Tech Topics

Tech Topic: Smoke Signals

Posted on Friday, January 29th, 2016

hqdefaultby Brad Schiller

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.

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Tech Topic: Talking Photometry

Posted on Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

LED Array Uniformity

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

Avolites Arena consoleBy Brad Schiller

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.

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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.”

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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 and a list of how some luminaires faired in the test at

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 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……

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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.

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