This week on the podcast we’re answering questions from our listeners and we’re excited to dive in! We’ll cover various topics as well as the par resting in peace.
Before we get started just wanted to share an update about the Learn Stage Lighting Patreon. We will be having 2 podcast episodes a month until we are able to reach our goal on the Patreon of $150. Once we reach this goal it allows me to be able to produce more episodes and help bring a better experience to the listeners of the podcast.
As much as I love being able to everything with the podcast, videos, and such the costs of the programs, equipment, and production does add up. This is why I did start the Learn Stage Lighting Patreon so that this will help cover the costs that go into these projects.
Lighting News (2:09)
I was reading an article from Lighting & Sound America that goes into the history of the par and how it affected our industry. Par stands for parabolic aluminized reflector.
At the end of the original technology for the par is no longer needed in today’s world. LED pars have come a long way and are starting to take over. Most manufacturers have announced that they will no longer be producing these units.
Main Segment (8:36):
Questions are submitted through the contact form on Learn Stage Lighting. If you have a question you would like to share be sure to submit it here, Contact Form.
Taz – Patreon! (8:55): Hi David, several years ago our band experienced significant ground loop interference on our PA rig. The issue was sorted when an experienced and well-respected tech advised us to minimize the number of wall outlets we used to connect our gear. (We are a small-sized outfit and didn’t have a lot of gear to concern us with overloading a ring circuit.) Since then we have typically daisy-chained our power supplies from a limited number of sockets. Two questions. We do not want to overload any circuits and ideally want to remain within 80% of the load rating for any circuit. 1. How do we calculate the load we are putting on a circuit and 2. Should we run our lights on completely different circuits to avoid interference ( or does it even matter). Thanks, Taz ( PS I understand you are not a qualified electrician but was just interested in your perspective.)
The first question, how do we calculate a load we’re putting on a circuit? It’s actually very simple and power is generally measured the same no matter where you are in the world. Power is made up of three attributes watts, volts, and amps.
The quick way to calculate these attributes are watts divided by volts equals your amps and how much power your unit will take at a maximum. You can normally find the information on how much a unit can handle on the label.
Once you have all of the information and your total of amps of the equipment you are using you’ll be able to know how much power you’ll b drawing. In the US our modern circuit can handle anywhere between 15 – 20 amps. Electricians have the 80% load rule of not running it at the full amps so that you don’t overload your power supply. In the lighting industry, it’s a little different because you most likely will not always be running your lights at full. Remember, if you’re not sure always be sure to check with an electrician or someone who is familiar with the field.
The second question, should we run our lights on completely different circuits to avoid interference? With modern LED’s you often don’t have issues with running light and audio on the same circuits. It used to be something that was on different circuits but now with technology that doesn’t apply anymore.
Craig (17:50): Just thought I’d let you know that I’ve signed up for the base level of Patreon. I’m just a hobbyist reprising a hobby/career from many decades ago (I did my first school show in 1979 – with these: http://www.theatrecrafts.com/archive/control/directoperated/sliderdimmers.html#newslider) but now have a small lighting rig of about 24 lights (mostly LED PARs but with 4 moving spots and 4 moving washes) which I use for a couple of bands. Your content has helped me, and I’ve loved getting to know the Onyx software and getting that set up on my laptop to do some great shows.
I’m based in New Zealand, so things are a bit more expensive here, especially with our distance from everywhere and the conversion to US dollars, so as a hobbyist I need to watch what I spend. From what I can see, the economics of the industry hasn’t changed that much since I was trying doing it for a living back in the late 80s. People undervalue our work, unfortunately. I do software development for a living, which is a lot more lucrative! Anyway, keep up the good work – hope you get more patrons soon.
The only thing I’d love to see is videos of people running lights for actual live shows. The 3D visualizer videos are great, but there’s nothing like seeing the actual results in a live setting. Maybe you can think about providing some of this content.
Yes and Craig thank you for becoming a Patreon! As much I love doing work on Learn Stage Lighting it isn’t exactly enough to pay all of the bills so I still do work in the corporate world to fill the gaps.
Unfortunately, the work that I do outside of Learn Stage Lighting there is protection for the client and confidentiality of the work performed. So with that, I am not able to do videos or share much information from it.
What I would love to do in the future is either be able to get out on my own and do more work like this to share with Learn Stage Lighting or even go out and interview bands myself. Definitely, something I am working towards and hope to offer this in the future.
Alvin (20:38): Hi David I have a little some question. I need more explanation for what the meaning of DMX universe.
So, the great thing about DMX is that it’s very simple. You can have 512 channels of lights that you can connect into one universe. What is a DMX universe? A DMX universe is a separate DMX line with 512 channels.
When working with a console you’ll be able to keep the DMX cable to keep your DMX universes separate. On each universe, there’s going to be a DMX address for every one of those 512 channels. With lights, they only understand DMX universes so when you set them up they are being assigned to a DMX address.
Clay (23:33): I live in Nashville. Totally amateur lighting curiosity-seeker.
I am trying to learn how some of this software works and how to create some minimal lighting scenes etc. Do you have recommendations for a good starter software or do they all work pretty much the same?
