Networking: Lighting the Way to a Brighter Future in Entertainment Lighting

Ashley Hohnstein, “Networking: Lighting the Way to a Brighter Future in Entertainment Lighting”
Mentor: Steve White, Theatre

A network provides the capability to maintain control over hundreds of lights and multiple sources of control, making it possible to set up and configure lighting for events of all sizes from a theatrical production in UW-Milwaukee’s Mainstage Theatre to the Superbowl halftime show. Networks have been the backbone of the entertainment lighting industry for years, but they are often seen as the most intimidating or unknown component of an entertainment lighting system. With the growing market for networking equipment that caters specifically to entertainment lighting, companies such as Electronic Theatre Controls have developed software to allow for configuration of lighting networks. ETC’s solution is a piece of software called Concert which allows users to manage and configure networking equipment from their personal computers. Over the course of eight months, Concert was integrated into UW-Milwaukee’s Mainstage Theatre. This software was used to explore how a high level of control over the lighting network can positively impact workflow over the course of producing a theatrical production. In exchange for receiving unreleased software from ETC, user feedback was provided. Contact was established directly with the development team for the software and software defects were documented and reported as they arose. It was found that this software not only provided a user-friendly way to monitor and maintain the lighting system, but it also provided users with a better understanding of the capabilities and functionality of the network within the space. As the entertainment lighting industry continues to innovate and grow, lighting systems will only increase in complexity. Having the capability to use software such as ETC’s Concert to configure the network will prove to be invaluable and is paving the way for new and innovative methods of interacting with and configuring lighting.


  1. Wow. This is outstanding. Ash–it is a real joy to see this. You may not know it but I love research–and as I am also a fan of your work this was a real pleasure. What a wonderful thing to read on a morning in May. But–even better is seeing your work and knowing that you will be contributing to art and culture for many many many years to come. Brava!–Robin Mello

    1. Thank you Robin! I will be continuing my research in lighting at UW-Milwaukee, and beyond.

  2. This was super interesting! I know nothing about theater or lighting, and learned so much. You provided a very clear abstract above. I loved how you broke down the anatomy of a defect report – it was super clear and I felt like I could (maybe) do one now. I also loved your examples of how you utilized the software in practice. I literally shouted “cool!” when you discussed completing your lighting project in your dining room. It made the project so real. Congratulations on some great creative problem solving to complete your work.

    One note for future presentations: you did a great job in the audio of explaining all of your field-specific acronyms. I would have loved to see those written out in the slides as well the first time you introduced them. I didn’t always catch them in the audio and would have benefited from reading them as you said them.

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback! The adjustment to researching from home was a difficult one, but lent itself perfectly to the research I am doing. I do forget sometimes that these industry specific acronyms aren’t common knowledge, and my industry has a lot of them- note received.

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