In The "Kitchen" With SoftPlot 3D
By Bill McLaughlin

This month, our guest showcase comes from longtime SoftPlot user and fan, Bill McLaughlin. Bill is a drama teacher in Ontario and has been utilizing SoftPlot on his school productions. While he admits the school productions aren't as grand as Broadway, the power of Softplot gives Bill and his crew what they need to put on a show that could rival the big boys.

Thanks to Bill for providing us a real user's insight on Softplot in action for the small theatre.

I teach drama and English at Kincardine District Secondary School, a small school in rural southwestern Ontario. Despite our small size we have a fairly active performing arts program consisting of drama, music and dance.

For about the last decade or so we have showcased these programs every year with our Spring Arts Show.

When the show first started it wasn't particularly complex technically with twelve dimmers and a two scene preset board and a few lights. We typically run with 60 dimmers, scrollers,some moving lights and seventy or so conventional instruments all run on a pc with avab safari software. The growth of the show's technical aspects has to a large degree been made possible by using SoftPlot to plot the lighting and keep all the paper work straight. We started several years ago with SoftPlot Lite and have continually upgraded and are now using SoftPlot 3D.

In addition to the Spring Arts Show, our senior drama production courses produce plays both in the drama room and on our school stage. These students study lighting design as part of their course and use SoftPlot to plan their lighting. The 3D rendering has been a big hit. SoftPlot has been a useful tool to teach the basics of reading and creating a light plot. Some of the production course students have been able to use their skills with professional summer theatre companies and we have one graduate who is now one of the few female riggers working in Toronto.

I have also used SoftPlot to design the lighting for the Kincardine Theatre Guild's production of Edna's Kitchen which was nominated for a Western Ontario Drama League lighting award.

To be honest, I had some misgivings when Crescit became part of Stage Research. We had always had very good support from Bill Kirby, the designer of the software. I was glad to see that when I had some problems installing with a new computer Bill was as helpful as ever.