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Future of lighting control technology


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Hello everyone. I am currently writing a dissertation on the future of lighting control technology. I was wondering what opinions people had and hoped I would be able to get some answers to questions. If you could answer the questions below, I would love to see what people think.

1. What advancement in lighting control have been most useful to you? And What do you want to see next?

2. In your opinion, What is the Future of lighting control?

3. Why haven't we stopped using DMX?

4. Do you think there has been any development in a replacement for DMX?

5. How do you think DMX can be improved? – if you think it needs improving

6. What new features would you look for in brand new lighting console?

7. How would you find it adjusting to a new way of controlling lighting?

8. Do you think the way Analogue desks have advanced into digital desks, have set a standard way that consoles work?

And do you think that there is a different way a console could work to control lighting?

9. Would you want to work with Voice control in any way? and why?

10. How would you see Voice control assisting in the lighting department or another department?

11. Do you think that it is easier to use a lighting console now, compared to 5 years ago?

Also if you have any interesting questions that I haven't asked, please do post them to the topic for us all to answer.

Thank you for taking part! I appreciate it.

 

 

 

 

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I'm not massively experienced like some people on here, but here is my take on your questions

 

 

 

1. What advancement in lighting control have been most useful to you? And What do you want to see next?

 

I really don't know what you mean by "advances in lighting control", advances to a computerized system over a two preset desk? I would like to see the price of the good systems come downrolleyes.gif

 

 

2.

 

I think it will carry on much as before, but getting more and more computer based, and will start to head away from consoles unfortunately.

Why haven't we stopped using DMX?

DMX works, everything uses DMX, and its relativity simple to learn how to plug things together ect

Do you think there has been any development in a replacement for DMX?

How do you think DMX can be improved? – if you think it needs improving

 

I would re-deign the protocol to be faster, with error checking and maybe to use a system like an EOS console is set up: each fixture has a number, and the console knows what the fixture is. Then the whole system would think about addressing for you, with each fixture just requiring a fixture number to inputted on the back, but with the potential to have many more (1000+) fixtures in a "universe", by instead making the system a bit like an intranet network. This would then allow the fixture to "talk" to the console about lamp hours, faults ect. Ideally built of DMX 5 pin cable as everyone already has lots of it, or at the least something similar (maybe 6 pins instead of 5 or something) but the same style of connectors, allowing daisy chaining. Ethanet fails on this point because the connectors can't be daisy chained and the cable is horrid to handle and coil, and is easy to break.

 

6. What new features would you look for in brand new lighting console?

I personally am very happy with an ETC Ion XE at the moment at it does the theater work I need to do very well. It might be nice to have something that would work for busking if I needed to. Feature that I love on the EOS system:

The recall from button

Rem dim button

Park

The effects system

How would you find it adjusting to a new way of controlling lighting?

 

It would take some time, so I would only do it if the new system offered a clear advantage, or I had no other option

Do you think the way Analogue desks have advanced into digital desks, have set a standard way that consoles work?

And do you think that there is a different way a console could work to control lighting?

Not really; there are still different systems which have fairly different ways of working: EOS vs GrandMA for example

Would you want to work with Voice control in any way? and why?

 

No, it would be a complete gimick that I could only see being a nuisance. Someone re-inventing the wheel?! Every time I speak to the director or the SM while plotting the desk might start doing its own thing, Also during a show we are looking for simple, stable and reliable systems that work; and I don't think voice control can offer any of those pre-requisites. Apart from anything else a lot of voice control stuff (siri ect) need internet connection to work. No internet=no show?

How would you see Voice control assisting in the lighting department or another department?

 

I don't

11. Do you think that it is easier to use a lighting console now, compared to 5 years ago?

 

It depends on what you are trying to achieve: if you are trying to turn on 20 generics to wash a stage for an assembly/presentation then things have got more complicated. I think control for relatively complex intelligent lighting has got easier, but it depends on the stuff you are using and how familiar you are with the interface.

 

Edited by OllieT
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Hello everyone. I am currently writing a dissertation on the future of lighting control technology. I was wondering what opinions people had and hoped I would be able to get some answers to questions. If you could answer the questions below, I would love to see what people think.

 

1. What advancement in lighting control have been most useful to you? And What do you want to see next?

 

I think the biggest advancement was the realisation that lights are more than just intensity. This lead to things like DMX, moving lights, LED walls and strips etc.

 

2. In your opinion, What is the Future of lighting control?

 

I think further integration with things like video. I am hopeful that there will be a move towards fixtures being able to 'tell' the desk what they are and how they function.

