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Yet another desk choice question


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I've done a search of here and other sites and can't quite fine the answer to my query, so sorry for yet another "what desk should I buy" type question, but here goes!


I'm thinking of being in the market for an extra desk for use within my department (think theatre plus multiple other venues in and around a private school) to compliment our current stock of Congo, 520, jesters(12/24s no ML or TLs), Fat Frog. I'm looking for something small and preferably self contained. Budget is yet to be determined, depending on the value any given console would bring. It's purpose would be as a backup/alternative to the current desks, but primarily there to step in and replace the Jester's etc when a more powerful and faster desk is required.


My main requirements for it are FAST workflow on the traditional build a scene record as cue x time y and move on type of situation. I find the Congo to be one of the fastest at this with groups on direct selects using # RECORD # TIME type syntax, or the old strand CUE # TIME # RECORD.


To be able to also easily control LED kit and media servers (ArKaos) that may get added to our smaller venues for one off events.


Must have ArtNET to fit current infrastructure and media server integration. Must have MSC.


I'd prefer the desk to be capable of being a full tracking desk, but not absolutely essential.


I would love it to be a small all-in one console as it will be used with short turn arounds in small venues, upstairs, without much space etc. Preferably without the NEED for an external monitor, but ability to add extras a bonus.


I've looked around and, as usual on here, the compact MagicQ's look to be the closest to my requirements. I've used MagicQ on a laptop for a few things and in general I like it, but I struggle with the editing of cue timings, and my searching has not found a good solution.


So my two questions are..


1) are there any other consoles that fit my specific demands?


2) How, in workflow terms, do other MagicQ users approach programming a largely generic designer led session with a continuos process of recording cues to a stack and giving them a time without jumping to the time window, using a mouse, etc.


Once I've found the solutions that may work, I do intend to get my hands on them to try, before anyone suggests it!


Many Thanks,



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You can disable auto enter on intensity on MagicQ and then enter "CHAN@INT/TIME" this also works for delays and split times too, I'm not 100% whether this would work for other attribute values too but the manual is your friend on this one.


I'm not 100% on if MagicQ does MSC TBH, I've never had reason to use it, preferring to use TC whenever possible. I trust you're happy with the Media Server integration on the MQ desks, I quite like it although I know some who don't.


I've not had chance to play with it yet in any shape or form but I'm hearing good things about the new Martin consoles and software, the M2GO only needing a monitor attaching. I'm sure Joe will be along to explain that a bit more.



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I've not had chance to play with it yet in any shape or form but I'm hearing good things about the new Martin consoles and software, the M2GO only needing a monitor attaching. I'm sure Joe will be along to explain that a bit more.


Thanks Josh :)


For full disclosure... Martin hire me as a freelancer for Console Training, and I also write the User Manual for the desks too. I own 2 desks too.


V3 of the software is currently in the final stages of beta, and its looking really good. The main additions are a completely new interface for better screen rendering on the consoles and the new interface essentially makes MPC a console in its own right. The horrible virtual console has now gone and stuff like faders and the keypad can either be optionally opened over the top of your screen, or embedded in your screen view. It has also been enhanced for multi-touch screens, so you can use your finger to swipe between pages, swipe between screen views etc. The first image is a basic one of mine. The Second is a default screen view.






I have been using mine mainly for TV or Live Music, and they are super reliable and super fast. I can make effects in a fraction of the time on this compared to other desks - including MQ. Once you make a screen layout to suit your show, you can be up and running in no time. The desks do Art-Net, MSC, Easy LED control, Recording times can be done within the same command as you record the cue, you can also set your own defaults. Arkaos CITP works quite nicely, in the images above where you see pictures of the gobos, these belts show graphical representations of whatever is selected, they show colour slots, strobe slows, intensity gradients etc and CITP is no exception. Tracking backup works very nicely too. The free version of MPC does 1 universe for free with the supported Entec Hardware. Theres then the M2PC (PC wing), M2GO (mini console), M1 (MQ 100 sized console) and the new M6 which is an MA2 light/Hog 4 sized console).


The M2GO sounds perfect for you. Its a wing sized console, all you need to do is attach a touchscreen monitor. It has a processor & SSD inside along with DMX outputs, gigabit ethernet outputs for Art-Net and remote control etc on the back. I dont drive, I have mine in a peli and it goes very nicely on Tubes, Planes and Taxis.


If you want to get a demo or training sorted, let me know. The consoles will be at ABTT, not sure if I will be yet, but I hope to be. I run training at the Martin office at London bridge quite regularly.


If you want, I can supply you with a download for the public beta which is very close to release, the download currently listed on the Martin website is the old software. The screenshots I posted are for the new stuff.



