Episode 17 – How Do I get started controlling lights for less than $100? – Learn Stage Lighting .com
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Episode 17 – How Do I get started controlling lights for less than $100?

By David / 6 months ago

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Main Segment:

We’re doing a two week series on consoles and this week I want to talk about how you can get started controlling lights for less than $100.

Many of my listeners are very budget minded so I want to go over the options of how to get started. Next week’s Podcast I’ll go over how you can get started under $500 so be sure to tune in for that!

How Do I Choose My First Lighting Console?

What you will get for $100 is some type of software and output via an Enttec Box.

The Enttec box is a USB to DMX Converter. This will plug into your computer and allows you to get DMX Output to communicate with the Lights. Enttec has designed this to work with a variety of programs and this will give some great options on what program you want to use.

Enttec Open DMX USB: $67: This is a solid and well-built unit. The downfall of this unit is that there is no Microprocessor which allows it to be inexpensive. What this means is that if your computer has a hiccup your lights may flicker.

Enttec DMX USB ProIf it is an option for you I would recommend the Pro because this unit does have the Microprocessor. If your computer does hiccup it won’t affect your lighting. Sometimes you can find these units used on eBay for about $100.

What about Enttec Clones?

You may see some “Enttec Compatible” USB interfaces, and from my experience, you will get you pay for.

Enttec products are built to last but with the Enttec clones they may say they are compatible, but sometimes they have issues, and are just generally more difficult to work with.

That’s why I highly recommend just going with the Enttec Brand because you do get great quality and what you pay for.  Enttec products last the test of time as well!

More info on Enttec Interfaces: https://www.learnstagelighting.com/just-bought-enttec-usb-dmx-interface-now/

What Free Software Can I Use?

There are some free options that you can use to control your lighting when using an Enttec output. I will note that since these are free they may be limited on what you can do.

QLC+: http://www.qlcplus.org/ – Is a decent free software that works on PC and Mac. It has the basic functions of up and down and will work decently. Since it is a free software it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles.

M-PC: https://www.learnstagelighting.com/begin-m-pc/ – This is my favorite for free software because it can do a lot and it’s very intuitive. For a professional console, it has an easy to use interface.

Chamsys: https://secure.chamsys.co.uk/en-us/  This is another professional lighting console that lets you use their Interface for free. This program is good because you can do a lot with it but the downfall is that is that it is harder to navigate on the PC.

Dot2: https://www.ma-dot2.com/en/products/dot2-onpc/  I would recommend this above Chamsys but the M-PC is one that I still recommend. This is a decent program to use but doesn’t have the functions it used to.

How to Get Hardware Control?

When you’re looking for more hardware control you can use the OSC or MIDI to run on a tablet or iPhone. OSC is available on iTunes and Android.  But the Dot2 and Chamsys can only be used on a PC.

TouchOSC: https://www.learnstagelighting.com/touchosc-use-lighting/

Mailbag:

Brad: How to Setup both Pixel Mapping and Moving Head Control? Has an Output for ProPresenter.

First, you will need a Pixel Mapping program and I really like the Enttec ELM which was started with lighting and the program flows with pixel mapping.

Enttec ELM: https://www.enttec.com/us/products/controls/lighting-controller/enttec-led-mapper-elm/

Second, for the video control, I would recommend using NDI which will work with ProPresenter because ELM does have a video control option but does not work with Siphon.

ProPresenter Module for NDI: https://renewedvision.com/propresenter/modules/

Lastly, if you want to merge you can do so into your lighting console or depending on what your NODE you’re using to convert your signals to DMX there’s a good chance that your NODE can be used a merger.

Jorge: What to Consider on a Permanent Install with a Low 9 Foot Ceiling. Do you have any tips on installing lights and etc?

If you have a low or floor stage your lights will most likely be hitting your audience head on so you’ll want to keep your lights as close to the stage as possible. I would recommend using wide angle lenses to help wash out your stage evenly.

How do I Create an Awesome, Even Wash of Stage Light?

For the installation, I can only recommend meeting with your church staff or an insured consultant to go over how you can install the lighting.  For safety reasons, I am not able to offer insight on how to do this.

Marco: Has a Party coming up and wants to create an awesome lighting show. He has 2 Martin Mack 500’s, 2 Coemar 250 Zooms, and some DMX LED PARS.

Since Marco has some experience in lighting I would recommend downloading the M-PC Software.

It does have a learning curve so I would suggest going through the tutorials to learn how to use it. The M-PC program can definitely bring a professional look to the show which is what you seem to be looking for. To get started check out my post for beginning with M-PC: https://www.learnstagelighting.com/begin-m-pc/.


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