Tech Topic: Patching Prestidigitation
Posted on Monday, May 1st, 2017
Anyone who wants to learn about automated lighting programming must study and master one very important task: Patching. Without this ability, the data within the desk will not be able to communicate properly with the connected fixtures and other devices. Patching requires an understanding of a console’s specific methodologies, DMX fundamentals and intimate details of the lighting rig layout. No matter the show or the console, a programmer must properly patch the system to actually control lighting units.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/10-feeding-the-machines/22524-patching-prestidigitation.html
The Politics of Colour Selection
Posted on Tuesday, March 7th, 2017
I heard about a tragedy the other day. A designer lost a tour based solely on color selection. A particular band that chooses a different color for each album cover hired this person to do their tour. During a televised promotion for their upcoming tour, the production manager mentioned to the designer/programmer that they would like the color of their album to be in every single song. The designer chose to go against the band’s wishes.
Instead of incorporating white into every song, this individual made the unfortunate decision of choosing pink and green. The designer was not asked back for the tour. The band could never tell the designer that they were fired over something as simple as a color preference, but that’s what happened. They found someone new who could more acceptingly follow their suggestions and paid handsomely for it. Reading this entire article will help you avoid the same fate.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/6-ld-at-large/21989-the-politics-of-color-selection.html
Light Bytes 1st edition now on sale
Posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2017
The book – a practical reference on the Art-Net and sACN lighting protocols – was launched recently in preview edition at the 2016 PLASA London show. Already enjoying strong sales, the book has now been updated to cover the latest version of sACN (E1.31-2016), and includes a foreword by Iain Ruxton, Design Associate at Speirs + Major.
Given the increasing industry-wide use of ethernet as a means for transporting DMX512, this timely reference manual is a must-have for anyone seeking to increase their knowledge of Art-Net or sACN.
Light Bytes – Inside Art-Net and sACN
While the Art-Net and sACN protocol definition documents are available to all, they do not seek to address real world implementation issues or developer FAQs.
Written with practicality in mind, this book provides the missing link. Starting with a networking primer, it moves onto the detailed packet structures and definitions used in each protocol. Following the theoretical groundwork, readers are led through the problems that are often encountered in real-world applications, with tips on how to avoid them.
The book strives for a balanced approach, comparing and contrasting Art-Net and sACN, while explaining how each protocol is evolving to meet the needs of a changing marketplace. There is a handy chapter on freely available software diagnostics tools, along with useful code examples for both Art-Net and sACN developers.
The Not-So-Lonely Road
Posted on Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Keeping the Lonesome Road from Dragging You Down
On a long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha… No, I’m not going to read into that Seger song. Karaoke doesn’t start until 8 p.m.
I’m sitting on a bus thinking about my family and loved ones back at home. I’m thinking about how all “puppies and rainbows” it would be if they were out here traipsing the continent by my side. Bringing my four-year-olds twins, wife Sharon and Kala the black lab might be a little cost prohibitive for the tour (if not completely annoying to the guy who cleans the bus). I can only imagine that it helps to ease the pain when you’re ridin’ sixteen hours and there’s nothin’ there to do. I talked to a few couples about their experience of traveling and working with their spouses out there in the spotlight.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/6-ld-at-large/21771-the-not-so-lonely-road.html
Tech Topic: 15 Years of Change
Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
by Brad Schiller
December 2001 marked the first article I wrote for my “Feeding the Machines” column. As I write this article 15 years later, I am thinking about how much our industry has changed, yet also stayed the same. The most popular console brand back then was different and LEDs were used as indicators, not sources. Many of the programming processes and procedures have not changed, though. I still find myself using much of the same syntax and methodology to create looks as I did long ago. It is amazing to look back and see what has changed and what has remained the same.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/10-feeding-the-machines/21773-15-years-of-change.html
Tech Topic: The Multi-Facets of Prismatic Programming
Posted on Monday, January 16th, 2017
by Brad Schiller
Automated lighting fixtures are filled with many different effects and mechanical abilities. In addition to gobos, colored glass, shutters and irises, many fixtures provide a prism effect. While similar to a gobo, inserting a prism into the optics of an automated light can have many different results. An automated lighting programmer should understand the reactions and controls when using prisms.
