A strategy for controlling lighting for drama and musicals

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Michael Clements

A strategy for controlling lighting for drama and musicals

Post by Michael Clements » Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:39 pm

This strategy started as a work round for the lack of a fully featured cue stack in the virtual console. (More on cue stacks later!) Having tried it in a couple of shows, it seems to work very effectively.

I will post the workspace for the production of The Bitesized Bard by Louise Ellis-Barrett that we lit a couple of weeks ago using qlcplus 4.2.2 running on Ubuntu 12.04.

Fixtures used included 64 fresnels / profile spots, 14 LED, 29 scrollers and an effects projector (no moving heads).

On the basis that it is easier to delete or copy than to create, we have developed a couple of generic virtual console layouts containing all the widgets likely to be needed for most dramas or musical shows. They arranged in structures that allow sets of widgets to be copied or deleted quickly to produce the virtual console needed for a specific show.

Each function in the show is attached to a button. The buttons are arranged in the order that they are to be used. The entire show is inside a solo frame, so operating the next button cancels the previous producing a cross fade between the 2 attached functions.

It is therefore easy to start at any point in the show during rehearsals by clicking on the appropriate button.

Each button has a unique function attached – some functions have simply been cloned and renamed to achieve this. By doing this, only one button is on at a time avoiding possible confusion. (Several buttons attached to the same function would all come on or go off at the same time.)

The cue buttons for each "scene" in the show (i.e. things like Act 1 Scene 4) are inside an ordinary frame so that new acts and scenes can be added by copying the whole frame and then modifying its contents as appropriate.

The cue buttons are numbered underneath so that they can be referred to in the script (e.g. 2.3.5 = Act 2, Scene 3, Cue 5). It's quicker to move buttons to new positions over the numbers than to rename them.

Preshow, interval and post show cues are also in their own frames.

In the example virtual console, most buttons are not labelled since the mouse can be hovered over the button to see which function is attached if necessary.

The labels on some of the buttons show the following:

CH – button initiates a chaser (possibly as part of a collection)
FX – button initiates an effect (possibly as part of a collection)
SM – changes the colour of scrollers while the fixtures in question are blacked out while continuing with the same light output as the previous cue
MR – resets the position of moving mirrors or moving heads while the fixtures in question are blacked out (not used in the example show)
STOP – stops the previously running function
BO – blackout (this may have some fixtures left on, depending on the requirements of the play)
TAB – tab warmers (lights shining on the curtains when closed)
SM+BS – backstage working light behind closed curtains combined with changing scroller colours (and possible mirror or head resets)

When a chaser or effect is a temporary addition to other lighting on the stage, the button to start the chaser or effect and a STOP button are enclosed in their own solo frame inside the solo frame for the whole show.

The previous function then remains active while the chaser or effect is started and stopped. Selecting any other buttons cancels the chaser or effect and fades in a new function. (n.b. This can do strange things to an effect, hence the STOP button.)

When it is required to change some values instantly (e.g. for a fixture's internal pre-programmed effects) while other channels are faded, it will be necessary to attach a collection consisting of 2 scenes to the button. One scene will have zero fade times and the other scene will control channels that need to be faded.

Outside of the solo frame for the whole show are some widgets for globals and special functions and some playback masters.

Only one playback master (SRG) was used in the example show – basically to rescue the narrators if they ended up on the wrong part of the stage.

There are also some spare widget structures which can be copied as and when needed.

Michael Clements

A strategy for controlling lighting for drama and musicals

Post by Michael Clements » Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:41 pm

The Bitesized Bard workspace
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Re: A strategy for controlling lighting for drama and musicals

Post by mitchmmiller » Tue Nov 08, 2016 7:44 pm

Tried loading your show, but apparently I don't have the right fixture profiles so I couldn't view your setup. Do you know of a way for me to see it without importing all your fixtures?

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Re: A strategy for controlling lighting for drama and musicals

Post by janosvitok » Tue Nov 08, 2016 9:51 pm

Mitch, you may want to send PM to Michael, see memberlist.php?mode=viewprofile&u=1637

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