Show Control Systems

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An Introduction To Show Control Systems

Welcome and thank you for taking the time to read this manual. First off, let me say that what you read in this manual will be in no way exhaustive, but hopefully it gives you the basic information and an understanding of how to set up a show control system for your theatre show.

What we will cover in this manual are MIDI, OSC, and how they work and interact with show playback software, sound consoles and lighting consoles. Specifically, we will pay close attention to QLAB, ETC Lighting Consoles, MA lighting Consoles, Yamaha Sound Desks and Digico Sound Desks. This manual will cover how to set these controls up and how to use them within a show.

As Qlab is the industry standard for show control and playback operation, we will pay close attention to this software and it will form the grounding for all our examples of operation within this manual.

Disclaimer

This manual is written by Calum Paterson, for a Negotiated Project. The Information, materials and/or technical assistance within this manual are intended as informal guidance and may change or alter in the future.

Overview of Midi

Musical Instrument Digital Interface (Midi), is a technical standard, which describes a protocol, interface and connectors. The protocol allows a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers and other devices to connect, interface and communicate with one another.

There are two main ways in which Midi is used for show control, and these are Midi Musical Notes and Midi Show Control. For the purpose of this manual I will explain the difference between these actions.

Midi Musical Notes

Midi Musical Notes carry event messages that can specify a wide array of actions, such as note, pitch, velocity, panning, etc. It is worth mentioning now, that Midi doesn't NOT carry any show media information, such as audio files or video files, but only carries the information to execute these files.

Midi Show Control

Midi Show Control (MSC), a significant real time system exclusive extension of Midi. MSC enables all types of entertainment equipment to easily communicate with each other for the purpose of show control. MSC messages are transmitted in the same way that Midi Notes are, and are completely compatible with all types of midi hardware. Modern MSC devices now use Ethernet communications for higher bandwidth. MSC messages are more likely to take the form of conventional theatrical cues, such as GO, PAUSE and STOP.

Fundamentally, both Musical Midi Notes and Midi Show Control are both acceptable forms of show control and both can be used to trigger an Midi enabled device within your show control system.

Overview of OSC

Open Sound Control (OSC), is a protocol for networking sound controllers, computers and other multimedia devices. Similar to Midi OSC is used extensively in show control operation. The advantage of using OSC is that includes interoperability, its more accurate, extremely flexible and offers greater levels of organisation.

OSC messages are primarily transmitted over Network, meaning they have a greater reach and can also be transmitted wireless over local area networks and the internet.

Like Midi, OSC does not carry any show media, but just the message to carry out the intended action.

Qlab and ETC

Qlab can communicate with ETC via both Midi and OSC.

Midi

In order to achieve show control, via Midi, between Qlab and an ETC Console you need the following:
• A Mac Computer
• Qlab Software
• A Midi Interface (or an Audio Interface with Midi Out Port, or a USB to Midi device)
• Midi Gateway (Depending on which ETC Console you are using)
• ETC Console

The following is a basic diagram of how to set up the system in its simplest form:


Qlab ETC Midi.png


To allow Qlab to fire cues within an ETC Console via Midi, the follow settings must be changed within QLAB and the ETC Console:

Step 1: Open the Show Settings with the ETC Console, this can be found by clicking on the little Triangle and double clicking Setup, then Show Settings. Within that you need to be in Show Control to access the required settings. In this menu you are looking for the MSC Receive Settings and the MSC Receive Channel Settings.

Change the following Settings:
MSC Receive from DISABLED to ENABLED
MSC Receive Channel to 0 (Zero) (This can be any number from 0 to 126, just remember to note it down)

These settings will allow Qlab to send Midi Show Control Messages to your ETC Console on Channel 0 (Zero)

Midi 1.png


Step 2: In Qlab, ensure that your Midi device is seen and patched into your selected Midi Patch. In this example we have used a USB to Midi Device.

Midi 2.png


Step 3: Within the Midi Controls Settings of Qlab, make sure that the the Use Midi Show Control is TICKED and that the Device ID matches that of your ETC Console.

Midi 3.png


Step 4: Create a Midi Cue in Qlab. Within the Settings of this cue, ensure that your Midi Destination matches the midi device you are using. Ensure the message type is Midi Show Control Message (MSC), by using the drop down menu. You can alter the Command Format and the Command by using the drop down menus to suit the need of your cue. Enter the Cue Number and the Cue List Number that you are trying to control (This is a direct match of your Cue Stack on your ETC). The Cue Number and Cue List Number can also accept point cues.

