Personal computer-based controllers

- Jul 14, 2017 -

Personal Computer (PC) based controllers are relatively new, and use software with a feature set similar to that found in a hardware-based console. As dimmers, automated fixtures and other standard lighting devices do not generally have current standard computer interfaces, options such as DMX-512 ports and fader/submaster panels connected via USB are commonplace.

This system allows a "build-to-fit" approach: the end user initially provides a PC that fits their budget and any other needs with future options to improve the system, for example, by increasing the number of DMX outputs or additional console style panels.

Many lightboard vendors offer a PC software version of their consoles. Commercial lighting control software often requires a specific, and possibly expensive, hardware DMX interface. However, inexpensive (<$150) DMX PC interfaces and free or Open source software are available.

Many console vendors also make a software simulator or "offline editor" for their hardware consoles, and these are often downloadable for free. The simulator can be used to pre-program a show, and the cues then loaded into the actual console. In addition, lighting visualization software is available to simulate and approximate how lighting will appear on stage, and this can be useful for programming effects and spotting obvious programming errors such as incorrect colour changes.

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