The Media Server Jun 08

What is a media server?

I was first introduced to the media server back in 2002 following a chance demonstration. I knew nothing about video, yet was captivated by the seemingly endless creative possibilities it offered to manipulate images in real time, in a way which I had not seen previously. 10 years later it’s almost impossible to imagine a time when this technology did not exist. Today they are in many control areas of theatres, tv studios and concert touring productions.

Context within the entertainment industry:

For the purposes of event technology, a media server is a playback mechanism for video content, sometimes incorporating audio and live video as well, with the unique ability to manipulate this imagery with a graphics engine in real time. Such manipulation could extend to scale, rotation and aspect, whilst combining Photoshop style effects to create masks or alter the colour, shape and form. It will have the ability to blend multiple images to composite a totally bespoke output. There are many competing products available to hire and purchase today, and each will have its own characteristics and abilities, but broadly speaking the media server comprises of a high specification of computer hardware with ingenious custom software.

Lighting and Video Convergence:

Many of the media servers have been designed by companies manufacturing lighting products. There are of course exceptions, but this has created a real crossover between lighting and video departments. They are easily controlled by lighting protocols such as dmx and ArtNet, although many work equally well as standalone products, or can be controlled by other methods such as midi or smpte timecode.

The Moving Light Programmer May 21

"What does a moving light programmer do, and what skills or qualifications do I need do I become one?":

When discussing the role of a moving light programmer, (sometimes called a moving light operator), I tend to think first about the various sections of the lighting industry where moving lights are used, as the job description can be somewhat varied within each discipline. It should be acknowledged that there are many corners of the industry utilising moving light technology. Those I have some experience of personally, and therefore consider worthy of mentioning here are: Theatre, Concert Touring, Television and Film.


Essentially the duty of a moving light programmer is to record the required data into the memory lighting console. The Lighting designer and or assistant designer will specify which lights they wish to perform which tasks, and the relevant cue information such as fade times and paths to be used. In some circumstances, the lighting designer will dictate the precise button pushes to be performed word by word. In others, more general descriptive instructions will be made with the programmer determining the methods of data entry to be used. Additionally the moving light programmer will typically be responsible for setting up and maintaining the console layout and console soft patch, along with any programming aids, with the view of speeding up the workflow for the lighting designer. They will be responsible for performing any technical programming of elements such as macros, chases, effects and mark cues the designer may require to achieve their desired looks onstage, but don’t necessarily understand the process for creating, or have time to worry about.

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