Midi 4.png

OSC

In order to achieve show control, via OSC, between Qlab and an ETC Console you need the following:
• A Mac Computer
• Qlab Software
• A ‘Network’ (Apple Airport or similar NON-INTERNET Router)
• ETC Console

The Following is a basic diagram of how to set up the system in its simplest form:


Qlab ETC OSC.png

To allow all the components to talk to each other via OSC, the follow settings must be changed within QLAB and the ETC Ion:

Step 1: Ensure that your Mac and your ETC Console are both connected to same Network Router.

Step 2: Open Qlab, withing your OSC Controls, ensure that the Use OSC Controls option is ticked and make a note of your I.P Address (This can be manually set in the System Preferences of your Mac).

Osc1.png


Step 3: Within the Network Settings of Qlab, choose the Network you are using from the drop down menu. Enter the destination I.P Address (this will be the I.P Address that you also need for the ETC). For ETC Consoles use the Port Number 3032. Click Done when you are happy.

Osc2.png


Step 4: In your main workspace, create an OSC (Network) Cue. In the Cue Settings, Choose the Destination that you are sending the OSC Message to. The Message Type should be OSC Message. Within the Command Box, you need to type the following message;

/eos/cue/XX/YY/fire

XX – Is the Cue List that you are targeting within your ETC Console
YY – Is the Cue Number that you are targeting within your ETC Console
Fire – Is the Action that you want to happen (Could also be stop, pause, etc)

Osc3.png


Step 5: Open your ETC Settings, by clicking on the Triangle and going to Show Control within Set Up.

Change the following Settings:
String RX from DISABLED to ENABLED
String RX Port to 0 (Zero)
OSC RX Port to 3032

Make sure you set the OSC TC I.P Address to your corresponding I.P Address from Qlab.

Osc4.png


You should now be able to Fire your ETC Console from your Qlab showfile.

Qlab and MA

Like ETC, the MA series of Lighting Consoles can be controlled by Qlab. Unlike ETC, MA Consoles do not accept OSC Protocols, but only accept Midi Protocols.

In order to achieve show control, via Midi, between Qlab and a MA Console you need the following:
• A Mac Computer
• Qlab Software
• A Midi Interface (or an Audio Interface with Midi Out Port, or a USB to Midi device)
• MA Console

The Following is a basic diagram of how to set up the system in its simplest form:


Qlab MA Midi.png

To allow all the components to talk to each other via Midi, the follow settings must be changed within QLAB and the Grand MA2:

Step 1: Click on the Yellow Button in the top left corner to open the Options Menu. Go to the Midi Tab. From here you can change the Midi In and Out Device.

Step 2: Open the Midi Show Control settings within the Setup of your Grand MA2 Console. In this menu you are looking for following; MSC Device In, MSC Mode In and MSC In Command.

To Receive Midi, Change the following Settings:
MSC Device In to 0 (Zero, or any number you want)
MSC Mode In to Midi (Or Ethernet, depending what connection you are using)
MSC In Command to All

To Send Midi, Change the following Settings:
MSC Device Out to 0 (Zero, or any number you want)
MSC Mode Out to Midi (Or Ethernet, depending what connection you are using)
MSC Out Command to All

MA2.png


Step 3: In Qlab, ensure that your Midi device is seen and patched into your selected Midi Patch. In this example we have used a USB to Midi Device.

MA2.png


Step 4: Within the Midi Controls Settings of Qlab, make sure that the the Use Midi Show Control is TICKED and that the Device ID matches that of your MA2 Console.

MA3.png


Step 5: Create a Midi Cue in Qlab. Within the Settings of this cue, ensure that your Midi Destination matches the midi device you are using. Ensure the message type is Midi Show Control Message (MSC), by using the drop down menu. You can alter the Command Format and the Command by using the drop down menus to suit the need of your cue. Enter the Cue Number and the Cue List Number that you are trying to control (This is a direct match of your Cue Stack on your MA2). The Cue Number and Cue List Number can also accept point cues.

