Working on the road as designer and operator for the past 10 years, I have rigged so many small venues, from Austin to Timbuktu, morphing the gear to fit the rig in whatever venue we were at last to today's venue.

It would be 5:00 am and we would be rolling down the highway at 85mph in the back of a tour bus. My crew and I would ponder the coming days of being able to touch up the show for the next venue or add fixtures into the programs by something we now know as “virtual programming” or “offline editing.”

Well, today it is a reality. I know what you're saying: “Ragan, this is not new technology.” True, but how well it performs and the accessibility and price range is.

We've been able to turn a few half-assed computers into some real designing machines. Our IT specialist, Howard Giddons, started with the hardware. We took some pretty no-name PCs and jacked them up with a gig of RAM and some Radeon video cards. Then, we added two 19” Viewsonic flat panel monitors.

Our second mission was to overcome software and have all the programs play nicely with each other. We added Hog PC, WYSIWYG, grandMA 3D, grandMA for PC, and Vectorworks. This little puppy barks like a monster! We can run all these programs at once, even when rendering and kicking the iTunes at the same time, and it won't crash. For a budget that came in just under $7,000, we have one pretty powerful designing/programming workstation at hand.

This is how we are able to compete for bids on tours that would take a month to work out in a traditional fashion. Now, we can have a design for a client by sundown or sunrise. No gig is too small or too big for us to handle. We are one step closer to the digital revolution!