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2 scene or not to scene

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BWTRIX Posted: 06-11-2008 11:24 AM

a lot of my high school customers really like their express 72/144 or 48/96 for the 2 scene capability for simple events

there are a lotta faders (with labels now!!) on those universal fader wings seems like someone might write a little code

to allow for simple 2 scene operations enabling yet another function (and sell 2, 3, or four  2x20 wings)

i'm getting new calls for express and want them to buy ION.........


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I happen to agree, but I'm still not clear where Ion will end up. 

Here's a link to a thread on the Smartfade section from last October:


David Lincecum added some thoughts as to what ETC's thinking was on the subject.  Not sure if the thinking has changed any.

At the bottom of the post, click on View Complete Thread.




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So this is not meant to be a criticism, or even an advocacy for one style or another, but I honestly don't understand why someone would ever want to use two scene mode for any sort of event...  To my way of thinking it's a little like insisting your new computer can use 5 1/4" floppies.  What exactly is driving your (our your clients) desire for two (or three or four) scene presets?



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“So this is not meant to be a criticism, or even an advocacy for one style or another, but I honestly don't understand why someone would ever want to use two scene mode for any sort of event... To my way of thinking it's a little like insisting your new computer can use 5 1/4" floppies. What exactly is driving your (our your clients) desire for two (or three or four) scene presets? “

Couple of thoughts on the subject, one being a marketing issue, the other operations.


The comments from David Lincecum on 12/14 gave us some insight into where some of the ETC folks heads are at in terms of replacing the Express 2 scene consoles, with Smartfade seemingly the answer. 

It's a good question whether the countless High Schools that currently own Express 2 scene's will find the current (ETC) choices a satisfactory solution when the time comes to replace the Express, given that there is currently and seemingly a large gap (to this user) in both features and function between the high end Smartfade and an Ion with fader wings.

Presumably ETC will not be manufacturing the Express forever, but it remains to be seen as to how ETC marketing will deal with this, especially since Strand is now well placed for that market with it's assorted Preset and Sub Palettes.


I use the 2 scene capability of my Express 48/Emphasis 2d system frequently enough to make me wait until some additional Ion versions are out in the field and I can wait till ETC decides as to how they deal with some functionality of the fader wings on the Ion.

Do I need 2 scene ?. Probably not.

Do I need a lot of manual handles ?. Yup. All the time.

I am currently running a month's worth of annoying dance school recitals (8 total). All but one are one-off's with no cue'ing and no rehearsals with lighting. The SM takes notes during the “spacing” rehearsals and I run it all live (sometimes 5 hrs. worth). I need a lot of manual channels – 50 to 60 or so. I need a lot of sub looks – 30-36 or so. I use a lot of group mastering (that 2 scene currently provides for), and find the Emphasis “Supermaster” function a life saver.

I could easily run all this off an Ion with 120 or so faders on assorted wings (we also use 5 Studio Spots for some events). With that many faders, some sort of grouping control is required – which is what Supermasters on Emphasis allows for. Allowing sub grouping of the many, many faders makes control easier, otherwise why give Ion the ability to use 240 submasters?. How and why would you run a console with that many manual faders ? (other then a TV studio).

FWIW, the annoying dance school recitals are not the only events I see needing this kind of manual control.  I run more then a few touring events each year, who have no plot, no defined hookup, just a lot of suggestions as to color and focus, specials, washes, etc,... but need very fast access to those looks. Having to cue a show with 40- 60 channels using a keypad is painfully slow, as compared to simply labeling a 2 scene and building from manual channels. Granted that you cannot do a whole lot with ML's or scrollers using manual control, but I need a console that has the basic controls available as well.  And BTW, if you allow Supermasters, then you can cheat an Ion into thinking it's a 2 scene.  Cheap solution - fine you want a 2 scene ?, buy a LOT of fader wings. Good way to make some money on a sale.

