DMX Control: In Planning System, Look to IP, Wireless As Options
With the DMX protocol, there are so many possibilities, ranging from controlling video servers to your effect devices, and much more.
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When it comes to the ability to use gear as an art to create atmospheres for people to worship God, I find that it’s an amazing feeling. Particularly with lighting gear.
To create this kind of atmosphere, it’s important to understand how each piece of lighting gear works behind the scenes. This art literally transforms the atmosphere and paints the room to fit whatever song, teaching moment or mood that needs to be represented.
But it’s not all faders and knobs, as it also takes some tech knowledge. Most notably, a communication protocol called Digital Multiplex, or DMX, is necessary to get all the lights working together. DMX is the standard for digital communication networks that was originally created in 1986, to control stage lighting. Now it can be used to control all sorts of intelligent lights, effect machines, servers and many other pieces of gear.
If your team wants to build an engaging lighting system, they will need to understand DMX.
What are the essentials of DMX Control?
First, understand your limits. DMX typically consists of 512 channels, but you can have multiple universes. A universe generally consists of one block of 512 channels. Your device has a starting channel and an ending channel. Each device varies in how many channels it uses. As you can see, planning out your system is essential.
One of the expert companies in this field is Summit Integrated Systems. They suggest that in addition to carefully planning out your system, it would be to your advantage to take your DMX to IP. Instead of relying on the standard 5-pin or 3-pin DMX cable, run your system over IP via a DMX to Ethernet conversion. Popular networks that use IP are ArtNet and sACN. By running DMX over an IP-based network, we eliminate expensive and unreliable DMX splitters and hubs. We just send the network where we need it, and convert signals off that.
Second, you need a good way of testing and controlling your system. I recommend a good lighting console in the booth, another control device in between the booth and the light, and lastly, a control at the light that works at the light or at a standard 5-pin or 3-pin DMX.
As much as we want to stay IP, we will always have some form of conversion back and forth. That’s where failures can pop up and having a good tester for that is essential.
Latest ResourceWorship Facilities Magazine, January-February 2018
The January-February 2018 issue of Worship Facilities Magazine offers articles about the many steps a church had to take in the aftermath of a fire, and another involving a church making the jump to 4K.