Collaboration between academia and business has become,
well, big business. Since 1980 there have been over 4,300 start-ups that were
incubated in U.S. universities, and new spin-off and technology and patent
licensing deals are cut seemingly weekly. A burgeoning version of that is
incubating in the mind of Dana Roun, a director at Full Sail University, which
has the largest single plant of all the media arts & sciences schools in
the U.S...What Roun envisions is the fruit of collaborative labor between
students, LDs and music and live performance artists for graphics and lighting
design. In addition to the boutique companies that currently do a lot of the
custom animated content used in high-end projection systems, students in Full
Sail's stage production, game creation and other video parts programs would
offer alternatives through collaboration amongst each other across campus and
their artist-clients, such as LDs, from anywhere. "Basically, what we're
talking about building here is an asset farm, with creative content made in
partnership with artists for their shows," Roun explains. "It becomes a lab
where students build a bank of visual assets in the form of projection video,
graphics and lighting design and integrate that for any of a number of types of
clients and integrate the content across the production systems."
Daley, from "The Biz," PLSN, Dec. 2010.
In a live
show, when playing back on-the-fly (busking, winging it, or punting), I find
using the grand master and DBO button very helpful. I will often ride the grand
master fader up and down with the beat of the song or flash the DBO key
accordingly. By doing so, I can flash or pulse the entire rig without having to
create a special button to do so. However, I must be conscious of the fact that
the grand master controls all intensities on the desk. So this means that any
media servers, smoke machines, non-dims, etc., will also be turning on and off.
In some cases, use of the grand master may not be desirable simply because it
does control all fixtures in the desk...At some point in everyone's lighting
career, they will find themselves sitting at a lighting console not able to
figure out why there is no output from the desk. You will troubleshoot for
minutes or hours trying to determine why nothing is coming up. Eventually you
look across your desk and realize the grand master is at zero. Don't worry,
this happens to everyone at least once!
Schiller, from Feeding the Machines, PLSN,
Wireless DMX transmission has been around for several years,
and it keeps getting better by taking advantage of improvements in wireless
technology. In the last five years, it has become more reliable, easier to
implement, and less nerve-wracking than ever before. In my experience, those
who argue that wireless DMX is unreliable are typically reflecting on a bad
experience they had with it several years ago. If you give the current
technology a try, chances are you will not be disappointed...
known as frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) transmission differs from
fixed-frequency transmission in that the transmitter and receiver are not set
to a single frequency, as is sometimes the case with wireless microphones.
Instead, the carrier signal ranges from 2.4 GHz to 2.4835 GHz, which is known
as the ISM band (industrial, scientific, and medical), or from 5.47 GHz to
5.725 GHz, which is known as the U-NII band (unlicensed national information
bandwidth of transmission is less than 1 MHz, so several hops can be made
inside each range of frequencies. Depending on the manufacturer, the number of
hops can vary from tens to thousands of hops each second. The maximum refresh
rate of DMX is 43 Hz, which means that most wireless DMX systems are easily
capable of transmitting the maximum number of data packets with plenty of room
to spare. If there is any loss of data or data corruption, the data will be
refreshed quickly enough that the error will most likely go undetected by the
a variety of advantages over fixed-frequency radio transmission. It helps make
it more immune to interference by spreading the energy over a range of
frequencies so that any narrowband interference has less of an impact on the
entire transmission signal. It also allows a transmission to coexist with other
devices in the same transmission band and still operate effectively.
Cadena, "Focus on Fundamentals," PLSN,
bands play two or three sets of music each night and have a couple hundred
songs in their repertoire. It's tough to program individual lighting cues for
that many songs, especially since the arrangement of each song can change at
any given time. What most of us who light these acts do is create the ultimate
punt page (or several of them) to be able to grab cues on the fly and keep up
with the musical changes as they come. The hardest part of this task is making
the lighting non-repetitive. I hate seeing the same lighting effects over and
over at any show...With two operators controlling different type fixtures, it's a
lot easier to not repeat your light cues, because the chances of both of you
bringing up the same look twice is unlikely. Plus, I like to do something a
little different with jam bands. I like to give the band a bit of a light show
that they can watch while they are playing on stage. I like to fly some
structure out in the middle of the arena that can light the crowd, the ceiling
or any multitude of fabricated scenic pieces I can fly from such a structure.
Schoenfeld, "LD-at-Large," PLSN,
One of the
most common LED/image display devices is the VersaTube (or the LED workhorse,
as I like to call it)...VersaTubes work by allowing pixels from an image to be
mapped directly to the pixels in the tube. The tubes are connected to one of
two types of image processors called a VersaDrive. VersaDrive C1 is more of a
stand-alone image processor with content onboard. VersaDrive D2/D3 is the more
commonly used processor and allows an external video source to be mapped to the
array of Tubes connected to the output ports of the drive. A pixel map must be
created using proprietary software called RasterMapper, and it is easily
uploaded to the D2/D3 via RS232. Once the map has been loaded, the D2/D3 accepts
an incoming video signal and then displays it across the VersaTubes according
to how the pixels in the tubes have been mapped.
