When you first open QLab, you’re presented with a new, fresh document. QLab documents are referred to as workspaces. A workspace contains one or more cue lists which contain cues.
Detailed descriptions of the various cue types and cue lists can be found in other sections of the documentation; for now we will focus on what you see when you look at a workspace.
Prominently located in the top left corner of the workspace, the GO button starts, or triggers, the cue which is currently standing by at the playback position. The playback position then advances to the next cue, which will then be standing by, displayed in the standby indicator and ready to GO. The default keyboard shortcut for the GO button is the space bar. You can change this shortcut in Settings.
Located at the very top of the workspace across most of the width of the window, the standby indicator displays the cue number and cue name of the cue in the playback position. In other words, it tells you what cue will play the next time the cue list is triggered. When a cue is in standby, it will also appear highlighted in the cue list, with a small indicator arrow against the left edge of the workspace.
Beneath the standby indicator is the Notes field which displays notes associated with the currently standing-by cue.
Beneath the standby indicator and to the right of the GO button is the Notes field. Text entered in this field is connected to the currently standing by cue, and is visible whenever that cue is standing by, so it is the perfect place for notes or special instructions to your operator. Text in the Notes field is searchable using the find feature.
Next to the Notes field is the Flagged checkbox. Flagging a cue is a way of marking it for later. You might, for example, flag cues during a run through of your show as a way of notating which ones need to be reviewed after the run through.
The toolbar, found underneath the Notes field, is a ribbon of icons for each of the different cue types available in QLab. Clicking any of these icons will create a new cue of that type. Explanations of the different cue types can be found later in this documentation.
Beneath the toolbar is the cue list. It is composed of eight columns that provide information about each cue.
Along the left edge of the cue list is the playback position indicator (a right-facing grey pointer) which shows you which cue is on standby.
The left-most column displays the status of the cue:
This column also displays an icon depicting the cue’s type; these icons match the cue icons in the toolbar.
A cue number may be any text string, or may be empty. All cue numbers in a given workspace must be unique. Cue numbers do not need to be consecutive, nor do they need to be digits. Acceptable cue numbers could be “1,” “1.5,” “A,” “AA,” “A.5,” “Preshow Music,” or “Fred.” Change the number of a cue by double clicking in the cue’s number column, or by selecting the cue and using the keyboard shortcut N.
It’s important to realize that since cue numbers are text strings, “1”, “1.0”, and “1.00” count as three different unique cue numbers in QLab.
Select Renumber Selected Cues in the Tools menu, or use the keyboard shortcut ⌘R, to automatically assign new numbers to each currently selected cue in the workspace. Note that since cue numbers must be unique within the workspace, the renumber tool will skip numbers that already exist.
A cue name may be any text string, or may be empty. The name of a cue will default to reflect the name of its target; for Audio and Video cues, that is the name of the target file. For Fade cues, it will be the word “fade” plus the name of the cue that the Fade targets. Other types of cues have their own, hopefully logical, default names. You can change the name of a cue by double clicking in the cue’s name column, or by selecting the cue and using the keyboard shortcut Q. Unlike cue numbers, cue names do not have to be unique.
Note that changing the name of a cue will also change the name of any cues that target it (for example, Fade cues), if those cues are using their default names.
A key concept in QLab is that some types of cues have a target which is the recipient of the action of that cue. So, Audio and Video cues have targets, which are media files. When an Audio cue is triggered, the target file is played. Fade cues have targets, which are other cues which have fade-able parameters, such as audio levels or video display geometry. When a Fade cue is triggered, the parameters of the target cue are faded. For cues that require a target, they must have one and only one target.
Thus, the target column shows different information for different types of cues.
For Audio and Video cues, the Target column displays a round button that looks like an upwards-pointing arrow inside a circle. Clicking this arrow will open a Finder window in which you can select the file you wish to target. You can also set the target of an Audio or Video cue by dragging and dropping an appropriate file onto the cue from the Finder.
Cues which target other cues, such as Fade cues and Stop cues, will display the cue number of their target cue. If the target cue has no number, the cue name will be displayed instead. If the cue lacks a target, the target column will display a question mark. You can assign a target to these sorts of cues by typing a cue number into the Target column, by dragging and dropping the cue onto its intended target, or by dragging and dropping the intended target cue onto the cue.
The default keyboard shortcut for changing the selected cue’s target is T.
Cues which do not require a target will show nothing in this column.
Pre-wait is the amount of time that QLab waits between receiving a trigger for a cue and starting the action of that cue. For example, an Audio cue with a pre-wait of 3 would start playing sound three seconds after being triggered.
The pre-wait of a cue can be edited by double clicking and typing in the pre-wait column, or by using the keyboard shortcut E.
