Automated Lighting Demonstration Version 5.2 Animation

The Automated Lighting Demonstration was created in 1996 and now in 2006 celebrates its 10 year anniversary as ALDemo 6.3 before soon being retired. The technology on which this show was built is growing obsolete. The original ETC Obsession on which the show runs is now 16 years old! It's x486 33mhz processor wasn't quite able to keep up with the show as originally programmed and as a result there have only been limited improvements made over the years. The Status Cue software used as the show controller was originally written for Win3.1 and will only run under 3.1 or win98. As a result I have to keep an old win98 laptop around to run the show.

The addition of 4 Cyberlights and a Studio Color fixture in 1999 upped the anti visually making the trackspot units (the former stars) look quite small and dim by comparison. Trying to program Cyberlights with 25 control channels on a console with no moving light functions is time-consuming to say the least. All of these factors have led to a show that is unable to be revised substantially.

Unfortunately it is unlikely that I will have time to rebuild the demonstration from scratch on one of our newer consoles and so this may be the end of a time-honored institution in the Department of Drama.

A few facts about the Automated Lighting Demonstration:

  • The show began as a 3-minute classroom demonstration done for a class called Drama 111 Intro to Technical Theatre with audio played back on a cassette recorder and manually run from a remote snaking into the booth across the hall from the classroom, with the dmx line to 4 Trackspot units snaking back.
  • The show developed into a 6 minute presentation run manually in the Culbreth theatre by 1995.
  • In 1996 I spent about 100 hours creating the sound track and programming the show and documenting it on this site.
  • The show was presented each semester around mid-term from 1996-1999.
  • In Spring of 1999 about 20 hours of additional programming time was spent adding 4 Cyberlights and a Studio Color unit to augment the existing program. The show was presented as part of a student-driven Sound/Light/Live Music/Special Effects show entitled "Mad Light Extravaganza" with an 8pm and midnight showing. About 400 people came to see the shows at $4 or $5 a ticket. The plot for this show included about 50 additional units specific to the "Shades of the Trigon" portion of the show where the lighting ran alternately on SMPTE to a video source and then on live MIDI from a live band.
  • In Fall of 2000 the show was revived as part of a Light Show that ended the USITT Fall Masterclass hosted by the UVA Dept. of Drama. Also presented was a new light show created by graduate students Michael Ciok and Laura Prim that ran on the Horizon Gold controller as well as several other undergraduate light show projects. The light plot for this show had about 80 additional units. Unfortunately due to several technological problems and operator error (LOAD ALL Michael not LOAD SHOW) the show started very late after many participants had left.
  • In Spring of 2002 I let the students convince me to organize another midnight light show event similar to the "Mad Light Extravaganza." Enough time had elapsed since the first one that I had forgotten all the reasons why I said: never again. At this show ALDemo (then 6.2) was revived yet again along with too too many student projects. It was light shows until you puke--after a while it is all just a lot of flashing lights and noise. The plot for this show ballooned to the largest yet.
  • In 2003 the show had it's most recent one-time revival as part of a multi-format production that I have now forgotten.
  • In 2006 the show was revived mid-semester as a demonstration for USEM 180 Art of Rock concert lighting. The plot in its original reduced form was then used for student projects controlled via the Horizon Gold software and a custom MIDI keyboard and web-page point and click interface.


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