August 17, 2009

Fun with the ETC Ion

I call this: mac,summer stock,theatre — Posted by KP @ 11:12 am

Reagle’s regular light board is the ETC Microvision FX, an example of which is shown here.
It’s ancient. It usually works OK, when it doesn’t double-go, but for anything complicated, like color scrollers or moving lights, a newer console needs to be rented. La Cage is just that kind of show.

This time around we got the ETC Ion, shown here (except we don’t have the one with the row of faders on top):

It’s very cool. It saves the show onto a thumb drive instead of floppy disk, and so forth. I haven’t had much time to learn how to use it (I can barely bring a cue up), but while we were in tech our lighting designer invited me to play with the scrollers. It was definitely the highlight of tech. There are a couple different ways the board can help you choose color. There is sort of a color swatch screen that shows you the gel numbers and you click on the one you want. The dials at the top can also be spun to change color, saturation, etc. But the one I got to play with was the color wheel.

Since I’ve been doing a lot of web design and graphics lately, I have been kind of obsessed with color. So when I saw that the board had a color wheel, the same as you’d find in Photoshop or wherever, and you can click anywhere on it and it will put that color onstage, I thought that was incredibly cool. Of course the specificity of the color it can produce is limited by the variety of gels you have in your scroller, but even in my random clicking I was able to get it to look pretty much like I wanted.

I made a short video to demonstrate this feature. Unfortunately the color wheel got pretty much washed out on the video, so I didn’t spend any time looking at the intricate differences in color since you can’t see exactly what the mouse is pointing at, but you get the idea.

Also, as a side note, I shot this video with the iPhone 3GS, and edited it with iMovie ’09, which is the first time I’ve successfully created a movie with the new iMovie format without having to stop before I smashed my computer. Even with something so simple I was frustrated by stuff that I apparently couldn’t do, but it at least gives me hope that I don’t have to hang on to iMovie ’06 forever just to get anything done. Just the ability to upload to Youtube without worrying about formats was worth it.

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