Lighting Consoles – Groups should be Palettes
No matter what you call them palettes, presets etc most intelligent lighting consoles work the same way. You save your commonly used colours, gobos, positions
and other attributes as palettes. You also save certain combinations of fixtures as groups.
This makes programming cues or looks much simpler and faster.
Now when it comes to programming groups and palettes serve pretty much the same function.
It is during playback they part ways.
As most are aware cues reference the palette during playback rather than hard values. This means palettes can be updated. For example a palette may have some LEDs in red saved as “RED”. If this palette was updated with the fixtures in blue every cue that referenced the “RED” palette would make the LEDs blue.
This shouldn’t be news to anyone, it is a driving force behind palette usage.
My issue is that the groups don’t carry this same function. Once a cue is recorded it references the fixtures directly and not the group.
So if you were to alter the group the cues would not be affected.
I have requested this to several console manufacturers and other lighting ops and generally the response is ‘why?’
Groups record two primary things a selection of fixtures and the order in which they were selected.
The reason I would like them to work like palettes is so you have the option to alter this information later.
I’ll run through a few scenarios.
Firstly let’s say in a standard theatre setting you have your groups set for FOH wash, general wash, cyc colours etc.
And you’ve programmed countless cues.
Now let’s say you’ve decided down the track to add another fixture to the general wash, to fix a few gaps. What’s next- tedious re plotting? No a simple group update could fix this.
Another benefit would be touring shows where the rig alters, simply update your groups and your pretty close.
People normally chime in here and say ‘you just do a fixture replace’
And yes this is an option but one that generally falls short. What if your next rig doesn’t have all the fixtures?
i.e that centre spot special is actually part of the Foh wash. No worries update your groups and it can be used for both with out altering your programming!
Again on the touring use, let’s say you usually have a 4 bank cyc wash RGB and maybe a magenta But this new venue only has 3. Record your magenta group
as Red and Blue!
Admittedly this opens up more discussion as to the saving of intensities.
And yes I think it would be great if groups also saved intensities as a relative values (I.e red 100% blue 80% so then group magenta at 50% would be Red 50% blue 40%. Or maybe generic dimmers should be able to be saved in colour palettes…)
This also means you could swap intelligent fixtures for static and vise versa. For example say your gobo wash was a group of movers with gobo and position palettes but you need to swap them out for statics, simply updated the group and obviously the position and gobo palettes won’t affect the statics.
Now for intelligent fixtures and the selection order.
The selection order in commonly used for effects, timing and fanning.
However this is also hard saved to a cue.
Let’s say you had a nice LED chase effect and you have to add or remove a fixture, this means reprogramming!
However if groups worked like palettes you could simply add it to the group adjust the selection order and your done!