The Lighting Handbook by Andrew DerringtonJul 01, 2022
Article written by Omar Colom and Laura Massas
“...thought up by a tech, for techs.”
What a great string of words to start us off with the lighting handbook. Andrew Derrington truly embodies what we at AVE are doing for the community - just a tech creating content for himself to help do his job better and then releasing it to the public to help others rise up with him. I think you will find as you read through his words, the genuine love for the industry Andrew has and the passion for his chosen career path within our very industry.
Like many of you out there taking the time to learn more about The Lighting Handbook, Andrew also learned by doing which led him to a new skill through which he was able to better improve not just his work flow but what he could offer to his clients. By doing one thing for himself with his own skill at the time and developing new ones, he was able to use the app even further with other clients thereby expanding his skillset and what he is able to offer to his clients in the long run.
This app is a great tool to have in your back pocket instead of hunting down for information or spending hours doing the math for the upcoming show. Using The Lighting Handbook can not only save you time but also expose possible failures in the order itself during the pre-production. The ability to on the fly locate information when in a pinch at the tip of your fingers is also another great benefit to the app, and my personal favorite is that the developer and the user are one and the same.
Andrew is the creator of the app and from start to finish. Everything was programmed, envisioned, and personally tested during events, creating a worthwhile user experience.
Over at AVE, what we love most though is that this app is not constrained to only certain brands. It's a true library with no constraints from manufacturers or brands which really allow it to shine by being a true lighting guide!
Check out the interview below.
Responses provided by: Andrew Derrington
Q: What drove you to create the app?
A: It was partly out of boredom, partly as a personal reference for various lighting equipment. I used to work on events that we installed for 1 day, install at 5pm, ready by 7pm and then de-rig at midnight with nothing to do once it was up and running. I figured that while I had that spare time I’d start doing something productive with my time. Often when coming across new fixtures or unusual fixtures we’d need to know how many of them we could put on 1 16A feed, or we’d need to know the weight or how many DMX channels it required. I got fed up searching through websites and manuals. It was also only about a year after the iOS app store came out and so there weren’t too many apps out on the market and the iPhone was becoming a really useful tool so I thought I’d try something new and thankfully the time invested paid off and it’s been a useful tool for hundreds if not thousands of people around the world.
Q: What other apps have you developed?
A: Lighting Handbook is my main app. I’ve developed several others for myself including, Electrical Formulas, Lighting Calculator, and Dip calculator. And then I’ve developed a few other apps for a couple of event companies here in the UK, and I’ve worked on a couple of other apps but these were for a 1 off event, and I built an app for a radio station many years ago.
Q: Who are your target users?
A: Anyone who uses lights, whether they are a designer needing to know beam angles, dimmer techs requiring power consumption or LX techs needing to know how many DMX channels something takes in a weird mode. It’s aimed as being a reference guide, something quick and easy that also doesn’t require the internet to work.
Q: Do you work in the industry, if so, what sector and what’s your technical background?
A: Yes I work in live events, mainly corporate events. After qualifying with my Lighting Design degree, I continued as a freelance lighting technician. I have over the years expanded my knowledge and have worked in various roles from Production manager, Logistics, Lighting, Video and rigging. I just enjoy the camaraderie of live events and getting the show up and running.
Q: What was the process for you to code and test this app?
A: Ha, there was no real testing process in the early days, I had made the app for myself and decided that as I had spent so long on it, I’d release it so anyone could take a look and hopefully get some use out of it. I did have a few friends who installed it or used my phone to test it out, but in the very early days (pre launch) there weren’t really the tools to test the app as there are today.
Q: What was the process to unveil and launch to the public?
A: Again, there was no real process, I announced it on Facebook and most of it was then either randomly being found on the app store or word of mouth. Once it had been launched and sales were picking up I did promote it through an online magazine at the time - the name of which I cannot remember now, but I didn’t really see sales increase as much as I had hoped it would have done.
