Physical lighting consoles: they’re almost dead

Apart from just doing sound, I have discovered another interest of mine. This ‘job’ requires a whole new skillset, set of ideas and thinking. Mixing a live band requires good ears and some experience, designing a stage lighting setup requires creativity and an eye for detail. The workflow and SOPs for operating a sound board and a lighting console are quite different too. The differences become more apparent when an operator who is used to a WYSIWYG analogue sound board and now has to start learning a digital lighting console.

For the past 5 years, this Martin Exciter handled all the static and intelligent fixtures. Sadly, it passed on about 2 months ago. Its main PCB fried, and according to Martin, repairing it will cost us SGD 2,500. A new Martin Xciter should cost about SGD 4k only. However, it is not longer produced (thus the hefty repair bill). It was a rather affordable yet powerful board. However, because of its compact footprint, this digital lighting console stumped most of the volunteer crew. I even took time to generate a FAQ cum step-by-step guide on how to run the pre-programmed scenes. That didn’t work too.

Photo | BIG_MOUSE | Martin Xciter (Discontinued model)

Photo | BIG_MOUSE | Martin Xciter (Discontinued model)

While searching for a replacement board, I came across Jands Vista, a company specialising in both the software and hardware solutions to creating powerful yet simple lighting shows. Definitely, there were other companies that were more than happy to sell their (uber expensive) physical boards to us, but Byron, a Mac/PC-based controller from Jands Vista caught my eye (you can download the demo here). The company proclaimed that its software is “brings a whole new world of speed, ease of use and sheer intuitiveness to the world of lighting.” I had to try it to believe it. Thankfully, there is a distributor in Singapore, and after a few email exchanges, I secured a demo set for a month. And I must say that I am really impressed by its clever simplicity and yet is so powerful for advanced users (so much so that I am going to recommend this for immediate purchase).

Well, if you want to learn more about this innovative way of controlling both static and intelligent fixtures without the need of a physical lighting console, please feel free to watch the first training video of 10 parts below. Note: Of course you will need a PC or a Mac to run the software and the appropriate USB-to-DMX converters and dongles too (and this solution is still more affordable than repairing the Martin Exciter that died).

The person in the instructional video is using a physical console to illustrate his points. Take away all the physical controls, and pay attention to the software aspects of the video. For Jands Vista, the software behind its physical lighting boards is exactly the same as the one you run on your Mac/PC. Exactly.

Stay tuned to their Vimeo channel for the other 9 parts. They are taking quite a while to upload the rest of the parts but I shall patiently waiting for them. lol. I just know that the next video is about ‘Patching’. Can’t wait.

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