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I'm running out of playbacks..... help!


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Hi guys

Loving my FLX S24 so far! What I'm about to ask would be pretty much solved if I had purchased the S48 instead as admittedly I appear to be right on the limit of the playback capabilities of the S24, but budget was the main consideration and I couldn't stretch to the S48 given the lowish number of events I do every year.

My question revolves around 'less used' elements of the rig, things that you may need to access only 2 or 3 times or possibly even once during a performance. All of the below are things I currently dedicate faders to but wish I didn't have to. Below are a few examples from my particular scenarios:-

1. Houselights
We have 6 houselight circuits powered from an 8 channel Anytronics dimmer. I have 3 dedicated wall panels that support presets for houselight control, so when the lighting desk is in the control room, I typically don't patch houselights to the console and instead use the wall controls as it frees up fixtures and playbacks on the desk. If however I want to take the console out of the control room and position myself elsewhere, I can patch DMX into the dimmer and control houselights from the desk. As we have 6 individual circuits, I find that making a 'full look' and a 'low look' for the auditorium is most affective and all I really need. This however absorbs 2 valuable faders on the S24, just for houselights. I can't put all circuits at full and dedicate only 1 fader, as the 'low' preset requires some circuits to be completely off and others at lower intensities, so it's minimum 2 faders to get the desired range of looks. 

2. Auditorium uplighting / architectural stuff
Around the auditorium I have some LED PARs uplighting wall features. For some events they get left on depending on the requirements of the event. They're not part of the 'main rig' so I don't need control of them at my fingerprints, but they're still part of the DMX universe and I still need to be able to set them a certain colour and leave them, or instead fade them down in conjunction with the houselights etc.

3. Hazer
I have a 2 channel hazer. Similarly to the houselight situation, I have a custom combination of the 2 channels to achieve my own desired 'full haze' and 'half haze' output. From time to time I need to swap to 'half' if the stage is getting a little too thick, then toggle back again once it's cleared a little, maximum 2 or 3 times during a performance. Again, same thing, faders dedicated here to this fairly trivial task which is a waste of a valuable fader.

There are a couple more things but these are the best examples.

I'm already using some good tips such as using the programmer in conjunction with palettes and the programmer fade time live for things like colour, position and gobo.

Also if I could sneakily request someone at Z88 has a think about a soft button playback window as part of the OS..... I understand why the limitations are what they are for the S24 and S48 and I'm fully aware that the majority of this comes down to the fact that bluntly speaking, I should've bought a larger model... but I think everyone would benefit from some non fader controlled playbacks to fall back on for basic / less important control aspects of their rig. 

For those of you wondering why I seem so precious about faders...... like a lot of us I often don't get the chance to see a show or even speak with the organisers prior to the event itself, so I like to have a toolkit of as much variety as I possibly can, spread across the playbacks in a logical manor that's easily recalled to create the widest possible range of looks and effects as smoothly as possible on the fly. For the rare times I do get some details on the show, I rarely get programming time as the venue runs cinema 7 days per week so there's very little downtime for the auditorium. Also, I do admit that the sporadic and ill-advised approach to equipment purchase over the last 30 years at the venue has not helped the situation as I'm trying to control so many different types of fixtures from different eras / using different technologies all mashed together, you can quickly run out of playbacks this way I find while trying to get the best out of the not so best fixtures. 

Any help / hints / tips greatly appreciated for someone trying to do way too much in a perfect way when nobody even asked them to in the first place lol

Many thanks
Tom

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Hi Tom,

Thanks very much for your detailed post.
 

1 hour ago, TomJosephSmith said:

1. Houselights

You mention you have 6 DMX channels of house lights. Which of these do you need separate control of? If for example you control channels 1,2,3 together, and 4,5,6 together, you could patch 2 fixtures on the console with one of these addresses, and then add the remaining couple of addresses to that fixture. Then if the house lights aren’t stored in any other playbacks, you can simply control these 2 fixtures on the console using the channel faders, giving you access to the 3 house lights channels per channel fader. 

1 hour ago, TomJosephSmith said:

2. Auditorium uplighting / architectural stuff

If you have a single playback free for this, you could program various predefined architectural looks into this playback as multiple cues, and use the button underneath to choose which state to output. You can then raise the fader when you’re happy to output the lighting state.

1 hour ago, TomJosephSmith said:

3. Hazer

In the same way as above, could you use a single playback fader with multiple cues stored, which you could then use to choose a cue to output to choose your level of haze?