Tech Topic: Dear Festival Lighting Designer
Posted on Wednesday, January 11th, 2017
I am well aware that you are more than capable of designing, operating, teching, programming and facilitating every single show that comes through your fine festival grounds. But today, you are my festival lighting designer. I only need a few things from you and I need them done to the best of your ability. I need a patch, a plot and a functional rig. A smile would be nice, but not necessary. I don’t need your résumé nor do I need your sob story. After checking in with a handful of my favorite programmers and directors, I have come up with a comprehensive list of tips on how to help me help you to make our time together as de-light-ful as possible.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/6-ld-at-large/21544-dear-festival-lighting-designer.html
Tech Topic: From DMX to TCP/IP
Posted on Monday, November 14th, 2016
A Look at the Growing Complexity of Fixture Functions and Control Systems
Over the years, the complexity of intelligent lighting fixtures has finally gotten to the point where our own intelligence level has to rise up exponentially just to operate the gear we are using. Take a look around at what the shows we see now differ to the shows that we saw just a few years ago. Now take a moment to think about what we will be seeing in a few years from now. That’s right, those are chills running down your spine.
Tech Topic: Theater Builders of Tomorrow – Listen Up!
Posted on Wednesday, September 28th, 2016
by Chris Lose
While touring the world, I have spent far too many hours sitting at FOH, wondering who in the world designs some of these venues. I decided that I should put my two cents in writing instead of stewing in my own disgust of poor forethought. Here are a few remarks that I would like to make to anyone who is considering designing an entertainment venue.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/6-ld-at-large/20791-theater-builders-of-tomorrow-listen-up.html
Tech Topic: Build Your Own Fixture Library
Posted on Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
By Brad Schiller
Automated lighting consoles are extremely powerful tools with very complex software. No matter how many features a console provides, one of the most essential elements is its fixture library. The library contains unique profile information about fixtures used within our industry. This information becomes the interface between the programmer and the instructions for the light (or other devices). Without proper libraries, most desks will not communicate with fixtures and devices. In some cases, it is important for a programmer to understand the process to create new or modify existing libraries. The method of creating or editing fixture libraries differs greatly between console systems, but all require a basic understanding of how a fixture library functions.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/10-feeding-the-machines/20793-build-your-own-fixture-library.html
Tech Topic: Ten Top Priorities when Building a Punt Show
Posted on Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
Having completed years as a house lighting designer and working at several festivals around the globe, I have become streamlined when building punt shows. Rock ‘n’ Roll rarely sticks to a cue stack, so I decided to put together my 10 top priorities for a punt show.
Tech Topic: Lighting Console and Media Server Convergence
Posted on Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
As media servers continue to develop features geared toward working with LED fixtures, lighting consoles are beginning to add in tools that address the unique challenges that programmers encounter while programming both lighting and video. As this convergence of lighting and video continues to evolve, the toolsets continue to evolve as well. Here’s a look at some of those tools……
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/37-video-digerati/20521-lighting-console-and-media-server-convergence.html
Tech Topic: The Matrix is Now: Four Tips to Help Wash Down That Red Pill
Posted on Friday, July 22nd, 2016
By Chris Lose
In science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke’s famed “Three Laws,” written in Profiles of the Future, a book-length collection of essays that was first published in 1962, the third law stated: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
He must have foreseen today’s dizzying array of live event gear advancements, because the lighting rigs that I have been working on as of late have been reinforcing this law on a daily basis. We have entered the days of fully immersive lighting environments, 200-plus universe rigs, wireless DMX, instant downloads and truss spots that aren’t on the truss. We have clearly taken the red pill and fallen down the rabbit hole of technology. Like Neo, we need to embrace this world and prepare for the next level.
Here are four tips to making yourself at home in today’s lighting design matrix.
Tech Topic: Spinning in Circles
Posted on Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
By Brad Schiller
The automated lighting industry has seen a new trend in lighting products over the last few years. We now have many creative LED products that are making use of continuous rotation of pan and tilt. This type of movement opens up some exciting new possibilities and designers are placing the fixtures all over their plots. The technology to endlessly rotate fixtures is not new, and in fact was used quite some time ago with standard discharge fixtures. However, the concept never really took off until it was applied to an LED panel. Now programmers and designers have many different tools that take advantage of continuously rotating pan and tilt.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/10-feeding-the-machines/19982-spinning-in-circles.html
“Dear Mr. LD:” A Spotlight Operator Pens an Open Memo to Lighting Designers
Posted on Friday, June 10th, 2016
To: All Lighting Designers
From: Your local spotlight operator
Re: Calling the spotlights at a large arena show
Hi, I’m your local spotlight operator. You might not know my name, but I’d like to request that you please don’t use profane language if things don’t go exactly as planned during your performance. We try our best, honest. We want to make your act shine. So I’d like to take a minute to explain a few things from our side of the intercom line if you got a sec.
