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Feeding the Machines

  • Peeling Back the Layers

    Brad Schiller | Feeding the Machines | June 14, 2008

    Each year it seems that new lighting fixtures become more and more complex.  If you attend any lighting tradeshows you will find that most manufacturers have LED fixtures, media servers and digital lighting products.  These unique products are very different in output and control from good old “automated” lighting fixtures.  Many of these units require knowledge of their protocol as well as a good understanding of how they interact with a lighting desk.

     

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  • The Wonders of CUE ONLY

    Brad Schiller | Feeding the Machines | May 9, 2008

    While I was programming a show recently, I was using one of my favorite console features and I knew right then that I needed to write about it.  Most automated lighting consoles have this feature which is a holdover from standard conventional or theatrical desks.  This feature is commonly known as “Cue Only” and is used when you are recording or updating cues.  This powerful feature behaves almost as if the console knows what you really want and takes care of it for you!  However, before explaining exactly what the feature does, you must have an understanding of basic console tracking.

     

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  • The 12 Steps of Automated Lighting Programming

    Brad Schiller | Feeding the Machines | April 10, 2008The practice of programming a show from an automated lighting console can be broken down into 12 straightforward steps.  Rarely have I seen a production fail when a programmer has followed these simple steps.  Those that do fail seldom completely follow these simple guidelines for programming.  While this manner of programming is filled with complexity and important elements, do not balk at it. If you follow these simple suggestions, you will be guaranteed a well-programmed show. Read More...
  • No Single Point of Failure

    Brad Schiller | Feeding the Machines | March 15, 2008An automated lighting programmer is often called upon to help determine the best backup plan for Front of House.  Technologically speaking, there are many types of backup solutions, some of which are very simple while others are extremely complex.  A backup plan can range from nothing to full redundancy.  Usually the importance and the budget of the event will be a key factor in determining how much backup protection is available.  Of course every system has weaknesses, but we should always strive for no single point of failure. Read More...
  • Automating the Show

    Brad Schiller | Feeding the Machines | February 28, 2008

    As an automated lighting programmer, I am often tasked with helping to automate the playback of a production. There are several approaches that are used in our industry for various types of automated lighting playback. There are also times when the lighting console needs to trigger other de-vices to ensure that the production is synchronized by the lighting console. Whether using MIDI, MIDI Show Control, Timecode, analog signals, or other custom triggers, it is important to understand the choices and how to use them.

     

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  • Choices for the New Year

    Brad Schiller | Feeding the Machines | January 18, 2008The first of the year makes me think about people starting out in automated lighting programming. One of the concerns for a newbie is deciding on a console to master. There are many things to consider when shopping for a lighting console. Essentially, in the United States there are only a few popular brands of automated lighting consoles. There are also many other lesser-known ones at various levels of cost and industry acceptance. As a freelancer, you often will be asked to make the console decision for a production or venue. While this can be overwhelming, it also can be fun. Read More...
  • Dear Bradley

    Brad Schiller | Feeding the Machines | December 13, 2007Dear Bradley is a world-famous lighting advice columnist who has graced the pages of publications such as the Broadway Programming Times and Automated Lighting Syndicate. PLSN is pleased to bring this tantalizing sample of Dear Bradley’s works.
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  • Show me the Money

    Brad Schiller | Feeding the Machines | November 19, 2007

    As an automated lighting programmer, there often are times when more than programming knowledge and experience come into play. Most pro-grammers work as freelancers and must negotiate their rates, contracts and other terms of employment. Other programmers are fortunate enough to work directly for a production company full-time, but even they must negotiate fair compensation. From day rates to travel days and per-diem, there are many things that you must consider before agreeing to take on a gig.

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  • Tracking Made Easy

    Brad Schiller | Feeding the Machines | September 12, 2007

    There are many concepts and principles every automated lighting programmer should know. The most important is probably the principle of “tracking.” It is actually a very simple concept, yet is often the most difficult to teach and learn. However, once tracking is understood, its impor-tance to automated lighting data becomes clear.

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