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ChamSys Stadium MQ500M

Jon Towler on Outlander TV Series With ChamSys

By News & Updates

ChamSys Stadium MQ500M

Originally published on Live Design & etnow (October 2021) *updated

STOCKPORT, UK The hit Starz TV series Outlander has captivated global audiences with its intensely visceral tale centered around time travel. And with the passage of time, of course, comes change, which is something that Jon Towler can appreciate as lighting programmer and console operator for the program.

Towler, of Nineteen Sixtyone Ltd., began working on Outlander when it debuted in 2013 at the invitation of its HOD Gaffer Scott Napier, and has been with the program for all  six seasons since. In that time, the show has made a major transition from tungsten and HMI heavy lighting into a rig consisting mostly of LED fixtures.

“Things change, and as technology has advanced, the lighting has transitioned dramatically,” said Towler. “The biggest surprise to me was how quickly the show embraced LED & wireless DMX. To give you an idea of how dramatically things changed, we started Season 1 with eight universes of DMX for the studio (controlling mostly tungsten & fluorescent). We ended Season 6 with 180 universes of DMX in the studio and 12 Universes of wireless DMX.

“The transition to pixelated LED fixtures and wireless DMX has created the tool kit the  DOP always dreamed of,” continued Towler.  “However, it’s also introduced new issues of how to control all the different types of fixtures, with each manufacturer taking different approaches to control and colour spaces. My biggest challenge as programmer/console operator is to ensure that as these changes have taken place, there are always as many options available to the DOP in the shortest time possible.”Helping Towler navigate is way through these changes, along with the other challenges involved in lighting a program that takes place in varied locations, are his own ChamSys MagicQ MQ500M console and Playback Wing.  (Outlander also carries two  MagicQ MQ100 units supplied by Panalux for some filming sites as well as a QuickQ 30 and QuickQ 20, owned by the Gaffer for smaller locations and camera tests.)

“Thanks to the high (256) universe count on the ChamSys MQ500M, I was able to make the decision to use all fixtures in 16-bit and Pixel control modes,” said Towler.  “This gave the DOP and Gaffer the ability to run effects on any fixture at a moment’s notice without needing to repatch or change modes, which saves time, something you are always short on with a program like this.  By the end of filming, we had amassed a total of 180 ArtNet Universes used.

“I should also add that not having to worry about parameter counts, means I don’t have to take a conservative approach to the lighting control,” he continued. “Everybody knows sets get added and the lighting rig grows constantly. So, it’s a relief to know I can always accommodate.”

All of the floor lighting kit is controlled using wireless DMX (LumenRadio CRMX). With the large selection of floor lamps pixelated,  Towler had to up the wireless universe count to 12, which he anticipates increasing as the program continues.

Towler described how MagicQ Swatch helped him balance colors for the program. “The issue we have with fixtures in TV & Film, is that they are mostly calibrated to different colour spaces,” he said. “This is a big challenge when trying to match the colour on different fixtures. To resolve this issue, I populate the personality palettes with the fixture’s CCT & filters. I also use custom user swatches in addition to the MagicQ Swatches, and add colorimetry for all noncalibrated fixtures. The combination of all these methods gives me the best chance of colour matching.”

Filming locations for Outlander change virtually every day, and include castles, forests, outdoor sets, studio sets, and listed buildings. The same level of lighting control is required regardless of where the filming occurs.

Towler has a shooting kit that travels to all sets and locations. All consoles have the same base programming/patching, so everything is seamless. By networking the stages Towler can control all the Stages from one central point, while retaining the option to have a console in the Studio if required.

Almost all programming for Outlander, including effects, is done only minutes before the camera turns over, noted Towler, who states “the speed at which I am able to work, and the flexibility within MagicQ, is why I am a loyal ChamSys user!”

Other features of his console that Towler finds indispensable on Outlander are The Output Plan View (“it would be nearly impossible to control a show of this size without it.”) and Motorised Faders (“a feature you don’t realise how much you need until you use a console without it.”)

Making full use of his console’s robust features and working closely with the  DOP and Gaffer, Towler has been delivering impeccable lighting control for Outlander season after season through advances in technology and changing location demands. There are many reasons why the show has been justifiably praised for making a fantastical tale seem so believable. This impressive accomplishment belongs somewhere on that list.

