WYSIWYG Release 24: Virtual Lighting Designer Heaven

WYG-title

Over the last few weeks I have been testing out Cast Lighting’s new release for WYSIWYG – Release 24.  In the last year, R22 and R23 have revolutionized the way that we’ve been thinking about viz software, and R24 is the crown jewel of the improvements in R22 and R23.  The real-time rendering engine in R24 is so full of awesome that there is next to no need to sit and wait for a rendering of the look.

The interesting movement in R24 is that the processing feels like it has been allocated in the most efficient way – meaning graphic properties seem to be moved to the GPU, and numeric functions have been retained into the CPU.  I could be totally off here, but I have used the program on a very, very slow machine and on my laptop, which is configured to be a desktop replacement.  Nothing lags, nothing drags, and I have not crashed it yet.  Believe me, I have been trying!

There are some excellent new features in Release 24 that everyone should know about – from the ability to snap a pic of your instrument’s focus and send it up to the electrician in the cherry picker for focus, to live beam-in video for digital lights across a network:

  • LED: R24’s LED models use a point source to better represent a diode for LED fixtures and LED walls that look better and enhance overall efficiency and performance when dealing with all LEDs. New LED light sources and LED flare capability offer better representation in Shaded Views for better presentation.
  • Colour temperature: Information from WYG libraries includes lamp wattages that more accurately display photometrics.
  • Hot Spots: Hot spots add another aspect of realism to looks – fixture footprints are based on photometric data.
  • R24 introduces a time-of-day capability in Shaded Views. Use climatic or environmental conditions specific to the time, place and even weather, specific to an event’s geographical location anywhere around the world to test ideas and demonstrate work.
  • Geometry Smoothing in OpenGL: This new shading technique delivers better-looking sets and people, plus a performance boost.
  • Inverse Square Law: A new upgrade in R24, it calculates accurate beam drop-off in visualization calculations.  Hot spots have also been integrated into the Shaded View, giving a lot more realism to the visualizations.
  • CITP Protocol for Video, which allows consoles supporting this protocol to stream video content across a network into wysiwyg to be displayed on a video screen or a digital light fixture.

Time of Day information is one of the coolest features relevant to me right now – I have been experimenting with different structures, times of day, and locations in the new release.  Using just the included file of an outdoor venue I put myself into Stockholm, Sweden at 9:45pm:

wysiwyg-timeofday

Time of Day Options dialogue:

viewoptions_timeofday

Color Temperature is another great feature that WYSIWYG R24 has implemented.  With a large database of photometry to work from, WYSIWYG R24 has integrated lamp color temperature variations into the program.  Lamps going through amber drift has been in WYG for ages – which is a very important function when dimming in a rendering.

Low Color Temperature and intensity:

wysiwyg-r24-color-temperature

Lamps post-amber drift at full intensity:

colortemp2

Before I get too far with this, did I mention that the Library Browser is SEARCHABLE?!  (Oh thank you thank you thank you thank you!)

wysiwyg-library-broswer

A few additional features worth noting – making focus charts, new color picker in Design mode, new font interaction, and animated atmopsherics.  Starting with the atmospheric animation (smoke or haze to the layperson), WYSIWYG Release 24 gives you the ability to alter direction and speed for X, Y, and Z coordinates.  Take a look at the control dialogue for this:

viewoptions-wysiwyg-animated-smoke

In Design mode, WYSIWYG also has new features in the color picker for fixtures.  In addition to having the option to use RGB, CMY, or HSI mixing (HSI means Hue, Saturation, and Intensity), you can enter in hex values for the colors across the three variables and pick from a picker:

colorpicker

Last but not least in this review is the ability to make focus charts for your fixtures.  Imagine having an electrician in a lift in a situation where you need to get something focused, but communication is almost impossible – or you’re not on site for some reason and something needs to be focused.  You can look at the stage, architecture, or whatever else you’re lighting from the view of the fixture and get fixture information, channel and dimmer info, and the patch.  Snap a pic of that and send it up to the electrician in the basket on his or her iPhone – done.  I love it:

wysiwyg-r24-focus

I use WYSIWYG for everything I do in lighting design.  Release 24 is amazing, and performs beautifully.  Thanks for a great product, Cast.

