Multicell Help

Looking at the vidoes and this board I realize I am way out of my depth and our setup here is really totally simplistic. To me a 3 channel RGB lamp with a DMX base address of say 10 would take up 10, 11 and 12. Without any fancy attribute/profile or whatever other gizmos I can raise/lower each of those faders to control the lamp. But I can see that modern fixtures can be very much more complicated and not only take up many single channels, sometimes pairing channels for extra definition and using some channels "portioned" or sub channeled for extra control. 

What threw me watching a video (which went way to fast for my poor old brain) was a lamp like the 3 color might be given an address (again) 10 But somehow the other two would appear like 2/241-242 !! Does this mean the lamp has two DMX inputs; U1 and U2?

This would be way too much for an explanation here so what I am looking for is a sort multicell 101 primer! As mentioned the videos run over stuff very quickly with buttons and screen changes going by in a blur. Is there a book or article out there that describes this sort of dual universe business for multichannel devices? "Dummies Guide to Multicell Patching" 

A lot to ask. My Bad!

  • this is a bit longer, but don't worry, it's not gonna hurt ;)

    it's simpler than what you may think:

    there are dimmers, fixtures, multipart channels (sometimes called compound) and multicell fixtures. but the cool thing is, in the shiny new world of modern lighting controls they just take up one channel number. you don't need to remember that the first number is red, and the second green (which is especially helpful, when you come across a product that doesn't do RGB but rather GRB...)

    in patch you have channels and addresses. channels are the numbers that you use to tell the board which light should go red or zoom or brighter. each object you want to control gets one channel number, no matter how complicated that thing is.
    address is the number (or numbers) the console uses to talk to the world. as soon as you patched that light once (and put the address into the receiving device as well) you can forget it. the console takes care of the rest.

    - i think with dimmers you feel comfortable, right? they have a dmx address that is assigned to a channel. those numbers can match, but they certainly don't have to.
    - fixtures are lights that use more than one dmx address, they can do more than only be brighter or less bright. they can take from 2 to 200 addresses or more. but they are still one channel for you. so when you want to zoom something, or you want to dim something or change its color you don't need to know which address controls those features. the console counts and does math better than all of us together, so let it do the counting. you use real life words. you say you want to change Channel 1's zoom. you don't need to know that this is the 7th address within a fixture that has its start address set to 238.
    - multipart fixtures (compound): think source 4 tungsten light (on a dimmer) that also has a gobo rotator. those are actually two objects paired together. you don't need to know which of the two can do what when controlling the light. you just assembled a channel that can do more than before. if this source4 was channel 2 before, it can still be channel 2, it just has additional parameters. in patch you create two parts for this one channel. those two parts can live in different DMX universes, which is great because maybe your dimmers backstage are on a different line of DMX than whereever you plugged the gobo rotator.
    - and now for multicell. those are objects you buy (as opposed to compound fixtures that you combine yourself). they are one "box" that has multiple (usually equal) light emitting things inside. like an LED striplight, that has 10 round holes that can emit light and change colors. if you want to control them individually although they are within the same metal box, you're looking at multicell (provided that product supports that individual control. in the console multicell channels can be recognized by the . (decimal) in the channel number. Channel 3 could have 10 instances, those would be called 3.1 thru 3.10, while 3.0 is the master. you can either control them together by selecting channel 3 (which includes all the sub-sets as well) or change the first emitter to be red, the thrid to be green and the rest to be off.

    i think the advantage of this style of control that it lets you control your lights without counting numbers. you can also control different types of lights at the same time. you can say Chan 1 Thru 3 Red Full Enter. or select them and use the color picker. just because the lighting console is aware of which DMX address has what function.

  • In reply to ueliriegg:

    Wow! Are your fingers burning? OK I read and re-read this a couple of times. Can't say thank you enough. I have been living in a single (DMX) Universe (pun intended) using mainly single address incandescent lamps and a few simple LED (RG) lights that we just put on 3 or more channels (faders) and operate them accordingly.

    Separating the terminology was really helpful. You really found my weak spot when you said (casually in passing) ". . . In patch you create two parts for this one channel. those two parts can live in different DMX universes, . . " ! And that appears to be my wall.

    Any single fixture with more than one attribute requires either a single DMX address that is 'split' into sub parts (compound I guess) or more likely (going back to our simple RGB LED) more than one DMX address. As you say, some of these things (it is hard for me to imagine) can take 100's of addresses! So we would soon run through the 512 addresses in a single Universe. And there it pops up again.