Claiborne, " Video Digerati," PLSN,
typical high school performing arts center is about a sophisticated as our
basic small-to-mid-level church is now," says Gary Zandstra, the house of worship
(HOW) specialist at Parkway Electric in Holland MI, which installs sound,
lighting and projection systems in dozens of HOWs every year. "The technology
in the larger churches is on a much higher scale and often is more
sophisticated than you might find in the other performance halls in the area."
The systems in HOW venues are more complicated because they need to cover a
wider range of applications, Zandstra adds. "You'll go from a rock band to a
100-voice choir to a single talking head in the space of one day; in that same
day, the church will hold a conventional worship service immediately followed
by a contemporary service with bands and much more in the way of production
values," he notes. "The staging needs numerous rigging points, multi-service power.
It has to handle a wider array of performances than the typical 2,000-seat or
less venue will in the course of a month."
by Dan Daley, excerpted from "The Biz," PLSN,
I find blind programming an extremely important tool when
programming any type of production.
By using the Blind key functionality, I can edit discretely, sneak data
in and out of the active look, pause what I am working on and much more. At other times, I will blindly program
cues and looks by imagining what the final result will look like with actual
fixtures. It is essential for
automated lighting programmers to become familiar with the Blind programming
functions of their console and to learn the associated capabilities. Once you master Blind programming, then
you can see an entire new vision with your programming and console operations.
Schiller, from "Feeding the Machines," PLSN, Nov. 2010.
worked with a band that had a full week of rehearsals with a lighting rig
hanging in a building. It took a full day for us to iron out the rigging and
make the whole light rig work. Then for three days we sat around twiddling
thumbs while the LD tinkered around and didn't program a single song. Finally,
the band showed up and wanted to see some looks. "Uh oh," we thought. The
designer brought up a few looks and played some video back while the band
played on the sound stage. As we sat off to the side and watched the band tell
the LD they "just weren't feeling it," we realized we were in trouble. We had
seen this picture before. When a hack designer is in hot water, they try to
deflect the blame. They chose to say that they had no programming time because
the lighting gear kept breaking and the crew couldn't make it work long enough
to program anything. Sure, moving lights sometimes break and need to be roped
down and replaced after being fixed, but that never stops any design team from
doing their gig. All I could do was sit there and feel the tire tracks as I was
thrown under the bus so someone could protect their job. This designer lost all
respect from the crew.
Schoenfeld, LD-at-Large, PLSN, Nov. 2010.
proliferation of LED video products in the market today, how does a live event
production company even begin the daunting task of finding the right product
for their applications? ...Note that
a low-quality LED may initially appear brighter than a superior one if the
low-quality device has a higher drive current. But that extra current causes the LED to heat up quickly and
ultimately fade or burn-out well short of the typical 100,000-hour lifetime of
quality displays...The safest approach is to find a vendor that focuses solely on
high-quality LED displays that meet specific brightness, contrast, uniformity,
resolution, weight and lifetime criteria.
Look for companies that use state-of-the-art LEDs and displays that can
withstand repeated mobile or modular use, especially if your event is subject
to harsh outdoor conditions (like festivals and sporting events) or heavy
travel (such as concert tours).
Also, make sure the vendor and the LED manufacturer will be available
24x7 - including weekends - in the event of any unforeseen problems on-site.
Curtis, Guest Editorial, PLSN, Oct. 2010.
The owner of a Midwest sound and lighting systems design and
integration company may have come up with a game-changer in the catwalk
department. While working on the planning stages of the Faith Family Church in
Canton, Ohio, John Westra, who owns Audio Design Specialists, a systems
integrator, and Venue
Technologies, an acoustical treatment fabricator, both based in Madison, Wis.,
was ready to install steel acoustical clouds developed by Venue Technologies as
the church's ceiling. He noted how the LD's right-angle-heavy catwalk design
seemed at geometric odds with the fan-shaped polygonal seating design. It
occurred to him that a catwalk could follow the geometry of the floor design
more precisely, and also serve as the suspension system for the facility's sound
gear, lighting components and more.
"Virtually all media-wise churches today employ fan-shaped
seating," Westra explains. "In most cases, the ceiling geometry above will
mimic the seating layout below, being either curved or polygonal, approximating
the curve, and therein lies the problem with linear catwalks. Also, catwalks
should not be limited to theatrical lighting. If properly sized, shaped, and
positioned, they can also support house lighting, work lighting, loudspeaker
systems, auxiliary video projectors, fire sprinkler mains, and, most
importantly, the ceiling itself."
- Dan Daley,
from The Biz, PLSN, Oct. 2010