Theater feedback

Request a feature that you would like to see in QLC+.
Explain in details why you would need it and which is your usage case.
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Theater feedback

Post by cmuellner » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:16 pm

Hi Massimo,

as a "theatre guy" I'd like to provide some feedback from the experiences from the last show,
which has been realised with QLC+ 4.11.1 on Windows 10 / Fedora 27.

Show characteristics:
I've been asked to "make the light" of the Xmas show of a local school.
The show consisted of several 5-10 minutes acts (dances, choir, musicians, cabaret/sketch),
a 30 minute theatre play in the end, stage preparation before/after some acts,
and a moderation before all acts. The whole show took 2,5 hours.

Stage characteristics:
The area to be lighted consisted of several parts: a) normal stage (area behind the traditional
theatre curtain), b) front stage (podium in front of the normal stage, same hight level as normal
stage), c) lower stage (area in front of podium, 1 meter below normal stage level), and
d) stairs (long stairs left, right and center going to lower stage).
All these areas were used quite flexible (e.g. in one act an actor came down the left stair,
but permanent light on the left stair was not desired).

Light details:
The lights in use were mostly (quite old, but still good) PAR56s (front light, top light, stairs),
floodlight halogen lamps (top light normal stage), and two new RGB Led Washlights (effect
light on normal stage). All lights have been controlled from a Windows notebook via FX5 USB
DMX device (with a Linux notebook with a Nodle v1 as backup device).
In sum we had 11 fixtures (where some fixtures controlled several real lights).

Realisation of functions:
After watching the whole thing with making remarks of the show, we programmed
all required "scenes" of the show and put them into a "chaser".
We ended up with 30 scenes and 61 items (25 out of the 30 scenes) in the chaser.
All elements in the chaser had a common fade time (too less preparation time to optimise
this individually) and endless duration.
Additionally we had a special scene "flash", which was used to highlight artistic jumps
during a dance act (manually controlled) and other scenes for color effects
and backstage light.

Realisation of virtual console:
We used the cue list to play the chaser. Additionally we used 10 buttons for individual
effects (e.g. activate the flash scene mentioned before, turning on/off the backstage light
for the stage workers, turn on a RED/GREEN blink chaser for the last song, and
some other color effects).

* QLC+ is rock stable (contrary to quite some other comparable tools which I've evaluated/used so far)
* QLC+ is trivial to program (once one understands its concepts,
thanks for the video tutorials and the manual!)
* QLC+ with FX5 or Nodle v1 is plug-and-play on Windows/Mac/Linux
* Copying a project file from one platform to another platform is no problem
* Once the show is programmed, QLC+ can be started, put into operate mode and
be controlled by non-technical persons without problems. In fact I let a teacher and some
interested school kids control the whole show and just helped them with the timing.
* If you use Windows, you'll get a reboot during a show. Seriously. Yes, even with Windows 10.

What could be improved in QLC+:

* Multi-scene editing
During the refinement iterations the longest editing tasks were things like "the light on the
stairs is not enough" or "the light on the front stage is too strong". So changes which apply
to all scenes, where a specific light is in use.
I had to go through all scenes one by one and adjust the light level.
It would have helped if I could do a multi-scene edit, where I could set the value
for a specific fixture if it is used in the scene. In the "stairs too dark" situation above
I would then do a multi-scene edit over all 30 scenes and set the stairs to a higher level
and all scenes with the stairs in use would be updated.

* Multi-scene editing 2
Another change request was "during that act we don't need the lights on the stairs".
I have to admit that I just had to go through 5 scenes and deactivate the stairs in them.
But a multi-scene editing would allow to select all scenes for a given act and deactivate
the stairs in them at once.

* All channels view as default
For my use case I could not see why the "tab view" is the default in the scene editor.
I would be nice to have a project setting, which sets that to "all channels view" by default
for all scenes in the project. Also I'd like to go into the "All fixtures" tab instead of the "General"
tab by default for all my scenes in my project.