I would also think that most lighting rental shops are going to want to see all of the Express functionality being retained, or at least available on whatever is billed as the Express replacement.  Seems to me that the Ion, with it's add-on fader wings is a great console for those shops. 

I would just hate to be the marketing person who had to explain why they lost a bid, cause the spec's said “48 channel, with 2 scene preset control”.  If Emphasis was any example, Ion should easily be able to handle this kind of very basic function that a lot of folks still use.

Steve Bailey

Lighting Director

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts

Brooklyn College

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my point exactly....the off the cuff... seat of the pants... quick shows that pop up in these multi use environments.....

not talking lighting board philosiphy here....just functionality 

The faders are there it's just a bit of code


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I cannot remember the last time that threw my Express into 2 scene mode for an 'off the cuff' event. In most of the rep lighting plot environments that I have operated in systems are programmed onto submasters and there is a magic sheet. I just do not think that the 2 scene preset is useful anymore.


Ben Mills

stagehand | electrician | philosopher 


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Just to support Steve's comments, when I was at Avery Fisher Hall, they had previously bought an Insight 108 specifically because it had 108 subs, and they were absolutely right.  And that's a bonus too, for a few older guys who aren't comfortable running cues on the faders.

But I can't count the number of JVC Jazz Festival (and similar events), with big names (think, Ray Charles for example), where there was no tech guy with the band at all.  I had to make it up as the show went along (sound check, no rehearsal), and usually no input from the Road Manager.  I suspect that Steve gets more elegant results than I did, because I often had to back out hot submasters with popsicle sticks and multiple fingers, where if he's fast enough, he can set up a new look and run into it as slowly as he wants.  Needless to say, we're not talking moving lights here.

Timothy Buchman NY City Center (retired)
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I've run tons of one-off, no rehearsal, shows just from the 24 submasters of the Exp3, or the 20 executor faders+40 executor buttons of the grandMA, or even the 8 faders+virtual masters of the HogII.  I cannot fathom running even an I-Cue from a multi-scene preset console.  Put the two-scene preset desks in the Lighting Museum next to the piano boards, say I.

Check out my site at derekleffew.com.

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Hey guys - thanks for sounding off on this issue. I also did a blog post about it.


David Lincecum

David Lincecum Product Marketing Manager, ETC
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Posts 516

First off, a great blog by David, and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head about “2 Scene” operation, but hopefully not driven the nail too far into the manual console coffin.

Having read the many, many forum posts about 2 scene and manual control, a subject I am passionate about, I keep coming back to a need to separate the concepts of “Cuing” a show and “Running” a show.

Sometimes you get to Cue before the need to Run. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you need to have a lot of Cues/Presets/Looks etc… ready to run for an event that has no time to properly run through the sequence of looks (fondly referred to a as a Cue to Cue) - Busking is the current term. It really doesn’t matter if it’s an incandescent S4 on a dimmer, or an LED ParCan, or a set of ML’s doing whatever, there is always going to be a need to run it all on the fly.

Trouble is – How ?. Or, how on an Eos/Ion, when a Congo/Jr. Isn't your cup of tea.

Multi-scene consoles (those 3-10 scene beasts) are not the answer, and have been dead for decades, being correctly replaced by the “Memory” console, some 25 years ago. In my world, a console that had 2 Scene capability wasn’t so much a device intending to be a simplified multi-scene console, as much a device that offered some form of manual control, for those times when there’s no time, or need to record cues. As stated in my ETC Forums post, I rarely run in 2 scene (except for every June, with those annoying dance recitals) and am currently paying very close attention to how I operate the Express, with the thought that someday it's going to be an Ion with subs. Maybe.

'Cause as good as the current crop of desks is and as much as they've all improved over the years, there’s still no substitute, nor anything as fast and simple – yet, for a piece of tape under a manual fader that is labeled “Podium Special”. Not even a touch screen is as quick, mostly as there’s no great way to label the channel on the screen (talking theatrical cueing console) Having to look at a magic sheet to find the “Podium Special” then back to the keypad to sneak up a channel number is simply not as quick. 