About ChamSys
Based in the UK, ChamSys Ltd. was founded in 2003 by a group of designers and product developers seeking to create a lighting console that offered greater flexibility.  The company’s MagicQ range has set an industry standard used in some of the most prominent concert, theatre, broadcast and club applications around the world.  ChamSys was acquired in 2017 by Chauvet & Sons LLC, a leading global provider of professional luminaires, trusses, controllers and related equipment headquartered in the USA. For more information, visit

No One Gets Out Alive
Wireless CRMX Effects

By News & Updates

We worked with DOP Stephen Murphy BSC on Netflix’s film No One Gets Out Alive (NOGOA)
Gaffer Tavi Andrescu

There was a sequence which was filmed overnight on a moving Metro train in Bucharest, which required a sequence of flashing lights down 6 carriages of the train.

Dozens of Astera Titan tubes were used to supplement the existing lighting down the length of the train, which was controlled using our CRMX TX2 Transmitters, positioned at one end of the train, with no loss of signal all the was to very last carriage.

There was no power available on the train while travelling through Bucharest, so we used a power invertor with a battery stack to supply power for the lighting desk, which was a ChamSys MQ100 supplied by PKE Lighting

To create the effect, we opted to write a custom fixture personality which gave us 2 Intensity channels, with one being used to apply custom dimmer curves, that would allow us to give each tubes their own individual fluorescent flicker instead of relying on the effect generator. This approach gave us a granular control, which could be adapted instantly without requiring time to reprogram.

The fixture personality was then adopted throughout the rest of the sets on NOGOA, wherever fluorescent lights were used.

Stephen Murphy talks more about this in his Instagram post.

“No One Gets Out Alive” | Netflix

No One Gets Out Alive
LED Candles

By News & Updates

We worked with DOP Stephen Murphy BSC on Netflix’s film No One Gets Out Alive (NOGOA)
Filmed at Buftea Studios in Romania
Lighting Rental from PKE Lighting.

Stephen Murphy asked us if we could create realistic LED candles which could be scaled up, with full colour control, and realistic flame that had movement to blend in between hundreds of real candles, 

After testing a few designs, we settled on micro clusters of 32 independent LED Pixels for each candle, and provided the console with colorimetry data for calibrated colour control via it’s colour picker. In total we added around 80 Universes of LED candles to this one set, merging with the real candles which wrapped 360° around the set.

We used our ChamSys Stadium MQ500M console, which can process up to 256 Universes on board, this enabled us to control and animate every pixel independently directly from the console, this meant we didn’t need media servers, or additional processing nodes to achieve the desired effect. This saved production thousands in both time and money.  

While we are no stranger to creating LED candles, the biggest challenge was sourcing enough of High CRI LED pixels in time, while also leaving time to build and install the candles. With just over a week’s notice Showmine (Romania) was brought in to supply, build and install all the LED candles to our design.


Original images and DOP Insight published on Instagram – Stephen Murphy BSC.

Stephen Murphy BSC
One of the final sequences in the film was shot almost entirely in candlelight: lots of candlelight! We needed hundreds of burning candles, and the art department had found fantastic candles which gave us a beautiful quality of light.

Using that many candles as a lighting source has practical ramifications. It takes time to light them all, and then you have to constantly maintain their continuity, which means time to put them out between takes. Plus they give off a lot of smoke, especially when in a confined space like we were filming in.

To help out the continuity/reset/smoke issue my brilliant desk op [Jon Towler] built hundreds of LED filaments to install inside hallowed out candles.

The art department would create trays with a mixture of real and LED candles, that could easily be moved around the room as needed. We ended up using approx 50/50 LED/real candles which made shooting with that volume of candles much more practical and i’d then use @asteraofficial tubes with a matching colour temp to supplement or key an actor where needed. I was blessed on this production to have such gorgeous sets to shoot on, the design team were incredible.

“No One Gets Out Alive” | Netflix

Chauvet Professional
Net-X II Nodes

By News & Updates

We now provide Net-X II DMX nodes from Chauvet Professional. 

Net-X II is a versatile rack-mountable Ethernet-to-DMX node, which also functions as a DMX merger for two control sources on either Ethernet or DMX inputs.

The eight 5-pin DMX outputs can be individually assigned to either of the two DMX inputs or sACN/Art-Net Universes, enabling it to operate as a DMX Buffer when not required as an Ethernet Node.