 

3. Why haven't we stopped using DMX?

 

Why do we need to? DMX does what it needs to do, and it does it well. RS485 is a relatively simple protocol. It is cheap to implement and it is natively designed to operate in a bus fashion. There is this "push" to move to network based systems. Problem is that you need to put a switch in every fixture or run a shed-load of 'home run' cables. Where a DMX fixture going down results in that fixture not working, moving to network based fixtures with a 3 port switch inside each fixture means that any fixture going down will kill everything after it.

 

4. Do you think there has been any development in a replacement for DMX?

 

There is ACN (not streaming ACN). It is a relatively complex set of protocols designed as a replacement and improvement on DMX.

 

5. How do you think DMX can be improved? – if you think it needs improving

 

RDM is a bit of a flop - because they had to adapt it to work with 3 pin connectors. Something with a bit more speed that would allow devices to describe themselves to the desk more completely would be awesome. A true 2-way protocol.

 

6. What new features would you look for in brand new lighting console?

To be honest, desks should adapt to control the fixtures they are controlling. I think for most fixtures out there the current range of top-end desks have the features needed. So any of the current range of high-end desks would suit me. I would go for something that matches my programming style and budget.

 

7. How would you find it adjusting to a new way of controlling lighting?

 

If the new way makes sense. Sure. But change just for the sake of changing makes no sense.

 

8. Do you think the way Analogue desks have advanced into digital desks, have set a standard way that consoles work?

And do you think that there is a different way a console could work to control lighting?

 

Yes and no. Think of it more as over the last 20-30 years, lighting desks have evolved to suit what we need to do.

 

9. Would you want to work with Voice control in any way? and why?

 

Hell no! No No No No NO No NO. I have Alexa at home. It is fine for the odd "Alexa, turn off all lights" or things of that vein. But when I am programming I want a tactile interface. I also don't want to have to remember what I called every fixture.

 

10. How would you see Voice control assisting in the lighting department or another department?

 

I don't. I see it causing pain and agony.

 

11. Do you think that it is easier to use a lighting console now, compared to 5 years ago?

Also if you have any interesting questions that I haven't asked, please do post them to the topic for us all to answer.

Thank you for taking part! I appreciate it.

 

Compared to 5 years ago - no. Desks have not evolved too much in 5 years. 15 years, sure. 20 years, definitely.

Edited by mac.calder
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Not a lampie per se and nothing to contribute but the very thought of voice control is hilarious. In theatre an operator shouting "Go" at a console is unacceptable but in rock touring the console would need it's own PA system so the damned thing could hear you screaming at it.
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1. What advancement in lighting control have been most useful to you? And What do you want to see next?

 

The ability to control things other than just intensity. I've never shied away from getting ladders out when needed, but in our venue with a very limited FOH rig that has limited access, the advent of moving, focusable, colour-changing lights is a boon.

 

2. In your opinion, What is the Future of lighting control?

 

Consoles with a higher universe count will come more and more to the fore as LED becomes standard on stage.

 

3. Why haven't we stopped using DMX?

 

DMX is now too ubiquitous. A manufacturer that moves completely away from DMX is going to find that their products don't work with anything else on the market or already in use.

 

4. Do you think there has been any development in a replacement for DMX?

 

Surely that's where the DMX-over-IP protocols like sACN and ArtNet come in? It's still the universal language spoken by virtually all gear, but with a different transport layer.

 

5. How do you think DMX can be improved? – if you think it needs improving

 

I'd like to see the concept of a 512 channel universe done away with, but at it would involve completely rewriting the standard (see Point 3) I'm not sure how much mileage there is in that.

 

6. What new features would you look for in brand new lighting console?

 

Simplicity for infrequent users - we have a number of regular groups where their operator/programmer might only touch a lighting desk once a year - the ability to go from a dark stage to having some light on without too much hand holding. Fader-per-channel is nice, although the thing that ETC are doing on some consoles where you can pick fixtures from a plan of the stage on a touchscreen seems nifty too.

 

7. How would you find it adjusting to a new way of controlling lighting?

 

No idea. What's the new way?

 

8. Do you think the way Analogue desks have advanced into digital desks, have set a standard way that consoles work?

And do you think that there is a different way a console could work to control lighting?

 

The introduction of extra parameters beyond just the dimmer channel has certainly had an impact. I'm not sure how we could really evolve from where we are now - there's already a few different ways of working, but most are just implementing the same basic ideas in different ways.

 

9. Would you want to work with Voice control in any way? and why?

 

Definitely not. Alexa is often wide of the mark when I ask her for things, and that's in my quiet house. Whether you give me faders or a command line, I can do precisely what I need without having to worry about the desk confusing channel 13 with channel 30, or whatever else. And then we've got the issue of how it'll work in either a silent theatre, or a noisy rock gig.

 

10. How would you see Voice control assisting in the lighting department or another department?

 

Probably not. See above.