And before we get too carried away using the digital audio desk as a comparison, remember that each and every digital audio console (I’ve ever seen) used for a live event, has the basic gain control on a manual fader. Usually 40 or more, plus a lot of group faders. All that’s being automated is the stuff that doesn’t need to change much during the event, namely all the EQ settings, monitor mixes, etc… So obviously, the audio folks also feel the need for manual control where it works best.

What the Ion offers, with the ability to add-in upwards of 240 submasters, seemingly fits the bill for the Express/Expression/Insight replacements, and I applaud the thinking at ETC to get the “art” up to what the “state of the art” is capable of.

Certainly the mix of LED's needing tons of attribute control, as well as the needs of moving lights and the difficulty of doing busking with all this stuff, forces the console designers to think way down the road and to come up with products that are not obsolete in 5 years. I for one, am not yet certain of the best methods of controlling 40-60 manual channels, as well as a dozen ML's , all in a fast moving and totally unrehearsed event. That is what I do a lot of and why I ask “How” do I do this in the future ?”.

Davids post did not touch much on the issue of manual control, more about what students and educators are using now and where ETC would like to lead them. All fine and well, but I'm not a student, nor are the folks at places like Avery Fisher, or countless other professional houses who do one-offs as I do.

Thus I had trouble with 2 comments, quoted here:

The very nature of the Move-fade and LTP operation of the Eos system made 2 scene difficult to wedge in. These two things just don't go together well. When you wedge things together you make compromises.“

OK, no big deal about 2 scene – and I understand the underling conceptual differences with a 2 scene being a so-called “preset” system, while Eos/Ion is a “Tracking” console. But how 'bout simple manual control ?. Is that beyond Eos/Ion ?, or have we lost track of what a lot of users are doing in the field ?, and why then 240 submasters , which by-the-way, I cannot fathom how to reach all those faders without standing to operate the console.

We provide 2 scene operation on the Smartfade console - so students can still see what it was like when "we had to work during shows."

I don't actually prefer having to run one-off's on a manual console. I like nothing better then when an event walks in with a disk in Express/ion format and I can use the wonderful Merge capability of my Emphasis to load in the cues and not touch the patch or macros. Or when we actually have time alloted to write cues. Running a show manually means work, though sometimes watching a European LD, or Rufus McDonald of the National Dance Theater of Jamaica run a show manually and create art is a learning experience. Rufus runs crossfades in 2 scene and on subs that would take hours to re-create on a cuing console, all timed to what's happening as he sees it.

Is all this going away ?. Or are the design wizards at ETC going to find a way to squeeze some of this functionality out of an Eos/Ion ?.

The original post by BWTRIX asked a simple question and wondered whether a bit of additional code writing was possible to trick an Ion into thinking it's a 2 scene. In my mind, if you need a lot of manual control, for whatever reason, chances are you are not concerned at that very moment about Move Fades, or Tracking vs. Preset. You just simply want a simple method of getting some simple looks up on stage, but whatever you need is more then what a Smartfade can handle. My post way back in December of '07 had the following suggestion.

{If} Eos/Ion {is designed to} to do a simple trick that Emphasis is capable of, you can make 2 of your faders on a 2x10 into Supermasters, able to master a set of Playback Faders (I'm going to call the Submasters - "Playbacks", which reflects my optimism) - with one of these supermasters controlling Playback 1-40, the other as master to playback 41-80. With a Channel to Playback config as 1:1 for Playbacks 1-40, repeating on 41-80, you now have a 40 channel 2 scene with 18 Subs/Playback extra - also known as an expensive Express 48 2 scene, with all of the new bells and whistles for ML's,scrollers and LED's”.

Thus was my optimism at the time. I hope it's still possible.

Steve Bailey

Brooklyn College

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I wrote a longer reply but it didn't make this forum for some reason 

supermasters----yes that's the ticket

dosen't require more holes, buttons just a bit of code......




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