Open Lighting Project
List of projects accepted into Open Lighting Project
The Open Lighting Project is an effort to build high quality, open source software for the entertainment lighting industry.
Brief Background of Entertainment Lighting
Entertainment lighting is used in venues such as theaters, bars, theme parks, and cruise ships and the industry has typically been slow to adopt new technologies. Until recently, most lighting equipment has been controlled over a unidirectional RS-485 channel, using the DMX512 standard (written in 1986, revised since and now know as ANSI E1.11 - 2008). The use of a serial link severely limits data rate, and means data distribution products such as wireless links are expensive due to the small market. In the late 1990s, the growing popularity of Ethernet led to some within the industry to consider DMX over IP protocols. By the early 2000s, no less than 6 DMX over IP protocols had been developed, some proprietary and others public. An effort commenced to define an industry standard protocol, but scope creep meant this wasn’t published until 2009.
The Open Lighting Project
The Open Lighting Project was started in 2004 as a college honors project. The flagship product, OLA (Open Lighting Architecture: http://www.opendmx.net/index.php/Open_Lighting_Architecture) now supports 5 DMX-over-IP protocols. This was initially done by reverse engineering but recently some manufacturers have released the specifications of their proprietary protocols. OLA enables end users to use lighting equipment from different manufacturers on an IP network, freeing customers from vendor lock in.
OLA also supports 17 USB to DMX512 adaptors, allowing users to distribute the DMX control information over IP and then convert to traditional DMX512 for legacy devices. OLA also supports ANSI E1.31 (2009), the new standard for DMX over IP.
In 2010 we began work on RDM (Remote Device Management: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RDM_(lighting) ), a relatively new standard published by ANSI in 2006 which, for the first time, enables bi-directional control of lighting devices. This means that rather than relying on visual inspections, lighting operators can be notified when abnormal conditions such as over heating occur with the lighting devices. RDM is starting to see significant uptake within the industry.
Since 2010, we’ve been involved in the standards process for ANSI E1.33, a new protocol for transporting RDM information over IP. OLA is being used as a sandbox to test E1.33, as a way of ensuring the protocol works correctly before the standard is published.
In early 2011 we released the Automated RDM Responder Tests (http://www.opendmx.net/index.php/RDM_Responder_Testing), a collection of test cases which can be used to evaluate the quality of RDM enabled lighting hardware. Due to the industry’s small size, many manufacturers do not have mature software engineering processes in place, so much of testing has been manual. The release of an open source automated testing suite was groundbreaking for the industry and the software is now used by the many of the manufacturers as part of their QA process.