Author Topic: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation  (Read 3282 times)

Offline jhoybs

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All,

I've been doing static, all-white static displays for a long time.  I want to get into automation as well as color.  When I compare the cost of 3 additional colors of 120V LED strings for my 3 mega trees plus controllers versus the same costs for going all RGB, it seems like RGB is cheaper.

Granted, with RGB, I'd be getting the same number of pixels as only one set of my 120V colors, but still it seems it would be cheaper even figuring controllers.  The only downside it seems with RGB seems to be the failure rate of the strings - so far I've had 0% in 4 years for all my LED strings and LED icicles.

If you guys with RGB experience were starting over from scratch, would you do RGB or traditional 120V?  Any tips for me?

Thanks!

Jim H.
Muskego, WI
Lynx USB Dongle, Lynx Expresses, Falcon Player, Vixen 3

Offline Jeffl

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Re: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2015, »
Last year and this year I'm switching over to LED's from incans.  I need things that are stable and the LED strings have been great. This year I will be adding in RGB.  For me there were two things that did it. 

1).  The RGB nodes seam to have reached an acceptable level of reliability.  Chatter on the boards seams to be far more good than bad.
2).  Some vendors are offering strings with single colors (green, black or white).

I'm looking forward to using RGB stuff and will have a mix.  Now if I was starting over from scratch and liked the RGB look, I think I would go straight to RGB.

Use what you have and what you like.

Offline tbone321

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Re: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2015, »
As said before, the quality of the nodes has improved.  Going from static single color to active multi-color on a pixel level is a pretty big jump.  What you might want to do is initially add some nodes into your all white display and begin the transition.  Depending on the setup of your display, you could get a few AC controllers to bring your white LED's into the automation mix as well.  Being that they are already LED, the power demand on those controllers would be light.  There is currently an Express coop running which is a 16 channel A controller.  The advantage to the Express is its diming curves which makes it work very well with LED strings. 
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Offline jem5136

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Re: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2015, »
A huge factor to think about when beginning a display is the amount of sequencing you'll have to do. Sequencing is a huge learning curve and takes up a lot of time. When you are sequencing non-RGB displays, you will have less channels to sequence thus making sequencing easier to learn and get the hang of. However, if you jump right into an RGB display, especially if your using a smart RGB system (each pixel is controlled individually), your channel counts will go through the roof and sequencing can easily become overbearing to even the most "experienced" sequencers. To compromise you might look into using dumb RGB (a string of RGB pixels that will only use 3 channels per string), this way you will have less channels but still get a great display with RGB included.

Just something to think about. Also, as a side note, most of us could probably agree that you will spend most of your time sequencing the display than anything else. It may take you a few days or a few weeks to get the lights up (depending on the size of your display) but it will take you at least a solid 5-6 months to get at least 3-4 songs sequenced. The quicker you get your display figured out, the quicker you can get to sequencing and the better your sequencing you'll be able to do.

Just my 2 cents lol
2011 Plans:
   - Second year for dimmable animation
   - 184 Channels of Blinky Flashy :D
   - 8 RGB Flood Lights
It's gonna be fun!! :D

Offline jhoybs

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Re: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2015, »
Well, based on your feedback, I ordered blue LEDs and 3 Expresses in the co-op (already have 1 from last year that I haven't un-boxed/soldered).  Just getting into this, I think it would be more enjoyable working with traditional LED strings and the Express controllers only because I know more about them (research-wise) than RGB.

Also, I agree with jem5136 that a huge factor for first timers that has to be taken into account is sequencing.  Although I want to start modest without music, I'm still not prepared for what is in store for me.

I only have 10 months and I have lots of ideas and work!   :)   I can always get my feet wet with RGB with C9-sized lights above my icicles or floodlights in a few years...

Thanks for the feedback everyone.
Jim H.
Muskego, WI
Lynx USB Dongle, Lynx Expresses, Falcon Player, Vixen 3

Offline jem5136

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Re: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2015, »
Seems like a good choice to me lol after a year or two you'll be a pro a sequencing and you'll be able to do whatever you want to do!!
2011 Plans:
   - Second year for dimmable animation
   - 184 Channels of Blinky Flashy :D
   - 8 RGB Flood Lights
It's gonna be fun!! :D

Offline jnealand

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Re: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2015, »
Plan to put up some lights for Halloween.  It is the perfect opportunity to test your installation plans.  Electrical, extension cords, mounting, etc can all be debugged using Halloween.  That would include an FM transmitter once you decide to go that way.  Then you have a nice chunk of your Christmas display tested and debugged.  It is a little easier with RGB, because you can make your lights be purples and oranges, but I did it using some orange eave incans for several years.  Then just replace the lights after Halloween with your Christmas LEDs
Jim Nealand
Kennesaw, GA

