MagicQ MQ50 Compact Console

From Chamsys we have another lighting console in the Magic Q console range. They have recently released the MagicQ MQ50 Compact. This is

MagicQ MQ50 is part of the new generation of compact consoles, ideal for small to medium-sized venues. The MQ50 features a 10.1” Multi-touch display and ten full Cue Stack playbacks over 200 pages in a compact format. With the inbuilt pixel-mapping and colour mixing on all fixture colour emitters it will make creating stunning looks much more simple for the operator and designer.

The console supports 6 universes, with 4 assignable physical DMX outputs supporting RDM and a network port for ArtNet and sACN output. This feature packed console also includes WIFI inbuilt to the console for quick and easy connection to ChamSys MagicQ Remote focus application without the need for external networking hardware or any networking knowledge.

MagicQ MQ50 is simple and easy to use for installations, clubs, and schools while still featuring advanced features such as MagicVis and MagicHD connectivity. It uses the same software and show formats, enabling compatibility between all products in the MagicQ range. 

The console uses the MagicQ software so show files are compatible across all of the consoles and also the PC version.

Contemporary lighting fixtures are complex objects, often with a great many moving parts. A console that has to control all these parameters needs more than just a lot of power. It needs to have clever labor-saving techniques that make the programmer’s job easier and makes a successful show more repeatable.

MagicQ software rises to the occasion offering powerful lighting control on up to 200 universes with full lighting visualisation, pixel mapping, and HD media playback on up to 8 different layers, all integrated smoothly to streamline workflows, save time, and shorten learning curves on even the most complex lighting systems.

MagicQ software runs across the range of MagicQ consoles and is also available free of charge for use on PCs under Windows, Mac and Linux with 64 output universes fully enabled.
Australian Distributor: ULA Group

A New Feature

Excited to announce that I will have a few guest writers that are putting together some neat articles on the importance of the technical elements within a production. Everybody from directors, actors, and fellow techs. Hopefully, they will tell warts and all stuff. Also looking at getting others to write articles about their experience in the industry and how the current situation is affecting them.

If you feel like you could write an article for the blog feel free to contact me with your proposal. I am keen to hear from others, and I am sure the readers are also keen to hear from others.

Documenting your design: Lighting

As a lighting designer, we need to make sure our lighting design is fully documented. We need to make sure all paperwork is always up to date. This is useful for troubleshooting, touring of the show, and restaging of the production. So we need to make sure that first of all we use version control methods for all paperwork, printed and electronic.

So what documents do you need to generate in regards to your lighting design? Well, the first thing is your lighting design, a good idea to have all versions so that someone else can see the progression. You also need the patching charts, colour charts, scripts with cue points, magic sheets, and cue notes, and even original sketches. Now, this can be electronic, but a hard copy is also handy. The reason to have a hard copy printed of the documents is the fact that some people might not have the correct software to read the files. You could save or export as a PDF, as most be people have software to read them.

lighting plan

Having all of these documents means that if sometime in the future you need to restage the production. But does all of this info give you a feel for each of the states and looks? Probably not. So I suggest photographing the show. First of you can shoot photos of the lights and where they are focused. A visual aid is much better than written notes. The trick here is to make sure you use manual settings on the camera overwise you might really strange exposures that might not show enough detail of the focus. They all need to be shot from a similar position. But you may need to shoot others from different locations to show hidden detail.

Special Focus

It is also a good idea to shoot photos of each cue, this gives you an idea of the look of each cue and what you are trying to achieve when you are restaging. Also, it is handy to have an archive video of the show. This is shot from one location and has no zooming or panning. It is like an audience member watching the show. This then gives people an idea of how it flows from one scene to the next.

As you can imagine from all of this documentation you will make it easier for yourself as a designer, or someone else if you are not available, to restage one of your designs. Plus it also nice to have a permanent record of the lighting design. It is a useful reference for looking for ideas when you are working on new lighting designs. You will see how you overcame similar problems and design issues.

