Lighting Playground

When I started having a look at the new lighting capabilities of QLab 4 I didn’t have   access to a lighting rig to experiment with.  I needed a way to simulate one, that cost nothing, was reasonably detailed, and most importantly fun to use!

This chapter is not a lighting design tutorial. I haven’t lit a show professionally since 1978, but, as the chapter title suggests, it’s a ready built playground, primarily for teaching yourself (or others) how lighting works in QLab. It includes  a complete set of working files  to visualise in software a dramatic theatrical setting, lit by 35  generic fixtures, with old school scrollers, and 4 moving lights which can be controlled by the Dashboard and Light cues in QLab.

From the downloads you can get stuck in straight away, creating lighting cues  without having to learn a visualiser package. You can then go on to create your own sets and lighting rigs in what is, even in the free version, a very  capable visualiser.

Capture Nexum Student Edition

This is a fully featured lighting visualiser, with Art-Net input, that is cross platform.

There is a limited range of fixtures in this edition. but there are moving lights to play with, trusses, smoke, irises gobo’s etc.

The Student Edition of Capture Nexum is a free version of Capture that may be used for any purpose, educational or not. Feature-wise it is based on the Solo Edition, with the following differences:

  • Reduced amount of trusses and fixtures in the library.
  • 2 DMX universes can be used.
  • Opens and saves Student Edition project files only.
  • Does not export Capture Presentation files.
  • Does not export (DXF or DWG) model files.

All console connectivity options are present and fully functional.

Here it is in action with QLab (best viewed full screen):

[The visualiser is running at much  less than it’s normal frame rate because  screen recording  software is running simultaneously].

Here are  some stills, rendered directly from the visualiser.

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Here’s a link to the files so you can create some of your own cues in this workspace and model before developing your own work.

Mics QLab Lighting Demo

The paperwork is all in the folder together with a QLab workspace and a Capture Nexum File.

Here is a list of all the fixtures used in the model.

QLab lighting Demo Equipment List.jpg

There are 6 downlight specials in open white on the figures in the model, (Ch 71-76). There are four Vari*Lite VL3000 Spots in the corners of the rig with 28 channels of DMXcontrol each,(VL1-4).). The remainder of the fixtures are fresnels equipped with barn doors  scrollers. Each set of fixtures is in a group with a descriptive name.


Here are  some drawings of the rig:

Lighting Plan


Lighting section.jpg


A Quick Guide to getting started.

Install Capture Nexum from the download link above.

Launch Capture Nexum.

Launch the QLab workspace in the download.

In QLab preferences make sure you have a network connected and selected in preferences and tick the Broadcast Mode CheckBox



You should now be able to run the virtual fixtures in Capture Nexum from QLab:

Here’s a screenshot of the Capture Nexum with the external  DMX showing in the Universes Tab.

Capture Nexum Universe.png


You can now, run my demo show, and then build your own cues, from the lighting dashboard in QLab

When you are ready to make your own models and rigs in the visualiser you will have to spend a bit of time with the Capture Nexum manual. Capture is cross platform and in common with a lot of cross platform programs has some idiosyncratic non Mac ways of doing things. You should be able to learn it in a few hours.

You can of course run QLab and Capture  on 2 separate computers if you have the hardware.

You can play video cues from QLab into a Capture model, but it uses CITP rather than Syphon so you will need CITP tool  or similar software to convert a Syphon Stream to CITP.

CITP tool

The Student edition only has LCD panels, rather than projectors in its fixture list. If you have the full edition you can use projector fixtures (and put all your truss on motors and control them from QLab).


The official  Introduction to Lighting in QLab can be found here

The Capture Nexum manual can be viewed here


Chapter Image by Mic Pool

Capture Nexum is a commercial product and trade mark  of
Capture Visualisation AB,

CITP Tool is a commercial product copyright Krautscheid Medientechnik Germany

Art-Net™ is a trademark of Artistic Licence Holdings Ltd.

All Trade Marks acknowledged