Offline lrhorer

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Re: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2015, »
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A huge factor to think about when beginning a display is the amount of sequencing you'll have to do. Sequencing is a huge learning curve

I did not find it that huge, myself.  Of course, as always, YMMV.  My first sequencing I did myself using a fairly simple set of macros in an Excel (later LibreOffice) spreadsheet.  It was only 5 channels, although it is easily expandable to any modest number.  I'm still going to use it for my inside tree this year.  There are 17 different profiles each about 1 - 2 minutes in length, run in random order.  Thirteen of the profiles are static, which means any particular one will be the same sequence every time that profile runs.  Four of them are dynamic with random elements within the profile itself.  This means the light sequence will be very different every time the profile runs.  Being indoors, it is not synchronized to any music.

The second sequencer I used was QLC+.  It is an extremely powerful and flexible sequencer, and it has pre-defined profiles for several hundred different fixtures, including gobos, strobes, projectors, LASERs, spotlights, fog / smoke machines, etc.  I did have quite a bit of trouble understanding the design paradigm at first, but once I realized a "scene" was a time-independent function, I had no problem picking it up.  I used it for my Halloween display last year, and I am going to use it for Halloween this year, as well, because the Halloween display consists mostly of intelligent devices.  I have to say, however, the QLC+ UI has a lot of badly implemented features.  That's why I am using Vixen 3 this year for Christmas.

It took me very little time for me to pick up Vixen 3.  Of course a lot of the credit for that goes to egenoup, who kindly fired up a TeamViewer session and gave me a two-plus hour tutorial on its use.  Since then, a little trial and error and a question here and there have seen me pretty well into its use.

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Also, as a side note, most of us could probably agree that you will spend most of your time sequencing the display than anything else.

Oh, well, yeah.  Sequencing takes a lot of time.  Well, usually.  Using QLC+, I was able to get what I consider a very attractive sequence done for Greensleeves in a matter of a few minutes, but then Greensleeves is a very soft, dreamy sort of song without much of a distinct beat, so a random set of simple, soft cross-fades works well.  Using Vixen 3, it took me considerably more time to sequence the same song.

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it will take you at least a solid 5-6 months to get at least 3-4 songs sequenced.

Well, not that long, I don't think.  It certainly has not taken me even a month to fully sequence two songs and part of a third, and I expect to be able to get at least a dozen or so done by Thanksgiving.
 
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the quicker you can get to sequencing and the better your sequencing you'll be able to do.

Maybe I am just doing a lousy job and don't realize it.  I don't think I'm doing that badly, though.  I will say that I fully realize I am not that good at this sort of artistry.  I am much better handling hardware and software than in producing decorative designs.  Realizing that about myself, I am not attempting to do it by myself.  Rather, I have convinced an old friend of mine who is a professional artist to assist me with the lighting designs.  I am handling the sequencing, but we are collaborating on the lighting design and on the active elements being presented for sequencing.  It is my hope the collaboration will produce a much more creative and varied set of sequences.  In fact, I am quite convinced it already has.  What little I have already done would have been rather less creative without his input.  I only expect the situation to blossom more in the weeks to come.

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Just my 2 cents

Mine, too.  I'm not going to name any names, but I have seen a number of displays that were astounding in the extent of their hardware, but the sequences themselves failed to really impress me, especially taken as a whole.  Many of them seem to lack creativity and to be very repetitive from one song to the next, sometimes using a single effect over and over again, song after song after song.  I want to make it clear that I don't intend this as an arrogant criticism.  I feel sure my shows would very likely suffer from similar stagnancy if I were not privileged to have a true artist giving me the benefit of his years of experience and creativity.  I think a lot of people would benefit from such a collaboration.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, by lrhorer »

Offline jem5136

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Re: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2015, »
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A huge factor to think about when beginning a display is the amount of sequencing you'll have to do. Sequencing is a huge learning curve

I did not find it that huge, myself.  Of course, as always, YMMV.  My first sequencing I did myself using a fairly simple set of macros in an Excel (later LibreOffice) spreadsheet.  It was only 5 channels, although it is easily expandable to any modest number.  I'm still going to use it for my inside tree this year.  There are 17 different profiles each about 1 - 2 minutes in length, run in random order.  Thirteen of the profiles are static, which means any particular one will be the same sequence every time that profile runs.  Four of them are dynamic with random elements within the profile itself.  This means the light sequence will be very different every time the profile runs.  Being indoors, it is not synchronized to any music.

