A Plug In Primer


Pimp My QLab

Before getting in to a detailed forensic examination of the use of plug-ins in QLab, and some fairly sticky problems, I wanted to start with a few fireworks, and show what is readily achievable, with a large number of complex plug-ins, used in an optimum configuration. Here is a screen recording  of a fully pimped QLab 3 Installation with probably more cue output and device output plug-ins than are sensible!  View full screen!

With version 3, QLab opened itself up to the world of third party AU plug-ins. For smaller shows this can be immensely useful, as it may mean that for a few simple effects on microphones, or audio cues, or some simple time alignment of loudspeaker systems, that you can save some of your budget by using a simple analogue console, or no console at all.

The downside of allowing any third party software to directly interface with QLab, through the plug in architecture, is that some plug ins will work better than others, and some will not work at all. It should also be noted that the way QLab uses plugins as effects on cues causes far more complexity than when plug-ins are used in a DAW. In the DAW they are generally loaded when a session is opened, either as channel inserts or on aux busses, and stay loaded. With QLab, when used within cues, they are loaded and unloaded with the cues, which can cause problems.

This example workspace demonstrates some things that work, and some that don’t, things to watch out for to determine compatibility,  and where to place the plug-in in the signal chain. There are a lot of quite repetitive examples, but if you work through them you will potentially save yourself hours of frustration in trying to work out why plug ins are not working as you expect.

Only 64 bit AU plug-ins can be used in QLab. The examples, where possible, use the basic apple AU plug-ins supplied with your system. In situations where the Apple plug-ins don’t work I have used free or demo versions of third party plug-ins and given a URL to download them.

Audio plug-ins in cues have no metering capabilities regardless of what meters are built in to the plug in.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Waves AU plug-ins were incompatible with all versions of Qlab prior to 3.1.23 . If you inserted a Waves plug-in you were not able to scrub in any numeric field until you quit QLab.

In the screen recordings in the following examples, some vital details are quite small. It’s worth viewing them full screen by clicking on the expand arrows to the right of the video controller bar. The examples start on the next page.

Original photograph By Lionel Allorge (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)  via Wikimedia Commons. Modified image by Mic Pool, distributed under the same license. The example videos contains royalty free music by Kevin McLeod (Incompetech.com).