Originally published in Encore
The question that is often asked can I use my laptop, iPad, etc to do lighting and audio for the show. The short answer is yes. There are large ranges of product out there that are available to do these tasks. So what are the pro’s and cons.
There is an advantage to using a dedicated system on your pc. It all depends on the application. A touring show can benefit from being run from a laptop. Some shows the Lighting Designer Operator uses a laptop to design and operate and it is easy for them to travel the world. The same can be said for audio playback. There is specialized software for lighting and audio and all they require is a dedicated device to connect to the lighting or audio system.
The problem with using a pc is that people will have it connect to the internet or play games on the system. This may lead to instability. If you are going to use a computer, keep it for that task only. This is where dedicated equipment shines; it is designed for one task only. Since it is for the one task it is going to do it well.
A PC can be a great playback device for audio, it is possible to make changes to the show as it evolves. The only disadvantage is that people seem to be using MP3 files, these are not as high quality like a wave audio file. Some of the worse devices for audio are in fact portable media players like iPods, and the dreaded mobile phone. I have been offered a phone to play audio – I promptly handed it back with a firm NO.
So you can see you have a choice – it depends on what you are comfortable with and will it do the job.