An explanation of the “Wide” mode that is found on a range of lighting consoles including budget models. Wide mode is useful because it doubles the number of control channels on a small lighting desk – great when you add some extra kit to your usual lighting rig.
Manual Lighting Control Basics
When lighting desks had little more than two banks of faders (known as a 2-preset), the top and bottom banks both controlled the same set of channels. Channels 1 – 24 on a 24 way 2-preset desk. One preset outputs the scene on stage while the other bank of faders are set to the next lighting state. Crossfade between the two presets and you have a cue. Simple – 48 faders, 24 channel of control.
More complex memory lighting controllers, such the Zero88 Jester, still have the useful function of 2 presets of faders to control your dimmers. There is no substitute for being able to push up a real fader when controlling “generics” (lanterns controlled by dimmers). A Jester 24 / 48 has two banks of 24 faders and, despite all the additional capabilities of a memory control, you can still use it as a 24 way 2 preset desk. Hell, you can even use an Avolites Pearl as a 2-preset but….
The extra function that modern lighting desks have is “Wide” mode – a handy idea that was originally only available on a few consoles but is now quite common.
Get this many channels for your lighting desk for nothing. Image by Fudj
What is Wide mode?
“Wide” mode is a setting that doubles the capacity of your faders by changing two sets of 24 faders into one set of 48. Usually, the top bank of faders gives you control over dimmers 1 -24, while the bottom preset handles 25 – 48.
How do I set “Wide” mode on my lighting desk?
If your lighting desk has “Wide” mode, the setting is usually either a button on the console or changed in the User Settings. Some desks also have a button that toggles a preset between 1 -24 or 25 – 48 (or whatever the capacity of your desk is – the Jester 24 / 48 can wide to 48 channels, surprise!!).
Can I use “Wide” mode to crossfade between scenes?
Ok, you say, but how can I do the whole, 2 presetty crossfading thing when I don’t have a second bank of faders?
Modern lighting desks that have a “Wide” mode also have ability to operate your show in 2 preset mode by using a temporary memory. Set up your scene using the faders in “Wide” mode and hit some kind of “store” button. This latches your scene to a A/B master, leaving the channel faders free to reset for the next state.
Next cue, crossfade to your new reset faders to bring up the new scene. When the lighting state is being output to the stage, press “store” and reset the faders again. “Did I press Store? Or was that the last cue? Oh, bother.”
Sounds like a recipe for cock-up, to me.
Well, using your lighting desk in crossfading “Wide” mode is not ideal. Much better to take 5 minutes reading the user manual and getting to grips with the memory stack or submasters, if you have the facility. Lighting desk manufacturers are just trying to provide new functions while retaining the ability to do things “your old way”. Hey, if we are going to that, let’s break out the lime or the saltwater dimmers!
So, that’s all there is to “Wide” mode. Get 100% extra control channels free. Unfortunately, setting your lighting desk to “Wide” does not instantly install a bunch of extra dimmers or buy more lanterns. It is useful for controlling those cheap LED PARs that you persuaded someone to let you hire for the next show.
If you have any questions or comments about “Wide” mode, put them in the box below.