    You mention addresses like; 10 10.1 10.2 etc. But these decimal numbers must still find their way to the 'real' DMX offset required by the device I would think.

    I'm going to make an assumption here for you or some else to say right or wrong. I think that what is happening is that we let the console know the personality of the fixture. Let's say it has 5 attributes and requires 5 DMX addresses starting at 100. The console comes back with 101, 101.1, 101.2, 101.3, 101.4 and 101.5 right? Now from what I can see in my limited experience the patch panel is re-directing those extra decimals to another universe. But I suspect that rather then run multiple DMX cables the answer lies in Art-Net or perhaps sACN. Very, very limited reading (5 minute) would seem to indicate that these DMX over Ethernet systems can "talk" to nodes which can unravel the extra universes to provide our simple LED the appropriate 5 channels that it wants. Hell - looking at this - even I am confused. But I think this is where I need to concentrate.

    My other thought (as a programmer) is that the single DMX address channel in the console (the base address of our device) is in fact a "pointer" I.E. it points to a group of addresses in another universe and then the sACN system sorts it out at the nodes.

    Hmm! I need a holiday.
  • In reply to Robert452:

    You'll get it Robert, don't worry.

    To correct a bit where you went off track: the decimal numbers you noted (10.1, 10.2 ....) are newly broken down CHANNEL level control for a multicell fixture. Addresses in DMX remain as whole numbers.

    In my venue, I have 2 universes. Universe 1 (U1) feeds only the dimmers (addresses 1 - 512). U2 is spread across the venue. addresses 513 - 1024 or 2/1 thru 2/512. (remember a device on the universe only sees it's own universe. It is unaware of the larger world around. An LED unit in U2 would be addressed as Address 1 - 3 (RGB), but the console is patched as 2/1-2/3 or 513-515.

    I have a bunch of incandescent lights in my dimmers. my channels control the dimmers and lights turn on.
    I have 2 Source 4 units powered by my dimmers (D 220 and 221). They both have IQ mirrors and DMX iris units. their addresses are 291-294, 295-298, and 301 and 302 and are patched in the console as 2/291-294, 2/295-298, 2/301 etc. This would be the compound unit described earlier.

    the console has Channel 19 as 1 of those S4. I punch up Channel 19 to full adn the light turns on. In Patch the IQ and Iris are Part 2 adn Part 3 of channel 19 (same way you have multiple dimmers patched to 1 channel. I then grab the focus wheel and move the mirror around, still talking to channel 19.

    chan 19 part 1 dimmer 1/220
    chan 19 part 2 IQ 2/291-294
    chan 19 part 3 DMX Iris 2/301

    to your example: yes the console knows about the personalities. You patch Channel 1 Type ETC Colour source 4, at address 2/101. the profile knows the unit needs 5 addresses, so 2/101 - 105 are now taken up. all still patched to your control channel.

    It appears you've chosen to put your individual RGB colours on faders (Channel 1 is unit 1 Red, 2 is Unit 1 Green, 3 is unit 1, Blue; Channel 4 is unit 2 R, 5 is unit 2 G, and 6 is unit2 Blue. Unusual in larger houses, but if it works for you, great. It just can take up a lot of fader handles, if the LEDs are all addressed individually and not ganged together under the same address.

    For the networking, yes, I think you're right. I don't deal with it so others will need to answer, but Yes, an ethernet output of the console can wrap around the venue, spitting out to Node2 or Node3 boxes which convert the Ethernet to DMX 5 pin cables. And the ethernet/nodes do allow for more than single universe. It is only limited by the number of universes the console can put out.

    some larger venues are running up to 10 universes (not all full, but broken out by position).
    The local football stadium LED lighting for the glass walls takes up 72 universes I believe.

    Your last line mixes up its terminology:
    "My other thought (as a programmer) is that the single DMX address channel in the console (the base address of our device) is in fact a "pointer" I.E. it points to a group of addresses in another universe and then the sACN system sorts it out at the nodes."

    should read: . . . the single channel in the console is the pointer; it points to a group of addresses, or groups of addresses in mulitple universes, and then the sACN sorts it out."

    Good luck.
    Have a pint.
    visit some theatre book store websites. most lighting design books will cover these basics.

    Andrew (who must stop procrastinating)
  • In reply to Robert452:

    I know we've been struggling with this one, so let's get some things out of the way.