Tech Topic: To Timecode, or Not To Timecode?
Posted on Monday, May 30th, 2016
By Chris Lose
Whether “Tis Nobler” Is Not the Question. Here’s a Roundtable Discussion of When It’s the Answer.
For some, timecode is the auto tune of lighting designers — a lazy choice. Others insist that timecode is doing the job of the operator, freeing him or her up from being chained to just punching the “go” button for each and every cue. But the truth is that when properly implemented, it can be used for a show’s greater good.
I recently had the pleasure of working on two major rock tours that were large and required precision cueing. The major difference between the two was timecode. I manually executed 600 cues each night on a Fleetwood Mac tour. Later, I filled in for LD Matt Mills for a week on Mötley Crüe; where 97 percent of the cues were fired by timecode. This allowed me to focus on tending to four buttons, two faders, and call spots (plus make sure that Tommy Lee and his drums were bathed in a smoky haze thick enough to make Shanghai call the air pollution hotline).
I assembled a virtual roundtable of some of the best designers in the business — Mark Butts (Shania Twain), Baz Halpin (Katy Perry), Nick Whitehouse (Justin Timberlake) and Rob Sinclair (Queen with Adam Lambert) to discuss the pros and cons of timecoding.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/11-focus-on-fundamentals/19743-to-timecode,-or-not-to-timecode.html
Rules for Free Labor: Okay vs. Not Okay
Posted on Monday, May 9th, 2016
Written by Chris Lose
Your boss heard that you really love the theater and would appreciate some extra hours on show site, so he offers you the chance of a lifetime to come and work on his next show for no money, as an intern of sorts. You jump at the chance to gain experience. The next gig comes along, and he asks you do it for no money again. Now you realize that you have no way to get to the show site because your gas tank is empty.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/6-ld-at-large/19446-rules-for-free-labor-okay-vs-not-okay.html
Seven Rules of a Successful Touring Lighting Director
Posted on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
By Chris Lose
Q: What’s the difference between a Lighting Designer and a Lighting Director?
A: About $20,000…
As a touring lighting director, I get asked this a lot — and the reality is few people outside the industry really understand it. The roles are similar, but the responsibilities are vastly different. The lighting designer is responsible for pitching, selling, and securing their visual concept for the show to their client. The lighting director is responsible for implementing the design and making sure its vision remains intact for the duration of the tour.
We all know what it takes to be a successful lighting designer — imaginative brilliance and business savvy. But what does it take to be a successful — and always working — touring lighting director? I have outlined my seven most successful tips below.
Tech Topic: Smoke Signals
Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2016
Typically, an automated lighting programmer is concerned only with programming the lighting elements. However, there are also often circumstances where we are tasked with programming control of various types of smoke effects. From hazers to blasts of fog or CO2, we must use caution when programming atmospheric effects. Depending on the production, there may also be strict guidelines that must be adhered to. As with any fixture on the desk, an automated lighting programmer needs to be informed and prepared to work with atmospheric effects.
Read the full article at: http://plsn.com/current-issue/10-feeding-the-machines/18684-smoke-signals.html
Tech Topic: Talking Photometry
Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015
Talking Photometry is a technical blog from Photometric & Optical Testing Services in the UK that helps you keep up to date with developments in LEDs, solid state lighting and the world of photometric measurements.
If you’re interested in the technical aspects of light sources and light measurements this blog is well worth a visit.
Included among recent postings are topics such as:
What is “Flicker” and why is a problem with SSL?
Measuring colour uniformity of LED arrays
LED colour zoning
Colour difference metrics
Are halogens history?
Understanding photometric data files
Claimed vs. actual CCT
Useful lumens and Energy Efficiency Index (EEI)
Guide to colour rendering
Guide to Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT)
Tech Topic: Fabulous Faders
Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2015
For a very long time, lighting controllers have had faders as a key component of the front panel. This is because faders are a very useful tool to manually adjust the level of something. Automated lighting consoles required additional control-ability than conventional desks, and now there are many different things that your faders can do. From controlling intensity to adjusting rate, and even allowing programming, the faders on the front of your console are extremely powerful. Let’s look at some of the more common uses of faders.
