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strand 100 vs laptop


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Pointless comparison. The Strand 100 is a simple 12/24 channel hardware-based manual controller with no recording capability other than some very simple effects, and no moving light control. Lightjockey is a software-based controller that can deal with moving lights, LEDs, fairly complex effects and sequences, visualisation, timecode, and so on. They're chalk and cheese, you can't compare one with the other.


They say there's no such thing as a stupid question. I'm starting to wonder about that ...

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what would be better to use to light a musical: a strand 100 series or a laptop with software such as light jockey?


jake :P

Surely the best thing to light a musical with are lights <_<

How you control the lights depends on how many lights you have and how complex you lighting design is.



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For a musical, with what I can assume is a fairly tightly blocked and scripted production, you can rely on cues which is where you might want to consider something like PCStage.


I used it for a musical only a month or two ago and it really was excellent - it took very little time to learn how to use the software, and it can be made to work for you the way you want very easily with various plug-ins and tools.


Google 'pcstage' - the only downside of PCStage is the requirement to use their own DMX hardware - I've used both the 'Lite' and the 'Full' - the full gives you the chance to have DMX input from say a Strand 100 desk to make setting levels a bit more natural-feeling, but then record those levels and cue everything with crossfades,etc using the software.



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As pretty much everyone else has said, it really depends. If you're going to be using it as a two-preset, 12-channel desk, you're comfortable using it like this and there's nothing too rapid or complex required of you, then the Strand wins in my opinion.


If you've got more than 12 channels and you're forced to use it in single-preset 24-channel mode, then it is possible, but only in wide mode (or 'hold', as I think Strand have called it), which might not be as easy as proper two-preset operation.


I'm guessing that this is a school production? Bear in mind that things won't necessarily go according to plan; if you're playing back a series of cues one after the other, and everything works swimmingly, then a software based solution might do you just fine - but what happens if someone on stage doesn't do what they're supposed to be doing, and ends up standing in the dark? With a manual desk, it's fairly easy to busk around it - it won't be as easy to fix with most software.

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50 years ago large theatres had single preset systems that could manage to group a few channels to fade out 1-12 while bringing in 13-24 or other not too helpful combinations. 30 years ago a clump of 4 way resistance dimmers with bits of batten to do mass fadeouts were the norm at smaller theatres, and then small presets came along.


Perfectly good lighting was achieved. 24 dimmers, with the facilities a Strand 100 currently has would have been considered luxury. Being very honest, the standard of school performers doesn't require much apart from a change of colour, some blackouts, full-ups and the odd special or two.


What is the point of all the technology? I really would quite like to go into a school and light a show, using minimal equipment on a simple manual control. Memories? cut them out of cardboard - as in lots of fingers that can bring up channels or take them down if you use two. Schools are rarely short of bodies - so if it takes two people to work the board, so what.


Sorry for the grump - but I do get very fed up with schools who demand a big budget to spend on flashy, technical and frankly unnecessary kit to liven up a very varied performance. If they have a big budget to spend then fine - but wouldn't it be better off spent on essentials rather than luxuries - and lighting on the scale constantly talked about is just that - a luxury.


The school musicals I've worked on over the past few years have had clever kit, but nobody at all to work them. My old college have flightcases full of movers, Strand 300 and Avo controls all available, and did We Will Rock You at a local outside venue using the inhouse 24 parcans on short permanent bars. They have staff competent to use them - but they worked out that frankly it was just too much work for the quality of the show. That's a hard decision to make, but it was true. I have a feeling that some people think technical is more important than the performance - well it isn't. Unless we're talking about Fred Bentham's colour music, then lighting supports a production. When reviewers talk about lighting - and in one I saw recently, how Snow Boys work - there must have been little happening on stage worth speaking about.


Happy New Year!

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I know it may seem very dull to use manual faders when there is all this fancy technology available but it is sometimes the best kit for the job.

I ran a couple of our school shows very successfully using a laptop and USB-DMX as that was all I had available at the time. Since the new desk arrived (FatFrog if you're wondering) the USB hasn't been out once!


This last Christmas show only used 3 submasters (main stage, front steps and a spot for the MD) but could have easily been done manual. It was simple but effective and more importantly didn't distract from the performance. It was a 12 year old kid who actually ran the desk for the show!


Unless you have some very quick scene changes the Strand 100 should work fine either in 2 scene mode or single scene and use the hold button while you setup the next cue. It also has the advantage that if something unexpected happens you have 10 digits available to make quick changes, with a mouse you're limited to one.


Good luck with the show whichever you choose.

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Paulears and Russ83 - Absolutely agree.




Of course it depends on what you are asked to do to support the show but a simple two preset board should just about cover anything most school productions require.


I run shows on a simple 6 channel analogue control when what I need is the "church hall" rig - simple cover and colour capability. Yes in my theatre work I use a Strand 520i and often use many of its capabilities but even in that capacity I often use it simply with 24 submasters, no pre-recorded cues - effectively as a simple manual desk with 24 faders (rarely needing all 24!).

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