* Broken all channels view when adding fixture
When being in "all channels view" and adding a fixture to a scene, I got another
tab for that new fixture. Clicking on "Switch between tab view..." twice resolved this,
but I think this should not be necessary.

* Up/Down Arrow keys in function list
During programming the scenes I used to navigate quite much between different
scenes. I mostly used the "All fixtures" tab and thanks to the stateful behaviour
of the scene editor, I just had to click on the "All fixtures" once to move it there
from the "General" tab. Afterwards I could easily compare two scenes by just clicking
on them (and seeing the contents of the "All fixtures"). However being able to
navigate to other scenes via Up/Down arrow keys would be even better.
Currently when editing a scene the focus goes to the scene name, however
editing a scene name was a very uncommon use-case for me (I just did that when
creating a scene). So if the focus would stay in the function list, it would be totally fine for
me and my use-case.

* Sub-scenes
If QLC+ would allow scenes to be composed from fixtures and sub-scenes the
editing tasks would become even easier (no need for multi-scene editing then).
With a sub-scene I imagine a scene, which can be referenced/copied in a scene.
E.g. a scene "light stairs left", which would not be used alone (although it could),
but just "included" into a scene "lights stairs and front stage" and into a scene
"all lights on". When the scene "light stairs left" is now changed, both scenes, which
include/reference that scene would be implicitly updated.
Additionally it would be nice if this could be also done via copying: e.g. a sub-scene
"lights stairs low" and a scene "drama moment". Here I'd like to include the sub-scene,
but just copy the current fixtures and their values from "lights stairs low". A later change
of "light stairs low" would not affect the "drama moment" scene.

* Improved live editing
I fully second the problem stated here:
I experienced that on the second show day, in one act some children started to feel
blinded and put their hands in front of their eyes (there was no problem with the same
settings on the day before and in other scenes on the same day). My reaction was setting
the GM to 75%, which solved the situation. But the scene was too dark then. What I actually
wanted was to dim down the front spot and let the rest like it is. I have no idea how to do that
during a show...

To sum up: QLC+ is a great piece of software, which allowed me to create a good show
and collect a lot of positive feedback. And of course I'd like to share that with you guys.
So thank's for they time and work you've invested into that project.

If you have questions to the feature wish list above, then just let me know.


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Real Name: Fredje Gallon

Re: Theater feedback

Post by GGGss » Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:10 am

What a lengthy story - thanks for sharing.

If I may point out to you: submasters - This will require quite some other approach but I'd put functions together in VC (so stairs-stuff, stage-stuff, etc) and then use the submaster to control their intensities in general. So the moment you experiencing a too bright situation: simply lower the submaster for that group. This would demand a non typical cue-list workflow... you'd have to bind cue's and scenes to buttons and use feedback's to trigger them - this makes things rather (very) complex.

Multi-edit scenes: use a text editor of your choise and open the projectfile. You'll see a .xml style document. With search for ... you can easily find where a certain fixture is used in. Notice (!!) make a backup before. If you mess up the structure of the file (even by a space) it will be broken.

The reboot of win10 during the play??? What happened there? A unwanted windows update comming trough?
All electric machines work on smoke... when the smoke escapes... they don't work anymore

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Joined: Wed Jul 20, 2016 5:35 am
Real Name: Michael Clements

Re: Theater feedback

Post by clem » Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:48 am

Hi Everyone,

Here's my solution to the multi-scene editing problem:

I set up shows mostly as a series of collections, one for each lighting look. Each collection has a number of functions in which fixtures are included according to their use in the show.

This enables a scene (such as "lights on the stairs" in the example above) to be reused many times in different collections. Editing this scene will then change all instances of it.

If an instance of the scene needs to be different one then clones the original scene, adjusts the clone and then swaps the original scene for the clone in the appropriate collections.

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Real Name: Andrew Hallmark

Re: Theater feedback

Post by andrewh » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:22 pm

I agree with the previous poster: sub-scenes already exist, and they are used via collections.

