I really wish I could boast that the hit Fringe Festival show I’m directing was powered by Linux, but I can’t. I can, however, let you know that there’s definitely a growth opportunity in the theatre for open-source software.
Working in the comedy racket I’m used to fairly low-tech lighting — usually a person in a booth manually bringing lights up and down via simple faders. But the lighting board we’re using at our Fringe venue is actually controlled by computer — specifically a Windows app called Horizon.
Horizon has apparently been discontinued, and with good reason — it looks nasty.
Its functions are simple enough — the individual lights in our theatre are all controlled by Horizon. They’ve presumably been mapped out and grouped for specific looks — backstage splash, upstage and downstage wash, etc. The individual lighting cues for our show were entered manually by our technician. I watched her do it, and it seemed simple enough; she simply called up a light or group of lights and entered a duration for the cue — that is, how fast it was supposed to come up or down.
Because this legacy software is running on a similarly ancient PC I immediately wondered if there was a Linux alternative. A quick Google search when I got home revealed that there was: it’s called Q Light Controller.
I can’t talk about QLC with any kind of authority; all I can say is that it appears to be fully compatible with industry-standard DMX lighting systems. And standards are always good.
Perhaps more importantly, I asked our theatre tech if she’d ever heard of QLC. She had, an added that it’s getting fairly popular in the circles she travels in.
Though my troupe doesn’t yet have the clout to demand it in our rider, I’ll let you know when we play a QLC-powered theatre…