This week on the podcast we have our Q + A Tuesday! Life and the business have been a bit crazy so far during this new year so there are a lot of questions to tackle. Be sure to tune in as we cover a wide variety in this episode.
As most of you know, I really enjoy helping those get started in lighting and this is why I began Q + A Tuesdays on the podcast. As the business grows and we begin to take on more projects it’s been more of a challenge to be able to answer the questions that come through our contact form.
Personally, I don’t like letting questions get backed up for too long, so over these next few episodes, I am going to be answering questions that have already come in. After getting these caught back up I don’t plan to do the Q + A Tuesday episodes any longer and will instead be shifting the podcast to focusing on our Patreon’s questions instead.
Learn Stage Lighting Patreon is super easy to join and very inexpensive to contribute to. With this approach, if you decide to become a Patreon, even if it’s only for a month, you can share your question and I will happily answer this within a month or less. That’s going to be my promise going forward.
Main Segment (7:57)
James (7:59): Hello, I beg to send me some solutions and ideas of how to deal with church and stage lights and how to repair them and even stadium lights thanks so much.
Unfortunately, this is a very vague question and I am not sure what situation you are working in. The best that I can offer is contacting someone locally that will be able to give you advice on what you are working on.
Lane (8:42): I have a LightShark Ls-1 and would like to know how to assign fader1-5 to control the dimming of the groups of lights? I have seen you do it in your videos but I am struggling to figure this out.
When you have the program loaded and the lights patched in, all you have to do is first clear out everything. Then, take the set of lights that you want to be on fader 1, bring up the intensity, and then add the strobe, shudder, or any feature that needs to happen. Do not use the Find key when doing this. Press record and press the fader. That should record it to fader 1.
To to do the rest you would just repeat those steps to record them to your faders.
Alex (10:37) Hi. I have watched a number of videos on your channel about DMX stage design and have recently started doing installations in nightclubs in Manchester UK! We have just completed a project but have been having a bit of trouble in the final stage. We are using a Starville DMX dongle to run 4 moving heads, a strobe and a 32 channel DMX controller that powers the roof spotlights that we repurposed to be individually addressable!! Everything works fine for a while and then the strobe went on full power and everything past it in the loop does not receive DMX signal properly. I think the signal is flickering so they cannot be controlled properly. After turning everything off and replugging everything the same thing occurred where it worked for a while and then some of the fixtures stop and the roof lights come on. I was wondering if you could offer any help or advice!
My top suggestion would be to check your USB Sleep settings. Just Google search your operating system and version, then search power save or USB sleep setting. Over a certain amount of time, your USB will reduce power or go into a sleep mode.
If that’s not the case then try removing fixtures from the chain that you believe may be causing this. You can try it with every light by just unplugging the light from the chain and connecting the cords so that the DMX will go to the next fixture. See if there is one or more fixtures that may be causing the issue.
Brent (13:20): I live in India where I use Ableton Live to run backing tracks while also playing keyboards typically with a 4-piece band (drums, bass, electric guitar, keys) setup. I’ve been interested in adding another lane of automation that can be sent out to lighting rigs of shows that we play at. The problem I’m facing is that every show is a different venue with different lighting rigs. How do I go about re-assigning a lighting rig so that I can have the same effect irrespective of the number of lights? I basically want a similar result to be perfectly in time with the music, wherever we play. Thanks for all the helpful tips and tricks! Cheers. 🙂
To take this approach you’re going to want to move to a professional grade console. The reason why is while there are other consoles that work with Ableton Live none of those have the ability to switch out or clone fixtures the way you would need to. Cloning is taking a show file and you want to copy those lights and settings and be able to use that data at a different venue.
That type of feature is only available with professional consoles such as ONYX. Personally, I really like ONYX for this because you can program out cues for your lights.
For example, once you learn how to program and use ONYX you would arrive at a venue. You find out what the lights have patched and what modes they are in. You do a Save as inside of Onyx and make a show file for that day. Then, you patch in the lights and then you clone them inside of ONYX. Once you clone it you can then test it and configure your lights.
This would take some time to learn how to do as well as getting used to doing it. Some venues will be able to get you the information you need about the lights ahead of time and that would be a big help.
Jamie (16:34): Hi! I really want to build a lighting setup for my band using some DIY pixel tubes that I’m planning to build. I would like to be able to sync these tubes with the clicktrack within my DAW so we can perform to click along with a tailored light show. I would like to program each light tube individually and have different patterns running through them. I’m thinking to have 10-12 of these tubes of various sizes dotted around the stage. I have absolutely no idea where to begin and so I found your videos on YouTube and thought that the best way for me to be able to do this is to get someone like yourself to teach me. Is this something you can help me achieve?
The best way to walk through this is you would need a pixel controller and a program to control those pixels. Depending on how much control you want over the pixels will depend on what type of console you want to go with.
It’s very important to know beforehand how much control you want over your lights. If you are wanting more simplified control then a basic console would be a great fit. If you’re looking to more complex lighting and have more capabilities then an intermediate or professional console would be a better fit.
Yano (18:34): I currently have a big problem with my setup, I use Onyx in combination with an Elation midicon. In order to output DMX I’m using an USB to DMX interface (from ENTTEC). With Onyx I send Art-Net Data, which via an Art-Net to DMX converter is used to output DMX over USB. I’m using the free software from FreeStyler to convert de Art-Net to DMX, the problem is that none of my fixtures respond to DMX although the Art-Net to DMX software tells me it is. I used this setup multiple times in the past and it always worked on an older computer running Martin MPC, but with the newest version of Onyx it just won’t work. Do you have any idea what might cause this problem? I’ve tried everything but without success.
