Wireless DMX Training for Local One in New York City

by Gary Fails | Dec 08, 2015

We recently provided our second full day training session in wireless DMX technology for the technicians of Local One, IATSE.  These are the men and women who set up and operate some of the world’s most complex and demanding entertainment technology on Broadway shows.   

Local One has a very forward thinking approach to training and provides an ongoing series of training courses to its members in all areas of technology. 

Our training lasted a full day, and consisted of a morning spent on the background of wireless DMX, including what is wireless DMX, what is DMX, radio and the electromagnetic spectrum, frequency hopping, adaptive hopping, crafting a small radio footprint, and understanding and working with antennas.

 After lunch we did a full hands-on setup of a complex multi-universe broadcast, then tuned it to have the smallest possible radio footprint.   The 24 students divided into eight groups of three, and each set up a SHoW DMX Neo Max wireless DMX Transceiver.  Each group set to a different SHoW ID to prevent interfering with each other, just the way electricians in adjacent theatres on Broadway do.  We actually broadcast nine universes of wireless DMX concurrently in a radio environment that was already crowded with Wi-Fi, and no adverse effects were observed. 


Class members also did range tests by walking out of the theatre with a battery powered wireless DMX dimmer to test the range and the ability of wireless DMX to broadcast through walls.  We also tested various power outputs from the full 72 mw output all the way down to just 1 mw.  All power settings were found useable.

We also set up and worked on wireless dimming of LEDs which is so common on nearly every show.  We used battery powered wireless dimmers with LED tape attached that students could carry around and test.  Many of the students had experience with this gear from shows that they had worked on.  We used SHoW DMX SHoW Babys to set up and test the wireless dimming.


There were quite a few extremely experienced stage and studio technicians in the class, and whenever possible we asked them to relate their experience on shows and the challenges they faced.  The feedback from class members was excellent and informative. 


I am a 35 year member of Local One, and served as an apprentice at Four Star Lighting in the south Bronx.  There, I became a certified welder, sheet metal mechanic, and licensed laser operator before going on to become a Broadway production electrician and house electrician.  Local One’s training programs were strong then, but are vastly stronger now, and they encourage all members to participate actively in all available classes and to be lifelong learners. The class was a great mixture of young and older men and women. 


Local One’s forward thinking approach is creating new entertainment technicians capable of operating and maintaining the high tech shows of today and tomorrow and their training program is a model for entertainment unions all over the U.S. and Canada.


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