Author Topic: Your Cue Light System  (Read 6830 times)

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RuthNY

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Your Cue Light System
« on: Apr 22, 2011, 05:06 pm »
We've had a thread where we've "peeked" into each others booths or at calling desks. Now, let's peek at the cue light controllers we each have, as I'll bet there are quite a variety out there.  What do you like/dislike about your systems?  What would you change? What would you recommend to others?

Post a photo, if you can. 

I'll start:

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1119315/Cue%20Light%20Panel.jpg

Here at the Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach FL, they use a system I've never seen before. As described by the ME, "It's an AMX (Brand name) cue light system. Basically, any circuit, dimmable or non-dimmable, can be used to trigger a cue light. It is a single touchscreen that has all the buttons labeled per location. These can be reprogrammed however you'd like."

So, basically it's a computer touch screen that relays a signal to the light. The touch screen has other functions as well, as you can see by the labels across the top of the screen.  Touching any one of these takes you out of cue light mode, but you can switch back and forth easily. During Tech., I had control of house and work lights, moving from Show to Work Mode,as we started rehearsal or we went on breaks. Now that we are running, the Light Board Operator takes care of changing into Show Mode for preset, and then I sit down and switch to the Cue light Mode.

After working with it for a few weeks, I am now used to it, but there was indeed, a learning curve. The system has limitations, and you find them out immediately. 
•You cannot change the names of the buttons. You cannot change the order of the buttons. (If this device had a skin you could put over the screen, giving you the ability to change the labels on the buttons, it would be a small improvement.)
•Now, you CAN program any cue light into any button. For example the one called "Conductor" could very well be a cue light for an Automation position, or even on the Rail. But you have to remember what it really refers to, you can't label it accurately on the panel.
•The buttons labeled "Group #x" and the one labeled "Master" can have any number of the other buttons programmed into them, so that just hitting "Group #2" can trigger lights at Sound, DSR, USL, and the Rail, etc. But programming takes a while and really can't be done on the fly. So as much as you plan ahead, as things change during Tech. you can't change the cue light groups easily enough. And you only have 5 of these groups to play with, so unless your show is small, triggering every transition using a Group or Master, isn't going to happen
•You turn the lights on by touching the button, and turn them off by touching again. But, if you don't have a group programmed, and you need more than one light to go off at a time, you have to turn them off one by one. There is not way to hit more than one at the same time. So, you hit them in a very quick sequence, hoping there will be the illusion of cues happening simultaneously.
•And, unlike hitting a switch, there is no tactile information coming into your body, to know that you have been successful in your cue.  I find I have to look at the panel to know that I've touched in just the right place, have turned off the light, haven't turned on or off the wrong light (which I have done...), and to locate the next button I have to push.  It takes my attention away from the stage.

It's a sophisticated system that the theatre is very proud of, but actually I'd rather use the simplest of switch boxes instead. At least I can use each of my 10 fingers, and trigger many lights at once, and be able to make changes on the fly.  I've worked with a variety of systems over the years, and this one is the most modern, and the most baffling to me.

Over the next few months, I'll try to post more cue light system photos, as I work in other venues, but I'd love to see yours!!

"Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you."
--Alan Alda

Mac Calder

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Re: Your Cue Light System
« Reply #1 on: Apr 22, 2011, 05:32 pm »
The one I have used most in Australia is by Leon Audio - We have an 8ch sitting in our general rental stock for corporate work, and a few theatres 'round the area also have them installed.



They are wired just like comms (in that you can Y-split the signal and daisy chain them too) and have 2 groups which you can assign on the fly. It can also be wired into show control easily.

iamchristuffin

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Re: Your Cue Light System
« Reply #2 on: Apr 22, 2011, 06:22 pm »
Our at Uni is a standard 18-channel cue light system incorporated into our prompt desk......Any one of these 18 lights can be routed to pretty much any part of the theatre or auditorium via Audio Visual Boxes (AVB's), which contain, among other things, a cue light socket. For example, there are two of these boxes in the pit, two in the LX box, one either side of stage, four on the FOH bridges.........the list goes on.

I think it was chosen simply for being so versatile, and the industry 'standard' over here........and I don't know of any issues or limitations encountered so far.

The Good -
  • A Standby button flashes red until it is acknowledged at the other end
  • Physical buttons - rather than a screen
  • Lights can be grouped on the fly by selecting the yellow buttons under each cue light
  • An integral part of the desk
The Bad
  • Ummmm.....

http://www.flickr.com/photos/christuffin/5645419379/

Link deleted; log in required.  -kmc307 - Apologies!!

Chris
« Last Edit: Apr 23, 2011, 06:24 am by iamchristuffin »

lsears

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Re: Your Cue Light System
« Reply #3 on: Apr 22, 2011, 11:38 pm »
The system I use at the Boston University Theater, which houses the Huntington, is the one MacCalder posted a picture of.  It took me a while to get used to it, but I like it now.

The good:
Whoever you are cueing can acknowledge the cue light, which changes the display at the panel from a flashing orange light to a solid one.
You can do two groups, but change them for each sequence as you need to.  Mostly I use this when I need lights scattered from 1-14 and don't want to risk my fingers hitting a wrong button as I try to hit everything at once.
Instead of being "light goes on=standby and light goes off=go" the dot of light under "standby" is orange and the light under "go" is green.  It goes solid green, then flashes green before going out.  To me it says "This is your cue to go.  Why are you still here, I said GO!"  It makes it hard to miss.

The bad:
The buttons are tiny.
The buttons are very close together.
This means it is difficult to cue multiple things while looking at something else (a monitor, the stage or your book) without risking your hands accidentally hitting something else.  Using the groups to preset things helps a bit with this.

I'm in the Huntington's other theater right now and they have nice old toggle switches with the handy button at the end for when i want to turn all 6 off together.  It works for the small show I'm on now, and feels better to the fingers.

Good topic!

KMC

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Re: Your Cue Light System
« Reply #4 on: Apr 23, 2011, 12:49 am »
RuthNY, you are using one of the most expensive cue light systems ever!  Total overkill.  AMX is a company that manufactures (among other things) commercial device control hardware.  It's used widely in a/v systems, entertainment systems, building management, etc...  The hardware is capable of SO much more than a simple on/off value to an electrical circuit.  The touch screen that you're using to control the lights with runs about $1k alone.  The hardware it connects to costs more, and AMX programming labor is not cheap (I sell our programming labor between $1,200 and $2,200/day depending on the job and programmer).

I'm a total tech nerd, but some things are better left simplified. 
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

Mac Calder

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Re: Your Cue Light System
« Reply #5 on: Apr 23, 2011, 10:26 am »
Amen... I am a Crestron programmer, and know exactly how expensive that sort of gear is... There are far more effective systems for cue-lights. If the aim was to use AMX to control a DALI lighting system, then yeah it could be a really cool way to control a cue light system... except I think it would be better to have a real (switch or button) system tied to GPIs - that way you could patch using AMX, but during show, everything is nice and hard-wired. There are better ways of doing it though!

BARussell

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Re: Your Cue Light System
« Reply #6 on: Aug 14, 2011, 02:59 am »
An amazing new system on the market, developed by college students and seems like it packs quite a punch for such a simple system. It also seems very versatile. I would really love to try it out, check out the website, apparently it has been to a few conferences recently.

http://nudeltadigital.com/
"We don't negotiate with weirdos!"

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