Creating the Automated Lighting Demonstration
The Automated Lighting Demonstration was created through a structured
design process. Although many of the parts of this process overlapped or
happened simultaneously, there were seven basic steps.
1) Research of Audio Source Material and the Visualization of Lighting Images
The purpose of the demonstration was two-fold, to explore the relationship of light to music, and to explore the technical possibilities of our lighting equipment. At the same time, I wished to convey some of the elements of lighting style associated with certain popular musical genres. With these goals in mind, I was looking for audio sources that would allow me to explore the greatest range of visual effects. Usually the music came first but sometimes I found music to support a particular image I had visualized. The basic structure of the show developed as follows:
With the structure in mind, several hundred musical sources were auditioned and notated. From these approximately 50 were selected for the final mix. To create the mix, CD audio tracks were digitally ripped from CD to hard drive and then edited and mixed to a digital four-track stereo master for transfer to CDR. (see Technology for more information).
Click to view Master Edit List of sound
source in pdf format.
3) System design
The demonstration provides an opportunity to not only drag out all of
our lighting effects, but to set up a lighting system more like that of
a concert rig than a conventional theatrical design. I worked from sketches
to design images of light in fog, incorporated familiar elements such as
a strobe and mirror ball, and plotted the position of the automated equipment
to maximize its flexibility in creating the images I had imagined. To enable
the crew to put the equipment in place for the show a Light Plot
and Channel Hookup were created.
|The Light Plot is a CAD drawing that indicates the location and electrical connection of the lighting and special effects equipment used in the show. Channel numbers on the Light Plot indicate how intensity will be controlled on the Control Console. (Click Plot to view in pdf format.)||The Channel Hookup is a spreadsheet that contains information about instrument type, lamp wattage, color, patterns, and lighting accessories in use. The Hookup is arranged in Channel order for easy reference to the Light Plot. (Click Hookup to view in pdf format.)|
4) Cue Synopsis and Construction
With the soundtrack and Light Plot in place, the long task of constructing
the moment to moment cueing of the lighting began. This process required
careful analysis of the soundtrack, time codes, and was aided by two important
|A Cue Synopsis indicates major changes with corresponding music changes. This is a rough working document. (A sample page is provided here in pdf format.)||The Cue Synopsis was expanded into a series of nearly 200 Cue Construct Sheets that detail all of the control elements necessary to create each precise change in the lighting. (Original sheets are handwritten on this form, available in pdf format.)|
5) System Setup
Before actual programming could begin, the lighting system had to be
installed in the theatre. Equipment was hung and cabled (electrically connected)
according to the information provided in the Light Plot and Hookup. Once
in place, color and accessories were added and each lighting instrument
was precisely focused and adjusted for use in the show. The control system
was also put in place and tested.
In performance lighting terminology programming refers to the
process by which individual lighting elements are created moment by moment
and stored in the computer control system. Although creating light cues
and effects requires training in the use of the control system software,
it does not require computer programming in the traditional sense.
Three important documents aid in the translation of lighting ideas and
cue constructs into actual lighting control system information.
|The Magic Sheet for conventional equipment provides a visual key to the lighting images for the demonstration as well as intensity control channel numbers for use in programming. (Click Magic Sheet to view in HTML format.)||The Trackspot Magic Sheet conveys corresponding control channel information for the four Trackspot automated fixtures used in the demonstration. (Click to view full size in HTML format.)|
|To aid in the recall of the many individual sequences and elements used to build the final cue structure of the show an Effect/Group Cheat Sheet was created. It provides a place to record information while programming to quickly recall where various elements of the show are stored. For more information about programming see Technology. (Click Cheat Sheet to view in pdf format.)|
Lighting images are created by building simpler elements into more complex elements.
7) Show-Control and Editing
Finally, when basic programming is complete, the Show-Control system is enabled in Record Mode. The demonstration is then played back with cues manually executed at the right places in the music. "Go" presses are recorded into the Show-Control Cue List as they happen, along with the exact Time-Code of the Audio CD. The Show-Controller can then be put into playback mode and the entire show played back exactly as it was recorded. Once the complete structure of the show is in place, many hours are spent manually adjusting times in the Show-Control Cue List, or within the individual Cues and Effects, to achieve a perfect synchronization between light and sound. (For more information about Show-Control see Technology.)
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