The second sequencer I used was QLC+.  It is an extremely powerful and flexible sequencer, and it has pre-defined profiles for several hundred different fixtures, including gobos, strobes, projectors, LASERs, spotlights, fog / smoke machines, etc.  I did have quite a bit of trouble understanding the design paradigm at first, but once I realized a "scene" was a time-independent function, I had no problem picking it up.  I used it for my Halloween display last year, and I am going to use it for Halloween this year, as well, because the Halloween display consists mostly of intelligent devices.  I have to say, however, the QLC+ UI has a lot of badly implemented features.  That's why I am using Vixen 3 this year for Christmas.

It took me very little time for me to pick up Vixen 3.  Of course a lot of the credit for that goes to egenoup, who kindly fired up a TeamViewer session and gave me a two-plus hour tutorial on its use.  Since then, a little trial and error and a question here and there have seen me pretty well into its use.

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Also, as a side note, most of us could probably agree that you will spend most of your time sequencing the display than anything else.

Oh, well, yeah.  Sequencing takes a lot of time.  Well, usually.  Using QLC+, I was able to get what I consider a very attractive sequence done for Greensleeves in a matter of a few minutes, but then Greensleeves is a very soft, dreamy sort of song without much of a distinct beat, so a random set of simple, soft cross-fades works well.  Using Vixen 3, it took me considerably more time to sequence the same song.

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it will take you at least a solid 5-6 months to get at least 3-4 songs sequenced.

Well, not that long, I don't think.  It certainly has not taken me even a month to fully sequence two songs and part of a third, and I expect to be able to get at least a dozen or so done by Thanksgiving.
 
You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
the quicker you can get to sequencing and the better your sequencing you'll be able to do.

Maybe I am just doing a lousy job and don't realize it.  I don't think I'm doing that badly, though.  I will say that I fully realize I am not that good at this sort of artistry.  I am much better handling hardware and software than in producing decorative designs.  Realizing that about myself, I am not attempting to do it by myself.  Rather, I have convinced an old friend of mine who is a professional artist to assist me with the lighting designs.  I am handling the sequencing, but we are collaborating on the lighting design and on the active elements being presented for sequencing.  It is my hope the collaboration will produce a much more creative and varied set of sequences.  In fact, I am quite convinced it already has.  What little I have already done would have been rather less creative without his input.  I only expect the situation to blossom more in the weeks to come.

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Just my 2 cents

Mine, too.  I'm not going to name any names, but I have seen a number of displays that were astounding in the extent of their hardware, but the sequences themselves failed to really impress me, especially taken as a whole.  Many of them seem to lack creativity and to be very repetitive from one song to the next, sometimes using a single effect over and over again, song after song after song.  I want to make it clear that I don't intend this as an arrogant criticism.  I feel sure my shows would very likely suffer from similar stagnancy if I were not privileged to have a true artist giving me the benefit of his years of experience and creativity.  I think a lot of people would benefit from such a collaboration.
I've never had to chance to use other sequencing software other than LSP, LOR, Vixen, and I've played around with Aurora a few times, so I das just speaking from my own experience and from what I have seen from others experiences. And when it comes to the end of the day, the more you sequence the quicker you'll get to it and it also depends how much time you have on your daily schedule as well. I, for one, have a full time job and a new born so I don't have a lot of time to sequence, I just do it when I can. So naturally sequencing a song will take, say 10 hours, so only getting in an hour or two per week it'll take me a couple months, that's who I got that number. It's all based on personal displays, how creative you can be, and how well you know your way around a computer.
2011 Plans:
   - Second year for dimmable animation
   - 184 Channels of Blinky Flashy :D
   - 8 RGB Flood Lights
It's gonna be fun!! :D

Offline LtKadeo

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Re: RGB vs Traditional multi-colored string automation
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2015, »
I have been using 1st generation smartstrings by this I have some of the early version of pixal strings and version 1 SSC units. By far the biggist problems has been the strings - lot of learning curve on hardware do and donts - have seen some of the new strings and things are getting much better - As for software use LightShow Pro big learning curve with that and all the functions it can do - so my advice to everyone is if you decide to take on this do your homework find something that will make your display yours - and talk ask ? on the forms lots of good help on this site and lots of people to answer fix problems.
Ted K
See you live in WI not far from me so if you need help let me know