Saturday, July 07, 2007

Pillow Posts -- 7/7/07

I had a long talk with Brian and Mark today about the state of computers in theatre, and it seems that the theatrical world is a strange mix of low and high tech. For instance, ETC, the dominant maker of lighting consoles, still produces and sells DOS-based lighting consoles, long after DOS has ceased to be even a remotely viable operating system. Not only that, but even though all consoles have the capability to store a show to a floppy (!) disk, there is no standardized format for storing shows, and no one has made a translation program.

This means that if you are a traveling show, and you want your show to run at a theatre, but that theatre has a different type of lighting console than you do, then you either bring your console along with you (there is a standard for how consoles control lights, thank goodness), or you have to print out all your lighting cues and have someone manually type them in once you get to the new place. There is another piece of annoyance in getting from design to execution. The design program that most lighting designers use is called VectorWorks, and it has pretty advanced lighting design and management capabilities when combined with a program called LightWright. It can deal with circuits, dimmers, channels, hanging positions, and instrument types. Unfortunately, there is no effective way to go directly from a VectorWorks plot to a lighting console and have it work.

These all sound like problems that could be solved with not very much trouble, given enough time and effort. I may make theatrical programming projects into a hobby of mine next year, to keep my hand in.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I totally feel like there is a program for exporting things out of Vectorworks. I think it's for a different brand of boards or something, though. Maybe something with the high-end boards for intelligent fixtures (Hogs, etc). Or maybe it exports out of LW. I have yet to play with the free LW demo, but it's fully functional, so maybe it's in there. But it really sounds like something I've heard of from somewhere, but now I'm in AZ and can't ask Joe.