    1) Nothing you have been discussing involves Multi-Cell fixtures. So no 101.1 101.2 101.3 etc. Forget about that.

    2) Show control networking is a next step up to expanded control capabilities, but you're nowhere near that point where you need to think about that either.  

    Let's stop talking in the abstract and talk literally.

    Here is a snapshot of a ETC Colorsource CYC unit patched in 7 address Direct mode.

    By selecting the Fixture Type, the console knows exactly what each address does and displays that real-world data for you.

    It is patched into Channel 1020. You can see all controlled DMX values. Intensity Red Lime Green Blue Indigo Strobe. All in one channel.

    In the bottom left, you can see a bunch of Virtual Keys pop up when you select the fixture.

    This (or the Moving Light Control Tab or Encoder Wheels) is how you can control every parameter.

    If I wanted the Red at 20 & the Green at 50, I would type: 1020 {Red} [At] 20 {Green} [At] 50 [Enter] (by default, 1020 [At] 90 controls intensity)

    but even better than that, by selecting the fixture and going into the ML Control Tab, I can choose from every Gel manufacturer's product line and make the light that colour. ( Tell me that's not awesome ) Lee 181? Easy. Lux 22? Simple. Could you do that with 3 RGB faders?

    . . . . .

    If you need specific help, tell us the specific fixture and what you want.

    Nothing is 1:1 any more, so those little details help a lot if figuring things out.

    . . . . I hope this helps more than it hinders. . .

  • In reply to Andrew Riter:

    OK, Coming into focus now. In the old days I would patch control channels 1 to 1. And, as noted before, CC1 > DMX001 for red, CC2 > 002 for Green and CC3 > 003 for blue etc. etc. That's my level!

    But moving on; newer software/consoles allow me, for convenience, to use CCs with decimals. e.g. CC1.1 > DMX 001 (MH1's Pan), CC 1.2 to DMX 002 (MH1's Tilt) and so on. Then a clever bit of software sorts out the fixture's 'profile' (attributes list) onto faders, wheels, colour maps and/or whatever else thereby allowing the operator to easily id and control each of the attributes separately. Excellent, Its making sense.

    My referencing Art-NET & sACN are red herrings here because they are just ways of reducing cabling for a large number of Universes.

    And - in two weeks I'll be having a pint in Brighton!
  • In reply to Wuz314159:

    OK on points 1) and 2) - that clears the filed. See my answer to Andrew. Ouch - "Nothing is 1 to 1 any more" Just sent an arrow through my heart. Thank you for the picture and explanation. I've cut'n pasted your text into a doc and hope to enlarge the picture so I can follow all this through. Thanks to you guys things are panning :) out.
  • In reply to Robert452:

    Click the image. It gets bigger.
  • In reply to Wuz314159:

    Really bigger! I've snaffled it into a document along with your notes now. Oh, Oh, Oh, I wish our Element 2 would get here (ETC were back ordered 76 units!)
  • In reply to Robert452:

    Stupid question: You do know you can run the software embedded in the consoles directly from your computer?

    It's called Nomad and you can download for free.

    (It's how I learned, by playing on my desktop before our console arrived.)

  • In reply to Wuz314159:

    Oh yeh. I totally learned the Expression III using ETC's simulator software. I'm using ETCnomad to carry out many of the suggestions on this board. I 1st met the Element 2 a week back and am under pressure to train the lighting techs for "Mary Poppins" . And, as the console hasn't arrived yet the software is all we have. My comment meant that I'll find it easier to use the console's keys rather than the virtual one.
  • In reply to Robert452:

    a single DMX address that is 'split' into sub parts (compound I guess)

    These are called "ranges"

  • In reply to John728:

    Righto John. I've certainly met ranges but wasn't quite sure what to call them. And then we have the opposite whereby we use two 256 data channels to give us a 64k value for finer movement. Some one said the had met a 400 channel fixture - scared the hell outa me. 400 channels, now that is greedy.

    Meant to ask. What was that -svg file you attached?
  • In reply to Robert452:

    If you are referring to my avatar:
    It's an icon I made of a hand dimmer with a circle and slash through it. If you don't know what that is, consider yourself lucky. Hand dimmers are made out of a cheap dimmer switch and male and female AC connectors.
  • In reply to John728:

    Ooooooh! I saw your post as an email and it showed this as an attachment!
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