Q: How long did the total process of creating your app take?
A: To version 1 it took about 7 months, I’d never programmed anything before and so I was learning objective C (as best I could). The following years have been a slow incremental expansion of the apps features and increase of the database of fixtures and consoles.
Q: What’s your approach to user experience and design principles?
A: Try and get the information to the user as fast as possible in a clear and easy-to-read way. But again it wasn’t a clear design principle, I never really envisaged the user base it has. I’ve just always tried to make the app better, quicker to access the information, easier to read on screen.
Q: Does your app work offline?
A: Yes, for most parts of it.
All information on lights, consoles, dimmers etc are available off-line, the manuals are also available offline once downloaded,
The new premium library is not available off-line as this is actually hosted by a 3rd party company and the app talks directly to their servers, but that is the only thing that is not available offline.
Q: Is your app the same thing from when you first created it or has the idea evolved?
A: It has evolved slightly, initially it was just a manufacturer's list and 300 fixtures, now it contains more information that a LX tech might need while out on an event. Basically it's anything that I’ve found that I might need while on an event, thought up by a tech for techs. 😃
Q: What platform is this app on and how should people new to your app be using it?
A: It’s available on iOS and Android.
Q: Can you break down each part of your app and what people can and can’t do with it?
A: Lighting Library - This is the bulk of the app, This contains the 1000+ fixtures, consoles, dimmers, effects and all the relevant data that's easily accessible.
Connectors - Some of the most used connectors and pinouts for our industry.
Lamp Guide - Similar to the Lighting Library, this is a database of lamps and their data, such as colour temperature, average life house etc.
3 Phase colours - shows the colour of phases for different countries around the world - Useful for touring techs.
Access equipment - Useful information for Zarges and Tallescope access equipment, Again just a quick way of getting information.
IP ratings - Quickly find out how water tight or dust tight a piece of kit is.
Gobo & Beam Calculator (iOS only - In app purchase) - This is the same as one of my other app Lighting Calculator, It allows the user to find a required lens based on throw distance and the required beam diameter, Or find out the beam diameter by entering the throw distance and lantern lens, Or work out the throw distance based on beam diameter and lantern lens. It also allows the user to work out gobo image size based on the lantern used.
Electrical Formulas (iOS only - In app Purchase) - This is the same as Electrical formulas also available as it’s own app. It's a quick way of doing some simple load calculations and also volt drop calculations.
Q: How’s the feedback, the audience response, since launching your app?
A: As a whole, very good. There will always be people who think as they’ve paid money for it they expect it to do so much more, but most people are appreciative of what the app does, they’ll suggest improvements or fixtures to add, and I’ll do that as and when possible.
Q: What features are being used the most since launch?
A: Honestly I don’t know, there's no tracking in the app so I have no way of knowing which feature is being used the most, but the apps main selling point is the “Lighting Library” So I’d have to take a guess and say that. I know people find the other features useful but the database is the main selling point.
Q: What stands out about your app compared to other options?
A: In the 12 years of Lighting Handbook being out, I’ve not seen many other apps offering what mine does. Various manufacturers have brought out their own app, but that only covers their products and usually it’s not usable offline.
Q: How do they buy the app? Are there additional features?
A: The app is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play store. There are the in app features available on the iOS app. These will be brought over to the android version when time allows.
iOS App Store link:
Google Play link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=rg.adrengton.lighting&hl=en_US&gl=US
Q: What’s next for the app?
A: Well I’d love to recode the app from the ground up so it merges both the iOS and Android code base into 1 so it’s easier to update for both platforms. I’d also love to dedicate some more time to expanding the database of equipment as new kit comes out so quickly and it’s a slow process going through each manual for the information that I present to the user. Who knows though, any and all feedback is welcome to help its user base though.
Well AVE community, we hope this has been helpful in introducing this app to you or shedding light on some of the capabilities if it’s something you already use.
Stay tuned for the next app highlight soon!
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