UncategorizedComplete Guide to Stage Lighting Show

All these amazing experiences were created involving the greatest Light Designers of the world. If that catches your mind, This video will help you to simplify the basics of Light Design. Mostly applicable for Concerts, Clubs, Events, theaters You will learn to fire at people, without getting anyone hurt 😉

What will we learn in here-

  • Basics of DMX Lighting,
  • What are lights in general,
  • How lights are connected and communicated
  • How lights are controlled,

To make you the commander of the war!

Types of Lighting Fixtures

Generally there are light fixtures like-

  • Par CANs, which emits a dimmable light, that you can control.
  • LED Par CANs, which can do different colors and effects.
  • Moving heads, that can do many things, beside moving its head and point light, at your desired spot
  • There are Strobes and blinders, to get people blind, like the name says.
  • And MANY, MANY, MANY, MORE!
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Types of FX Fixtures

We can and will also control many other special effect fixtures on stage, one of the essential is Haze Machine, that releases haze, whenever you need. Remember haze is your childhood buddy you need to make beams visible using haze.

How are Light Fixtures Set?

Lights are set in various ways. depending on stage and budget. One good start is T-Bars And maybe install a trussing as well.

What is a Channel ?

So far we are talking about controlling lights. Channel makes a fixture listen to your commands, that you are sending from a controller. Each channel has a range of 0-255, since it’s calculated using a binary system. We will need this info later, when making shows. For now just keep this in mind!

Explaining Channel

This basic Par came with one Channel. If you send 0 to this channel this will do nothing. But if you send full range, meaning 255 from your controller, This fixture will light up to its fullest!

If it’s a little more advanced, like this RGB LED PAR. This will have multiple channels, to conduct multiple tasks. Let’s stay, we put this fixture to 7 channel mode.

Now this fixture’s first channel,

will be Dimmer of the whole light.

Second channel is the Red.

Third one is the Green.

Fourth One is an effect.

So, we can create our custom color, by mixing RGB values from the controller. Or maybe dim them down, like ideally most of the time we should be …. (dramatic chime hit!)

Par-Channel-Explained
Par Channel Explained

Moving heads come with more channels. Because moving heads have Pan-tilt data to control movement. If it’s a better fixture, this will have more features, like prism, gobo, fine pan, fine tilt, etc. you can use, through different channels.

Moving-Heads-with-a-lot-of-channels
Moving Heads with a lot of channels

What are Lighting Controllers?

Now let’s talk about controllers, used to control all the fixtures we talked about so far. 

An important basics!

A controller is ONLY triggering variable values, and controls functions built inside a fixture. Means it sends simple data, Sometimes sending, little more critical data, than A Scientific Calculator!

In gross, there are two basic types of controllers.

Standard Light Controller
Standard Light Controller

One is a hardware based controller, where you do everything with a hardware controller. You connect fixtures straight to it.

Another one is a software based controller. which uses a Laptop/PC or MAC to run great software. And output the signal to lights, using various connection protocols.

Light Control Software
Light Control Software

And is a third type, blending both, taking to pro level, Are modern consoles which usually has a computer built inside to run the software, on a small window or raspberry machine.

Modern Fixture with computer
Modern Fixture with computer

Or another approach is running software-based operations, on a Laptop and controlling it with external controls. This is comparatively affordable and flexible. Many great modern light designers, Fly with a laptop and a few dongles.

Light Control Software
Light Control Software

What are Lighting Controllers?

So we understood so far that we have few lighting fixtures who can do various things using various channels. And we have a controller. So how do we communicate between them, And communicate to a specific fixture?

This is where the addressing system comes in. The addressing system allows you to, let’s say “Name” fixtures. So if the fixture is called 223, i mean the address is set to 223, From your controller, you can say “hey 223, your second and third channel is this, and dimmer channel this this” This light will listen to you, and do as u say. Not only this light, Any light connected to your system, Assigned to this same address will listen to u. So you can address fixtures differently, to control them individually or in group. Let’s say we put All these LED Parses to the same address, and control Moving heads, addressing them individually.

