A lighting control console (also called a lightboard, lighting board, or lighting desk) is an electronic device used in theatrical lighting design to control multiple lights at once. They are used throughout the entertainment industry and are normally placed at the Front of House (FOH) position or in a control booth.
All lighting control consoles can control dimmers which control the intensity of the lights. Many modern consoles can control Intelligent lighting (lights that can move, change colors and gobo patterns), fog machines and hazers, and other special effects devices. Some consoles can also interface with other electronic performance hardware (i.e. sound boards, projectors, media servers, automated winches and motors, etc.) to improve synchronization or unify their control.
Lighting consoles communicate with the dimmers and other devices in the lighting system via an electronic control protocol. The most common protocol used in the entertainment industry today is DMX512. and newer protocols such as ACN and DMX-512-A are evolving to meet the demands of ever increasing device sophistication.
Moving Light Controllers
Memory-based consoles have become very popular in almost all larger installations, particularly theatres. This type of controller has almost completely replaced preset consoles as controllers of choice. Memory consoles are preferable in productions where scenes do not change from show to show, such as a theatre production, because scenes are designed and digitally recorded, so there is less room for human error, and less time between lighting cues is required to produce the same result. They also allow for lighting cues to contain larger channel counts due to the same time savings gained from not physically moving individual channel faders.
Many memory consoles have a bank of faders. These faders can be programmed to control a single channel (a channel is a lighting designer's numerical name for a dimmer or group of dimmers) or a group of channels (known as a ""submaster"") . The console may also have provision to operate in analog to a manual desk for programming scenes or live control. On some more advanced consoles, faders can be used to control effects, chases (sequences of cues), and moving light effects (if the console can control moving lights).