Lee Kennedy, here working on automated lighting in Culbreth
Theatre, says students learn the technical aspects more quickly
through hands-on practice with Web-based, interactive software.
Kennedy illuminates computerized stage lighting
house lights dim, the stage lights go up and the technical magic
of theater begins. With the push of a button, a 13-minute automated
show fills the theater with a continuously changing dance of lights,
color, movement, music and sounds.
demonstration was created by R. Lee Kennedy, associate professor
of lighting design in the Department
of Drama, shows students in his undergraduate lighting course
how to orchestrate theater lights to control their intensity,
focus, patterns and colors, and to direct the movement of robotic
is all about the experience of light in three dimensions in real
time," said Kennedy. And the experience is powerful.
With a Teaching + Technology Initiative fellowship, Kennedy developed
an automated lighting studio, a Web-based computer interface that
brings together instructional media and computerized lighting
control. It enables his students to focus on lighting design and
critical thinking. A practical advantage is that the program bypasses
the time-consuming task of manually setting up lights.
Kennedy's Web-based instructional material is "cutting-edge,
or at least bleeding-edge," he said. "It's the first
project I'm aware of that closes the gap between traditional computer-based
instructional technology and stage lighting performance technology."
innovative joining of applications combines a fixed array of remotely
controlled, automated lighting instruments, an ordinary personal
computer and free lighting control software. Students use a simple
Web browser to bridge the technical theory of theater lighting
and the practical manipulation of lights in the studio. In fact,
students with no lighting experience can have immediate hands-on
interactivity using only basic Web navigating skills.
"The learning curve is accelerated," Kennedy said. "The
students are able to experiment and develop projects that are
much more sophisticated than with traditional classroom instruction."
advantage is that students can work off-line. The lighting software
uses a standard file format that can readily be transferred over
networks, stored on floppy disks, e-mailed as attachments or embedded
in Web pages. The portability allows instruction, as well as work
on assignments and projects, to take place both in and out of
automated lighting studio also reduces Kennedy's time-consuming
class preparation and in-class setup. The automated lights are
installed in a standard configuration that allows him to pre-program
interactive lectures and demonstrations. More time is available
for student work and one-on-one instruction.
article is reprinted from the first issue of U.Va.'s new Arts