In our last Tech Talk, we covered the difference between 01 and 02 ends. This week, we’re going to cover controlling RGB fixtures with the SLESA!
Click here to check out our Introduction to ESA2 video at the bottom of the post!
SLESA controllers aren’t just for programming Vivid Pixel! They are also excellent for controlling groups of RGB fixtures.
Why would you want to use a SLESA instead of a Dimwheel, or other controller?
- With a SLESA, you can control multiple zones on the same system. This allows you to have each control zone a different color, performing a different animation, etc.
- You can program timed color changes with a SLESA.
- Create highly custom animations. For example, if you wanted a 7 color jump, but wanted a pink in place of your red, etc.
Keep in mind that you can easily integrate RGB fixtures into, and control them from, a pre-existing DMX system.
In this example, we’re using the program ESA2. You can download it here.
Please note that GLLS is not affiliated with Nicolaudie and is not part of the ESA2 program’s development. This post is purely for educational purposes on a software compatible with our products. Also note that downloads are at your own risk and GLLS is not responsible for any issues with 3rd party downloads.
Make sure the SLESA unit is connected to the computer when you open ESA 2, either via USB or ethernet.
Locate the program on your computer and open ESA2.
We’re using ESA2 because we only need to control one universe for this demonstration. If we wanted to control multiple, we would use ESAPro instead.
Select either USB or Ethernet, depending on your connection method. Unless you just want to play around, don’t select “Demo” mode, as you will be unable to save your scene to the SLESA in this mode.
We’re connected via USB, so we’ve selected that.
Setting up a scene
For an RGB fixture, we’re going to select the _GENERIC option in the ScanLibrary menu.
Click the drop-down arrow and select RGB.
These options help you set up your fixtures.
- The DMX universe option will always be “Universe 1”, since we are using ESA2.
- “First DMX channel” should only be changed if you plan on using the DMX channels that occur before your program for another purpose.
- “Number of fixtures” should be equal to your number of control zones.
A control zone can either be one fixture on one decoder, multiple fixtures connected to one decoder, or multiple decoders set to the same address.
- “Index number” is like an ID, or name to identify the control zone.
Click “Patch”. The control zone will appear in the “Patch” window next to the ScanLibrary.
You’ll also notice that the numbers have changed in these options now.
This is setting up for the next control zone.
The “Editor” tab
Next to the “Setup” tab, click on “Editor”.
In this tab, you can change the color of your control zones by either using the sliders at the bottom of the screen in the “Channels” window, or by inputing an RGB code in the number box at the top of the sliders.
In the “Scenes” window, in the top left-hand section of the screen, you’ll notice the program already has a scene started for you to edit. You can re-name the scene by double-clicking on the name.
The buttons at the top of the “Scenes” window are as follows:
- Add Scene
- Delete Scene
- Copy Scene
- Scene Settings
- Re-arranges the scenes up or down your list of scenes. If you have selected “fade between scenes”, this will change the order they play in.
- Play Sccene
In this panel, we can also change the number of loops. With loops, you can make a short scene and repeat it a set number of times, or continuously.
Creating steps in a scene
We can create an animation for our fixture using the “Steps” window in the “Editor” tab.
You can add, delete, and copy, as well as paste steps using the buttons at the top of this window.
Consider steps in a scene like the frames in an animation.
Fade time is how long it takes to transition from one step to the next.
Hold time is how long a step is displayed before transitioning to the next.
If you’re concerned about timing, remember that the total time to change to another step is going to be the length of the hold time, plus the fade time. For example: a step with a fade time of 2sec, and a hold time of 3 sec, will take 5 seconds to fully transition into the following step.
With a single fixture, you can create a color jump, or color fade animation.
- Color Jump: To create a color jump animation, create a step for each color you want. Set your hold time to however long you want the color to stay, and the fade time to 0 sec. Your jump will be slower with a longer hold time, and faster with a shorter hold time.
- Color Fade: To create a color fade animation, create a step for each color you want. Set your hold time to however long you want the color to stay, and the fade time to however long you want it to take to transition.
Keep in mind that the program will automatically decide how the colors will transition into eachother. This can cause some transitions to look “muddy”, depending on the color choice. You can reduce the mixing by adding key frames (short steps of a color that both colors have in common) between the steps, but this can be a lot of work. For an easy solution, you can shorten fade times to reduce how long the transition colors are seen as well.
You can create these effects with multiple fixtures the same way, but you can also create a chase effect with the fixtures. Unlike pixel, the colors will not run up the length of the fixture however. You will have to program each fixture to change to the previous fixture’s color after it transitions. This will create a chase effect running across the fixtures, which would be a cool effect to see running up stairs!
Scene Builder is best for quick & simple effects. It is full of pre-programmed options. It can also easily apply effects to multiple control zones at once. You can find the Scene Builder button in the toolbar under the “file…” menu bar.
One of our techs says it “kinda looks like a piece of bread”.
To access the pre-programmed effects, click on the FX button in the “Effects” tab.
The two effects we’re looking at in this example are the Color Matrix and the Pixel effect.
- Color matrix effect
The Color matrix effect is more suitable for Vivid Pixel. The color change steps are very close together, and because of this the effect is somewhat lost on a single RGB fixture. Depending on the scale of your project with RGB, this effect could be more useful, but we generally reserve it for Pixel.
- Pixel effect
The Pixel effect is actually the best option for RGB fixtures (confusing, we know). This effect acts in a more linear fashion, and therefore the steps are more visible on RGB fixtures.
- Color matrix effect
Once you’ve selected an option from the FX menu, you’ll notice some options appear in the “Effects” tab. Under the “Rainbow” section, you can add or remove, as well as replace colors.
The sliders change different aspects of the effects. Play around with them to learn what they do, as well as to find a setting you like!
Once you’re happy with your scene, click the checkmark to “create a new scene”
This plugs the scene you created in the Scene builder into the editor!
You can preview the scene in the “Live” tab!
Upload the scene to the SLESA
To save the scene you created to your SLESA, select the “Stand Alone” tab. This tab will not show if you’re in Demo mode, and therefore you will be unable to save your scene to the controller.
Select “Write To Memory”. Once it’s completed, you’ll have successfully uploaded your scene to the SLESA controller, and can plug into your fixtures!