 

1 hour ago, TomJosephSmith said:

Also if I could sneakily request someone at Z88 has a think about a soft button playback window as part of the OS..... I understand why the limitations are what they are for the S24 and S48 and I'm fully aware that the majority of this comes down to the fact that bluntly speaking, I should've bought a larger model... but I think everyone would benefit from some non fader controlled playbacks to fall back on for basic / less important control aspects of their rig. 

You mentioned you use programmer time with a mixture of palettes to control fixtures live. I’d recommend having a play with Record All and palettes. To do this, create your lighting state. Then hold SHIFT  and tap RECORD, and then tap any empty palette. Your lighting state is then stored to the palette. Therefore selecting the fixtures, enabling programmer time, and tapping the palette will fade this lighting state in. 

Edward

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Edward, I knew you'd save me!!! Excellent tips. Why on earth didn't I think of using cuestacks for these things? That's actually given me a few more ideas now....hmm. I think a big improvement for my busking showfile would be to use a cuestack for my movement effects also...... and come to think of it I could use cuestacks to create groups of looks that incorporate effects that I could 'go' through during songs, selecting cues on the touchscreen. As long as I name things properly I could cram quite a lot in. Typing as I think here but yes, this tip will unlock a lot for me and free up faders, and I can't believe I haven't been using the desk in this way. 

1 hour ago, Edward- Z88 said:

I’d recommend having a play with Record All and palettes.

This is interesting and something I haven't delved into. So if I understand correctly, I can set a state using any fixtures on the console, use SHIFT - RECORD and store that state in an available palette regardless of wether the palette is colour / beamshape etc? What if I have lights in my state that don't have that attribute, for instance if I have generics in the state, do their intensities still get recorded if I store the look to a colour palette? I quite inconveniently chose to start this thread when I don't have the console in front of me so can't play right at this minute unfortunately. Will be back in front of the desk on Monday.

Huge thanks! The support is top.
Tom

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Hi Tom,

2 hours ago, TomJosephSmith said:

come to think of it I could use cuestacks to create groups of looks that incorporate effects that I could 'go' through during songs, selecting cues on the touchscreen. As long as I name things properly I could cram quite a lot in.

The key thing to remember, is if you have 2 lighting states you know you would never need to mix together, these could instead be 2 cues on a playback, rather than 2 individual playbacks.

2 hours ago, TomJosephSmith said:

So if I understand correctly, I can set a state using any fixtures on the console, use SHIFT - RECORD and store that state in an available palette regardless of wether the palette is colour / beamshape etc? What if I have lights in my state that don't have that attribute, for instance if I have generics in the state, do their intensities still get recorded if I store the look to a colour palette?

That’s correct, the process of holding SHIFT + tapping RECORD, is called a Record All. If you then choose to tap an empty palette, as the name suggests, all fixtures are included in the palette, with all attributes stored (including intensity), irrespective of the type of palette you chose to tap. It’s what we call a “Look” palette. You will notice when stored it is annotated with “ICBPE”, for Intensity, Colour, Beam, Position and Effect, rather than a single letter for that specific attribute. 

As always if you have any questions just let me know. 

Edward

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1 hour ago, Edward- Z88 said:

The key thing to remember, is if you have 2 lighting states you know you would never need to mix together, these could instead be 2 cues on a playback, rather than 2 individual playbacks.

Ok brilliant

1 hour ago, Edward- Z88 said:

That’s correct, the process of holding SHIFT + tapping RECORD, is called a Record All. If you then choose to tap an empty palette, as the name suggests, all fixtures are included in the palette, with all attributes stored (including intensity), irrespective of the type of palette you chose to tap.

That's great. This will be an excellent use of space on the desk as I only ever use a handful of palettes for beamshape / position. Really pleased you've mentioned this feature too because I think I'll find myself falling back to an empty 'patch+palettes' showfile quite often and building up playbacks from there for a specific show. I can store common 'looks' on palettes that I use regularly and just tweak them ready to create playbacks/cues for different shows, another great speedy programming tool.

I think I'm going to have a good first year with the console. It was a good time to buy as this years calendar seems to be filling up with a nice variety of different events to put the FLX S24 through it's paces. 

1 hour ago, Edward- Z88 said:

As always if you have any questions just let me know. 

Yes definitely. I'm sure you'll be hearing from me again very soon.

Have a great rest of your weekend, Edward. 
Tom

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