DMX lighting is a very flexible thing and a lot of fun to program but it is time consuming and unless you have a head for technical jargon and a bit of a knack for visualising how things will work then it can be a frustrating thing to learn. Luckily this is what I love doing.
Pictured above is the DMX240 lighting controller. This controller is the same as at least a dozen other entry level controllers all using the exact same firmware. Its capable of controlling 12 individual fixtures (lights) with 240 individual scenes over 30 banks, 6 chase sequences, internal sequencing and music modulated sequencing. Basically it can control all aspects of each individual light and effect I have and mix this in time with the music, but it needs to be programmed to do so which is why you will notice the laptop and the colourful piece of paper.
The way the system works is you have 30 "Banks" with each bank containing 8 "Scenes". You select a Bank then trigger one of the 8 scenes with 8 buttons on the top of the controller. Each scene saves the configuration of all lights at that time and recalls them when selected. Typically you would create 8 scenes that all match so jumping from 1 to another will change the positions or colours of the lights. Switch to another Bank will then have a completely different setup creating a different mood. You can then set music to trigger between scenes in a bank and simply manually switch banks on the fly to change the tone... simple?
Next you have 6 "Chases". A chase is simply a way to play the scenes in a certain order which allows you to create a long sequence of scenes over different banks. I will typically record a chase as I listen to music to help visualise how it will go.
Then from a control perspective you simply mix different chases, banks and scenes with music.
Initially I programmed the lighting just off the top of my head but that was difficult once I started to include more and more fixtures so I designed a full scene planner which allowed me to program the scenes on paper first then sit and enter this into the controller. This proved to be a lot easier to manage and also gives me a paper copy for refference.
As new fixtures are added they can be mixed in with the current scenes.
Currently the lighting rig consists of the following:
2 x 80w Halogen PAR Boxes with dedicated chaser (hand built and used for years. Great wash effect)
2 x AVE Cobra 100 Scanner Heads
1 x Beamz TripleFlex LED 3 way scanner head
1 x CR Lite Razor LED Derby
1 x Solar RGB 700mW Laser
1 x Chauvet Shocker 90 Strobe
1 x 1500w Smoke Machine
1 x High Output Bubble Machine
The PAR light boxes are my oldest lights which I built over 12 years ago including hand building the chaser unit. These are not DMX controlled but are music controlled and I have a DMX switch that can cut these in and out. I just recently rebuilt the light boxes since they were showing their age.
All other lighting and stands have been purchased and installed the last 12 months and designed to fit nicely on a 1.5m truss. There are still a few extra fixture ideas I have in mind which will be added once this rug has been fully programmed and tested.
Next I will be updating on the newly designed audio system which kicks up from 2400w of power to 7200w