PC Based Lighting Desks

So, this is the first tech based post!
I spent my afternoon today at Falmouth University’s Performance Centre trying to suss out HOG4onPC. For those not yet inducted this is a lighting control desk that is based on a computer (in this case my laptop) with a usb to dmx (lighting control protocol) adapter. This particular system also has a controller which, as I found out today, is a very cut down version of the desks control surface with the most important functions on it such as record buttons, numeric pads and other functions I haven’t yet learnt about!
The reason I have ventured into hog territory (very dangerous!) is that it seemed the best solution to use as a touring desk for Freefall Dance’s Awakening that I designed last year which we are touring on certain dates this year.
Now, I didn’t go into this learning process thinking it would be particularly straightforward; I have used hog system before, but that was three years ago and only then for one day!
It started out being fairly easy to pick up although it does have its odd quirks. A lot of the desks I have used before require you to put in all your parameters and data before finally pressing Record to confirm the settings and record the cue. The Hog requires you to press Record first which threw me off a couple of times.
The second and more arduous issue we ran in to was trying to set fade times for the cues. It started off pretty well with nice simple 10 second croasfades for the first couple of cues. The first hiccup came when we tried to program the transition between cue 4 and cue 5… What I wanted to happen was for cue 5 to start fading in over 15 seconds whilst cue 4 delayed for 5s before fading out over 12s. Ok, so not a simple transition but I was able to do it on an ETC Congojr which is on of the most backwards desks in production! So it should be possible, easy even! So, the first challenge was to work out how to enter split times (different times for fading in and out) a little bit of experimentation revealed that typing 12/15 would give you different in and out times. Now 7 hours later I appear to have forgotten which is the in and which is the out… So I’ll have to re-learn that in a few days!
Anyway, after about 45mins of trying to work that out we decided it was getting too close to 5pm to be able to expect our brains to operate correctly so we decided to call it a day.

We start technical rehearsals next weekend so I better get it sussed by then!