Jump to content

Starting out as a sort of educational establishment


Recommended Posts

We have been around for a good twenty years as a varied in-coming arts venue, myself as a very experienced SLV technician. However we are now being taken over by an organisation with a more educational vision. They want to use our equipment and my expertise as part of their offering.


I have no problem with this, but I don't want to present keen young students with EOS and Yamaha CL/QL as their first experience. They also want to give the participants a chance to perform and work in spaces not as intimidating as our more formal spaces, so hope to use our foyer, balcony's or outside areas.


So, has anyone any experience or recommendations on alternative control panels such as the Stairville or the eurolight controllers for our existing stock of LX - Conventional's, Clay Paky movers and Chauvet LED Pars which would be useful for them in the future, but not intimidate them at the beginning. It would need to be reasonable portable and quick to set up. I'm also looking at initial low cost. Some sort of remote rigger would be great if demonstrating focus etc.-does something like DMXCat work with these systems, I imagine they would,but an android version would be easier to manage


I started on a pearl, and from day one felt I could light jockey a whole club night, I'm not sure I would feel that now. Instant results may be not be great, but flashing lights and a few chase are better than Chan1@50


Sound and video - I have more ideas about, but again ideas would be welcome.


This is not a formal educational thing, but more a drop in and interest thing for young people to learn more and hopefully engage more widely in the project.


Opinions for and against- strong or not - are welcome, as this is really only a couple of days new to me





Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm recently out of education. All the theatre stuff was extra-curricular.


We chose MagicQ as our route. Largely because the young people 'get' the software approach, and they could download for free and mess about with the system on their own device. With a little basic introduction the kind who were interested would just start to experiment and take it whatever way they wanted to go.


We started with the £10 dongle and once, we were convinced, we got a PC Wing then a couple of touch screens. You can do quite a lot with the basic dongle (one universe) and a modest PC, certainly enough for a beginner. An external monitor is more or less essential for the visualiser.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would go with Avolites, as you are somewhat familiar, or Chamsys which is a similar method of operating. Both have relatively low cost dongle versions and will teach an industry standard way of operating a "busking" console which will be useful in the future.


I'd avoid the stairville type controllers or anything not "personality" based as they are quite confusing to use for the uninitiated.


Dmxcat works well as a test controller and has app versions for all phones.

Edited by timsabre
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A simple desk gives relatively easy access to success, BUT a more normal professional desk gives more routes into employment.



Simple desk for LED Pars, yes. Clay paky movers, no.

Moving head fixtures are very impractical to operate on those simple 16-slider desks, unless they are baby ones with only a few DMX channels, as you are constantly having to swap pages on the sliders and remember which channel does what. (Speaking as someone who used to program Martin Roboscans in nightclubs on a Masterpiece 108...)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally I would go back a few steps in the planning of this new enterprise because it is an awful lot more than a choice of what control systems are most newby friendly.


This is probably granny egg time but ...

Have you got a DBS which you will need when working closely with young people? Many of us did as we taught in educational establishments and some because we did community work but it surprised me how many theatre professionals did not. The next item on my list (being an Elf'N'Safety Nazi) would be to rewrite all Risk Assessments with provision for inexperienced and immature "workers". As teachers many BR members do it without thinking but for someone with 20 years in the pro environment it can be overlooked. Then there will be those new RA's for working in public areas and outdoors which leads us to my main point.


Selecting control systems first off might not be optimal given that you will need to set up some form of portable rigs for sound and light and power so your choices may (or may not!) be influenced by your future needs. Jivemaster is correct about permanent installs and using what they will find if they go elsewhere but they could start on the plug'n'play portable kit then graduate to more technical kit as they learn. If it is informal then most will be more than satisfied with flashing lights and loud noises so that and portability will guide your choices.


