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Pan and Tilt Inverts: DMX vs Encoder

Most consoles allow for inverting pan and tilt because, well, you gotta have it! The MA offers you two different ways to invert pan and tilt, so lets look at both.

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Video Transcript

Ever notice that you have pan and tilt invert options for both DMX and Encoder wheels for all of the units in your Fixture Patch? Most consoles allow for inverting pan and tilt because, lets face it: it’s great when there’s that one light in a group on the truss that has his tilt inverted in the menu, or maybe he was hung backwards…whatever. Or, maybe you want the rig to move a bit more cohesively when you grab a lot of lights on multiple trusses. Or, maybe you like to split your rig between Stage Right and Stage Left to create easy symmetrical crosses.

There’s a big difference between what’s going on in your console depending on which option you choose. Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish- one option might be better or worse for your situation, so lets look at both.

DMX Invert of Pan and Tilt

Setting the DMX Invert option to ON for pan or tilt will flip the data of the actual DMX output for those parameters. So, when you turn the encoder wheel, the light will now move in the opposite direction as before- but this is because it has reversed the actual DMX output. Think of it like when you change the menu settings of the pan and tilt inverts on the actual light itself. If you change the invert in the fixture’s menu, you’re changing the way the fixture interprets the DMX channel. Changing it in the MA changes the output signal.

Using this method is best done when you are first working with your rig and before you’ve written any position presets. Here’s why- since we’re changing the way the DMX output is sent, any presets that you’ve already written will now be backwards and you’ll have to update all of them. This isn’t the type of option you’ll be switching between while you’re building your show. Figure out which way you want your rig oriented when you first start playing with it and set it then.

Encoder Invert of Pan and Tilt

I love love love this one. This option just changes whether the values go up or down when you turn the pan or tilt wheels clockwise or counterclockwise. It does not affect the DMX output. I like to the think of the encoder invert as more of a “programmer’s choice” kind of option. For example, say you’ve got a stick of truss running Stage Right to Stage Left in the air, and when your lights are tilted downstage, you’d like for the lights to pan stage right when you turn the wheel counter clockwise and stage left when you turn clockwise. If they aren’t already doing this, you can change the encoder invert. Since this change affects the programmer’s input side of the channel and NOT the DMX output side- this is an option you can play with turning off and on at any point in the creation of your showfile. It will not flip or break any existing position presets. Another handy usage of the encoder invert is when you are trying to match up your real life rig with what you’ve already programmed in your grandMA 3D rig if that’s something you used in previz.


Neither option is better or worse than the other because they work differently. In fact, you can use both DMX and Encoder inverts at the same time. Myself, I use a combination of both of them on various fixtures all the time. Just remember that the most important aspect of all of this is that you really should look at how your fixtures react when you pan and tilt the rig and think about how you want them to move when you FIRST start working with your rig. Getting it set up right when you start will save you headaches down the road and also speed up your programming pace immeasurably.

Author: catwest