Programmable lighting fetish update, late 2023

posted by Jeff | Friday, November 3, 2023, 11:30 PM | comments: 0

Last year I realized that I had enough disposable income to at least mess around with programmable, moving head lighting. Of course, I bounce around to a bunch of different interests, from day to day, or sometimes even hour to hour. #ADHD or whatever. This year I made a solid deal to buy two more automated lights, to bring my total to four. In July, I revisited writing code myself to manipulate the lights. It's kinda what I do. Then in August, I decided I was going to make a bona fide effort toward learning the things, maybe to make a second post-retirement career, or pre-retirement. I dunno.

Those August thoughts were reinforced on our last cruise, when I kind of obnoxiously forced conversation on to techies aboard the Disney Wish, to see what they were using to control lights, where I couldn't just obviously see them. As I understood, yes, they're all using MA3 consoles at this point. Then we randomly encountered the corporate director of live entertainment that we had seen previously in our summer Norther European cruise, and her enthusiasm was pretty infectious. I spoke to her technical counterpart on that previous cruise, who suggested I was going down the right path if I was interested even in a part-time career in lighting.

For Halloween, I tried to figure out what I could do with just four lights and free software, and came up with the "police light" cue shown in the video below. I loved how it looked (the video doesn't really capture it). Jack White said in It Might Get Loud how constraints force creativity, and I felt that in trying to make that happen with four lights.

So I'm still saving my pennies to hopefully get a "real" Grand MA3 console in March or April, which is to say the cheapest possible "onPC" version, meaning you need to connect it to a computer. That will give me the control surface for "real" programming and busking, which I hope will translate to something real and marketable. I'll still have to work the local network to find ways to do it for something beyond a hobby, but it's a start.

Even if it were not to lead to any practical wins, there's no price that I can put on the joy of discovery and creation that comes with this. For real, that's legit and satisfying. That's the thing that has kept me into software for so long, and almost no users will ever have any knowledge or understanding of my role in the process of making that stuff.


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