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PLSN Buyers Guide on Automated Consoles
PLSN Buyers Guide on Automated Consoles

Automated Consoles

Nook Schoenfeld
Buyer's Guide

It’s been more than 20 years since the first consoles designed to run automated lighting fixtures appeared on the market. Proprietary consoles for running certain companies’ light fixtures were available in the 1980s, but it took a while for someone to invent consoles that could spit out DMX and run any automated fixture as well as dimmers. Early on, there was the Whole Hog1, Scan Commander, Light Coordinator, Animator and the Status Cue to start the long learning curve. Here, we have more than a dozen top-of-the-line consoles listed. They are available to meet the needs of users with a wide range of features and price points. This month, as a bonus, we also reached out to more than a half-dozen LDs to get their perspective on the favorite features and functions of a sampling of different consoles.

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ChamSys MagicQ and other consoles now use the CITP protocol to display thumbnails of video content.
ChamSys MagicQ and other consoles now use the CITP protocol to display thumbnails of video content.

Lighting Console and Media Server Convergence

Vickie Claiborne
Video Digerati

As media servers continue to develop features geared toward working with LED fixtures, lighting consoles are beginning to add in tools that address the unique challenges that programmers encounter while programming both lighting and video. As this convergence of lighting and video continues to evolve, the toolsets continue to evolve as well. Here’s a look at some of those tools.

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'Cathedral of Light' was static, yet compelling. Photos courtesy Mandylights.
'Cathedral of Light' was static, yet compelling. Photos courtesy Mandylights.

Vivid Sydney 2016

Frank Hammel;
Event Lighting

Vivid Sydney is a 23-day festival of light, music and ideas that takes place in Australia’s largest city. Now in its eighth year, Vivid began as Smart Light Sydney festival with a focus on energy efficiency by lighting designer Mary-Anne Kyriakou and headlined by musical artist Brian Eno. It is now called the world’s largest outdoor “art gallery,” with the 2016 event drawing more than two million visitors outdoors to downtown Sydney during May and June, the coolest (and darkest) time of the year in Australia.

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Robert Juliat Dalis 860
Robert Juliat Dalis 860

Robert Juliat Dalis 860

Brandon Creel
Road Tests

You probably recognize the name of the France-based lighting manufacturer, Robert Juliat, for their followspots. The company has now developed a purpose-built cyclorama wash light, the Dalis 860. (It’s spelled differently, but pronounced just like the city in Texas.) The fixture boasts a double row of 24 LEDs, an eight color mixing system and a new rigging method. Let’s dig a little deeper to see what makes this unit so innovative.

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Environment space for Nintendo players. Photo by Jeff Granbery.
Environment space for Nintendo players. Photo by Jeff Granbery.

E3 and Lightswitch: Long Time Runnin'

Mike Wharton
Event Lighting

Once upon a time, by the sea in a western land called L.A., before the creation of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), there was a gathering called the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Great in size and broad in scope, much confusion reigned, for the leaders who ran it had no idea about what do about a village of “video games.” The video game players would gaze on the latest innovations in car alarms, refrigerators, stereos, and telephones imploring in despair, “Where are our games?”

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You've Been Overridden!

Brad Schiller
Feeding the Machines

Imagine the following scenario: An actor is on stage reciting a monologue. Suddenly, another actor steps in front of the first and begins speaking at a much louder rate, drowning out the first. Because the first actor is no longer contributing to what is happening on stage, he simply vanishes into thin air! This concept might sound crazy, but a similar situation plays out all the time on most automated lighting consoles. Some refer to this behavior as stomping or overriding, and it can be very confusing if not understood by the console programmer or operator.

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Coldplay at Wembley, photo by Paul Normandale
Coldplay at Wembley, photo by Paul Normandale

Normandale's Head Full of Designs; Summer Tour News

Debi Moen
Designer Watch

While his design for Coldplay’s “A Head Full of Dreams” world tour made its way to North America, we heard from U.K. production designer/LD Paul Normandale, who was winging his way to Chicago to make sure the show was playing out as planned. When asked to describe his design in one sentence — as there’s no space to cover the entire production here — he says it’s “a cascading waterfall of vivid stars.”

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Beasts of Mayhem perform at Heavy Metal concert in Columbia Pictures' ‘Ghostbusters’. Photo courtesy Sony Pictures.
Beasts of Mayhem perform at Heavy Metal concert in Columbia Pictures' ‘Ghostbusters’. Photo courtesy Sony Pictures.

'Ghostbusters' Calls In LD Michael Baldassari for Heavy Metal Concert Scene

Michael S. Eddy
Lighting for the Camera

For the reboot version of Ghostbusters, which opened on July 15, 2016, director Paul Feig brought together a new team of Ghostbusters in Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. As ghosts and slime threaten to take over the city, they fight it with comic, and at times, chaotic efforts. When the team get their first call to capture an actual ghost it is at a heavy metal concert. For this key scene, the film’s director of photography, Robert Yeoman, ASC and gaffer John Vecchio knew they wanted a concert LD involved but needed someone that could mix the concert lighting with their film lighting. They called on LD Michael Baldassari, who has lit sequences for movies including Rock of Ages, Nine and Sex and the City 2.

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Washington DC was among the cities that organized vigils in support of the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. Photo by Ted Eytan.
Washington DC was among the cities that organized vigils in support of the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting. Photo by Ted Eytan.

The New Normal

Mike Wharton
Safety Factor

Bumping into an old tour mate and uttering a single word can recall a whole slew of events about a day, venue, person or even an entire tour. This shorthand form of communication develops out of the day-to-day way efficient and expeditious crews talk to one another as a tour progresses.

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