Article from Issue 281/2024

Returning to London from Vancouver this month, Graham was incredibly lucky to have his flight enveloped by the northern lights, cascading down over the entire plane for at least 60 minutes.

Lighting IDE

Q Light Controller Plus 5.0.0

A decade or two ago, if your software needs were slightly non-mainstream and unusual, you'd likely spend a small fortune on a proprietary solution. This solution would lock you into its ecosystem and refuse to let you leave, and you'd probably still be using it today if open source hadn't saved the day. While open source applications are famous for competing with industry-dominating applications like Adobe Photoshop, they're equally brilliant at helping people with more esoteric needs. If a developer has a passion for origami, for example, they're more inclined to release their software as open source for other enthusiasts rather than capitalize on it to make money. We saw this with the modular automation environment Chataigne and see it again here with Q Light Controller Plus (QLC+).

QLC+ is an application developed to control lights and lighting setups. Its intended targets are the lights used (e.g., for a stage performance). QLC+ can control the lighting and any motion functionality your lights have, like sequenced moving. The established DMX protocol is used to control these elements, and a single DMX channel controls each parameter. DMX is embedded in costly lighting controllers, but with an inexpensive USB DMX interface (about $15) connected to your computer, QLC+ performs the same job.

When you first launch QLC+, you'll need to configure which DMX interfaces you're using and then add your lights to a lighting "universe," (lights working together for a specific purpose). Later you can create macro controls for the lights within a specific universe, or create multiple universes for extra control. The lights are attached to fixtures such as horizontal poles, and configuring these from a Fixture Creator is the next step so that QLC+ has knowledge of the physical layout. QLC+ has a database of 1,000 fixtures and their configurations, and you'll need to select which you're using and assign each capability to a range of addresses for each channel they need on your interface. A simple slider view can now be used to test your equipment, turning your screen into a wide virtual mixer with faders to control your lights. Faders are mapped to the channels and can typically change the RGB values of a light and the brightness. If your lights have motion (e.g., the ability to rotate), these values can be tested and changed.


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