows are getting brighter because we’re adding more video to our stages and presentations. Something to really think about is if you can make the stage darker you can change the dynamic of the stage. Meaning if you set the average stage light to be darker then those moments you want to make things pop you can bring up your lights.

Main Segment: Your Questions Answered (10:20)

If you have a question you would like to share be sure to submit it here: Contact Form and there will be an option to allow you to leave your voice message.

Patrick (11:17): What kind of DMX controller can I use that’s not too expensive?

When looking at lighting consoles it’s not always and only about the cost of the console. A lighting console can be your best friend or your worse enemy.

If you’re trying to keep it simple such as just turning the lights on, changing the colors once in a while, etc then I would recommend going with the cheapest console you can find such as Chauvet Obey 40 or Elation’s Scene Setter. The issue with the inexpensive consoles is that they are expected to handle a lot. For example, some expect the fade times in between the scenes to be flawless and that is just not the case for these kinds of consoles.

The approach I recommend is not looking at the price but knowing and understanding what you need the console to do for you. Once you know what you need then you should dive into researching different consoles, watching the videos, and looking at the tutorials.

How Do I Choose My First (or Next) Lighting Console?

Event Technical (15:40): I watch all your videos, I also work with M-PC, but at a weak level, and I have a question about one action, how you put all the moving head at one CUE point. Tell me another such thing, is it worth it to buy GrandMa3 onPC command wing? or M-PC better?

To answer your first question, you had sent me a screenshot of your set up. It has all of your moving lights on a truss and set to point at the center stage. There are two ways to do this.

The first and most accurate way is to use what is called the Fan tool. The fan tool allows you to select pan, decide the movement of your lights, then as you adjust the fan mode, it offsets the lights so that you can set the lights as you wish.

The other way to do this is if your lights aren’t hung uniformly you can select each light individually. Then adjust the pan and tilt so that they all hit the same point. You can save that as a preset.

For the other part of your question is it worth it to buy the Grand Ma or is the M-PC better? That’s a tough question that I do get a lot so I recently did a video that breaks down the costs of the big name consoles and what you can get out of them.

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

In my person opinion, for a cost standpoint it makes sense to go with Elation’s M-PC. You should try to work with both consoles and see what works for you but be sure to check out the video as I go in depth with the different consoles.

Gavantha (22:48): What is the best DMXspliter? A small one.

My recommendation for this one is ENTTEC’s D-Split and you can see more information as well as my review for it here: Review: ENTTEC D-Split

James (24:30): Hey there! I am planning on setting up a low cost LED PIXEL tape setup for my church. I am currently looking at a DMXking LeDMX4 PRO pixel tape controller because of its low cost. And I am also planning on purchasing an M-touch or M-play. My question is with using this setup would the controller and the Console be compatible with each other or would this setup even work in the first place?

Yes, this setup will definitely work because most pixel controllers need Art-net or sCAN to connect to each other. I do suggest checking out this video as I go more into that topic: What is Art-net and sCAN?

With M-Touch and M-Play have a DMX port on them the computer you connect them to is able to send out network DMX and you get 4 outputs for free.

I will say that I am not a big DMXking fan because I did purchase one of their products and suddenly it stopped working. So, I contacted support and tried resolving the issue but they continued to claim it wasn’t their product causing the issues. There are other customers who have had the same issue and DMXking’s customer support is hard to work with.

This is why I do recommend a lot of ENTTEC’S equipment. One of the items is ENTTEC’s Pixel Octo and it’s a great piece of equipment. If you are looking for something less expensive I do suggest looking at Falcon controllers as well, you can find them on

Marcus (29:19): I’ve been following your videos and receiving emails for a while now and need a little professional advice. I’m the lighting tech at a small theatre in Fuengirola, Spain. I’m from the UK and took over here a year ago. The set up I inherited was bad, to say the least, and I’ve been slowly improving it but now is the time to upgrade our lighting desk. I currently run a Zero88 Leapfrog96, the style of which suits our mix of plays, Concerts, musicals, and reviews. I’m not a young guy anymore so I’m looking for a good, easy to learn replacement, minimum 4 universes, controlling a mixture of conventional lights, through 4 no. 24way dinner racks, static LEDs and movers. €7.5 to 15k euros would be a good range… what would you recommend?

Since you’re in theater I’m going to send you in two different directions. First, I’m going to recommend ONYX. It’s great to learn and can do so many different types of shows.

But if you are doing primary theater stuff then another great brand to look at is ETC. They are huge in the theater market and I haven’t worked with their equipment as much but there’s a lot of great reviews about their stuff. You can check out the products and such here: ETC Element 2

Haem (32:26): I finally found some time and started learning D Pro…I made a lot of progress and now I would like to go on the next level with you. I’m thinking to use your learning for a month or two so I will sign up soon.

Can you please help me with my MIDI controller? I have AKAI APC 40 and I did all mapping for my needs but I struggle with buttons. I have to re-map all buttons so I can be assigning LED’s on akai for ON and OFF or flash and change color. I have found RD ShowCockpit for PC but there is nothing similar for MAC. I think there is an option in D Pro for “new mapping learn” but I have to manually enter outbound messages for each button…
I have to figure that out, but if there is any software for that would be great

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to this automatically with D-Pro and it does have to be done manually. If this feature is a must for you then you would have to consider purchasing a different console that would do this for you.

Jeff C. (34:53): Is M-PC still your recommendation for best software? I clicked on your m-pc link and it says Martin was bought out. Where can I get the m-pc software? Also should I still buy the ENTTEC DMX USB Pro Mk2 looks like I can get one on ebay for $200?

I am a one-man band and use backing tracks and Ableton Live to run the show. What do you suggest to program show? Should I make scenes in M-PC then trigger them with midi commands stored in my Ableton Live scenes.

I would imagine I should be able to get midi data out of Ableton and into m-pc with midi yolk I use it for a lot of applications where I need to get midi from one program to another. Or is there something else better you suggest.

I am very technically savvy especially in audio and midi design. Does m-pc use a lot of processor bandwidth? I run my whole show on my pc and use Ableton live and play a lot of vst instruments live so I have to be careful not to tax the processor too much that it would affect the show quality.

Yes, M-PC has been bought out by Elation and they’ve rebranded with this new company. While they have changed some things I still see them doing fantastic things so when looking for M-PC you do need to check out Elation.

To get the download for the programs you can see it here: Obsidian Controls

The ENTTEC unit you are referring to is a great unit but you do only get one output. So, instead, I would recommend ONYX’s NX 2 for the same cost and you get 2 universe outputs.

I would recommend looking at ENTTEC’s DMXIS that is designed for bands that can run their show from the stage. It’s very easy to program and sync with your show. The cost of it is relatively inexpensive. You can get an idea of how it works by checking out our article: How to Program with DMXIS

For your last question about M-PC doing to much on the processor. Ultimately, it does depend on how much you are triggering and the computer you are using.

If you have any more follow up questions then I will suggest checking Learn Stage Lighting Labs where we can go more into depth with setting up and programming your lights.

Closing (41:38)

Thank you all so much for sending in your questions as I love going through these with you. For more in-depth questions be sure to take a look at our sponsor of the show, Learn Stage Lighting Labs.

Next week’s episode is going to be an interview so be sure to tune in!

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