LSC Lighting News

Covid-19  has affected every company in the world one way or another and LSC Lighting is no different. Many of the impacts of the pandemic are still to be felt but like many other organisations they have been reassessing their future and current operations.

This seems to have forced the team at LSC to make some very tough decisions in regards to their product range. This has to lead to them discontinuing some of their product range.

As of this month, the following products will no longer be manufactured:  

Clarity  –their software partner OpenClear has also felt the impact of Covid-19, which has resulted in them no longer being able to provide fixture templates and software updates.

LX consoles  – as a result of the above and the inability to obtain older components for these products.

They will, of course, still provide technical support to their user base for the foreseeable future.

Clarity includes a powerful GUI based fixture editor that can be used to create custom fixtures when required, so users are not left unable to use their systems in the future.

This is sad news from an Australian company that has been around for a long time. I imagine many of us have used Atoms, Minim, and Maxims consoles in our early days. We have all come across their brilliantly solid dimmer racks. We have seen the product range and quality grow. We all hope that they will come through this virus a stronger and better company. We all look forward to using their products in the future.

Book Club for theatre folk

Well with so much downtime, I have decided to revisit my library. I have a fairly good range of books. So, I have decided to re-read some of these books and revisit some of the knowledge I learned from them. It has become a bit apparent that I need to refresh my knowledge. It is great refreshing my rudimentary skills, going back to the basics. Stripping aware of the fancy stuff. So here is the first of an occasional series of book reviews, from some of my older ones to any news one sent my way.

The Art of Stage Lighting by Frederick Bentham
Now this a classic lighting text. Those of my vintage probably used this book as a starting point. Frederick Bentham was one of the pioneers in the stage lighting game. And he wrote this book to share his extensive knowledge. It explains the development of stage lighting, the various fixture types. It goes into an explanation of theatre types and lighting positions and how they work in the different types of theatre, from the theatre in the round to traditional proscenium theatre. This book also covers the fundamentals of lighting, the lighting angles, the fixtures used.
Everything from how lighting from various angles affects the look and mood, to creating sunsets and sunrises. The use of colour to affect the mood and how to draw the audience’s attention to key moments and elements of the show.
A lot of the basics of lighting are still relevant, the equipment maybe better and much improved but the basics of lighting remain the same, lighting angles, use of colour.
But what is the joy of returning to this book, is some of the equipment discussed and lighting techniques for special effects. The old and what some folk would consider antique lighting controls and lanterns. A wonderful look back to when things were very different. From the warming Junior 8 to toast your sandwich to the Thorn Q-File. Also, it should make all thankful for some of the modern equipment, like computerized lighting desks. Be thankful you do not have to operate a 240-channel desk with 2 presets and handwritten lighting cues. It is a reminder of how things were and it makes you appreciate how things have improved and how much more versatility we now have with the modern equipment.
I recommend you find a copy of this book and have a read. The concepts are sound, even if the equipment is out of date.

Frankenstein – National Theatre Production

Frankenstein – National Theatre Production
by Nick Dear based on the novel by Mary Shelley

Another superb production from the National Theatre featuring a stellar cast. This is a new interpretation by Nick Dear, of the classic Shelley book. This production is directed by Danny Boyle. And it is an amazing visual sensory presentation. The main roles or Dr. Frankenstein and the Creature are played alternatively by Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller.

The set designed by Mark Tidesley is a thing of joy to look at, but I image a lot of work building and getting all the changing elements working. There is an impressive mirror wedge rigged over the stage and auditorium. From this is suspended 3,500 light bulbs, each wired individually. These add a beautiful lighting effect at key points during the show. Also worthy of note is the steam train complete with smoke and sparks, a nice steam punk element. Another beautiful staging element is the flown house. This is made from a scrim material so the audience can see the action within. When this is set alight, the fire effects are simple but effective. Lights and smoke are all that is used.