I would have to say that no most of this software do not wok the same. I’ve seen before that someone such as yourself is just looking for some basic control over lights. But when asking professionals in most cases a piece of professional equipment is recommended. But the downfall is that the person who gets the software finds it does a lot more than they originally needed.
The questions you want to consider is how many lights are you wanting to control? Then the follow-up question is how complex do you want your show to be? If you are looking for something simple then you want to start with ENTTEC’S DMXIS.
The reason why I like ENTTEC’S DMXIS is a great starter software and it’s very easy to use. It also has a demo version available for you to try out.
But if you work with DMXIS and feel as if it’s not enough then you may want to consider a more professional console such as Lightshark, D-Pro, Lightkey, or Onyx. A great article to help you get started is How Do I Choose My First Lighting Console?
Mohammad (28:17): Actually, I am a beginner with stage lighting, and I have to light a stage with 82 lighting fixtures (Movers and Static) but I have no idea about how to create a good show. The second thing I am facing a problem with Lightshark console, the problem is with Robe Parfect 150 RGBW it doesn’t work and I test the fixtures it was working by Sunlite suite.
The first part of your question it appears you are lighting a big production and it’s a lot to handle when you’re not sure what you are doing. In these type of situations, I do recommend checking out Learn Stage Lighting Labs where you can view my video tutorial of Puntastical where I walk through how to design a lighting show on the fly.
For your second question about the Lightshark, I would try either making your own profile, select a fixture that uses a generic mode, and choose the profile that matches.
Wes (31:46): I recently bought ENTTEC D PRO 8 because I love everything it can do and the virtual stage that shows how everything will look. I’m not sure how to set the addresses on the lights to match the DMX outputs in d pro. I have 16 par64 lights set up and I just set them all to channel 1 to see what the software can do with them but I am not getting a signal to the lights I guess because nothing is happening when I assign color etc to the lights. Can you please help with this? I have other lights set up as well and none of them respond to anything I’m doing in D Pro.
The short and quick answer to this is that you want to go to your D-Pro program and open your patch window. Inside of that, you will see a spreadsheet of the lights and addresses. You want to make sure all of these matches what is on the light and what is in D-Pro. Next, if these lights have modes you want to make sure this is listed correctly in D-Pro. Lastly, check-in the D-Pro preferences and make sure the output is set correctly.
If that doesn’t work you may want to consider contacting ENTTEC’s customer support and they may be able to help you.
Lucas (35:18): I am looking for a DMX solution to light the congregation at my church. I was looking into blinders but I’m not convinced that is the proper solution. This is just to light up the congregation for anyone taking notes or who has a physical bible instead of a device of some sort or also to have dim lighting for elderly attendees who need to see better in the aisles. Any advice is greatly appreciated!
At the end of the day, there really isn’t a shortcut to help with this issue, unfortunately. In order for this situation to work properly, there needs to be some lights that can be installed above the congregation to get control over the house lights.
Unfortunately, when you try to set lights to point at the direction of the audience it just will not work as you want it to. It’s best to have professionals come in and have it done right so you won’t have to worry about it later. We actually just discussed this on our last episode, Episode 74.
Adam (37:51): Just wanted to let you know that I’m really enjoying the current “5 Minute” series and I’m really learning quite a lot about the “psychology”???? of lighting and not just merely the software. I do have a question and I was interested to hear your advice.
My company works mostly exclusively in the corporate market and is currently looking at getting a new console and we are exploring many options. We have been using an M2Go with 2 Elo 22-inch touch screens for the last 4 years or so and we are looking to upgrade. We have cut our options down to:
– MA Dot 2 Core.
– MA Dot 2 Core with the F-Wing.
– MA Dot 2 XLF.
– And then the Obsidian NX4.
As someone who has only used Onyx, I’m apprehensive about moving to MA. (Our current lighting gear is 16 Mac 101s, 4 Mac Quantums, 6 Rush MH3s, 8 Robe LedBeam 150’s, 4 ADJ Par Z Moves and 60 Versa-Light UHPs – which we mostly use to uplight venues – to give you context)
Just wanted to hear your thoughts and what you would do if you were in my shoes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
The MA Dot 2 series as much as they have sold it’s actually a crippled and held back console. If I were in your position and working in production I would suggest going with the MA3 system instead. The reason why is when building the effects on the Dot series is not impressive at all.
Next, we move into MA or Onyx? Overall, Onyx is going to cost a lot less and can do a lot. Now, Onyx might not be able to do certain things as easily as the MA does but it is significantly cheaper.
On an MA2 the benefits are how easy it is to do effects. Also, a lot of professionals use the MA2 and it’s the biggest console out there. I would not go with a Dot 2 series at all. But an MA2 or an Onyx would be a better fit for you.
Thank you so much for tuning in and I will see you guys back in two weeks!
Remember, if you haven’t had a chance yet be sure to check out our Learn Stage Lighting Patreon where you are able to help support the podcast for just a few bucks a month. Once we reach the $150 a month level we will be able to go back to 4 episodes a month.
I’d also like to mention the sponsor of the show, Learn Stage Lighting Labs. If you like what you hear and you’ve enjoyed our videos I want to encourage you to check Learn Stage Lighting Labs. It’s everything we offer on the site and so much more.
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