The flip side of that is that we once set up a basic active PA in a youth centre for local rappers and the demand was such that we ended up with a full scale PA and digital recording studio so maybe use what you have until you know and understand your "customer base". Good luck and enjoy the ride, I loved it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I 100% agree with Kerry. I currently work at a university, and absolutely everything involving students and young people needs to be risk assessed, with a policies & procedures document in place. This is not only for health & safety, but for your own protection too. We live in a very litigious culture now, and if any accidents occur with young people, you need to make sure that the right steps have been taken to minimise risks, even if the setting is informal.


There might be additional concerns about insurance. Our institution is not insured for people under 18 in certain areas, as their safety cannot be guaranteed without adult supervision. I think that places like the National Theatre don't take under 18 work placements in some areas for the similar reasons, so it might be a good idea to ask your organisation to consider this.


However, initiatives like this are usually fantastic resources for their communities, so thank you for your enthusiasm.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't really understand this mentality that students shouldn't learn on proper equipment... that they should learn on some POS toy controller first and then maybe be let loose on a Strand 520 to struggle through like the old and bold had to... then maybe they can be allowed to touch a touch screen.




Frankly, the young people of today are able to grasp technology quickly. They've grown up navigating touch screen menus and using the help screen rather than the manual. The architecture of an EOS is actually likely to be reasonably well at home. Whether they can relate the technical functions to real-world purpose will come down to the quality of instruction, not the particular hardware you associate them with.


Do you think that when young people go to learn IT, they make them work in Windows 95 or MS-DOS for the first 6 months before allowing them on Windows 10? Or maybe young people who do a bricklaying apprenticeship have to mix the mortar by hand for the first 6 months before they're allowed to use a cement mixer?


Just let them on the EOS and the Yamaha. It's fine. They're not going to break anything. And you'll find that in no time, half of them will be far more astute on those platforms than you are and you'll be asking them for help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with what dje is saying. Don't underestimate what young people can handle.

We have an Element 40 in a school which is ideal for a start in to professional lighting. We also have a Colorsource 20, again a nice introduction.


Personally, I think Ch1@100 is far more intuative than getting your head round glorified disco controllers.


I struggle with grasping our Element, mainly because I cut my teeth on analogue disco gear (proper stuff like Pulsar and Martin in the 80's & 90's not the cheap tat you get today for 30pence) then moved to analogue twin preset desks for theatre.

If I was starting out and could forget all my previous experience, I'd be starting on the likes of Element and would pick it up quite easily and quickly.


Sound is a bit different, you can start on a simple analogue desk and move up to digital. One of main differences is all the outboard is inboard.... same principles though.

That said, why not start on a digital desk, you can mix a few sources without delving in to all the clever stuff.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They .... want to give the participants a chance to perform and work in spaces not as intimidating as our more formal spaces, so hope to use our foyer, balcony's or outside areas.


This is not a formal educational thing, but more a drop in and interest thing for young people to learn more and hopefully engage more widely in the project.

All good advice here, but don't dismiss the option of Chan.1@50. If the young people are interested in creating drama, dance or film then maybe a Betapack, a 6-channel desk & a few lights on stands would be a good way of learning about Lighting, rather than about creating spectacle (a bit like learning how to use the right screwdriver before being let loose on the saw-bench?). Of course the ones who want to play with the tech will pick it up much quicker than the grey-haired brigade, but if you want to know about, say, film-making it's perhaps worth looking at Orson Welles before trying to create a superheroes epic. At my old theatre wanabee lighting designers were given 6 lights & a Junior-8 to light whatever the trainee directors could dream up. Similar arguments could be made about sound. Of course, in the end it all depends on where your new organisation wants to go with this, & what sort of young people they can attract, so it's probably not worth buying anything that you couldn't find a use for now.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those who want to learn a control or need to will learn as when they need to stage by stage. Ideally everybody starts off on something simple and there is nothing wrong with that but trust me they will learn anything put on front of them intuitively - it is the world they have grown up in as the previous posters have said. Sorry, though, but in my view you're starting from the wrong end, any lighting control is only a means to en end and it is that end which is important. What button you press on what is irrelevant providing the right thing happens on cue. I always started by giving students a case with six assorted lanterns, some colours, stands, mini packs and hand controllers and cables and asked them to sort it out for themselves then use it and see what it could do. It is lighting and not control which they are learning. All more sophisticated control brings to the party is ease and convenience. I'm not knocking that but it's not the core of things.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, I wasn't clear, this is local authority youth service taking over, and I am transferring across to them, so so all welfare, DBS etc is taken care of. We also had a policy of no under 18's on placements, and I am discussing this with the new organisation.


