Lighting Encoder Wing
Lighting Encoder Wing
A configurable keyboard that works over ethernet to control any OSC based lightboard including ETC EOS/Nomad, Chamsys and LSC Clarity
A configurable keyboard that works over ethernet to control any OSC based lightboard including ETC EOS/Nomad, Chamsys and LSC Clarity Read more
A good piece of theatre/film/dance/etc. is something truly magical in the way it can captivate an audience, tell them a story (or not) and leave them wanting for more.
The Lighting Encoder Wing was created to fill a hole in the current market for entertainment lighting control and to help facilitate making magical experiences by giving a designer more tools. Simply put it gives rotary encoders to many of the non-console lighting control softwares out there.
Throughout the kickstarter I will be running surveys on some features I am looking to incorporate, updating you all with the backstory of the device and some (hopefully) fun stories of the pitfalls I encountered in production.
The first survey is about case material
Why is something like this necessary?
While a performance around a bonfire with no technology can be just as riveting as the largest broadway show, technology continues its onward progression and designers, producers and audiences often want more. Even the smallest venues for theatre are starting to purchase LED lighting fixtures that change colors and sometimes even moving lights, meaning the lighting designer can do more than they ever could before.
The problem is that with all of these new lighting fixtures what was once a show with 50 lights is now a show with 100 lights, each of which has the ability to control color, and some of which can easily have 60 different parameters built into the light. Coupled with theaters who have little to no budget means trying to control these lights on a board that is 15-20 years old. The amount of time a designer is given to make a show has also not increased, but rather frequently decreased, as theatres cannot afford to pay everyone required for long technical rehearsals and want to get to performances as quickly as possible.
So you walk in as a designer expected to program a show in half the time with three times the amount of things to control as before on a light board that was never designed to talk to the magical lights in front of you.
It is far easier to convince a small theatre to purchase $1500 or less of computer based lighting control software than a $5000+ console. The device also gives a lighting designer who works from home the ability to use encoders without investing in a console. Most lighting consoles that offer OSC also allow the user to program on their home computer with a visualizer software, making tech run much smoother
What it is:
- 4 rotary encoder wheels that can be programmed to control the ability to control any OSC based system to some degree, including sound software.
- Each encoder wheel is customizable and 6 different layouts for the encoders are a button press away
- 5 macro buttons that can send any OSC command when pressed
- A backlit LCD screen displaying what the encoders are controlling, and if the console allows, what its current value is 3 levels of coarse/fine settings with an LED color indicator.
- Easy setup through editing a text file or (in development) your web browser
- No software needs to be installed on your computer for this device to work. I like having as little installed on my computer as possible so it runs quickly and cleanly
- Works on Windows, Mac, Linux and proprietary console operating systems
- The Full Keyboard Version will also have an RGB backlit, fully customizable 72 Cherry MX brown key keyboard with relegendable key caps.
What you need to make it work:
- A lighting control software/console that uses OSC communication such as ETC EOS, LSC Clarity, or ChamSys. It works with both computer based and full console software if they support the correct OSC, if in doubt ask and I will look into it.
- A network switch/wifi router and ethernet cables. I always have a wifi router on my tech table hooked up to my phone so I can turn on lights without touching the console.
- Power. Either a USB connection or a power adapter are supported. Power over Ethernet can be added with a simple POE power splitter that can be found on various shopping websites. If there is enough interest I will consider adding full POE functionality
Will it work with X control software:
- ETC EOS: Full functionality of any encoder, macro keys, almost all console functions
- LSC Clarity: Pan and Tilt encoders, playback, a majority of console functions. Their OSC commands are not as well documented as EOS, however, their touchOSC app contains far more than their documentation suggests.
- Chamsys: active encoders on page, playback, midi messages, RPC commands (which cover most other functions) https://secure.chamsys.co.uk/help/documentation/magicq/ch39.html
- GrandMa software: Not out of the box. You need a bridge program installed on your computer such as the excellent TouchOSC bridge. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EF81VYM8XSw
- Anything that works with TouchOSC: Everything that TouchOSC can do, and potentially more. Bear in mind that the device does not currently have faders.
What it is not:
- It does not send any control data to the lights themselves
- It does not currently support High-End’s HOG4PC software due to their software restrictions
- It does not bring you coffee, remind you to eat food or provide any of the other duties of an Assistant to the Designer
- It is not designed to replace a full console in larger venues
What is left:
- A new case design that is easier to manufacturer. The overall look will not change, just how it is made. I am also considering moving towards a bamboo case over plastic for environmental reasons
- Beta 3 testing! Part of this kickstarter is opening up a new beta test of the hardware and software to those of you who would like to contribute.
- Feature requests. Throughout the kickstarter I will have several user surveys available to anyone who wishes to contribute asking for your feedback on some options I am looking to incorporate
- Setup software: right now you have to edit a text file to change any of the user customizable features. I am looking to migrate editing IP and port information over to the device itself, and the key layouts to a web page you can edit by typing in the IP of your device.
- Design Packaging. Right now it would ship in a boring oversized box with bubble wrap filling. It should feel more customized than that
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge with this project has been finding a manufacturer that I am happy working with. I have talked to a myriad of manufacturers both overseas and based in the United States. Some offer everything need to make the project happen, but you sacrifice some of what makes the project live. The decision to source the exact parts that I wanted pushed the release date for the project back several months, however, I am much happier with the quality and hope you will be too.
In this project I have fallen flat on my face more times than I would comfortably admit, however, I wanted to make sure I created something that I could reasonably market before kickstarting. While I might have gotten off the ground with my original cardboard mockups held together with not much more than hot glue and wishes, I now have something tangible, finished, that can be held (and dropped…). An ideal production line has been set up with several fail-safes to ensure that this product makes it to market.
The Encoder Wing has been, and will continue to be, rigorously tested and updated because it is something I would like to use, and wish was on the market when I first started lighting design.
- (20 days)