If you were on a Beta version of ONYX then there was a problem with using Art-Net with the same computer. I know there were some reported issues of that going on and causing issues.
Stan & Shawn (20:08): We have dual universe DPro with two APC 40s and 1 APC 20 that we are hoping to use for programming buttons and faders for all our fixtures. However, I’m finding that each 40 and the 20 have the same button addresses on each unit. Is there a way to make each board different? They show as APC 40, APC 20 and APC 40(2) so USB seems to pick them up no problem.
Yes, absolutely. When you have them in the same mode they will have the same address because it’s how the units are set up.
What you will need to do is reassign some of your Midi’s in D-Pro to make them work. You want to use a program such as Bome’s MIDI Translator. The software will let you convert them and shift them to different MIDI codes. There is a free demo version that you can try and see if it will work for your situation.
Radha-Krishna (22:53): The controllers in our museum (Mediamation MOE and PR-16) use MIDI to control our dimmers (Mediamation CL-4 and CL-6). All of these pieces of equipment has been out of production for years and are hard to come by. The critical ones are the MIDI dimmers that can go bad. If we wanna keep the controllers what’s your suggestion to replace the dimmers? Are MIDI convertors like MIDI to DMX or MIDI to NSI Microplex available?
I don’t believe there is going to be a MIDI converter that will be able to do what you want them to do flawlessly. These units are very old and the best option would be finding someone that will be able to work on these and refurbish them for you.
David (25:51): I watched your vids on sACN. I have a Scene Setter 48 3 pin 1-U out. Then an eDMX1 Pro cat6 to PC using sACN. This allows me to be able to visualize and program the console without having the lighting rig at home. Is there a way to output the DMX? Then go to the rig. Using sACN gives me 4-Us So I am guessing I can add a second network jack or send it wifi to a router then ODE?
The simplest solution to this is to go purchase a DMX splitter, I really recommend ENNTEC’s DMX Splitter. So, what you want to do is split the 3 pin, come out of the scene setter, into the splitter and just split it. Out of the splitter, you would go into the eDMX1 and then go to the lights.
Christian (28:04): I am literally just starting to learn stage lighting, more specifically dj lighting. My dad is a DJ and he plays more corporate gigs, he is looking to build a show and that includes lighting. His plan is for me to use a midi instrument and “play” light live while also having scenes play. I have multiple questions but right now my main question is as a dedicated lighting person to “play” the lights is ShowXpress my best option to learn or is there other software that may work better for me. I have just found your podcast and I am on episode 8, so if you’ve covered this I just haven’t gotten to it yet.
ShowXpress is a good mid-level program. While it’s not one of my favorites it does have some good capabilities. With a Mac, I will say that there have been issues of it being buggy. For what you’re doing, it may not be the most ideal setup but it should work.
Other programs I recommend checking into is LightKey and even a stand-alone console such as the LightShark where you wouldn’t need a computer.
Andrew (30:20): In Lightkey, is it possible to midi map a controller to be able to control regular channels for lights? Example: if I have RGB LED pars and I want to have a fader for each color and be able to manually color mix is this possible?
I do believe that this is possible. You should be able to bring up a fader for red then, do a fader for only green and then one for blue. You would be able to have the fader control saturation. Hopefully, they should be able to mix together. Sometimes, LightKey likes to convert some things, so make sure to try it out and see if it will do what you want it to.
David (33:15): I’m from Barbados and I would like to know where can I get stage lighting templates online that I can use the set-out lighting plans.
Sure thing! The best is to go to learnstagelighting.com, click Main Site on the top right, drop down Topics, and select Theatre Lighting.
What I recommend is don’t get caught up in trying to make the first symbol perfect. Don’t feel like it has to be this perfect picture and just sketch what you need to for the lighting person to get the results.
Even do a Google Search for Lighting Field Template and see what you find there as well.
Hugh (35:53): How can I control the house lights from my controller?
This really depends on what house light system you have. If you have a DMX controlled house lights then, in short, you can run a DMX cable to the console and control your lights that way.
If the house light system isn’t DMX, then that’s a very different system. You want to look at the controller and figure out what you have exactly. Once you know what you have you can then figure out how to control them.
You might just have some lights set up on a standard light switch. If that is the case, find a DMX Dimmer, hire an electrician to wire in the dimmer instead of having the light switch. That way you can control from your light console. Then, you would get a DMX type light switch, such as the Springtree SM-8, and this would work between as a light switch and on your console.
Kevin (38:35): Hi there, I have a lighting question that I am hoping you can help me with. I am a solo hip hop artist and am desperately trying to incorporate more production elements throughout my show in the form of video, lighting and some other effects. I am wondering what the best way to do this is if I am on stage and can’t be monitoring this as I perform? I am sure there would be some heavy pre-programming beforehand but I’m wondering what the best approach to this is that won’t come off corny and allow me to focus on performing?
This is definitely doable and you are already doing music. Most likely, you already have a backing track that is always working. This is very important to have established. There are a couple of options you can get started with such ENTTEC’s DMXIS or even Ableton Live that might be able to bring in video.
It depends on what you are using now to playback your tracks and what type of systems does it work with? How can that system trigger and communicate with other systems? Once you have this figured out then you can start piecing the setup together. It can be as simple as walking into a venue, setting up, and press play. But as you know the pre-setup and pre-programming will take some time beforehand.
On a quick basic set up let’s say you have some lights, and go with ENTTEC’S DMXis. Ableton Live to play the backing track. Or you can try to use LiveTraker which is a very powerful program to use and offer different capabilities.
Thank you so much for tuning in today and we’re working hard to moving a more Patreon model for just a few bucks a month. For that, you can send in a question and have an answer within a month. So be sure to join us and we would love to see you there at Learn Stage Lighting Patreon.