Weekly WYSIWYG 5: BLACK BOX

Imagine a world in which a device existed that could coordinate all worlds of production (INCLUDING AUDIO), not control mind you, but coordinate – communication between gear and systems, systems helping out systems, and systems watching out for other systems to help systems do their respective jobs.

Now imagine a world where a device like this is in R+D, and a working model already exists.

Cast is developing Black Box – a project between several companies that is going to revolutionize our industry and our markets.  I’ve talked with Gil Densham a few times now, and I finally had a chance at LDI to see the Black Box in action.  Cast is shooting for a fully capable production model in September of 2009 (don’t hold me or Cast to that date, as the universe is the universe).  There are several companies that are teaming up to get this thing a kickin’, and everything depends on the coordinated efforts.  Patience, young camper, patience.

Gil explained Black Box to me with a very simple couple of scenarios – let me list one now.  Scenario 1, a moving screen.  Imagine a projection screen on a motor system that moves the projector around the stage, and a director who wants that screen to do different stuff every night.  There is an image being projected on that screen, and as the screen movess, the image needs to be constantly updated with reference to keystoning.  That image on the screen might also come in contact with some moving lights as it moves.  What happens when all of this stuff happens?  Anyone who’s programmed a DL-1 or DL-2 knows that this would be some pretty incredible progrtamming to do this live every night – how do you correct all of the keystoning on the fly?  How do you douse the moving lights that cross the screen’s path?  This is where the Black Box concept comes in.

From Cast’s press release about the Black Box concept:

BlackBox is built with special hardware and proprietary software to be an all-in-one, bi-directional high-speed communications nerve centre which enables all control devices to instruct or receive instructions from each other. Live, realtime input in all forms is received by the BlackBox, which acts as the brains – running an ultra high-speed hybrid version of wysiwyg that works with a special new wysiwyg file version (that CAST is working on now). BlackBox receives and converts live positional data about any or many moving objects, selected or deselected for tracking as required from one or several sources, applies its brain power and speed to establish the exact 3D positions of those objects, then computes instructions in XYZ, yar, pitch and roll terms, and then shoots out moving positional information to whatever control devices need it. So moving lights, set pieces, cameras etc. are synchronized and tracking the action of those moving objects – all in live realtime, all in true 3D.

These are exciting times, kids.  Exciting times.  More on Black Box to come.

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