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Computers in Entertainment – a Talk by Rob Halliday

UK - Entertainment lighting for theatre, television, concerts and spectaculars has long adopted and then pushed the boundaries of other technologies for its own purposes.

From the late 1950s, lighting started embracing computer technology for the advantages it brought - particularly instant storage and recall of lighting states. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the technology as implemented by pioneering engineers at Strand and their rival, Thorn, as well as a few other pioneers around the world managed to stay just ahead of the very particular demands of lighting professionals as lighting rigs grew more complex and shows more demanding with the advent of colour television studios, rock shows, the arrival of the National Theatre in London and, beyond that, with the rise to prominence of moving lights and enormous arrays of LED lighting fixtures.

In this talk on Thursday 12th March at 7.30pm at The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park, Rob Halliday will look at how computers moved into entertainment lighting, from pioneering systems such as Strand's IDM up to the remarkable Lightboard created for the National Theatre, which still has some tricks that the current generation of PC-based control systems in use today can't replicate. The common link across all of these systems is lighting's critical need for things to happen right now, right on the beat of the music or the snap of an actor's fingers, not a few moments later when the computer decides it's ready.

Rob Halliday is a lighting designer and lighting programmer in theatre and live events with more than 20 years' experience. He is an expert in the development of the use of computers in the theatre, a field in which Britain led the world from the late 1960s until the mid 1980s. Rob writes a regular column, Classic Gear, in Lighting & Sound International

23rd February 2015

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