Addressing System
Addressing System

Hardware or Software, Each controller comes with a limited number of channels, So you will often have to address your fixtures, calculating the needs.

512 of these unique addresses for channels make one universe.

What is DMX Protocol?

This initial communication protocol, used for addressing lights is called DMX protocol. Which stands for Digital Multiplex.

What is Art-NET?

In modern days fixture addressing has become digital. Yet you might find classic fixtures, with this thing called dip switch. Using a certain combination of these switches, you can assign the address number of this fixture. You will find a link to convert the digital address, to a dip switch, if you run into your grandpa’s fixture!

Dip switch
Dip switch

What are DMX Cables and/or Connectors?

Ok so now we dive into learning, the basics of connecting the fixtures with your controller. Usually, fixture connection cables and connectors are called DMX, and there are two kinds of connectors currently being used. One is a 3 PIN, another other is 5 pins. For now, 3-pin lights do exactly the same thing, till today why in the world do we still have two types of fixtures, and can’t get into one standard format? I will tell u that funny story of ego some other day.

DMX cables and connectors are often confused with audio cables. Though they work, there is a difference you will run into sooner or later.

Ok so now we dive into learning, the basics of connecting the fixtures with your controller. Usually, fixture connection cables and connectors are called DMX, and there are two kinds of connectors currently being used. One is a 3 PIN, the other is 5 pins. For now, 3-pin lights do exactly the same thing, till today why in the world do we still have two types of fixtures, and can’t get into one standard format? I will tell u that funny story of ego some other day. DMX cables and connectors are often confused with audio cables. Though they work, there is a difference you will run into sooner or later.

DMX Daisy Chain
DMX Daisy Chain

How to connect DMX fixtures with controllers?

So you get DMX signals out of your controller and connect to a light. Each fixture comes with input DMX and outputs DMX. So you can output the DMX signal from this fixture and send it to, the input of the second fixture. This process is called the Daisy chain. So you can daisy chain a handful of fixtures. Until it’s too many, might interrupt your whole show, if one chain gets broken!

What is DMX Terminator?

Once we are done setting up daisy chaining fixtures we need to terminate the signal traveling, From controller through lights to lights, Using a terminator, Not THE Terminator, a device called terminator! So that the fixtures won’t act weird if the signal tries to travel back. Many of the modern fixtures have a terminator built in. 

DMX Splitter
DMX Splitter

What are DMX Splitters?

When you use more fixtures that is why we use a device called a splitter, which is like a multiplug, but for lighting fixtures! Light Splitter splits the incoming signals to multiple outputs, For different destinations, and also adds additional power to make DMX signals stronger

What are multiple universes?

When you are installing More lights you can run out of available addresses in your DMX universe. This is where you add more lights in the second, third or fourth universe.

What is Art-NET?

DMX is a relatively old protocol, It’s harder and more expensive to get all these cables for larger installations. And the data transfer isn’t that high. Remember you are just triggering the functions built inside fixtures, So it’s just trigger data, unlike maybe audio patching being heavy That’s why in modern days, massive DMX connections have transitioned to Art-NET Which is a network-based protocol, which can transfer an unbelievable amount of lighting data Over a basic ethernet network, which is easy and cheaper And with Art-NET, lighting controllers also can communicate with visual displays and mechanical elements.

What is pre-visualization software?

If you want to design a light show in detail before the lights are set, it’s usually expensive to get all those fixtures beforehand and the venue is out of context!

To see it before, known as pre-visualize lighting and pre-program, there are few lighting simulation software available.

  • Capture,
  • WYSIWYG,
  • Realizzer – Now depence2
  • There are many unreal engine-based new age simulators available in stores for decent prices, as well”

Wrapping up!

Imagine yourself! Not just banging your head, sitting alone in your room, with your most favorite band, or dj playing on your headphones!

But You can convert this energy and design lights for them! because no one knows their song, more than you, their FANs do!

So express your creativity by learning lights! then call them, they are looking for a light designer like you!

If they don’t hire you, trust me better artists who understand the priority of lighting for their performance, will call you tomorrow!

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