DMX Lighting Controls

DMX Lighting control stands for Digital Miltiplex and is a digital control protocol that has been used primarily in the theatrical space.Over the past several years, DMX lighting fixtures have made their way into the architectural world to do everything from lighting the exteriors of buildings, bridges and artwork to offering a simple way to change the mood of an interior space by altering the color temperature of white light. But what is DMX and how does it work? What should you look for in a DMX lighting controller? Read on and we will answer these questions and more as we dive into the technology of DMX lighting.

DMX Lighting control stands for Digital Miltiplex and is a digital control protocol that has been used primarily in the theatrical space.Over the past several years, DMX lighting fixtures have made their way into the architectural world to do everything from lighting the exteriors of buildings, bridges and artwork to offering a simple way to change the mood of an interior space by altering the color temperature of white light. But what is DMX and how does it work? What should you look for in a DMX lighting controller? Read on and we will answer these questions and more as we dive into the technology of DMX lighting.

The Challenge

The Solution

The Technology

The Results

DMX Lighting control stands for Digital Miltiplex and is a digital control protocol that has been used primarily in the theatrical space.Over the past several years, DMX lighting fixtures have made their way into the architectural world to do everything from lighting the exteriors of buildings, bridges and artwork to offering a simple way to change the mood of an interior space by altering the color temperature of white light. But what is DMX and how does it work? What should you look for in a DMX lighting controller? Read on and we will answer these questions and more as we dive into the technology of DMX lighting.

In the early days of DMX control, the technology was used primarily in the theaters for stage lighting and producing special effects.Later, as the popularity grew, the control protocol known as DMX512, was used as the backbone to control a multitude of digital devices form lighting fixtures to lens apertures and rigging. To this day DMX is still the most widely used control topology for RGB lighting and color changing because of its ability to allow the user to fine tune the precise color they want or create a“show” where a scripted pattern of colors are displayed using a DMX controller for playback (think choreographed lighting/music at a theme park or outdoor holiday display). But as lighting design progressed over the years, DNX became more and more popular for architectural lighting applications. The ability to change façade or interior lighting for a specific event is a great way to utilize DMX lighting. Let’s say you had a special customer visiting your office for a big meeting – changing the cove lighting in your conference room to match their corporate colors could be a great way to show your appreciating for their visit.

There are many varieties of DMX controllers on the market for architectural lighting. Some are manufactured by lighting companies specifically for architectural use while others are manufactured by theatrical lighting companies and are often times too complex for the application that is being requested by the architect or building owner. More often than not, building owners or tenants simply want to control what color their DMX lighting fixtures are displaying during a period of time. This “static” control can be accomplished using a color picker displayed on a touchscreen and a controller that takes the user input and, using DMX512 protocol, tells the light fixtures which color was selected by sending the information to the fixtures over a data cable. Depending on the fixture manufacturer, these cables can have RJ-45connections, XLR connections (3 or 5-pin) or even some proprietary cables and connection types.

More complex DMX applications involve stadiums or exterior lighting where the color(s) being displayed change over time, often rapidly, in time with a musical score or some other keyframe inputs.

This type of application, usually involves a more robust type of DMX lighting control system and often is required to integrate with other systems inside the building for global control. Once programmed, however, these shows can be recalled just like lighting scenes or overridden by static color selections from either a keypad or a touchscreen. Some manufacturers specialize in making “room-in-a-box”solutions for DMX where they provide a DMX controller, user interface to select from a collection of colors and some pre-programmed color show sequences. While these solutions may look simple to implement offering all the customer wants for their space, it is worth noting that most of these solutions do not integrate with other lighting systems in the space and when they fail you are left without control over the light fixtures.

Choosing the right DMX solution starts with answering a few simple questions:

1.    What do I want my DMX lighting to do?

2.    How often will I be changing the DMX lighting color or show?

3.    Is the application limited to a small area (like some cove lighting in a conference room) or will it cover a large area (like a stadium or arena)?

4.    Do I require integration with another system, such as AV, theater soundboard/equipment or BMS?

Once you have the answers to these questions, your local Crestron Commercial Lighting representative agency can help recommend the appropriate solution to fit your scope and budget.

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