I think my thoughts were along the lines of Jivemaster and Kerry, some straight forward kit to get them interested, and if they wish the theatre and studio with the professional gear will still be there. But for the performers too, its easier to get up in front of your mates on small stage in a foyer, than a 300 seat theatre, and I think it will be fun to run lights or sound for your friends.


You're alright about the disco stuff, something like magic-Q is a good call. For sound, the yamaha software can easily lead on to the QL desks, but I don't feel ETC has simplified software that can lead to an ion. Young people do grasp technology very quickly, so I should be thinking about the whole process, with the end result being the most important


Some food for thought at my next meeting, thank you




After I posted this, I remembered a great video on busking on ETC with magic sheets, which would indeed lead you into programming quite well. I'll look it up

Edited by uniman1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Last year my grand daughter participated at a 'Drama Summer School' and somehow I found I'd volunteered to helphuh.gif. These were mostly end of year 5, 6 & 7 pupils.



Quite quickly it became obvious not all of the pupils wanted to be actors and tech started creeping in, a teacher involved started teaching the lighting and very quickly got bogged down with the software and inability to visibly demonstrate the whole system. For day 2 I took in my 3 'toy' desks: transcension 816, Chauvet Stage Designer 50 & Cobra Colour control 48. 4x 4 channel dimmer packs, 12 assorted lights [mostly microspot 308s & patt 23] and 4 LED PARs. We rigged 2 scaf poles at about 1m & 1.5m on the schools 'fold out' clmbing frame and the 5 pupils got to grips with rigging/focussing and setting DMX addresses etc. Initially just using 8 channels of the transcension then briefly on to one of the other desks.


I'll be honest and say I was surprised how much they absorbed in day 2 and borrowed more LED PARs.


By half way through day 3 they had learnt to program scenes and chases [I still have 2 of the chases saved on one desk and have used them several times for uplighting walls etc]. After that the teacher hooked their PC to my lights and they took to the software like a duck to water, so, so different to 2 days before.


I have to say I'm not a lighting expert, I've only really got back into it in the last 5 years and not yet into PC based control but have dabbled over the years assisting others but I think the very basics should come first, that certainly seemed to be the case with these youngsters.

Edited by sunray
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We use Luminair and the iPad app for X32 / XAir desks, down to Yr5/6 level (that's 9/10 year olds) and have the kids op'ing the iPads.

As the iPad / tablet is already a familiar control surface they pick it up really quickly.


It doesn't have a route to a larger desk but Luminair is surprisingly capable for 1 universe over ArtNet - you need the software and a node for DMX output. It handles generics and LED pars fine, and movers too but not quite as cleanly. It also has some different concepts like putting a different colour at the bottom of a fader and crossfading between two for a chase, so disco / musical scenes can be built really quickly.


We also have a large formal space, but also use small breakout equipment in cafes / foyers / pavilions etc. Most setups involve an X32 rack with the iPad app, and either entirely LED or mostly LED with a few Par56s if there's some kind of front position.

We've also installed 3-circuit track lighting with Par30s or similar in a few spaces, fed from DMX capable dimming, which often gives you a quick and easy way to reposition regular lighting that might be in a foyer / cafe and repurpose it to light a small stage if you're short of rigging points, and it doesn't look too offensive the rest of the week when you aren't using it for that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MagicQ is probably the most scaleable solution (from the MQ500M Stadium down to a laptop with a USB dongle, all speaking exactly the same language) which would do what you need it to do, but is also something that students might then potentially encounter out in the 'real world' - or at least it's a system whose programming concepts and philosophy will translate readily onto other console families.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.