Check out some screenshots of the live visualization feature – and get your own copy of WYSIWYG R24 here.

render-wysiwyg-r24

wysiwyg-r24-render

wysiwyg-r24-render

WYSIWYG R24 COMES OUT NEXT WEEK!!!!

wysiwyg r24

The makers of my favorite lighting design software, WYSIWYG, are releasing a new build to members this coming Tuesday, August 4, 2009.  If you’ve never tried WYSIWYG for anything, I highly recommend just giving it a go for a week.  Richard Cadena, who we all know and love, says that R24’s new features are “amazingly responsive.”  Hell, R23’s features are still amazingly responsive!

Some notes on the new features that are included in R24:

  • LED: New LED models use a point source to better represent a diode for LED fixtures and LED walls that look better and enhance overall efficiency and performance when dealing with all LEDs. New LED light sources and LED flare capability offer better representation in Shaded Views.
  • Improvements in visualization: including enhanced beams, improved beam footprints and shadows.
  • Inverse Square Law: A new upgrade in R24, it calculates accurate beam drop-off in visualization calculations.
  • Colour temperature: Information from wysiwyg Libraries includes different bulb wattages to more accurately display the photometrics of different bulbs.
  • Hot Spots: Hot spots add another aspect of realism to wysiwyg visualization. Formerly, uniform footprints are now distributed based on the photometric data of the fixture.
  • For outdoor events: R24 introduces a time-of-day capability in Shaded Views. Use climatic or environmental conditions specific to the time, place and even weather, specific to an event’s geographical location anywhere around the world to test ideas and demonstrate work.
  • Geometry Smoothing in OpenGL: This new shading technique delivers better-looking sets and people, plus a performance boost.
  • CITP Protocol for Video: The new feature allows consoles supporting this protocol to stream video content across a network into wysiwyg to be displayed on a video screen or DL fixture.
  • R24 also has more intuitive and logical Design Tools and an Improved Dongle Security System.

wysiwyg r24

Go check out WYSIWYG Release 23, and read up on R24 as well.  You won’t be disappointed.  It’s been one of the best things that’s ever happened to my pre-viz work, ever.

Weekly WYSIWYG: Importing Floorplans for Maximum Awesome

So I know it’s been a little while since WYSIWYG R23 has been released, but it’s never too late to show some of the pretty fantastic features that it’s packing.  I have a ton of these for you (as there are a ton to show) so I’m breaking them up into smaller posts.

The feature that has significantly made life a bit more simple for me as of the last couple of days is the ability to import an image file as a “floor plan.”  Once this image is in place and scaled (yeah, WYSIWYG scales it for you too), you can draw on top of the floor plan and use it as a map for creating a quick reference to either make a new drawing, copy on top of an old drawing, make some revisions to a drawing that your venue only has half a JPEG file for, or anything else you can come up with.  It’s awesome.  I am doing a show right now, as a matter of fact, that doesn’t have much information about their theatre, and they desperately need that information.  The scenic designer and I have been emailing back and forth with files that are from a non-standard CAD program, and once I was able to find a converter for those files to JPEG or BMP, I was able to pop the theatre into WYSIWYG, quickly 3D-up the plan, and *POW* – I have a working model of the theatre so I can light it.

I am all giggles about this – I have so many old drawings that would brighten the day of many a TD or production manager if they just had a CAD of their eleventy thousand year old hand-drawn blueprint of their venue.  Well thanks, Cast Lighting – DONE and DONE.

Adding the image file is cake – black forest cherry chocolate cake, mmm – and literally as easy as dropping the image in, measuring a line in the image, and telling WYG the length of that line.  Done.  I have to give thanks where thanks are due for this feature, because it saved me about two hours of trying to figure out an unscaled drawing.

A few pointers that I’ve noticed with this process:

  1. Your image needs to be no larger than 2048 x 2048 pixels.
  2. It’s best to crop to the outside edges of your walls before importing an image for the floorplan.  I mean that extra white space in your drawing should be cropped out –  when I dropped in a drawing that was about half of an E sized sheet, WYG wasn’t as happy with rescaling it as it was when I cropped the extra white space out.
  3. You need a bitmap (.BMP), jpeg (.JPG), gif (.GIF), png (.PNG), tiff (.TIFF), or targa (.TGA) image file to use the tool.