The action of a cue tells you how long it takes for the cue to complete, not counting pre-wait. Action is often used interchangeably with “duration” conversationally. They are one and the same. The action of some cues cannot be edited directly, but for those that can, they can be edited by double clicking and typing in the action column, or by using the keyboard shortcut D.
The post-wait of a cue is meaningful only in combination with an as-yet-un-discussed feature: auto-continue. When a cue is set to auto-continue, then it triggers the next cue in the cue list when it is itself triggered. If the first cue has a post-wait time, then, once the first cue is triggered, QLab waits for the post-wait to elapse and then triggers the second cue.
The post-wait of a cue can be edited by double clicking and typing in the post-wait column, or by using the keyboard shortcut W.
The pre-wait, action, and post-wait columns display seconds with two decimal places, but QLab is accurate to three decimal places.
When a cue is not playing, these columns will always display the total duration of the cue or its wait. When a cue is playing, you can toggle between seeing how far into a cue (or wait) you are and how far from the end of a cue (or wait) you are by clicking the arrows in the column headers.
It’s also important to remember that in the interest of keeping QLab’s interface from using too much processing power, QLab sometimes updates times as little as once per second, which means that the times displayed may appear to be wrong by as much as one second. This does not indicate that the actual behavior of QLab is off by a second, only the display. A paused cue will always display exact times.
The final column, labeled with a downwards-pointing arrow in the column header, displays icons indicating whether a cue has been set to auto-continue or auto-follow.
If a cue is set to auto-continue, as soon as the cue is triggered the next cue in the cue list will trigger as well. If the cue has a post-wait as well as an auto-continue, the post-wait will be honored before the next cue is triggered.
If a cue is set to auto-follow, then the next cue will be triggered as soon as the first cue completes. When you set a cue to auto-follow, QLab will automatically show a post-wait time equal to the action of the cue. This cannot be edited, and serves as a visual reminder of the auto-follow.
The inspector is located beneath the cue list, and can be shown or hidden by selecting Inspector from the View menu or using the keyboard shortcut ⌘I. The inspector is a tabbed interface. The Basics tab is the same for all cues and is a convenient place to adjust cue parameters such as number, name, and target. Other tabs vary based on what type of cue is selected, and will be explained later in this documentation.
The settings on the left side of the Basics tab refer to basic properties of the cue. Many of the properties shown in the Basics tab are also editable from the Cue list.
The settings on the right side of the tab refer to four ways to trigger a cue directly. You can use these triggers in any combination.
On the left side of the workspace window footer, two buttons allow you to toggle between Edit mode and Show mode. When a workspace is in show mode, the following functions of QLab are disabled:
Just as important is the list of things which are not disabled in show mode:
Show mode is a safety mechanism designed to prevent accidental changes to a workspace, not a security mechanism to prevent deliberate changes.
The center of the footer displays the number of cues in the workspace and the number of cue lists into which they are divided.
The Broken Cues icon will appear in the bottom right corner of the workspace window when (and only when) the workspace contains broken cues. Clicking this icon displays a list of all broken cues, explains why they’re broken and provides instructions for how they can be fixed. Learn more about this in the Workflow Tools section.
Click the Sidebar button in the bottom right corner of the workspace window to show or hide the sidebar. Learn more about this in the Workflow Tools section.
The gear in the bottom right corner of the workspace allows you to access its settings. Learn more about this in the Settings section.
There are several ways to make a cue in QLab:
Audio and Video cues require a target which is a file containing the relevant type of media. There are several ways to assign a target to an Audio or Video cue:
Cues which target another cue include Fade, Start, Stop, Pause, Load, Reset, Devamp, GoTo, Target, Arm and Disarm. There are several ways to assign a target to these cues:
Once started, cues continue to play until they reach the end of their programmed action, or until they’re told to stop. For an Audio or Video cue, a cue’s action is the duration of the media file which it targets unless you program it otherwise. For a Fade cue, the default duration is five seconds.
When you start a cue, the playback position will advance to the next cue. On the next press of the GO button or space bar, the next cue will start. If you’re accustomed to using a non-theatrical playback program such as iTunes, this behavior can be disorienting at first. Fear not, for this is how QLab is meant to work.
QLab can be told to GO, which is to say, to trigger the cue or cue sequence that is currently standing by, and advance the playback position to the next cue or cue sequence, in a number of ways. You can:
space(or whichever keyboard shortcut you assigned to GO.)
There are similar options for other commands such as stop, panic, pause, and so forth. The purpose of this plurality is to accommodate the myriad situations and possibilities that QLab might encounter in the world, and make it easier for you to use QLab in the way that suits your needs or your style.
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