MA4.png


Qlab and Stage Caller

Stage Caller is an iOS Application that allows users to trigger up to 5 “smart” devices using a modern computer via the industry standard show control software, Qlab. Stage Caller is more than just a phone ringer, you can also make devices vibrate or trigger any sound you have made. Sounds are added via Dropbox and The Stage Caller App is completely ‘Actor-Proof’ as it runs in the background of your device.

Stage Caller can be controlled by Qlab using either Midi or OSC. For this example, we will focus on OSC and how the App works on a Wireless Network.

In order to achieve show control, via OSC, between Qlab and Stage Caller, you need the following:
• A Mac Computer
• Qlab Software
• A Wireless Network (Apple Airport or similar NON-INTERNET Router)
• Smart Device (iPhone or iPad)
• Stage Caller Application ($9.99, one purchase for 5 Devices on same Apple I.D)

The Following is a basic diagram of how to set up the system in its simplest form:


Qlab StageCaller OSC.png

To allow all the components to talk to each other via OSC, the follow settings must be changed within QLAB and Stage Caller (For this example, we will use an iPhone 6 running the latest Version of Stage Caller and a MacBook Pro running Qlab 4):

Step 1 – Ensure that your Computer and your ‘Device’ are both connected to your Network (A dedicated network for Stage Caller use only is recommended to minimise any outside factors affecting your network). Do this the usual way you would connect your Laptop and Phone to a Network.

Step 2 – Check the I.P. Address on Stage Caller, this will be dictated by which ever network you are connected to. Make a Note of the OSC I.P. Address and the OSC Port, you will need this information when you change the settings in Qlab.


SC1.png


Step 3 – Open Qlab and go to the Network Settings, In Patch 1, click on the dropdown menu under network and choose the corresponding Network that you are using to run your Stage Caller (In this example it is just a standard wifi network you would find in your home). Next, input the destination I.P. Address (which you should have already noted down) and the OSC Port (which, again, you should have already noted down).


SC2.png


Step 4 – Create a new Network Cue within Qlab. Within the Cue Settings in the Inspector Box you will see that you can choose the destination. Choose the Destination that you have just created. (If you have multiple Devices within the network, you need to choose the corresponding Destination for the device you are trying to trigger). Underneath that you will see that you can give the Cue a Number (for this example, it is Cue Number 1). You can also give it a Command (The Action that the cue is firing).


SC3.png


Step 5 – Now it’s time to give Stage Caller an Action. When creating an Action within Stage Caller, it is important that the settings within the App match the Settings with Qlab. We have already set up the network settings, now we have to set up the Action Settings. When creating the Action, make sure that the OSC Trigger matches the OSC Message from Qlab. You should now have an Active Cue which you can test by firing the cue.


SC4.png


Redundant Qlab System

Adding redundancy to your system is always a good idea, and having a backup system in case your main system fails is becoming increasingly more vital to modern theatre. It is easier than you think to set up and will be a valuable asset to your show.

I will use the Example from the RCS Production of Snow Queen, in which we ran two completely separate systems of the same show.

In order to achieve redundancy in your system you will need the following:
• A Main Show Mac Computer
• A Back Up Mac Computer
• Qlab Software
• A Main Show Audio Interface
• A Back Up Audio Interface
• A Mixing Console

The Following is a basic diagram of how to set up the system in its simplest form:


Redundant.png


Qlab and Yamaha

Yamaha Digital Mixing Consoles, like their lighting brothers, can be triggered via Midi from Qlab. It works in much the same as triggering a lighting desk.

In order to achieve show control, via Midi, between Qlab and a Yamaha Digital Mixing Console, you need the following:
• A Mac Computer
• Qlab Software
• A Midi Interface (Or an Audio Interface with Midi Out Port, or a USB to Midi device)
• A Yamaha Digital Mixing Console

The Following is a basic diagram of how to set up the system in its simplest form:


Qlab Yamaha Midi.png

Qlab and Digico

Digico Digital Mixing Consoles, just like their Uncle Yamaha, can be triggered via Midi from Qlab. It works in much the same as triggering a lighting desk. You can also reversely have the Desk firing Qlab.

In order to achieve show control, via Midi, between Qlab and a Digico Digital Mixing Console, you need the following:
• A Mac Computer
• Qlab Software
• A Midi Interface (Or an Audio Interface with Midi Out Port, or a USB to Midi device)
• A Digico Digital Mixing Console

The Following is a basic diagram of how to set up the system in its simplest form:


Qlab Digico Midi.png