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Feeding the Machines

The Joy of Theater

Brad Schiller •
  • April 2018
  • Feeding the Machines
• April 6, 2018
It seems that most of us started our fascination with light early through the magic of theater. I personally started working in theater in junior high (well before automated lighting) and assumed that theater would be my primary work going forward. Of course, as my career grew, things changed, and I have been fortunate to […] Read More...

Crafting Corporate Events

Brad Schiller •
  • Feeding the Machines
  • March 2018
• March 12, 2018
I often say that one of the best benefits of working in the lighting industry is that we get to work on a wide variety of production types. This month, I am continuing my coverage of some of these different genres of production by writing about programming for corporate events. Read More...

The Genre Series: Concerts

Brad Schiller •
  • Current Issue
  • February 2018
  • Feeding the Machines
• February 16, 2018
One of my favorite things about working as an automated lighting programmer is that there is a vast array of different types of genres to work within. While the basics of programming are the same, there are certain things that are unique to the various types of productions. Over the course of the next few months, I will cover some of the distinctive attributes that you must be aware when programming on specific types of shows. For this edition, the programming procedures and operations common for concert and live music type productions will be discussed. Read More...

Fifteen Resolution Suggestions for 2018

PLSN Staff •
  • Feeding the Machines
  • January 2018
• January 11, 2018
Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping…into the future, and another New Year is upon us. (And yes, that song was from more than 40 years ago.) The beginning of the year is often a time of reflection and resolutions. While many will try to save more money, lose more weight and finish goals, there are many other things that we each can aim to improve upon in 2018. In no particular order, I present the following automated lighting programmer New Years resolutions. Read More...
Paging All Playbacks

Paging All Playbacks

PLSN Staff •
  • Articles
  • December 2017
  • Feeding the Machines
• December 14, 2017

Automated lighting consoles have many great programming and playback features that provide many useful functions. One of the more clever functions has to do with expanding playback capabilities. Instead of being limited by the number of physical buttons and faders on a console, most make use of pages (or banks) to increase the playbacks immensely. The page functionality can be used for much more, such as organizing songs or scenes, adjusting playback styles, expanding capabilities and more. It is important for lighting programmers to understand the paging functionality of their console.

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The Other Left

PLSN Staff •
  • Feeding the Machines
  • November 2017
• November 9, 2017

Automated lighting programmers have many great tools at their disposal that aid in the programming of shows and the creation of cues. Some are more important than others, but all have their place. Taking the time to adjust parameters so that they work as expected is an essential secret of programmers. While the console’s fixture library should take care of most of these settings, they often fail or are not specific for your needs. Programmers should take the time to ensure that parameters (particularly pan/tilt) are behaving in the best method possible for each specific show.

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A Programmer's Guide to Sushi

A Programmer’s Guide to Sushi

PLSN Staff •
  • Feeding the Machines
  • October 2017
• October 12, 2017

Irasshaimase! Over the years, I have noticed that a majority of the automated lighting programmers I know also enjoy eating sushi. There are, of course, some exceptions, but I feel pretty confident in saying that most do. It actually makes sense if you think about it; there are many similarities between the raw fish cuisine and the craft of programming automated lighting. The skill of the chef, the varieties of available options, the creativity and more all align between the two very different topics. Since I personally love sushi and programming, I feel it is time to really compare the two.

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Grand Master Fader

The Grandest Of Them All

PLSN Staff •
  • Feeding the Machines
  • September 2017
• September 9, 2017

Magic fader on the desk, who is the grandest of them all?

The absolute worst moment for anyone at a lighting console is when you have been stumped as to why your fixtures have no output, only to discover that the Grand Master is down. If this has not yet happened to you, then be on the lookout because it does happen at least once to everyone. Read More...

It's not always easy to take a 'bio break.' Photo of Hot 97 Summer Jam courtesy Stageline.

The Unmentionables

PLSN Staff •
  • August 2017
  • Feeding the Machines
• August 11, 2017

The set of skills one must master to work as an automated lighting programmer range from lighting knowledge to console syntax to organization, and much more. Most people are aware of the common abilities that a programmer must become proficient with in order to provide a great programming experience.

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Sample magic sheet

It’s Simply Data Entry

PLSN Staff •
  • Feeding the Machines
• July 7, 2017

Automated lighting programmers must be very skilled at programming for various types of productions and designers. In most cases, there is a great collaborative working relationship that allows the programmer to share in the creative vision along with the LD. However, there are some shows and LDs that require the programmer to simply enter data into the desk without regard to the end result on stage. In many cases this will occur in theatrical environments, but it could also occur as part of a programming session with any production. It is very important for programmers to be ready to switch to a working format that is purely data entry.

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An exponential increase in granular control

Bits and Bobs: 8-Bit vs. 16-Bit DMX Control

PLSN Staff •
  • Feeding the Machines
• June 7, 2017

Automated lighting consoles are built around a basic infrastructure dependent on the DMX protocol (or map) of a fixture or device. Understanding how DMX values control specific parameters of a fixture is essential for any automated lighting programmer. However, modern consoles utilize complex pre-built libraries or profiles that alleviate the programmer from having to understand DMX functionality. One of the core concepts that should be understood is the difference between 8-bit and 16-bit DMX control.

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Paying to Play

PLSN Staff •
  • Feeding the Machines
• May 12, 2017

A new trend has emerged in the concert touring world where opening acts are paying a main act to get on the bill and play at a concert. Gone are the days of a management team making deals to get a band as an opening act; now it is simply who has the cash to play.

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