 

11. Do you think that it is easier to use a lighting console now, compared to 5 years ago?

 

For people who are based at a single venue, five years can be well within the lifespan of a desk so it's a bit difficult to answer. Having had a play at tradeshows and suchlike, I've seen things that look like they might make control easier for novice users, although I'd want to be sure that the ease of use for new users wasn't going to get in the way of people who are more familiar with lighting control concepts.

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1. What advancement in lighting control have been most useful to you? And What do you want to see next?

Computer (PC) control software, and IP DMX. (I do a lot of LED pixel work).

 

2. In your opinion, What is the Future of lighting control?

Likely to be AR or more native control approaches. But that is someway off.

For infra structure continued moves towards networked and IP as fixtures fill more of a single universe.

 

3. Why haven't we stopped using DMX?

Simplicity, multiplicity, reliability. i.e. it's easy and cheap to do, already everywhere, and doesn't go wrong much.

All other options come short in one of the above. IP DMX is great for sending 100u but needs infrastructure and understanding of IP networks.

 

4. Do you think there has been any development in a replacement for DMX?

As others mentioned RDM. It's great, but can cause problems so it's often turned off. If it used the spare pair rather than half duplex then it would be far more useful, much simpler, and probably more widely used.

 

5. How do you think DMX can be improved? – if you think it needs improving

DMX. No. See 3.

RDM. Yes. See 4.

 

6. What new features would you look for in brand new lighting console?

Don't really use them these days.

 

7. How would you find it adjusting to a new way of controlling lighting?

See 6.

More options are 'software' controlled, so it's located under a menu rather than button which takes longer. But I understand why.

 

8. Do you think the way Analogue desks have advanced into digital desks, have set a standard way that consoles work?

And do you think that there is a different way a console could work to control lighting?

 

9. Would you want to work with Voice control in any way? and why?

See 2. Ultimately with the work being done on Neural Networks and native voice control it's not beyond the realm of fantasy that a console that that responds to an LD talking near syntax is far away. How that works with a creative skill a programmer applies to interpret the desire of the LD is another question.

 

10. How would you see Voice control assisting in the lighting department or another department?

See 9. For voice control to work the machine has to have some understanding of what you're trying to achieve so it knows how to use that input.

 

11. Do you think that it is easier to use a lighting console now, compared to 5 years ago?

See 6.

 

 

Context in these questions will be important as the needs of a production LX on a community show, touring show, West End show, massive event (and all the millions of other types!) will be, or could be, very different. And probably another reason why DMX is still being used as it happily links them all together.

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the very thought of voice control is hilarious.

 

I largely agree, the only place I could see voice control being handy is as part of a "riggers remote", possibly via smart phone app. Imagine you're up a ladder focussing a lantern. Being able to say "Channel 25 @ 100%" rather than fiddling with a touchscreen at height could be advantageous.

 

As others have mentioned, the drawback is that it'll only work in close-to-silent venue.

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I largely agree, the only place I could see voice control being handy is as part of a "riggers remote", possibly via smart phone app. Imagine you're up a ladder focussing a lantern. Being able to say "Channel 25 @ 100%" rather than fiddling with a touchscreen at height could be advantageous.

 

As others have mentioned, the drawback is that it'll only work in close-to-silent venue.

 

I would almost use that as a reason not to have voice control - because then people could potentially do focusing at height by themselves. At least if you have to shout at a console operator or a guy on the floor with a focus remote there is someone else in the building.

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the very thought of voice control is hilarious.

 

I largely agree, the only place I could see voice control being handy is as part of a "riggers remote", possibly via smart phone app. Imagine you're up a ladder focussing a lantern. Being able to say "Channel 25 @ 100%" rather than fiddling with a touchscreen at height could be advantageous.

 

As others have mentioned, the drawback is that it'll only work in close-to-silent venue.

 

Alex Forey has developed just such a Rigger's remote app that interfaces with an apple watch. I can see it being useful. Likewise the stuff etc are developing now in augment3d which could be useful for setup and focus.

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I would almost use that as a reason not to have voice control - because then people could potentially do focusing at height by themselves. At least if you have to shout at a console operator or a guy on the floor with a focus remote there is someone else in the building.

 

With voice control the other person could be doing something more useful, so there's a decent time saving. I agree that the temptation for lone working at height is there, but it always will be - it might at least be marginally safer without the touchscreen element. It's more of a policy issue for venues/employers.

 

Alex Forey has developed just such a Rigger's remote app that interfaces with an apple watch. I can see it being useful.

 

That sounds quite neat. If the mic accepting the voice commands is in the watch, then there's a better chance of getting decent signal to noise ratio, so it might be more useful in noisier rooms. Also there's the possibility for visual feedback without needing a handheld device.

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