Do you work in live event production? Use a Mac? If so, you’ve probably encountered QLab, the definitive application for managing cues and producing live entertainment.
Just released is version two of this amazing application. The basic version is free, like previous versions, with premium add-ons available. The change list is impressive, with a host of upgrades, bug fixes, and new features joining the ranks of the already impressive featureset.
What it is
We haven’t written about QLab before, so I thought it’d be good to give a brief outline for those of you who aren’t familiar with it.
QLab was designed primarily for theatre, concerts, and other situations where you need to have recorded cue-based playback of audio and video. QLab lets you import audio clips and assign them all sorts of properties: length, fade times, wait times, names, targets, etc. You build a show, then when the time comes to perform you simply load it in and every time a new sound or clip is needed the program will automatically ‘cue it up’ and launch it. QLab handles your levels, fades, effects, output, etc.
The new version has a brand new GUI, and it’s great. It’s streamlined from the previous version, and brings a lot of controls back into the workspace. You can now output to 48 channels per cue, allowing you to create complex multi-track effects.
As you can imagine, syncing in a live production is important, and QLab 2 improves synchronization features. There are new vamping features so if a transition or set change is taking a little longer, you can allow your music to continue indefinitely until the next cue is ready. Don’t be tripped up by cues going off at the wrong time! And a new fix prevents computer calculations from impacting the timing your cue: there’s now minimal processing interruption whenever you launch a cue.
Changes have been made to the way you look at audio: there’s now a waveform display, making it infinitely easier to trim, select sections of audio, and (also new) draw your own fade curves.
There are changes in video too: new animation cues allow you to create effects associated with opacity, scale, rotation, and transitioning. And you can even insert live video feeds now: great for broadcasting your event across a large venue in real time. Mac users might be familiar too with Quartz Compositions and Core Image filters (those are the sorts of things that power Photo Booth): now you can render your video and live video through those effects.
That’s just a brief overview: as the change list says, QLab2 has been rebuilt from the ground up and there are a vast number of exciting new features that you can check out.
As previously mentioned, the basic version of QLab is totally and completely free – no pop-ups, interruptions, or obstructions. Check it out – even if you don’t work in live audio/video production you can probably find some cool use for it (create a video/audio slideshow for a party for example).
QLab is highly recommended, and version two looks like a tremendous step forward.