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Soft Patching


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I currently work in a school where the theatre is becoming more and more widely used, putting strain on our 12/24 channel desk. I am Looking to purchase a slightly larger lighting desk (24/48) that has the ability to soft patch fictures.


Can anyone please suggest a suitable desk for me, preferably not too expensive.



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do you use intelligent lighting or are you likely to in the future? also what desk are you using at the moment? What do you want to be able to get out of the desk?


I have used a strand 200 24/48 mode which works well with good effects.

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It all depends on who will be using the desk and the sort of fixtures you want to use with it.


If you have a wide range of people using the desk and are looking for something the anyone can use just by sliding faders up and down then I would look at the Zero 88 range. A local theatre to be has a 48/96 channel Bullfrog and when they brought it, it was specifically chosen for the ease of use in controlling generic fixtures. They also have the ability to control intelligent fixtures although tend to struggle when controlling a large number of them and programming these into cues. The desk frequently has to save the show, stopping your operation of the desk.


If you are looking for something that only you or a select few technically minded people will be using and have the time to learn then I would look the ETC range although not sure if this is our of your price range. They have a much higher number of channels and are much better at handling more complex programming.


Hope this helps.

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+1 for the frog range too, have both a fat frog (24/48 generics) and a bull frog (48/96 generics), the bullfrog is basically just a bigger version of a fat frog which has two universes and can control more fixtures (24 as opposed to 12).

There is also the Leap frog which has the same amount of generics as a fat frog with 24 fixtures.


What is the budget?

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The Strand 200, Fat Frog and Bull Frog are all discontinued products.

You almost certainly want a currently-manufactured console with long-term support. Please guys - don't recommend things that aren't made anymore!


Schools always need products that have good support - nobody working at a school has much time to spend looking after theatrical equipment.

They need to be able to call somebody and get immediate help.


Before any advice can usefully be given, we'll need the following info:


1) What equipment do you currently have?

- Which kind of dimmers and how many channels, fixtures, etc


2) What equipment do you regularly hire?


3) What sort of equipment do you expect or want to have access to in the next 5-10 years?

- 99% certainty that you're going to use colour-mixing LED.


4) What kind of shows do you do, and how often?

- Is it mostly revues, a mix of theatre and 'live', or mostly theatrical productions?

- Does the school currently teach the technical (lighting, sound, staging) aspects of theatre or intend to do so, or does the school focus primarily on the dramatic (acting etc) aspects?


5) Approximate budget: £1000, £2000, £4000, £6000? More than that?


Finally, your profile says that you actually a student at the school.

That unfortunately means that while your tutors may take your suggestions into account, you don't really have any budgetary responsibility and so you aren't going to be making the purchasing decisions.

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