Lighting design is by the brilliant Bruno Poet.  Along with the set and the lightings use of shadows there is a Victorian feel to some of the scenes. The use of the thousands of overhead lights is tribute to the time when electric light was being introduced. The fact that each of the lights could be controlled thus gave the designers another key element to punctuate the story and adds that extra sense of drama. Another great technical element is the piers on the lake scene for when they are looking for the child that has been taken by the monster. Simple dry ice and lights, create a lovely lake effect with a boat sailing across the stage.

Overall, this production is stunning from the “birth” of the monster which makes you are inside someone’s head, largely due to the curved shape of the set. Which cast pass in and out of and climb up and down. Scenic elements like the grass path and piers all fly in and out of the setting to create locations. One interesting element is Frankenstein’s fiancé fathers house, it comes out of the floor with a rake from side to side, surely an interesting concept for the cast to get use to when acting.

When it comes to lighting, here Bruno Poet excels again. There is a beautiful quality to lighting design that he has created to make this show stand out. The use of colour, lighting directing complements the direction and controls the audience attention. He has used the soft focus followspots to gently highlight the main characters without making to stand out in the normal stark followspot as used in a lot of musicals. The lighting leads the audience through the show. It is an integral part of the production along with the direction, audio and set design. And even though there are big moments in the lighting they do not distract from the story. A lighting designers fear is that the lighting will overwhelm the show, but here the design works well.

This is a great show to see, I imagine it would have been even better in person. So, I am thankful that The National Theatre are filming these shows so that we around the world can also see them.


The Creature –  Benedict Cumberbatch or Jonny Lee Miller
Victor Frankenstein – Benedict Cumberbatch or Jonny Lee Miller
Gretel – Ella Smith
Gustav – John Killoran
Klaus – Steven Elliott
Agatha de Lacey – Lizzie Winkler
De Lacey – Karl Johnson
Felix de Lacey – Daniel Millar
Elizabeth Lavenza – Naomie Harris
William Frankenstein – Jared Richard
M. Frankenstein – George Harris
Clarice – Ella Smith
Servants – Martin Chamberlain, Daniel Ings
Rab – Mark Armstrong
Ewan – John Stahl
Female Creature – Andreea Padurariu
Constable – John Killoran
Ensemble – Josie Daxter, William Nye

Production Team Director – Danny Boyle
Set Designer – Mark Tidesley
Costume Designer – Suttirat Anne Larlarb
Lighting Designer – Bruno Poet
Music & Sound Score – Underworld
Director of Movement – Toby Sedgwick
Fight Director – Kate Waters
Music Associate – Alex Baranowski
Sound Design – Underworld, Ed Clarke P

Coping with COVID 19

So how are you coping? What measures have you taken to get through these tough times? In these times it is important that we look after our physical and mental wellbeing. We need to look within ourselves to better cope. We in the entertainment industry after pretty use to working in a team for long hours at a time and therefore the shock of not having others around is quite dramatic. We are stuck in our houses staring at the walls, depending on the restrictions put in place by the local government.

So, what have I done to survive? Well I have been upgrading my skills with a whole load of online training. Not just in lighting either, if something looks interesting, I sign up. I have been undertaking the ETC lighting console classes and also their DMX and Networking online courses. But we should not always be focusing on work related online activities, we should also be looking at activities that can improve our hobbies or even learn new hobbies. Though I don’t see myself learning to knit or crochet. I am into photography so I have been new techniques and editing skills.

You also need time away from the screen and does not just mean swapping the computer screen for Netflix or Disney. We do need to step outside and exercise. Here in Australia we have been lucky and have been allowed out exercise and get fresh air.

In these times we need to also be mindful of our family, friends and work colleagues.  We should make regular contact with them, phone, Skype or Zoom. We need to support each other and make sure everybody is okay. If we are struggling to cope, there as services you can contact for help.

beyondblue Support Service – Support. Advice. Action  
 Phone: 1300 22 46 36

Lifeline           Phone: 13 11 14

SupportAct    Phone 1800 959 500.

