What to Lay Out on Buttons, On-Screen and on Faders

30 Days to Become a Lighting Ninja: What to Lay Out on Buttons, On Screen and on Faders

One of the questions I often get from people is this: How should you prioritize certain cues over others when laying out a lighting console?

What should you put on the faders, and what should you leave for buttons and on-screen controls?

The video below is from our series called “30 Days to Become a Lighting Ninja”, and I really want to slow down and focus on setting up and laying out your controls.

This is important because you want to be able to be organized and have the ability to run your lights on the fly but have the capability to make adjustments quickly.

Those who have been in the lighting world for a while may already know that their personal preference is “having more faders is better”.

However, faders are expensive, and truth be told – sometimes, buttons are better!

Faders versus Buttons

With the use of MIDI controllers in many lighting consoles, I can have more buttons than faders that I have to work with. Each console and set up is very different but I do approach it all the same when laying out the controls. Want to learn more about MIDI controllers? Check out my full article here!

The question I ask myself to help me define what I put on faders versus buttons is ” Do I want control over this in a linear fashion? Do I need to be able to bring this function up or down?” Basically, you want to approach this as “do you need to just turn the function on and off or do you need the ability to increase or decrease it?”

Laying Out Your Controls

Now that you know how to consider each function and you can start by deciding which ones you can assign to your buttons or faders.

With individual colors, color combinations, certain effects, positions, and so on, you most likely won’t need a fader control and instead assign those to a button.

Functions such as intensity or certain effects that I want to have complete control over I would rather have these types of functions assigned to a fader. To go more into setting faders be sure to check out this video: Programming Faders

Buttons versus Buttons on Screen

When it’s time to decide between a physical button vs on-screen, I like to ask myself “how often will I actually press this?”.

If I’m not going to use the button often, then I can keep it on screen. But if I need to tap it to the music, then it’s definitely going on to a physical button!

For example, when setting my controls I normally will assign my gobos to the buttons on screen because it’s not something I use all the time. It’s a function I can get to as needed but most likely I won’t have to get to it within a moments notice. If you want to learn more about setting up button control be sure to check out this video: Programming Buttons

Colors are functions I assign to my physical buttons because I am always using them and need it at a moments notice. I prefer to have that function available that I can get to it right away.

I hope this article has helped you to figure out some hacks on how to lay your console out better for your next show or service!

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