Rob Halliday’s FocusTrack System


FocusTrack, the new database system for tracking and documenting the use of moving lights for theatrical productions, was on show at the 2005 PLASA Show.

Lighting programmer Rob Halliday designed FocusTrack to give those working with moving lights on a show an easy and efficient way to store and manage all moving light data for the show. This includes the setup of the moving lights (i.e. patching, orientation, loaded gobos and colors) and the use of the lights (i.e. their preset focus positions, where they are focused, and the cues those positions are used in).

Lighting programmers or assistants can manually store an array of information describing how lights are focused in FocusTrack, including grid focuses, written descriptions, and digital photographs. When using Strand Lighting’s 300- or 500-series lighting consoles, FocusTrack can create a showfile that determines which lights are used in which preset focuses, and which focuses are then used in which cue. FocusTrack can also analyze the showfile for moving lights and lights with attributes (for example, channels with color scrollers), making it easy to answer such previously tedious-to-investigate questions as "What colors do we actually use in the scrollers?" and "What gobos do we actually use in each light?"

FocusTrack makes it easy to maintain the look of a touring or long-running show. For instance, swapping out channel 1? FocusTrack can list all of its focuses and check the new light against the pictures and descriptions. If there is a particular piece of scenery on stage for rehearsal, FocusTrack can list all of the focuses involving that scenery and check the lights. FocusTrack can also step through a show cue by cue listing either all of the moving lights used in each cue or just those focuses that appear for the first time in the cue, making it easy to check and touch up the moving light focus during a dress rehearsal. FocusTrack includes check boxes that allow users to tick off each focus as it’s corrected, so users can see what’s done and what’s left to do.

FocusTrack can also control Strand consoles where required, bringing up lights in a particular focus. This simplifies the process of photographing each light in each focus: FocusTrack sets each light to the right position then checks that a picture has been taken before importing the correct photos to match each focus. When re-focussing a show in a new venue, FocusTrack can save typing as it gets each light set in the right focus group ready for its focus update.

FocusTrack is already in use on a range of shows including Mary Poppins, The Woman in White and Billy Elliot in London’s West End, Miss Saigon, Highland Fling, and Rebecca on tour around the UK and at English National Opera.

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