Work Pro: LightShark Wireless Browser-Based Lighting Control

by Michael Eddy
The LightShark wireless, browser-based lighting control console from Work Pro
The LightShark wireless, browser-based lighting control console from Work Pro

Work Pro, the international manufacturer of innovative equipment for the entertainment industry, introduced the LightShark, a cutting-edge new range of hardware lighting consoles, at LDI 2017. The DMX-based hardware lighting console range offers wireless, browser-based control from a multi-touch smartphone or tablet, with support for up to three connected devices simultaneously, LightShark sets a new standard for features and usability at its price point.

At launch, the LightShark range comprises two independent products, the LS-Core and the LS-1 console, both developed and designed entirely within Work Pro's lighting division. The LS-1, which retails for €1,199 Euros (MSRP) within the EU, brings together features from the world of innovative software-only lighting control and marries them to an intuitive, ergonomic assignable hardware control surface. The LS-Core, which retails in the EU for €499 Euros (MSRP), omits the LS-1's hardware control surface but offers exactly the same lighting control software, processing power, and smartphone/tablet-based software control interface.

Alongside all of the features users expect from a modern, fully featured lighting control system (including detailed control of color and gobo options via palettes, comprehensive grouping options, CueList operation with up to 1,200 Cues and Lists, customizable automation via an elegant, easy-to-use graphics-based executor window, and special effects such as fanning), LightShark offers intuitive control over a total of eight 512-channel DMX Universes, plus built-in support for an ever-growing library of lighting fixtures. A Fixtures Editor is also built into the console for those that wish to modify or customize Fixture control templates.

Because the LightShark control software runs on the console itself, and the Wi-Fi-connected tablet or smartphone is merely controlling it via a simple web browser, the control software is fast and responsive, as well as offering the benefits of real-time, multi-touch control. For those professionals who prefer control via a physical user interface, it's worth remembering that once set up and assigned, all aspects of the LS-1 system can be controlled entirely from the hardware surface; a generous LCD display on the right of the control surface shows how the physical controls are assigned at all times, and updates when the user switches between control assignment Layers. LS-1 users therefore have the freedom to control their lighting systems via the browser-based control software, a combination of the LS-1 hardware and their preferred mobile device, or the LS-1 hardware alone, according to personal preference.

All of the required hardware interfacing is available on the back of the LS-1 console (including Art-Net, a 5-pin DMX Out for control of one 512-channel DMX Universe, and an Ethernet port for access to a further seven DMX Universes), along with a USB connector for updates. With a further nod to ergonomics, there's even a built-in stand to hold an iOS or Android device on the back of the LS-1, and an extra, dedicated USB charging socket on the rear panel to keep associated tablets or Smartphones charged at all times. Designed from the ground up as a complete lighting control system, and shipping with the browser-based control software pre-installed on the Wi-Fi-enabled console (Safari, Chrome Firefox, and Opera are all supported), the LS-1 includes everything apart from a suitable tablet or Smartphone in its retail price, including a rackmounting kit.

"The LS-1 console was designed to fill what we perceived to be a significant gap in the lighting control market," explains Work Pro’s Chief Sales Officer Juan Jose Vila. "At the top end, you have traditional hardware lighting consoles costing many thousands of Euros—even the smallest of these still retail for at least €1,500 Euros. At the opposite end of the market, there are many software-only control systems or apps, some with innovative automation and control features which are very popular with lighting professionals. These are available for maybe just a few hundred Euros at most—but you have to have a computer and DMX interfacing hardware to complete the system, plus a hardware controller if you prefer not to work with a mouse. Such a setup is less of an elegant system, more a collection of loosely related hardware, and it's not very portable or hard-wearing when it comes to rigorous use at live events or in theatres. We thought we could do better, partly inspired by some of the excellent software user interfaces that have been developed for consoles in the pro audio market recently.”

Vila continues, "What we wanted was to design a lighting control system that would combine the versatility of the software solutions with the ergonomics, built-in interfacing, and physical usability of a hardware console—but to keep the price as close to €1,000 Euros as possible. Utilizing the readily available advanced graphical capabilities of modern smartphones and tablets for our control interface has meant that we didn't have to reinvent the wheel for LightShark, which has helped to keep the price down. The LS-1 is the result, and we're very proud of it. The LS-Core is an even more affordable option for installations where real-time control via a physical interface is less important."

The LightShark LS-Core from Work ProBoth the LS-1 and LS-Core are expected to ship early in 2018. USA sales channels and pricing will be announced shortly.

Further information from Work Pro: www.workprolighting.com/lightshark