About QLC+

QLC+ is a cross platform lighting control software package which is free to acquire and use. This section describes how it is used in the Ladybird Studios lighting configurations.

In a live configuration QLC+ runs on a low specification micro PC running Windows 10 pro. It does not have to do much work so a low specification PC is adequate, and the only reason for using the pro version of Win10 is that remote management is enabled allowing the live configuration to be edited from the comfort of our post production studio. We have a small memory card inserted to contain data. In a test environment, or for high portability and backup we can run an alternative set-up on a MacBook Pro.

Inputs, outputs and feedback paths are defined separately within the program based on the hardware detected on startup.
- Inputs to the Win10 version are via a touchscreen for convenience and speed live, but a mouse and ordinary screen would suffice. In both cases sliders and switches are provided by hardware control units connected via MIDI.
- Outputs are via ENTEC USB - DMX converters followed by DMX splitter / buffers. This is because the ENTEC kit isn't protected and we can use long DMX runs from controller to stage.

We use an uninterrupted power supply (UPS) when working live because the boot, load and reset times for the software are quite slow. It seems all too common for the power supply to be 'flaky', and even the smallest brown-out can upset a computer. We also try to keep control, fixtures and PA supplies separated, and on different phases if appropriate.

MIDI control:
QLC+ 'knows' about a range of hardware MIDI controllers. We use a Behringer 2412 and Korg nanoKontrol2, both of which are in QLC+ list of presets. When assigning controls to fixtures it is possible to define within the program which external slider, knob or switch should be associated, either by direct definition, or by letting the program find it by 'twiddling a knob'.

Fixture definitions:
QLC+ has a comprehensive list of fixture definitions, but as is always the case, the latest one you have purchased isn't there. Associated with the control software is the capability of defining new fixtures. It takes experience to get some of the nuances right regarding the types of channel definitions, as these will determine how the program will treat a channel. As an example, only defined pan and tilt channels can be associated with an XY matrix, whereas it is possible to associate these channels with sliders or knobs and they will work perfectly well.

Virtual console:
The power of a computerised controller is to make a virtual console comprising of sliders, colour selectors, knobs, buttons and matrix controllers that represent the live stage environment. All relevant channels of each fixture will be associated with an appropriate control (slider, knob, whatever). In the case of RGB fixtures the colour can be defined by a colour-wheel style pre-select at the base of a slider that dims the lights. When used in this mode full colour would be at the 50% slider scale, with progression towards white (all on) at 100% and black (all off) at 0%. Channels that will not be used (in our case we rarely use strobe) can be assigned a preset value that is constant and uncontrolled.

Any group of fixture settings can be saved for later recall, and these can be stepped manually to form a show, or automatically in a sequence. There are presets for sets of lights such as a row of RGB fixtures, or to control moving lights in (for example) a circle or diamond.

Sound to light:
QLC+ is able to split an incoming audio signal into component frequencies and then control fixtures accordingly. It is (for example) possible to fade red lights in time to a bass rhythm, and all other colours in time with other instruments / frequencies. We use this feature with care because there is often a perceptible delay between the trigger and effect, especially when using incandescent fixtures. Manual control is often more effective.

Stage virtualisation:
It is possible to build a virtualised stage (if necessary on a separate screen) to view what each fixture is doing. This is far from perfect and there are much better virtualisation tools out there, but this is inbuilt and perfectly good for testing without fixtures being attached.

The project definition files will work on any instance of QLC+ on any platform as long as the same fixtures have been defined. This makes emergency backups relatively easy.

More information:
Use your search engine to find download links and documentation for QLC+. Once loaded it has a reasonable inbuilt help capability.

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