Last time, I talked about the philosophy behind our Hog PC set up. We try to make it accessible by doing much of the heavy lifting for our volunteers. While the Hog may not be terribly intuitive to use, it does have a ton of shortcuts that make programming going pretty quickly. While experience programmers might find it easier to simply key numbers into the keypad, a novice will do much better using the graphical interface. By setting up the palates in such a way that promotes easy selection, programming goes a lot faster, is more consistent and makes more sense to less experienced operators.
We run our Hog PC on a Mac Mini Bootcamped to Windows 7. We have both a playback and programming wing on the system. A few years back, we bought two Acer 24” LCD touchscreen monitors, which makes selection a lot easier. While we have a bunch of window configurations saved (you can see the list on the top left), below is what we normally use for programming.
Across the top, you can see the Color Directory, Group Directory, the Chosen Master Cue List, and the Scene Directory. Along the bottom, we have the Beam Directory, Position Directory, the Programmer and the Cue List Directory. I’ll get into what all those are shortly. It looks daunting at first, but once you break it down, it’s quite simple. Note the extensive use of color-coding. That makes it a lot easier to see groups of lights.
Use the Directories
The biggest thing you can do to make the Hog more accessible is to make extensive use of the directories. There a lot of them, and it might be helpful to explain how we use them. I’ll go in the order of our primary programming view.
The Color Directory is just what it sounds like. We don’t try to define every possible color, but instead create a constant palate of colors to chose from. The directory looks the same for every group of lights, but Thomas set it up so that when you choose the Impressions and Dark Blue, it looks as close as possible to the Flat Pars in Dark Blue. Of course, you can open the color picker and dial in colors that way, but the directory makes it easy to pick colors that match and work together.
The Group Directory is basically a quick selection tool for fixtures. Take the Impressions for example. You can either grab All Impressions or select them in thirds or quarters. We might use the later method for creating complementary color looks among groups of the twelve fixtures. Selecting 1/3 will grab four of them; 2/3 another four, 3/3 the final four. We also have quick selections for front light, side lights and all fixtures. You can set this up however you want; this makes sense for us.
The Scene Directory is a way to fire a look without using a Cue List. We use them primarily for setting our house lights. We’ve built “scenes” for each look we use during a service and fire the scene from a cue using the “Go Scene X” macro (where X is the number of the scene, e.g. GS1 fires the House Full scene). You can also fire scenes directly, which is handy for quickly lighting up an area (for us it’s Area 11, which gets used for communion set up).
The Beam Directory makes for quick selection of a moving light’s gobos. We don’t really use it that much any more, but if you have ton of movers, you can pre-build combinations that look good, save them in the beam directory and recall them with one touch.
The Position Directory is just what it sounds like, pre-set positions for moving lights. You can also use it for pre-set intensities for conventional fixtures. For example, we can select All Thrust in our Group Directory, then Music Keylight (Do Not Change) and it will bring those to the correct level for music. As you can see, we have positions preset for all our band positions, as well as some general position looks. We also have the levels for the houselights duplicated here if we don’t want to use scenes.
Using directories makes it really quick and easy for both novice and experienced programmers to quickly build looks and keep lights out of people’s eyes. Also, as an added benefit, when we re-configure the stage, all we have to do is update the position directory, and all the programming stays the same.
Next time, we’ll wrap this up with the most powerful feature we’ve employed to make programming very easy and fast for new volunteers: Cue Lists.