Artistic Licence looks to the future

Friday, 21 December 2012

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UK - Artistic Licence Engineering's ongoing commitment to industry education saw company founder, Wayne Howell, present a seminar to the Society of Light and Lighting entitled Controlling Interest - The Future of Lighting Control.

Taking place in mid-December at the London Transport Museum, the 'Taking Control' evening was the final event in the Society of Light and Lighting's current programme to inform and educate participants about trends in lighting, providing a forum for debate.

Lighting designer and chairman of the Society's London Events Committee, Peter Phillipson, introduced Wayne Howell as the inventor of the lighting protocol Art-Net, a method of distributing DMX512 over Ethernet. Howell's company, Artistic Licence, makes control devices that use many lighting protocols, and is a world leader in DMX512.

Howell compared and contrasted the major control protocols in current use, explaining the respective advantages and disadvantages of DMX512, DALI and Ethernet, including Art-Net, sACN and KiNet. He delivered a useful potted history of how each protocol came about, and the context in which they are designed to be used - emphasising the message that there are no 'good' and 'bad' protocols, but only suitable and unsuitable applications for each. DALI, for example, is acknowledged as too slow to be suitable for real-time effects, but provides an economical, contractor-friendly solution for simple lighting installations.

An illuminating Q&A session followed, with a high degree of audience engagement. Important (but not widely known) facts came to light, such as when Howell clarified that cat5 cable - familiar to all electricians - is approved for carrying DMX512 up to 300m. This simple fact confirms there is no reason why this protocol should not become much more widely used in sectors other than the entertainment industry. Post-seminar discussions also revealed that the challenge of retrofit LED dimming is a major emerging theme.

"It was successful event - better attended than most, which tells us something about the growing interest and need for architectural lighting designers to get a handle on controls - and, from what I saw, universally praised by attendees," says design director of Light Bureau, Tad Trylski.

"Wayne's jovial, honest, sometimes irreverent approach was well received. He addressed some fairly complex networking issues but in a thoroughly non-geeky manner. I'd like to think everyone in the room learned something and came away with a better understanding and allayed fears of this 'black magic'."

Wayne Howell was joined in the event by Brian Cuthbertson, who spoke on the latest state-of-the-art analogue systems, and by Richard Perry, who explored recent improvements in photo-electric controls.

Look out for further network seminars from Artistic Licence at PLASA Focus Leeds, Showlight and PLASA throughout 2013.

(Jim Evans)

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