Treasure Island by the National Theatre

A tech review by Stephen Dean (not experienced at reviewing)

I have heard about the National Theatre doing broadcasts of some of their productions, but this is the first time I have actually watched one. Boy was I impressed. I remember reading Treasure Island as a kid many moons ago.  So, with trepidation, I sat down to watch this. I , and was so glad that I did. This great story has been beautifully crafted and staged. It captures the essence of the story and presents a great yarn for the whole family to enjoy. There is humour and dark moments to give you a nice rollicking story. The direction by Polly Findlay is great. The adaption of the Stevenson book by Bryony Lavery remains true to the story.

From a technical point, the show has the mix right, it does not overwhelm the story. The set is a living part of the show. The design by Lizzie Clachan is beautiful and the elements of old ships are so well done, with real sailing rigging used to great effect.

The scenes changes performed to sea shanties had the cast moving hauling and pushing a set that was incredibly versatile. The design of the set was just beautiful. It transformed from Jim’s home to a pirate ship to an island in what was to my mind a poetic motion. The feeling of an old sailing ship was captured. The scene changes are part of the story, it adds to the whole experience.

The lighting design by Bruno Port is just beautiful. It builds the mood and compliments the story. The use of follow spots, which I am not a great fan of, especially in a play is actually a revelation. The soft highlighting of the main character is a great use of them, without drawing attention to them. With the style of the set, it makes more sense than having a whole range of specials and allows a bit of movement space for Jim to move in the space organically. The use of colour is used in a way that builds on the story. But what is really cool from a tech point of view and also adds an enchanting element for the audience is the stars of the night sky. As we know sailors often used the stars to navigate around the globe and here the starscape that has been created also does the same thing. The creation of the constellations was a nice touch.  

There was a whole load of technical elements in the show, some small and some big, but they all come together to support the storyline. Everything gels into a great piece of theatre. You can tell that the team has worked well together to make a piece of theatre magic.

 Everything from the real fire, to the revolving set that transforms into a two-story ship and then melds into Treasure island itself. The ropes for the rigging operated by the cast to transform to a sailing ship. The parrot is a great touch as well.

This is worthy of watching repeatedly. I am hoping the National Theatre will show it again. It is a good rollicking piece of theatre that will captivate the audience. Kids and adults will all love this great show.

All photos by Johan Persson


Jim Hawkins: Patsy Ferran
Grandma: Gillian Hanna
Bill Bones: Aidan Kelly
Dr Livesey: Alexandra Maher
Squire Trelawny/Voice of the Parrot: Nick Fletcher
Mrs Crossley: Alexandra Maher
Red Ruth: Heather Dutton
Job Anderson: Raj Bajaj
Silent Sue: Lena Kaur
Black Dog: Daniel Coonan
Blind Pew: David Sterne
Captain Smollett: Paul Dodds
Long John Silver: Arthur Darvill
Lucky Mickey: Jonathan Livingstone
Joan the Goat: Claire-Louise Cordwell
Israel Hands: Angela de Castro
Dick the Dandy: David Langham
Killigrew the Kind: Alastair Parker
George Badger: Oliver Birch
Grey: Tim Samuels
Ben Gunn: Joshua James
Shanty Singer: Roger Wilson
Parrot (Captain Flint): Ben Thompson
Production team
Director: Polly Findlay
Adaption: Bryony Lavery
Designer: Lizzie Clachan
Lighting Designer: Bruno Poet
Composer: John Tams
Fight Director: Bret Yount
Movement Director: Jack Murphy
Music and Sound Designer: Dan Jones
Illusions: Chris Fisher
Comedy Consultant: Clive Mendus
Creative Associate: Carolina Valdés

Good News

We at Rambling are pleased to announce that the occasional article will now appear in TheatreArtLife. We are very happy to have articles published at TheatreArt Life, this will also increase the readership here. I suggest that you pop over to the site and see what they do. We are happy to have this collaboration. Here is also a link to Stephen Dean