I’ve been doing this AVL thing long enough that I don’t get terribly impressed by equipment any longer. But every once in a while, something comes along that I really dig working with. Today, we’re going to talk about such a piece of kit, namely, the Interactive Technologies Cue Server 2 lineup. There are multiple products in the line, and they differ primarily in hardware capabilities. The rack mountable Cue Server 2 Pro can handle 32 DMX universes, has 8 multi-state front panel buttons and numerous I/O options. The Cue Server 2 Mini fits in the palm of your hand, will still handle 32 universes though it does have fewer I/O options. Finally, the Cue Server 2 DIN is pretty much a Pro in a DIN rail mountable package
My favorite part about the Cue Server 2 is the software. It’s in constant development and they really do listen to their customers. I have seen several features I’ve requested (knowing I’m not the only person to request it) become reality. Other features I know are on the roadmap because I’ve talked with the developers about them. They have some good ideas and it’s constantly getting better.
I’ve used at least a dozen of them in the last few years as architectural controllers for sanctuaries and meeting rooms. Paired with their Ultra Station wall button stations, we can give users a very flexible system that is incredibly easy to use. The move to LED lights has been a boon for those of us who program architectural controllers. With Cue Station, I can make each button station a mini lighting console that is easy for anyone to use.
My favorite way to program it is to create multiple looks for each class of light fixture—house lights, front lights, top color lights, background lights, even moving lights—and then trigger those cues from buttons. By using a simple set of variables, I can give the user access to four to six different looks for each class of fixture. House lights to full? Press the top button once. Need them a little less bright? Press the top button again, they go to 75%. Another press goes to 50% and another to 25%. We can zone the front lights with multiple button presses so the entire stage isn’t lit up if you just need the center. Button three could cycle through a series of upstage color washes. Stop when you find something you like.
We could also do press and hold up/down levels if the customer wants. We can add delay functionality so that if there’s a short walk from the button to the door, the off cue delays by say, 6 seconds giving you time to get out while the lights are still on. Want to be sure you really mean to turn the lights off? We can require a 3 second hold on the bottom button before they all go off.
One question that comes up is how to lock the button stations when the lighting console is on: that’s a simple macro. I usually change the button color so it’s clear the stations are locked out. Recent upgrades to the software make it possible to restore a particular look when the console is switched off. This ensures that the room doesn’t go dark when the console is powered down—instead, we go to a house on look.
One feature I’ve not had need of until recently is to take advantage of the logic outputs to control relays. For the Taft Avenue project, they had some older box lights on a contactor that we needed to control with a 24 volt relay. Not only was it easy to control that from the Cue Server directly, making those lights part of the cue, but I added a DMX trigger so the lighting console could control those during a service.
I love making systems easy to use. Giving non-technical people access to much of the power of their cool new LED lighting system is a great way to leverage that investment without the TD needing to be there for every event. I consider this the EZ button for lighting. And, with the control inputs, if we wanted to, we could tie it in with the EZ button for audio as well. We could set it up so that when the user enters EZ mode in the audio system, the lights go to a certain look. Now that’s EZ!