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.

DMX Control: In Planning System, Look to IP, Wireless As Options
The DMXcat by City Theatrical, left, allows you to plug into your network anywhere in the chain and serve as a remote control for devices via Bluetooth using your cellphone. For smaller, simpler applications the “go to” product is the City Theatrical Show Baby 6 Wireless DMX, right.
DMX Control: In Planning System, Look to IP, Wireless As Options
The DMXcat by City Theatrical, left, allows you to plug into your network anywhere in the chain and serve as a remote control for devices via Bluetooth using your cellphone. For smaller, simpler applications the “go to” product is the City Theatrical Show Baby 6 Wireless DMX, right.

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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.

While wired is more reliable for DMX, for some applications, like hard to reach places or quick stage strikes, wireless is a worthwhile option.

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.


More About David Leuschner
David Leuschner currently serves as the Executive Director of Digital Great Commission Ministries, a nonprofit that has a mission to utilize technology to reach the entire world for Jesus Christ. David has been in the tech industry for more than 20 years and has always had a passion for the church. From 2006 to 2017 he served on the Senior Team as the Senior Director of Technology and Technical Arts at Gateway Church. He provided oversight for all of the Technology and Live Production areas. Gateway Church is located in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex and is one of the largest churches in America. While at Gateway, David guided and directed more than 700 volunteers, part-time and full-time staff in a mission to facilitate several hundred events a month among all venues. Before coming to work at Gateway Church, David started volunteering in a local Church at the age of 11. He progressed to working high level events that included working with President George H W Bush, U.S. Diplomat Alan Lee Keyes, Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, ABC News, Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys and many other major artists. David has been married to his beautiful wife Nicole for 12 years and they love their 10-year-old son Justin. Visit www.audiovideolighting.com to find out how David Leuschner can help your church. You can also follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @davidleuschner
Get in Touch: information@digitalgreatcommission.org    More by David Leuschner

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Article Topics

Technology · Lighting · Visual Arts · Lighting Design · Team Management · Budgeting · City Theatrical · DMX · DMX Control · Ethernet · Jands · Lighting · All Topics

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