Creating a Looping Cuelist for Upload

When uploading a show to a butler, you must create your cuelist in a loop which the butler will play back continuously until it receives a signal to do otherwise. Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to make these cuelists loop seamlessly, and this is one of the most common questions I get. This article will cover three techniques for creating a seamless loop based on the type of cue you are trying to create.

1) Creating a loop for a simple list of cues.

For a cuelist that simply contains a series of looks that are played consecutively, what you need to do is start with the last frame of the look at the beginning and then fade into your first look from there. The easiest way to do this is to create a black cue at the beginning and end of your cuelist so that the show fades out then back in again… But that’s boring and rarely looks very professional. Here’s how to do it the right way:

  1. Create your cuelist as you normally would.
  2. Make sure that your last cue is set up in such a way that there are no overlapping fades happening by the end of the cue (i.e. the fade time is not longer than the wait time).
  3. Copy the last cue in the list.
  4. Paste it to the the first cue position.
  5. Go into the cue properties for the first cue (the one you just pasted).
  6. Set both the fade and wait times to 0

Now you will start with the last look, fade into the first look, go through the whole cuelist, then by the end of the last look you will have exactly the same look as that 0 count cue at the beginning so there is no skip to the beginning. As long as you don’t have any fades that are still active at the end of last cue, your loop should now be seamless.


2) Creating a loop for cuelists using the effects engine.

The first technique works perfectly for cuelists that have a set look at the end of a cue. Cues using an effect, though, will have a hard to predict state that will vary with all of the effect’s settings as well as the length of the wait time on any cue. The technique I use in this situation is based on that described above, but uses a newer feature of the programmer to fake a looping dynamic effect. This works best for more random effects an has to be tweaked for specific situations, but here is the basic idea:

  1. Create the cuelist as you normally would.
  2. Start at cue 1 and click “go” until you are running the cuel with the effect you are trying to loop live (it should be the only thing you are running). Starting from the beginning ensures that all fixtures that are still being controlled through tracking are running.
  3. Go to the cuelist window.
  4. Click on the wizard icon (the top hat with a star).
  5. Select “Record Stage Output”. This will record a cue at the end of the list called “Stage Output”
  6. Copy and paste this cue to the first cue in the list.
  7. Go into the cue properties for the first cue (the one you just pasted).
  8. Set both fade and wait times to 0.
  9. Now, the tricky part: go to the cue properties of the last cue
  10. Set the fade and wait time… these values will need to be based on the effect you are using. If it is fast and random, a .5 or .2 fade and wait may work. If its a slower one you may need them to be 3 or 4 seconds.

This will allow you to create a static cue at the beginning and end to fade to and from that looks like it part of the dynamic effect. For cues with a lot of movement with discernible positioning this can be tricky, but for sparkle, rainbows, and the like it can be quite effective.


3) Creating loops for video cues.

The first thing that I have to say about this one is that as cool as the programmer software is, it’s not magic. You cannot create a seamless video of loop out of a non-seamless video. It is the same with any software… if you don’t have a beginning and end frame that line up, you cannot make it loop seamlessly without editing the video itself (and that is a whole different article).

The big trick to creating seamless video is to adjust the timing so that the last frame shown in the cue is one frame before the beginning of the loop. I know that in the last few sections I made you have the last frame and first frame be the same. This is really for programming convenience and because when you’re dealing with basic lighting looks, you’re not going to be able to tell when a single frame is duplicated. With video, however, you will see a stutter if the first and last frames are the same, as they will be played twice in a row.

The trick is to create the video cue as you normally would, which should automatically set the wait time to the length of the video added. In videos bought off the internet, there is often an ID frame or a blank frame at the end which can cause a stutter. By adjusting the wait time on the cue playing the video by a few 10ths of a second back you should be able to find the sweet spot where you get a seamless loop.


That pretty much does it for creating seamless loops. As always, not all of these will work in all situations, but it should give you a good idea on how to come up with a creative solution to the problem. Let us know if you have any other tips for getting seamless loops!

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