Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Technology Is Our Friend.

"I'm not a big fan of newer vehicles. I mean, all the new amenities and features are great and all, but that just means there's more shit that can go wrong and break."
                                                                       - The guy at the car rental place.

"Shit," my colleague mutters above me.

I look up at him from the bottom of the ladder I'm holding as he hangs a light and ask him what's wrong.

"I can't get the damn thing to turn on," he says.
"Stupid question, but is the stinger hot?"
"...And you hit the power button?"
"Yeah. Do you think we have the right address?*"
"It doesn't matter," I reply. "The Gaffer wanted us to run this one manually."
"So maybe we should make sure it's in the right mode? He wanted to run it full daylight, so it needs to be in bi-color or color temp mode and not RGB. And not in DMX control."

My co-worker just stares down blankly at me.

"Do you want me to go up there and look at it?"

"Yes," he says with a relieved sigh.

We switch places on the ladder and now I'm staring at the control panel of this fancy new light.

I go through the usual steps:
Is the line hot? (Check.)
Is the unit turned on?** (Check.)

Still nothing.

I start to toggle through the numerous menu and setting buttons.

Is it out of DMX control? (Check.)
Is it under manual control? (Check.)
Is it out of RGB mode? (Check.)
Is it out of gel mode? (Check.)
Is it out of FX mode? (Check.)
Is it in color temperature mode? (Check.)

Still nothing.

I start getting a little creative trying to find a solution. I clear out all the DMX settings. I revert the address back to zero just in case. I even do a factory reset in the off chance that there's something deep within the menu system that I don't know about but someone had activated. I channel all the tech support help lines I've ever called and unplug the power and re-boot the system a few times. As a last ditch effort, I make sure the magenta and green setting are set at zero because I am officially out of ideas on what to do.

Still nothing.

I'm about to give up when I notice something on the corner of the display. I fiddle with a knob and the light comes on.

"You did it!" my colleague exclaims. "What was the problem? I can never figure out this new LED shit. Too many options on them."

I climb down the ladder so I can see the expression on his face as I tell him what the issue was.

"The dimmer was turned down all the way on the dial."

Damn technology.

* Most lights these days, unless they're a tungsten light, have a DMX-able option where the unit can be controlled from a lighting console. The address is how the board knows it's communicating with the correct light.

** Fun Story: We had learned the day before that with this particular model, just because the display was on does not mean that the light is turned on. It took a couple of us quite a few minutes to figure that out. Though when the next guy couldn't figure it out, it was a lot of fun to be "that person" who just walked right up, pushed a button and saved the day.  :)


Phillip Jackson said...

Ugh was having flashbacks with those damn LED lekos. That menu is a pain.

Matt said...

Ha ha ha ha. This is so my life at the moment.... it’s not that hard folks. Learn it, stay relevant, or you’re quickly going to become obsolete.

My biggest tip to those who have problems is to do what I try to do whenever I encounter a new lamp, and that is to take head home for a couple nights, or the weekend, crack open a beer and have a play. It’s amazing how attitudes change when people have a chance to have a play and realize the possibilities without the stress and time constraints you have on set.

Michael Taylor said...

I remember the first time I encountered a lamp with keyboard on the back, along with a small screen that featured a was then that I knew that the bell was tolling on my career in Hollywood. The only menu I want to see is in a restaurant. All this new technology is truly astonishing, but I had no patience for it -- this analog dog was much too old to learn those new digital tricks -- and judging by what I read and hear about the LED revolution, I retired just in time...

Still, I agree with Matt -- it's much easier to learn the new stuff in a pressure-free environment. Not so easy when under the gun on set.

A.J. said...

Phillip Jackson - I have yet to encounter a menu system on an LED light that didn't have a learning curve.

Matt - It's surprising how many people won't even put in the minimum amount of effort to learn a new light.

Michael - Honestly, those of us who do have to learn it are usually those who work for Gaffers who are stuck between new ways and old. They want to use the new toys, but want their guys to control them manually. The "newer" way is just to plug it into some DMX (or a wireless system) and give control to the board op/lighting console programmer. Which I guess is why a lot of guys don't feel the need to learn any menus.

julian kay said...
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