Developing a Stage Lighting System from Scratch

Michael Sperber

To appear at International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP01), Firenze, Italy, 3-5 September 2001


Lula is a system for computer-assisted stage lighting design and control. Whereas other systems for the same purpose are usually the results of long chains of incremental improvements of historic concepts, Lula represents a complete redesign. Whereas other systems focus on control aspects of lighting, Lula focuses on design and generates control information from it. This approach gives significantly more flexibility to the lighting designer and shortens the design process itself. Lula's design and implementation draw from a number of disciplines in advanced programming, specifically functional programming. It is written in Scheme and runs atop PLT Scheme, and benefits from its high-level GUI library. Lula uses an algebraic model for lighting looks based on just three combinators. It employs Functional Reactive Programming for all dynamic aspects of lighting, and is user-programmable via a functional-reactive domain-specific language. Lula is an actual product and has users who have neither interest in nor knowledge of functional programming.

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