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 March 5

by LearnStageLighting.com

Learn Stage Lighting Podcast

This week on the Podcast we’re going to dive into how to get started with a professional grade lighting console. Professional grade consoles can be intimidating but they don’t have to be and that’s what I am going to help walk you through today.

If you’re new here and you’re not sure how or where to get started with your lighting be sure to take this Quiz and I will send you a Guide based on your answers to help get you pointed in the right direction.

How to Begin with Lighting Quiz

Lighting News! (1:20)

One of my favorite trade magazines is the PLSN which covers many unique articles in the lighting industry. One of the latest installments for February talks about Elton John’s latest tour, Farewell to the Yellow Brick Road.

What stood out to me was the lighting director’s comment in regards to how he runs the lighting show. He mentions that Elton John does not use any click backs and that the show is completely live. So, he has multiple cues set up and every light has an inhibitive fader control. This allows him to manipulate evey group of lights during the show.

I wanted to highlight this because when people program lights they feel like everything has to be locked in but this doesn’t have to be the case. You can read the full article here: PLSN February 2019

The next article was a gear comparison article which I often have mixed thoughts about but I did like this one. This month they compared the Leko Comparison and it helps breakdown the specs. This allows you to decide which would be a better fit.

The next article I wanted to highlight was about Chamsys QuickQ. I was very interested because this is one of those consoles that are in between the beginner consoles and professional consoles. It’s somewhat similar to the Lightshark, you can read more about that here. This new Chamsys QuickQ isn’t my top pick but I’ve heard a lot of great reviews.

Lastly, I read an article that always features a “Feeding the Machine”. In this month’s article, Brad discusses the DSKY which stands for the display and keyboard. Some consoles are designed with this feature and I always wondered where it came from. In Brad’s article, he goes into the history of DSKY and shares how the people at NASA originally came up with this concept and it used on Apollo 8. How cool is that!

Main Segment (13:35)

So, how do you get started with a professional grade console? Perhaps you have started with a more simple console and the layout is very easy to catch on to. For those who started with a simple console and upgrade to a professional console, it can be overwhelming! Once you’ve learned the terminology for more professional consoles, it’s not that hard to catch on and learn to use the console.

Getting Started

One of the things you’re going to do when getting started is adjusting to typing commands in. Generally, when your fixtures are added in they will be assigned a number. Giving commands to the console can seem like a foreign language for those getting started.

To break it down you select the fixtures, then you apply the attributes, and you record that to the console.

Creating Groups

Once you understand the basic language and functionality of the console you will then begin working with groups. Groups are basically a quick select of a certain group of lights. Generally, once you have groups you would then apply attributes to those lights. But with professional consoles instead of applying the attributes directly you want to use Presets, Pallets, or at times they’re called Focus Points.

Pallets and Presets

What presets or pallets is they store colors, positions, gobos, etc. The reason why you want to do things this way is because if you need to change something, such as a color, you can just make the color change and it will be applied across the board.


Once you’ve created and selected your pallet and presets you then want to create a cuelist. A cuelist is simply something that you play back. To create a cuelist you select your fixtures, apply the attributes, and record to the console as a cue or to a cuelist.


One of the tricky parts of working with a professional grade console is the programming. Generally, when you record a new cue, scene, or sequence the total output will not be recorded unless it’s specifically selected. In a lot of ways, this is a great tool because you have flexibility and more control over your show. The Programmer is where these cues are saved.

One other piece that is interesting is Priority. The old school priority is often known as HTP or known as highest takes precedence. The newest Priority that takes place on professional consoles is that now the latest take precedence. If you learned on the older consoles this can definitely take some adjusting but overall it is much better.

When it comes down to it, what we discussed are the most basic pieces of a professional console. If you are interested in learning more about working with a professional grade console I have an Action Plan specifically designed to get started with how to work with a professional console.

Want more? Professional Lighting Console Basics as well as console-specific tutorials available on Learn Stage Lighting Labs.

Closing (26:30)

If you’re new here and you’re not sure how or where to get started with your lighting be sure to take this Quiz and I will send you a Guide based on your answers to help get you pointed in the right direction.

How to Begin with Lighting Quiz

Thank you so much for tuning in and be sure to check out next week’s episode as we’re going to have our Free Q+A Tuesday segment. We have some great questions coming in so be sure to tune in!

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