This week on the podcast we have our Q+A Tuesday where we answer questions from listeners just like you! Today, we cover DMXis, Onyx, and other great topics.
In last week’s episode, we announced the official launch of the Learn Stage Lighting Patreon. As I mentioned earlier this patreon was launched to help fund the production of this podcast as well as the YouTube Channel.
Main Segment (3:17)
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.
Franciso (3:43): One question about how to start creating light in theatre.
During the next month, I am able to create the lighting of a theatre play, and I have the text days ago. I think that ideas of angles and projectors will come when the rehearsals start, but they are asking me now if I have ideas to start. Any tip for how to start creating a light scene with the text and without the representation?
I just finished a recent Introduction to Theatre Lighting inside of Learn Stage Lighting Labs. What I have learned over the years is to take a look at the script. You want to look for specific scenes that may need to be highlighted and where the director may want to do something with the lights to bring attention to the scene.
You want to begin charting out notes for scenes that may need a daylight or evening look. But also, be sure to note any scenes that state you need to lighten or darken the stage. At the same time, you want to note about the different parts of the stage that will need to lighten during parts of the stage.
You can find some other great resources that discuss theatre lighting here: Theatre Lighting.
Leonel (6:43): Well I have a question. I’m the lighting designer for a band and I work with DMXIS in small and medium venues, but my question is this… Can I work and use my DMXis show in a BIG SHOW like a festival, can I work with it? I know that Dmxis its only 1 universe, if I get to that show and I find they are working with more universes, can I move thing around and make it all work with what I have?
Unfortunately, in this situation, there’s not a lot you can do going over 1 DMX Universe. If you are getting to that level where you need more than one universe you may want to start looking into getting a more involved console.
For the mid-range professional grade consoles, you may want to look into ENTTEC’S D-Pro or Lightshark. Or you may want to go full-on professional approach such as Onyx. I mention Onyx because bringing in an existing show setup and use a “cloning” feature that really makes the transition so much easier.
DMXis is really designed for smaller shows and as shows get bigger it really does get harder to manage.
Eric (9:21): I’ve been following you for a while and appreciate your platform as it allows for all price levels. Since my band can’t afford to pay a lighting tech, we’ve decided to go the route where we time code everything and used a dmxis vst plugin for ableton. We just purchased a Chinese led curtain for a backdrop and we’d like to include it in the ableton process. Do you have suggestions on making this happen?
You are on the right track using the VST Plugin for Ableton. Your first question about the curtain is what type of signal is it looking to connect with? It could be looking for the basic signal such as Art-net, sACN, or networked DMX. Or it could be looking for a video signal then you would see a video connector on it.
Most of these curtains will have a controller that you can set up and only need to use a couple of DMX Channels to run. You can patch in your fixtures at fixtures.dmixis.com.
Another option would be sending an Art-net or sACN signal that you can use ENTTEC’s Elm or another media server that will allow you to play video. You won’t be able to control it directly from DMXis because of the limited amount of universes available.
Joyata (13:42): Voice message: How to make DMX-USB
This is a topic I don’t often cover very often because this is a product that is available for purchase online.
DMX is great because you can make a USB adapter. What it takes is an adapter from USB. This is an article that will walk you through on how to make your own DIY USB DMX.
Stephanie (15:46): Hello David. I am working with a new crew at a local church. We have a camera “director” that believes that bumping the gain up on the cameras is a good idea. I have been in production for 25 years and never heard that before. Supposedly it is so he can increase lighting? Was hoping to get your opinion on the subject. Thanks so much for any input you can provide.
When it comes down to it, based on the lens being used you set the shutter speed and aperture to expose the camera shot and make sure everything looks normal.
At times, depending on the equipment, lighting, or distance when you expose this and you may notice that you don’t have enough light. So to resolve this you either move the camera closer or add more lights to the stage.
With your camera director, they want to bump up the gain because they are not getting enough light to the camera. So what this is doing is similar to setting an ISO setting on a still camera. It artificially bumps up the brightness digitally.
You want to try to find the balance to use the gain, add more lighting, and doing what you need to create a cleaner look.
Nic (19:40): What do the different lens tubes on say an S4, which is 5-50° due to the beam? Why would you want to use a specific measurement for some things?
The degree is simply the degree that the beam is sent out to. It’s really just a lens that you would find a projector. Normally, the smaller the angle the more it will throw the light and be brighter.
You want to use this type of calculator and do some exploring to see what works best for you.
Steven (22:08): Hi David! I am working on creating an even front wash. I watched your YouTube video on how to do it. It was really clear and the best explanation I’ve seen! Thank you! I have a follow-up. It really has to do with our sanctuary and something I’ve seen in a lot of churches. We have a peaked ceiling that the front truss bars are attached to — that is, that truss is not straight so the lights are at different heights.
1. In your diagram, you show lights next to each other facing in at 45-degree angles to achieve the two points of lights and you mentioned they should be evenly spaced. In our case there about 6 ellipsoidal lights on each side of the room and they all face inward at about 45 degrees. That is on each side of the room they face the same direction as opposed to crossing every two. Will that work or should I reposition like your diagram to get the even wash I’m looking for?
2. Will I face any challenges since my lights are not at the same horizontal level – i.e. they go up with the peak of the roof?
This is a challenge but also a very typical style for churches. 45 degrees up and over is the ideal set up but with an a-frame, it’s not possible to reach 45-degree angle.
In situations such as this, I generally like to space out the lights on the lower bars but still do the same type of criss-cross pattern. The vertical is more critical than the horizontal to get the even wash.
It’s best to play with this and see what looks good but it is better to go wider than it is to go to steep.
Katy (26:07): Hello, what should I do when I want to connect DMX and RDM controller? Is there an important special program of software?
If you’re not familiar with RDM be sure to check out this article: What is RDM? RDM is basically an add on that allows us to hear things back from our lights. Some units don’t have this but the newer and professional units tend to have this feature.
Some lighting consoles have this ability to connect with RDM within the console. But there are programs available such as DMX Workshop, that help your console work with this feature.
Ojeka (35:25): How can I select one color of light?
Unfortunately, I am not 100% sure what you are referring and more information would be great. But if you’re referring to running lights live be sure to check out this video here: How to Run Lights Live to Music
If you have been listening for a while or perhaps you use videos from our Youtube channel please consider joining on the Learn Stage Lighting Patreon.
The patreon is a great way for others to pitch in and help work towards producing more in-depth content for the podcast as well as tutorial videos. It does have different tiers starting at $3 a month and with each tier brings different benefits. If you’re interested be sure to check it out!
Be sure to tune in next week as we have an interview with Seth Shoemaker, be sure to tune it!