Okay, the first step is to click the FILE menu and choose to import floorplan:

wysiwyg

Once you click this option, you’re going to get a dialogue box asking you where that pesky image file of your floorplan lives – just a standard dialogue box.  Navigate to your image file and choose it.

wysiwyg

Once you’ve told WYSIWYG where that image file is hiding, it’s going to give you a brief description of what’s going to happen next.

wysiwyg

You’ll then see that image file.  This is a good example of cutting that extra white space out of the outsides of the image – anywhere on the outside edge of my venue’s walls has to go.  I left this one in here because…  well, because I forgot to take it out and took mine out later, but I thought this would be a good time to show that image with the white space and without.  Below is with the space:

wysiwyg

This is the image file without:

wysiwyg

Okay, back on track – once you drop the image in the drawing, you’ll need to zoom into the image and give WYSIWYG the gist of some lengths.  If, for example, you have a stage that is 40′-0″ wide, then you’ll move your crosshairs to point A and click (one side of the proscenium) and then at point B and click again (other side of the proscenium).  I had some hard measurements on my drawing, so I chose one.

wysiwyg

Once you’ve done the two clicks, WYSIWYG will say “hey drafter, how long’s that line, duder?  (or dudette, you know).  Enter in how long the distance is between your two clicks.

wysiwyg

VOILA – WYSIWYG has scaled that floorplan to the correct scale – which in WYG is 1:1 of course – you scale your paper after you’re finished drawing.  As you can see below, my 18′-2″ is 18′-2″!

wysiwyg

I hope this has been helpful – I have tons more to post!

R23 IS HERE!

wygsuitebanner

I just downloaded WYSIWYG R23 last week; I am now plugging my way through a few posts about the new features, but I can tell you that the new live viz tool is stunning.  Spectacular is another word that comes to mind.  They’re also knocking $800 off of the price of WYSIWYG Perform Unlimited, and WYSIWYG Design to Perform upgrade is $800 off list as well.  Times are tough, Gil and his people aren’t stupid.

New in R23:

Visualization (Shaded Views)

  • Improved Beam Footprints
  • Shadows
  • Hotspots
  • Video in Beams
  • Improved Smoke Controls
  • AVI Movie Creator

Lighting Design Tools

  • Footprint Focus
  • Fixture Point of View (POV)
  • Updates to Designer Tools
  • Ruler Tool

Security & Product Levels

  • AES Dongle Encryption
  • Dongle-less Background Render Manager
  • Dongle-less Console Viewer

Library

  • Sixty-five (65) new Fixtures
  • Two hundred seventy five (275) new Truss pieces
  • One hundred (100) new Gobos

Cast has a ton of screenshots for the new release – check them out here.  Also, go to Cast’s WYSIWYG page to get more info on getting R23.

Weekly WYSIWYG: The Concepts Function

When using the design functions or even just drafting in WYSIWYG, and whether or not I am hooked up to a console (which is usually the case), the Concepts function is one of the most powerful organization tools in the WYSIWYG software.  As simple of an item as the Concepts function is, it is something that saves me a lot of time when needing to edit multiple fixtures within a system or in the rig as a whole.

To put it simply, the Concepts function is just like using a console’s Groups function.  It allows you to select multiple fixtures in your rig for editing.

The concepts tool is located with the other shortcuts in the bottom left of your WYSIWYG window:

When you click the tool, you are given the space to work with – you can create a new concept by selecting the fixtures you want in a group in your rig, right clicking on the Concepts space and choosing “New Concept.”  You are given the choice to rename the concept, and I add as many concepts as I can think of, just like breaking up my rig to program.  If I could potentially foresee using a certain group of fixtures at a time, I add a concept to shorten my time.

For example, here’s the concept tool for a rig I’m working on:

I divide it up into as many possibilities as I can think of – this makes editing the rig very fast.  Let’s say I want to change the fixture type for a certain system of fixtures in the rig, or maybe just add an accessory, or any other small or large edit.  If I take a few moments to set up my concepts as I go, I save myself TONS of time during editing – I don’t have to individually select each fixture for editing, I just choose the associated concept.

I hope this helps – it’s a simple tool, but such a timesaver.

Weekly WYSIWYG: Scenes

A tool that I find extremely useful when drafting multiple views inside of WYSIWYG is the Scenes function.  The tool itself looks like this:

and the dialogue box associated with the Scenes function looks like this:

Basically, the Scenes tool is like layer management, and is used to put together groups of layers for different functions.  For example, when I am putting together a set of presentation drawings, I will have different scenes set up to control the look of views like longitudinal section, front elevation, and other views I feel are necessary for the drawing.  Being an AutoCAD user, layers are something that I use quite frequently, and my drawings are always divided so tightly into layers that managing a drawing is easy.  I typically draft with notes and items spread across all three axes – X, Y, and Z – that I need a way to quickly turn off certain layers to have custom views.

