I’m a console trainer for ETC, and I find it difficult to remember their groups. This is because the system they use to number the groups is what I think of as “old school”. It looks something like this:
Group 1 Frontlight Ch 1-10
Group 2 Downlight Ch 31-50
Group 3 Highsides- Left Ch 51-62
Group 4 Highsides- Right Ch 71-82
Group 5 FOH Movers 101-105
Group 7 OS Movers- Wash 121-128
Group 9 Side- Mids 141-148
Group 10 Side- Scrollers 151-158
Group 20 Cyc Top 301-312
Group 21 Cyc Bottom 351-362
Group 22 All Cyc 301-312 + 351-362
Group 30 Effect 1 34, 31, 33, 35, 32
First- there is nothing wrong with this approach. Many designers use this system very well. I’m just not one of them. My brain has trouble with the arbitrary relationship between the group number and the channel numbers. Maybe if I always did only one form of lighting, I would be able to institute a numbering system I could always remember. But I shift gigs constantly, moving between Musicals, Concerts, Dance, Aerial and Illusionists. I can’t seem to come up with a grouping order in this system that works for me. Thankfully, I have a way that works better for my brain, thanks to my friend and fellow designer Michael Mazzola sharing a method with me. Let me show you by redoing the list above.
Group 1 Frontlight Ch 1-10
Group 31 Downlight Ch 31-50
Group 51 Highsides- Left Ch 51-62
Group 71 Highsides- Right Ch 71-82
Group 101 Movers- FOH Ch 101-105
Group 121 OS Movers- Wash Ch 121-128
Group 141 Side- Mids Ch 141-148
Group 151 Side- Scrollers 151-158
Group 301 Cyc Top 301-312
Group 351 Cyc Bottom 351-362
Group 300 All Cyc 301-312 + 351-362
Group 31.1 Effect 1 34, 31, 33, 35, 32
The “argument” here is that the numbering of your channeling is something you spent a lot of time on, so that should inform your group numbering. Any experience using either group or channels for a system, since each connects with the other, will imprint all the numbering into your mind faster. This ties into an education theory called Generativity, where one concept informs and generates other connections. In this application, the group numbers get longer, but for me the good outweighs the bad.
Alternatively- what if numbering is the worst way for you to remember things? This is where a Custom Direct Select or a Magic sheet comes in handy. In this philosophy, the numbering doesn’t matter at all- it matters where you place the group select tile on the screen. Most people I know that choose this method lay out a 10×10 view of tiles and arrange their groups from FOH to upstage. Columns often have certain categories of fixture in them like profiles vs washes vs conventionals. Here is a rough example, using a Custom Direct Select of how I might lay out the original groups graphically.
If the original group numbering display works for you- thank you for patiently reading to the end. If it didn’t- I hope one of the other two approaches is helpful to you. And hey- if you have a different method- tell me all about it in the comment section! I’d love to hear your point of view and system.