8 x 5-pin DMX outputs
2 x 5-pin DMX Inputs
LTP and HTP merging
Optical Isolated Outputs
RDM over network
10 Recordable Presets
4 x Trigger [dry contact switch] inputs


More Product Information

ChamSys Stadium
Console Upgrade

By News & Updates

We have upgraded our ChamSys MQ500 Stadium Console & Wing to the MQ500M Stadium Console, adding Motorised Faders, Fader Control Modes, Dual Colour backlit keys & RGB backlit faders.


The total universes processed on board has also increased to 256 Universes, which means additional sets can be added and lighting rigs can grow without hiring additional DMX processing nodes.

Having 256 Universes available at no extra cost, affords us the flexibility to enable multi cell control options on all fixtures, opening up more options to the Gaffer and DOP.

The console is ideally suited to handle large & multi Stage Film & TV Productions.

The upgrade to the MQ500M was just just in time to be shipped out to Romania for an upcoming Netflix Movie, where we controlled 5 sets over 3 Stages from the console, including over 80 Universes of LED Candle control.

More Stadium MQ500M Product Information More Stadium M-Wing Product Information

Portable LED Candle Lanterns

By News & Updates

For Outlander Season 4, we created portable Lanterns with an LED Candle to be used by children for safety precautions.

These candles had to had a visible flame to mimic real candles carried by adult Actors.

We adapted our existing constant current LED Candle design to work with constant voltage packs by RC4, with LumenRadio CRMX Wireless DMX.

We reconstructed the lantern to conceal all the controls and wiring, and added concealed LED in the lantern to add additional control for skin tones. 

40 Channel Wireless DMX Battery Desk

By News & Updates

We worked with EMP Designs to create a Battery Powered Wireless CRMX desk with 36 Faders and 8 Flash/Trigger buttons.

This can be used to provide tactile control for the Gaffer or DOP to remote playbacks from a console, or to simply provide manual control of dimmers or fixtures via LumenRadio CRMX.

Start address can be quickly changed to any of the 512 Channels.

Compatible with all LumenRadio CRMX Receivers, and some W-DMX Receivers.

More Product Information

Custom LED Light
for Russian Arm

By News & Updates

For Trainspotting 2, we was given 2 Weeks to design and build a custom LED light to mount on a Russian Arm. with the ability to remotely control from the vehicle.

Based on the requirements and the time available, we decided to repurpose an existing LED fixture, which has a high CRI rating.

This gave the DOP full colour control, with Red, Green, Blue, Tungsten & Daylight emitters.

A new housing was custom built, which made use of air cooling generated while driving, allowing us to remove the weight of the heatsinks, while retaining the output of the LEDs.

To further reduce the weight of the fixture, we located the power supplies at the base of the Russian Arm, in total reducing the total weight from 6kg to 0.5kg.

DMX Red Light & Bell

By News & Updates

For filming of Trainspotting 2, we was asked to create a Red Light & Bell System for the studios, that can be controlled via a tablet.

In order to keep the system flexible, we opted to create DMX controlled units, which we can either cable or use Wireless DMX.

We then used ChamSys MagicQ software to program and control the system, which was then able to be activated remotely via the MagicQ Remote App on Tablets & Phones, or via OSC.

More Product Information

Modular LED Candle System

By News & Updates

For Outlander [Season 2], we designed and supplied a modular LED Candle system, which could be interchanged with real candles where safety was a concern.

The system comprised of individual LED Nodes with hand sculptured flames, made from silicone, creating the illusion of a real flame.

They had a diameter of less than 1″ which allowed them to take on the shape of a wide variety of candles, including being used in Chandeliers.

All LED Candle nodes were fitted with compact quick release connectors, wired back to LED Controllers, with the option for CRMX control.

Platinum Charity Ball
at the Bolton Albert Halls

By News & Updates

We was approached to provide lighting for the Marcia Dooley & Peter Hamer Platinum Charity Ball, which was held at the Bolton Albert Halls.

The Evening was a sell out black tie event, and helped to achieve the fundraising goal of £20,000, with funds raised going to The Christie Charity.

We designed and setup the lighting for the evening, with equipment hire donated by PKE Lighting.

Custom LED panels in the shape of The Christies Charity logo, was provided by ICS Lighting to personalise the event.

MediaCityUK Launch Event

By News & Updates

To Officially launch MediaCityUK, Peel Holdings hosted an event at the Pie Factory Studios, Salford Quays.

Guests included industry professionals, from production companies, service companies, and freelancers.

We designed and controlled the lighting for the evening, which was supplied by PKE Lighting.