Check it out – try setting up some different scenes and find your own functionality with the tool.

Weekly WYSIWYG: The Background Rendering Manager

This week’s Weekly WYG is about a simple tool that is built with WYSIWYG, but one that has become so vital to me when doing renderings and pre-viz for shows – the Backgroup Rendering Manager.

When designing in WYSIWYG, you might find a look you’ve created is perfect for a digital rendering, so you start a rendering inside WYSIWYG, which might slow down the processing power for your machine.  To help with this, Cast has created a tool called the Background Rendering Manager – and it functions with or without WYSIWYG open.  It just renders, renders, and then renders some more, all in the background.  While I’m programming or creating a few looks inside of WYG, I simply send a render to the manager, which renders until it’s finished, and then lets me know.

Awesome.  Check out a screen capture of the Background Rendering Manager:

Weekly WYSIWYG: R23 is Coming!

If you’ve been following along, WYSIWYG R23 is coming soon – you’ve still got about a week to get 25% off the membership renewal rate (ends Jan 13, 2009), so act fast!

Some of the new tools and functions of the new release are quite spectacular.  I wanted to post a few screenshots here so that you had an idea of the badassery that R23 proves to be.

Is badassery a word?  It should be.

Beam Attenuation

Variable Focus in Colored Gobos

Variable Focus over Distance

Beam Hot Spotting

One of my new favorites:  Fixture POV Window!

Updated Designer Tools!

This is going to be a spectacular release.  I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Weekly WYSIWYG: WYSIWYG and Hog 3 PC

If youi’re a Hog 3 user and a WYSIWYG user, you might already know this, but I just started using Hog 3 (being a lifetime Wholehog 2 guy, figuring it was time), and I do lots of pre-viz stuff offline.  As you’re setting up WYSIWYG Perform to connect to the virtual console, in this case, Hog 3 PC, you might notice that you’re only able to bind 4 DMX universes at a time to the Hog 3 PC through WYG.

This, at first, might seem like a real problem – especially if you’re using more than the alloted 4 bindable universes in Hog 3 PC.  For example, I’m designing a rig right now with 5 universe of DMX – my fifth universe has a bunch of VL3500 Spots on it.  So what do you do when you need to have to use more than the alloted 4 universes?  Simple – add another Hog 3 PC and connect!

So, you might recognize the image above as the patch screen on a Hog 3.  At the bottom I have my 8 VL3500’s patched into what appears to be a second DP-8000.  Yeah, that’s right.  A second DP-8000.  How this needs to work is that since WYSIWYG needs to bind four universes of 512 at a time, you have to add a second DP-8000 digitally to the mix.  SO:  universes 1-4 on the first DP stay labeled as 1-4, but universe 5 will appear as universe 1 on the second DP-8000.  Simple.

The next step is to add another DP-8000 in Hog 3 PC.  After clicking the “Patch @” key in the patch you’ll arrive at the Fixture Patch screen.  Once you’re there, click “Add” to add a second DP-8000.  Make sure that you number it 2, and that the first DP is number 1.  Click OK.

The way I have mine set up is that the first DP is using the first 4 universes, and the second DP is mapping the fifth universe to the first output on the second DP.  Confusing yet?  It’s not really.  I have my addresses labeled A-E in WYSIWYG, so 1-4 on DP1 are A-D, and E is on DP2’s first output.  Like below – this image below is DP2’s first output.

What you have to remember is that when you’re patching whichever fixtures you wanted in those universes above 4, you’ll need to make sure to select the second DP, like I have done here.  Only after you patch, obviously, will the data show up on the second DP.  The next step is to tell WYSIWYG that there are two DP’s.

Once you add your two “Wholehog III DP” devices in WYSIWYG, you need to bind to universes and number them.  Mine, just like in the patch, are labeled 1 and 2, with 1 being bound to universes A-D, and 2 being bound to universe E.

Here’s the second DP, numbered, bound, and ready to go.

As in the image above, once you have both of your DPs numbered and bound to universes in WYSIWYG, click each one and click “Connect.”  If you’ve done everything correctly, you should be right as rain and ready to go.  If stuff is still funky, check your settings on DPs in both WYSIWYG and Hog 3 PC, which is usually where the problem lies.

This is repeatable for more than ive universes as well.  If you were using 8 for example, A-D and E-H, A-d would still be on DP1 and E-H would be bound in DP2.  Easy as cake – no, it’s easy as pie.

Mmmm, pie.