New Instruments, Old Board. Personality Advice?

Delivery of our new Element 2 has been delayed, so we had to find a stopgap measure  for our show next weekend -- we were able to find a used ETC Express 48/96 (which we'll use later in our secondary space, once the Element arrives). BUT we have instruments that are way newer than the personalities in the Board or even (I think?) available in the online library. I don't have the capability (either the hardware or the acumen) to do the virtual set-up to create a personality. Is there a way to know which older model personalities can be used to get the newer moving light model working? Specifically, we have three Martin MAC Allure wash instruments. I've looked at both the verified and unverified Martin files -- is it a matter of matching to the right number of addresses?

In addition, we have several Chauvet SlimPar T6 and several Chauvet SlimPar Q12 USB instruments. I know it's possible to do those without loading a fixture, but if there are personalities available for those, it would be great.

Appreciate any/all advice! Many thanks.

  • First thing first - you may be better off not trying to use the Mac Allure fixtures with the Express 48/96.  I only say that because they take up a LOT of channels, 32 per fixture, and the 48/96 is probably limited to 192 channels total (depending on software version -  it might be fewer).  3 Allures would use up half your channels.  

    Second, to use personalities that aren't the stock 10 or 12, you'll need a floppy disk drive that can plug into a PC.  If you don't have one, there's unfortunately not another way to get personalities onto the desk. 

    It's probably worth noting that Express has no concept of "Color Palettes" or "Color Mixing" - you'll need to manually mix colors.  Express has Focus Points, which can be any mix of Intensity, Position, Color and all other attributes (I would liken them to Presets on Element).  Focus Points are your shortcuts for programming and controlling multi-channel fixtures.

    From experience, I would suggest the following:

    If you decide to use the Mac Allures:

    • Patch them so that they make sense on your screen and "line up".  So maybe the first one is 1 - 32, the second one could be 49 - 80.  That way when you look at the screen, your eyes can follow which channel does which attribute.
    • The Mac Allures have several 16b parameters where parameters like Pan, Tilt, and Intensity use two addresses, one for Course movement and the other for fine.  For each Attribute like that, you should use Setup > Channel Attributes to mark them 16b: Channel Attributes display in Express consoles - Electronic Theatre Controls Inc
    • In that same display, you may want to make all of the non-Intensity parameter channels into LTP (Latest Takes Precedence).  
    • You can use the trackpad to control Pan and Tilt on the Mac Allures.  In Setup > Channel Attributes > Link List, select the Course Pan channel and link it to the Course Tilt channel for each Fixture: Link List Overview in Express - Electronic Theatre Controls Inc

    Other recommendations:

    - Use Groups to select an entire fixture's attributes.  So for instance, Group 1 might be Allure 1, Channel 1-32. Group 2 Allure 2, Channel 49 - 80.  Group 3, SlimPar 1 channel 97-99, and so on.  

    - Also use Groups to select particular attributes across all the fixtures of the same type. 

    • Group 11 - the Allures' intensity channels (might be channels 2-3 and 50-51). 
    • Group 12 == all the Allures' Color parameters (might be channels 4-5, 27-32 and 52-53, 75-80)
    • Group 13 == All the Allures' Pan and Tilt channels (16-19, 64-67). 
    • Groups 31-33, all the SlimPars' Red-Green-Blue parameters.

    You are limited to 500 Groups, so you should be able to create many combinations to give you the level of control you want.

    - Use Focus Points to store looks (locations, Gobos, Colors, etc) so that you can easily recall them.  Focus points in Stage on Express consoles - Electronic Theatre Controls Inc.  You might start by aiming the Allures downstage center; make them a pretty color, no Gobo, then store that as Focus Point 1.

    - Focus Points are excellent because you can use just a part of them at a time.  Let's say you've made Focus Point 3 be "Allures pointed upstage right, foliage gobo, Green".  If there's a part of your show that just needs that green, you can use this syntax to recall just that color to those fixtures:

    • Group 12 Focus Point 3 Enter

    Later, you could point the fixtures to that upstage right position without changing their color

    • Group 13 Focus Point 3 Enter

    I suggest always recording Focus Points with Intensity at full, so if you select a fixture and put it in a Focus Point, the light always "comes on".  

    You are limited to 100 Focus Points in a showfile, so you might be able to create some color-only Focus Points and position-only Focus Points, or you might need to mix-and-match them.

    Just like Presets on Element, if you use Focus Points throughout your show, it makes it easy to make a change and have that change happen to every cue and submaster that references that Focus Point.  So let's say you've mixed a lavender color that you like, and stored it as part of Focus Point 3.  Later, the director asks for it to be less "purple".  Instead of having to find every cue and sub that uses that color, and manually change it, you change it once in the Focus Point (either in Stage mode or Blind mode), and it's fixed everywhere.

    I strongly recommend you keep a spreadsheet handy that shows the Channels, Groups, and Focus Points you've made so that you can quickly refer to that.  If possible 

    Express does not have a concept of Marking, so if you don't like seeing your lights move and change color as they fade up, you'll want to make your own Marking cues.  Usually this is done by adding a point cue that does the moving.  For example, let's say that in Cue 1, your light is pointed downstage right.  You want to turn it off and point it upstage left, then turn it back on.  To do this:

    • Cue 1: light is in position and on
    • Cue 2: light goes out
    • Cue 2.1: light moves to USL
    • Cue 3: light turns on in new position.

    From Cue 1: Record Cue 2, with the light off.  Turn the light on and point it; record Cue 3.  Turn the light back off, record Cue 2.1.  Link Cue 2.1 to Cue 2 with an auto-follow time slightly longer than Cue 2's Down Time (so there's time for the light to turn off before it moves).  This will "automagically" put the light in the right place without having to press [Go] an extra time.

    One other tip: there are two Go buttons on the Express, one for the A/B Faders and another for the C/D faders.  Unless you'll be using the 2nd set of faders, it's common practice to tape a bottle-cap over that C/D Go button so it doesn't get pressed accidentally, which can result in a strange mix of lights being on On Stage.

  • Thank you! I really appreciate your taking the time to provide such a comprehensive answer, especially after suggesting not doing it in the first place! I'll study and consider. I suspect I'll take your first recommendation since I basically have tomorrow to Q the whole show. Finding a way to cover with conventional instruments should be possible, and certainly sounds like it'll work better, or at least more easily. Again, many thanks.