Read the full article at: http://www.plsn.com/current-issue/10-feeding-the-machines/18226-fabulous-faders.html
Tech Topic: Advancing the Rig
Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
Written by: Nook Schoenfeld
So I’m rapping on the phone with my buddy Scott Plummer. He owns the finest little mom and pop lighting company down in Tucson, Arizona called Total Lighting Support. One of my acts is coming to his local casino, as they do every year, and it gives us a chance to catch up. Of course the main reason I’m calling is to advance my gig and make sure he has all my lighting plots and I have his. But somewhere along the way he stops me and asks a question.
“Hey I just want to know something. Is it my gig to find out who you are and what you require, lighting-wise, when you come to my town? Or are you the one who’s supposed to call me?” Scott asks, in all sincerity. I reply that by all means it is MY gig as the traveling representative with the act, to make sure that I can simulate the light fixtures, truss structures, hang points, smoke, backdrops etc. that I require for my scenery. I also advance the video with each place. Scott’s simple reply made me sad. “Well, I wish you would let all these other LD’s know this, cause I’m really tired of having to hunt down these people and do their gig.”
Read thr full article at: http://www.plsn.com/current-issue/35-ld-at-large/17880-advancing-the-rig.html
TLCI – a useful measure of colour rendering for LED fixtures
Posted on Monday, November 2nd, 2015
by Andy Ciddor
It’s pretty widely acknowledged that the once-adequate Colour Rendering Index (CRI – published in 1965) that told us about the colour accuracy of fluorescent, arc and metal halide light sources is pretty hopeless as a measure for our modern LED, laser/phosphor and related light sources.
Whilst the CIE (Commission Internationale de l’Eclairage) is grinding its way inexorably to developing an internationally-ratified standard that improves on its old method, the colour experts at the European Broadcasting Union (yes they do stuff in addition to broadcasting the Eurovision Song Contest) set about developing a new measurement.
The new version of their Television Lighting Consistency Index (TLCI) is designed to look at how light sources render images for modern colour television cameras with CCD and CMOS pickup chips, rather than the way things look to human eyes. However as TV cameras tend to be way more sensitive to colour inconsistencies than we are, this metric will give you a pretty good idea how your displays, sets, costumes and makeup are going to look both on camera and to the audience’s eyes.
Like the CRI, TLCI is an index – so a candle, a tungsten fixture and sunlight all come out at 100 for perfect colour rendering, and most other sources come out at something less. The closer to 100 the measurement is, the more accurately the colours of illuminated objects will be seen. The results of the test don’t only produce a number (see the accompanying image), they include a rendering of a standard film colour reference chart as it would appear on camera when illuminated by the source under test, together with a correlated colour temperature (CCT) for the source, a graph comparing the source with either a blackbody radiator or daylight, and some advice for colourists on how much of what type of correction is required to achieve an adequate white balance.
There’s more information about this on the UK Guild of Television Cameramen site at www.gtc.org.uk/tlci-results.aspx and a list of how some luminaires faired in the test at www.gtc.org.uk/tlci-results/tlci-results-new-format.aspx.
Technical details of the TLCI methodology and how such things as the test chips and the camera response curves were developed are available on the EBU web site at tech.ebu.ch/tlci-2012. If you have a decent-quality spectrophotometer you can download a program to assess the TLCI of your own luminaires from this site too.
Tech Topic: The Perfect Programmer Recipe
Posted on Friday, September 4th, 2015
By Brad Schiller
Making the perfect programmer requires a host of carefully selected ingredients mixed together. When this recipe is followed, the result is a highly talented and creative individual capable of orchestrating his/her fingers over a lighting console to direct lighting and video elements into a carefully crafted piece of art. A perfect programmer requires much more than just knowledge of console commands, so it is essential to follow this recipe completely. Mixing the elements together to form a programmer necessitates careful selection of the correct quality ingredients. Let’s take a look at what it takes to make a perfect programmer……
Read the full article at: http://www.plsn.com/current-issue/42-feeding-the-machines/17276-the-perfect-programmer-recipe.html
Tech Topic: It’s Time to GO!
Posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2015
By Brad Schiller
Automated lighting consoles are very complex machines that provide amazing abilities to transition data values utilizing various timing controls. From a simple crossfade between two cues to advanced multi-part timing and auto-follows there are a multitude of timing tools available. Although each console may use slightly different terminology, the abilities are generally the same. For the purpose of simplicity I will refer to one set of terms in this article, so be sure to reference your console’s user manual to determine the exact terms you may encounter.
Read the full article at: http://www.plsn.com/current-issue/42-feeding-the-machines/16936-its-time-to-go.html