Away from the “glamourous” world of intelligent stage lighting, the humble manual lighting desk is still the cornerstone of small venue and school lighting control. The Zero88 Jester is actually a rather sophisticated DMX memory lighting controller aimed at a budget market who need control of a small conventional lighting rig. On Stage Lighting recently took a Zero88 Jester 12/24 on the road as part of a UK tour and noted the good and bad points of this small lighting desk.
Two sizes of the Zero88 Jester are available, the 12/24 and the 24/48 and they feature:
- 12/24 or 24/48 channels of control
- 24 or 48 submasters
- Playback stack
- Patching to 512 DMX channels
- DMX in allowing snap shots of all 512 DMX channels
- 12 or 24 auxiliary buttons
- VGA-Text Monitor Output
- USB storage
- MIDI notes
- Multi-lingual Online Help
Lighting Desk – Good Stuff:
Having both cue stack control and a good number of submasters means that you can control your school play or busk along to a band gig.
Chase memories can be assigned to submasters, giving you the flexibility of a grown-up DMX lighting desk.
The Jester can be used in Wide mode, giving you a huge 24 faders of control with the 12/24 (48 for the 24/48). Quite a lot for such a small lighting desk
The lighting desk can also be set up to control simple Auxiliary DMX channels, good for smoke machines, scrollers etc.
Although a small lighting control, the Zero88 Jester supports a screen via VDU output , giving you feedback about channel levels and times. You can also preview the contents of memories and patch information.
Labelling memories and chases using the flash buttons on the desk. Good for use with the screen.
Nice solid control buttons and faders and very good overall build quality for a budget lighting desk.
USB memory stick backup. No more messing about with floppy disk or special memory cards.
Sound to light control of chases. A simple way to control a band or disco lighting.
DMX input. Enables the Zero88 Jester to accept a whole 512 DMX universe AND record it to a memory for output. Good for using the lighting desk as a backup and playback complex scenes recorded using a larger controller.
Lighting Desk – Not So Good Stuff:
The functions are accessesed in the “usual” Zero88 way of using up/down, left/right buttons to navigate through menus. Using only the LCD screen, this can be a bit tiresome, especially with tasks such as patching. I frequently hit “enter” when I should have hit “>” – my own inexperience with Zero88 lighting desks.
No connection for a QWERTY keyboard Update: Greg tells us in the comments section that it is possible to connect a keyboard via the USB. Further investigation of the user manual says that this is available on the later r2 hardware version This would make labelling memories easier, not having to bump through flash buttons á la text message.
The rear connections, including DMX outlet, are protected by being set back inside the frame of the lighting desk. You have to tip the desk up to access connections and releasing the 5 pin XLR DMX connection is more difficult.
Complex patching and use of Auxillary outputs. Very useful idea but the concept of set up and use could be daunting for anyone new to stage lighting control.
The Auxiliary control channels cannot be recorded in a memory, but are fired using the flash buttons.
The tour ended in London at the Purcell Rooms on the South Bank. A fully equipped theatre venue with a Strand 520i (aargh!) lighting control, the Jester 12/24 slotted in alongside, the house patch done and we were soon running the whole show from a console that looked like a TV remote compared to the monster beside it.
The Jester is a small lighting desk that is cheap enough for a school, with enough credibility and features for the professional. Many hire companies in the UK are replacing their ageing small lighting desks with the Jester range and with good reason.
A look at the Jester ML , the intelligent lighting control in the same Zero88 range, is definitely on the On Stage Lighting “Things To Do” list.
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