Manchester Metropolitan University's Research Repository

    Pre-visualising Progress: A New Paradigm for the Intuitive Design and Control of Theatrical and Stage Lighting

    Schwarz, David Adam (2023) Pre-visualising Progress: A New Paradigm for the Intuitive Design and Control of Theatrical and Stage Lighting. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


    Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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    This thesis investigates the development of an alternative paradigm to conventional theatrical lighting systems, towards recommending developments for the next stages of lighting technology which is more intuitive for a less technically trained end-user. It first looks to understand aspects of the existing foundation of historical and contemporary practice and technology through literature; establishing where these are relevant to common contemporary control methods and technologies to provide context for any potential change. Following this, target group practitioners are consulted through interviews to determine their experiences using existing systems. Their frustrations and needs are identified through analysis of this feedback and used to refine the research questions and aims. Several potential system concepts and ideas are then formulated based on this consultation, combined with a technical and contextual understanding of contemporary control technologies and methods. A novel functional lighting design and control system is developed and documented, using the Unity games development platform and real-time spatial positioning technology. The system is then evaluated against commercial systems to determine the potential of the underlying proposed paradigm and to inform further refinements. Results of this usability evaluation are presented, demonstrating significant improvements in usability for these targeted user groups when using the proposed paradigm in comparison to available solutions. This usability improvement is found to be consistent across both lighting design and control tasks. The final chapter details the fully realised paradigm model of a more intuitive and intelligent system to enable the effective communication of design intent and control for creative and technical theatrical practitioners. Finally, some indications of potential future work are identified, based on the overall findings of the research.

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