Lighting Consoles: A 10-Point Checklist

If you’re assessing a new console, you’ll want to learn about it enough to know if it “just makes sense.” If you are learning an existing console, take the time to understand its command structure so that you know how to best use it.

Lighting Consoles: A 10-Point Checklist
The High End Systems' Hedge Hog 4 offers a series of features, including compound fixture scheduling and direct control of video matrix switchers, each meant to improve the feature set of this programming interface.
Credit: Intelligent Lighting Creations

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Last October, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Simply Worship conference in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Part of my involvement was in co-leading a lab with Brendan Mackenzie, the tech arts director at Brookridge Community Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts, which focused on lighting consoles. Preparing for that session, I came up with a 10-point checklist that I believe allows a novice or veteran, to test a new console or evaluate their existing console. The consoles during the lab provided a range of what’s available in the market.

How easy is it to create a look in the room?

For the sake of comparison, here’s what we had that day.

A. A two-scene preset console (Lightronics TL4016, approx. $500)

B. A PC- and Mac-based lighting controller (ADJ myDMX 2.0, $299)

C. A mid line digital memory console (ColorSource 20, $1,749)

D. A top–of-the-line digital console (High End Systems HedgeHog 4, $5,500)

So whether I’m checking out a new console, or assisting a church about how to best use the console they are currently using, these are the questions I ask myself. In order of “gotta have” to “icing on the cake,” here are my 10 points.

1. Create a look

How easy is it to create a look in the room?

On console A (the Lightronics), it’s very simple to grab sliders and start creating, but it will take some fiddling to get the colors and/or levels you want. On the other consoles, it will take a few more mouse clicks or key strokes, but parameters like colors and levels will come easier through presets. On a new console, I’m evaluating different ways to create a look.

2.Store a look

How simple is it to store the look you just created?

On console A, (the Lightronics) it’s very easy! A couple button presses and you’re done. On the other consoles it’s similar, a little more training and it’s a breeze. And if it’s a new console evaluation, then what are all the different ways it can store a look? Maybe as a scene, a cue, or a preset. So far so good?

3. Playback a look easily and smoothly

How effortless is it to recall, or playback, a look that you have stored?

Here’s where we start to separate the pack a little. Console A, the Lightronics, is relatively easy, since all you have to do is push up a fader. But, how smoothly it happens is dependent on your ability to smoothly push the fader. And if you are bringing another one down at the same time, it’s even trickier!

More About Chris Tall
Chris Tall currently serves as the Lighting Designer and Assistant Tech Director for Essex Alliance Church in Essex Junction, Vt. His start in lighting came early in his freshman year of high school after he talked his way into a Maynard Ferguson concert. Since then, he has always been active in lighting and technical show production. While the work has taken him from lighting local theater to designing special effects for Universal Studios, MGM Vegas and Disney, Chris enjoys being part of a team that works to bring a production's dream to life. When Chris isn't working, he can be found making dinner for his family or flying RC planes.
Get in Touch: [email protected]    More by Chris Tall
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Article Topics

Technology · Lighting · Visual Arts · Lighting Design · Team Management · Budgeting · Team Development · ADJ · Consoles · Cuelist · ETC · High End Systems · Lighting Consoles · All Topics

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