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Programming a Few Simple Custom Effects

We all love built-in effects.  Built-in effects offer us programmers a quick and simple resource for most attributes of fixtures.  Movements, color mixing, and intensity effects are among my favorites, but not every look/show/gig calls for built-in "stock" effects.  Here are a few simple custom made effects.  Give them a try.


First, is my 3-part intensity chase.  When I want to create some movement/excitement on stage (without actually moving the lights) I create this effect as follows:


1.  Select three groups of fixtures (they don't have to be different types, just different groups) and place each group in a static position.  

2.  Create an intensity chase.  

     i.  For step 1, turn Group 1 to full and turn Groups 2 & 3 to 0.  

     ii.  For step 2, turn Group 2 to full and Group 1 & 3 to 0.  

     iii.  For step 3, turn group 3 to full and turn Groups 1 & 2 to 0. 

3.  Now adjust fade and wait times as desired.  I like to create some overlap (or crossfade) so I have the fade times exceed the wait/trigger times.    


There are several quick but great looking variations of this.  First is to have the fixtures all on, but varying intensity.  For example, the lights fade between 33% to 100% rather than fading all the way to 0%.  Second, is to not record position so this effect can be applied to fixtures already in a particular position.  Another would be to set your chase to a random (for more read my blog on chases here: setting rather than playing in sequential order.  This will give a more random feel.  Try this with 5 or 7 groups!  


Second, is my audience move fade out.  When I want to create a slight movement where the lights (some group of lights, say upstage spots) slowly hit the audience and continue upwards and smoothly fade out during the move.  I like this for an ending to a song, particularly a ballad with a cool beam look.  Create this as follows:


1.  Select a group of fixtures, for example your upstage spots (I'm assuming they are already in a position somewhere on the the stage and turned on) and put them in a position at the ceiling over the audience.  Record it.


2.  Now put the intensity of the that group to 0.  Record this as another cue.  


3.  Adjust fade wait/trigger times.  Set the movement cue to fade in 20 seconds.  This gives us a nice slow move.  Set the intensity cue to fade in 4 seconds.  The intensity cue should begin about 5 seconds before the movement cue finishes.  


Try it with other groups of fixtures, positions, and songs too.


Third, is an strobe effect for LEDs.  I like to have LEDs in a color, for example blue, and then for a chorus or big hit have it strobe white.  You can do this for any color as follows:


Note:  Some LEDs have an intensity channel, some have a strobe channel, but here i'm focusing on simply 3-channel R,G,B LEDs.


1.  Record a cue with your favorite color, mine is Blue.  


2.  Record a second cue with all channels at full.  This gives us white.  


3.  Record a third cue (same as the first), with only Blue.  


4.  Link this cue back to cue two, creating a loop.  This could run continuously or a particular number of times or for a particular duration.  In any case, while the loop is running the fixture will be blue and strobing white.  After the loop is finished the fixtures will return to blue.  


Effect generators are great, but even better are custom made effects.  At least they have a little more love associated with them as we hand made them.  :)


Share some of your effects with others!



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Comment by cody stoltz on December 24, 2011 at 4:34am

or if your running magic Q you can pretty much maniputlate the effects engine to do anything you want, except in few rare occasions. one of my newly found favorites is taking a break up paterrn and setting 4 cues each varying in rotation speeds then overlapping that with a second gobo wheel, it kind of looks like rain in a way.

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