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Thanks both that's really helpful.


Josh, I'm presuming that's a a channel time setting which would be as time consuming as jumping around windows when all you need is a single fade time for a cue.


Joe, I did look briefly at the Martin software but got frustrated really quickly. I was trying to jump in without the manual to see if I could fathom something out, got to the patch window then got stuck because I hadn't realised that the virtual console covered the bottom of the window! I would be interested in looking at the new version, as it seems like it may be an option. Whilst not all in one, I can easily see a case to contain both an M2GO and touch screen. One question though, am I right in saying you need optional board for MIDI?


I'm going to try and get to ABTT for more of a look but it's a busy time.



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Yes you need an extra board for midi, SMPTE. They cost like £200 or something - not much. Purely to keep the base price of the console down.


You can get a Touchscreen and console into a standard peli really easily and still have space for accessories galore!


Yeah, the Manual for V3 isn't written yet, but once you have had a few things pointed out to you by someone in the know, it all comes together nicely. The logic is all the same, it's just the GUI has changed slightly.


If you don't make it to ABTT, we can sort out a 1-1 demo of the console no problem.



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Hi Richard,


As Josh says you can disable auto Enter, which would then allow you to enter commands such as:


Set head 1 to 50% time 3 secs 1 @ 50 / 3 ENTER

Heads 1 to 10, 100% split delays 4s to 1s, 1s fade1 > 10 @ FULL / 4 > 0 / 1

Play Palette with 3 secs 3 <palette>

Play Palette with 3 secs fanned 3 * <palette>

Play Palette fan fade 0 to 3s 0 THRU 3 <palette>

Play fan delay 0 to 3s, 1s fade 0 THRU 3 / 1 <palette><br style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Trebuchet MS', Verdana, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 13px; line-height: 18.1875px; background-color: rgb(236, 243, 247);">


You could then use some of the record shortcuts as below to record directly to a cue stack with a specific cue ID.



Record Cue on Playback RECORD S

Record Cue ID 2.5 2.5 RECORD S

Record Cue to current Playback RECORD ENTER

Record to Playback 2 RECORD 2 ENTER

Record to Cue ID 2.5 Playback 2 RECORD 2 / 2.5 ENTER


This would allow you to select lights quickly with a fade time, then once happy record to a specific cue and include the fade time you used when selecting and modifying the fixtures.

We have just updated the shortcuts documents sheet, which if you can't find on the ChamSys download site I can get e-mailed over to you.

With editing cue times once a cue has been stored, you could use the 'Cue' Window and 'View Times' when playing back a cue stack to quickly update times for cues.


In terms of Midi and Timecode on the compact range of consoles, the MQ60 has Midi in/outs ports build in so need for extra hardware when using MIDI control. The MQ70 has both MIDI and SMPTE build in, along with PoE on the Ethernet ports. Both MQ60's and 70's have support for external monitors as well.


I hope this helps.



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2) How, in workflow terms, do other MagicQ users approach programming a largely generic designer led session with a continuos process of recording cues to a stack and giving them a time without jumping to the time window, using a mouse, etc.



The REC # TIME # LABEL # is one of the areas that MagicQ falls down on and I can't believe that it's not fairly easily implement in the software but have yet to find a solution in the current versions. You can set the cue number and name within the single command but not the time, in my experience of teaching theatre style operation.


Reading the OP, I assume that you are already in Theatre Tracking mode and so the desk mainly behaves as much like a theatre desk at it can (I.e Auto Enter Off, Cue Stack by default, Tracking on etc.) Entering times INTO the programmer (at fixture level) is great and very flexible but it doesn't achieve what you want when the LD wants it : That whole cue in over that time, at the end of the level setting process.


I think the solution for MagicQ would be to, say, use SET for LABEL and perhaps * for TIME while recording on the way out of the programmer along with being able to set individual fixture times on the way in. While I'm on the Using MagicQ For Theatre hobby horse, I also wish you could set which screen the Command Line appears on OR at least have it appear at the bottom of every screen.


Suggest you try setting up your main touchscreen with the cue list in it and setting times there rather than mousing to the external screen. Or do what we do and use multiple touchscreens. It's not the same as using the Strand/ETC/MA style of keypad entry though.

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It sounds like you probably want a Congo Kid.


This is the 'entry-level' Congo Family console.

It has 40 built-in master faders (no wings), 2 Universes of DMX (Art-net/sACN/EDMX) output and either 250 or 512 Desk Channels.


You can also use Congo Kid as a 'client' to your existing Congo family consoles, or a backup (up to the limit of its channels and output) as Congo Kid has the same feature set (including built-in I/O like MIDI etc) as the larger Congo Family consoles.


However, it does need an external monitor.

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