I too use QLC+ in a theatre environment. In my case, I have very little setup time at the venue. As a result, I am forced to program the show blind, before even in the venue. However, QLC+ is the best software I have ever found for this, it's just a matter of learning how best to achieve it with the (many) tools available.

There are two things that are different about QLC+ that help:
1) You can reuse a scene multiple times in a cuelist (a cuelist is achieved with a chaser in QLC+) so the scene needs editing only once, even if it is used multiple times in a show, and all cues are modified
2) Collections can be used to compose a super-scene using individual, smaller scenes. This is the sub-scenes you crave - they are already there!

I did a show about 18 months ago where the stage was split into 3 separate sections/areas (3 separate bedrooms.) Each area had to be lit on its own at some points in the show, but in addition to other areas at others. I programmed the show blind, but knew I'd have very little time to correct the levels of each fixture to get the balance I wanted once I was in the venue. There were about 48 separate cues, yet I built these with only 8 scenes; most cues were a single scene, but some were collections of several scenes.

It took me about 30 minutes to correct the scenes once I got into the venue, and then the whole show did what I wanted. Only 8 scenes to correct - one of which was working lights and another the houselights! Superb! I can't think of another piece of software that could do this as well. A commercial package I used a while ago supported groups which sort of did the same, but not quite. QLC+ does it better than that package for me, because of this short setup time.

The only thing to be wary of with collections is live editing. For a show I did more recently, I composed more of the cues using collections, but found them slightly difficult to edit (without it being too noticeable.) You can't edit fixture levels via a collection, and if you click on a scene in live edit mode, anything not in that scene turns off. Editing scenes on the fly would therefore have plunged most of the stage into blackout, so I couldn't do it. As an example, I had one scene which included the lights pointing in through the doorway, which I added to collections. If I had live edited the doorway scene, everything else would have gone off, which even in a technical rehearsal is a bit embarrassing.

I've not come up with a decent compromise to this last point, yet. It might be that the ability to undock the windows, added in 4.11.1, would help - I could edit a scene in one window (with live edit turned off) and then re-run the cue in the other window to see the effect - but even that isn't as easy as live editing, because it's easy to overshoot with an adjustment and have to do the edit lots of times to get what you want.

The only solution I can think of is to allow the simple desk to edit values of fixtures in whatever scene they are coming from. However, that's not what the simple desk does at all, and I can imagine it getting really complex if a fixture happens to exist in more than one scene within a collection. That would be a real problem!

Other than this issue with editing, which wasn't a barrier but just a bit of an inconvenience, the software has really done me proud.

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Real Name: Andrew Hallmark

Re: Theater feedback

Post by andrewh » Wed Jan 17, 2018 8:32 pm

While I am replying, I wanted also to echo someone else's thoughts on reliability. For me, the MOST IMPORTANT thing about a piece of lighting software is that it is reliable. If it isn't reliable, then it doesn't matter how many clever bits of functionality are included, it's just no use to me.

I used a piece of commercial software a number of times, but it let me down far, far too often. That's what drove me away. It was prettier than QLC+ and had more functionality, but it fell over during several shows, and that _ruins_ the performance. That's just no good.

QLC+, on the other hand, has been really, really stable. I've had a couple of crashes with 4.11 during programming at home, but it's never let me down during a show. I think the issues with 4.11 have gone in 4.11.1, but they were so random and infrequent that it's difficult to tell. However, even with these couple of problems, it's been FAR more reliable than that other package to which I refer.

The reliability of this software is highly commendable, and that's down to the sheer hard work and diligence of the people who work on it - that small team of people who have helped write and maintain it. I tip my hat to you all, and thank you sincerely.

(I should say that I'm a software developer, and I know how hard it is to make really reliable software. Sadly, I don't do C++, so I can't help with the project - C++ is just too low-level for me. For that reason, I thank those that can, and do, contribute their spare time to help.)

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