Haunt Hack 2021 Detangling DMX Lighting

DMX lighting

This is day 49 of our 61-day Hauntathon counting down to Halloween.  Julia from Gantom Lighting discusses simple DMX lighting.

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Julia: Hey guys, it’s Julia with Gantom Lighting and Controls, and to celebrate the countdown to Halloween, I’m here to share some lighting tips and tricks. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or are taking a stab at lighting your own haunt for the first time, these are some great ways to get the most mileage out of your lighting looks. Today’s tip, don’t let DMX intimidate you.

DMX Lighting Is Not Super Scary

Julia: So, for those of you who run haunts and don’t have a dedicated lighting person or have never worked in lighting, the only experience you have is what you do for your attraction each season, DMX might sound like this abstract, complicated, confusing thing that you just don’t mess with because you don’t have time to learn this in addition to the hundreds of other things, I’m sure, you have to do. I’m here to tell you DMX is not as scary as it sounds, and you can use DMX without even using DMX.

A lot of times fixtures, especially LED color mixing lights that are designed to be used with DMX, which is just a lighting protocol for control, don’t even really need DMX to do interesting things. Some lights have built-in effects, and a lot of lights allow you to set levels without running any control wires to them. So, you just add power and then there’s sometimes a panel or some sort of external device that’ll allow you to calibrate what you want the LED is to do.

DMX Lighting Is Not Always Required for Dynamic Lighting

Julia: So, if you really want to have fine-tuned color mixing, maybe you have a space where you really are going for this particular shade of blue, or kind of a rusty amber, you can take one of these DMX controlled color mixing lights and, without any controls or cables connected to the fixture, dial in those red, green and blue levels to really find the shade and color that you want. Again, a lot of these fixtures will have dials on the back, or some have a little stand-alone device that allow you to input the numbers and also set the intensity. Maybe you don’t want the lights on at full brightness, you want them on, but just like a little bit lower because you don’t want it overpowering something else in your space.

Maybe check some user manuals, watch some tutorial videos, see if the lights you’re interested in using have these features, but don’t run at the sight of DMX, and if you’ve been using traditional or practical light sources, and using gel or some other method for coloring the lights, check out LED lights that are designed for DMX. You’d be impressed and surprised what they can do on their own, without even needing a DMX signal input. They are also going to be a lot cooler, typically, if they’re LEDs, which is going to A, save on your electrical bills and also B, be a little bit safer in terms of avoiding potential fire hazards.

Check Out Intro Level DMX Controllers

Julia: Again, you can also try out some intro-level DMX controllers. There’s a lot of controllers that are fairly intuitive, have some sort of programming interface built into the computer that is free. So, if you buy the controller your DMX controls are actually a free computer program. These will a lot of times store the effects that you build, so you don’t need any extra hardware, everything plays back on the same device you just used. This is a great way to get entry-level experience into using DMX controls, and it will allow you to build really interesting, dynamic scenes that you can change between.

A lot of times they’re good from season to season, so once you’ve got it programmed, as long as you label everything and use the lights the way you had them near before, you won’t have to rebuild it from scratch. So, if you’ve never used DMX, maybe this is the year to try it out, maybe next year is the year to try it out, but just know it’s not as intimidating as it sounds, and it can give you so much versatility with your lighting, take you to a whole new level with your experience.

Thanks for tuning in and I’ll catch you next time on the Haunted Attractions Network.

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