By Brad Schiller
Published by Focal Press
Brad Schiller, a programmer and designer in his own right, is mostly known as being the Status Cue and Wholehog II guru for High End Systems. In addition, he has always been the person that I, like many others, have turned to when I've needed help understanding an arcane function on a High End fixture.
This experience has eminently prepared Schiller for his current role as author. His chosen subject, as one might expect, is the programming of automated lighting, both in theory and practice.
The main body of The Automated Lighting Programmer's Handbook covers the basic concepts of automated lighting programming. But rather than just a dry technical manual, the book is also a practical guide to the relationships and mental attitudes that are required for this most demanding, but highly coveted, of disciplines.
At 158 pages, the book is brief but provides enough information for the beginner to get a taste of what is involved in programming moving lights — other than just looking cool behind a console, of course!
Although of less interest to the seasoned professional, Schiller does give up a number of tricks and useful routines. Even the most experienced of programmers will find these interesting.
At the end of the book there is a excellent “Words of Wisdom” section. It features quotations from a good cross-section of the LD and professional programmer community, including John Broderick, Laura Frank, Patrick Dierson, Arnold Serame and some guy called Mike Falconer. This, in some ways, is the most interesting part of the book, as you get a real feel for how different professionals approach their work and what they feel is important.
The appendix is taken up with Schiller's journal of programming the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games opening and closing ceremonies. Although very politically correct, the journal does give a real insight into the programming of what was, by any measure, an extraordinary show. The occasional frustration does show through, however, and the journal is all the better for it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Automated Lighting Programmer's Handbook will, without a doubt, become the resource for newcomers to the field of moving light programming and rightly so. It is a book I would have loved to have written myself but as Brad wrote in my copy at LDI:
“Mike, I beat you to it!”