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ATTENTION LIGHTING STUDENTS: WYSIWYG Now Has A Student “Perform” Version

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I had a great conversation with Gil Densham from Cast Lighting yesterday.  We’ve been talking about the upcoming release of WYSIWYG R25 and some of the new features that will be implemented in R25, as well as all kinds of developments that the Black Box system is having.  Gil also informed me about a new Cast Software offering – a limited time WYSIWYG student version.  Normally the student versions of software are fairly limited, whether it is in features or a big watermark somewhere on the drawing or something equally as pervasive.  However, the student versions usually have a reduced price tag too, so the balance finds its way in there somehow.

The student pricing, also called Cast’s “Perform SSE,” is a full version of the Perform suite with visualization.  You will get a dongle which is your property – the dongle will come authorized for the student version of the suite, which includes everything but tech support and updates.  What I understand the details to be is as follows:

  • it’s the full version of Perform.  Viz, console connectivity, the works.
  • the student WYSIWYG suite is $499
  • the $499 that you pay as a student is fully applicable to a full version when you’ve graduated – essentially you’re getting the program for nothing if you plan on upgrading at the end of school.
  • you get a dongle that you can travel with, and you’re not limited to using a student version in the computer lab.
  • you do have to prove that you’re a student currently enrolled and taking classes.
  • It’s essentially a full version of R22, which has all of the great viz and beam stuff.
  • the student WYSIWYG will have a 1000 channel limit.

I love my WYSIWYG.  After my eyes, it is my number one lighting design tool.  If you’re a student, and you want to get in on this, email learn@cast-soft.com and give them the hey-what’s-up.  If you ever have questions about WYSIWYG, please don’t hesitate to contact me through the JimOnLight contact form, just put WYSIWYG somewhere in the subject.

Cast also has some cool student pricing on a specially packaged student version of WYSIWYG Design, and their Event Planning and conceptual design package, Vivien.  I haven’t ever talked about Vivien much, but it is a cool product.  I’ll talk a bit more about this in the near future, but for $199 and a $30 “initiation fee” you get one year of the software as long as you’re a student.  The cool part of that money is that if you were to buy four years at $199 a year, at your graduation they will credit you every dime of that money towards upgrading to the full version.

You’re going to use a lot of software in your lives to design lighting – some of it is cool, some of it is a waste of your time.  WYSIWYG has taught me more, saved me more time, and saved my rear end more times than I can count.  That’s why I write these posts.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

JimOnLight.com and iSquint.net- A “Light Plot Deconstructed” Contest!

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Great things happen when people work together!

My good pal iSquint and I are running a contest for two of Greg Hillmar’s book, Light Plot Deconstructed, which retails for $40.  Greg’s book deals with Vectorworks Spotlight, a popular program on the market of CAD software.  Greg has graciously donated two copies of his book, SIGNED, for the contest!

We’re conducting this contest in two parts – iSquint is rocking the first two weeks of October, and I will be rolling the last two weeks of October.  iSquint is holding the first part of the contest from October 1 and ending it on October 18; I will take over on JimOnLight.com and run it from October 19 and end of October 30.

Entering is just as easy as any other JimOnLight or iSquint contest – for the first half, hop on over to iSquint’s contest page for the Greg Hillmar book and leave your name, email (which is as always private), and a note – notes are awesome!  I’ll post a contest page when it’s my turn.

What are you waiting for?

WYSIWYG Wins A PLASA 2009 Award for Innovation!

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Our beloved WYSIWYG won a PLASA Award for Innovation at Earl’s Court in London this last weekend – a well-deserved win for both Cast Lighting (and everyone who busts their rears there) and all of us WYSIWYG users.  WYSIWYG Release 24 has amazing real-time viz.  Amazing.  Render-quality amazing.  I am a fan after all, but I’ve used so many software suites over the years (from MiniCAD to Vectorworks to AutoCAD to SoftPlot to AGI32 to DiaLUX to Sketchup to you name it, I think I’ve used it), and as a lighting designer in no matter what genre of lighting, I still love my WYSIWYG.

From the PLASA Show website:

Cast Group of Companies, for the WYSIWYG R24. The plethora of LED display technology caused Cast to re-evaluate its design and visualisation software which has led to a significant redesign of the graphics engine and fixture attributes. It now allows the full visualisation of modern display technology including video and LED screens and their content.

From Entertainment Technology News:

From among 62 products entered, last night CAST Software walked away with a coveted PLASA09 Award for Innovation at Earls Court in London. The Award “recognises products which advance the industry by demonstrating a new style of thinking, improving technical practice, or taking a key step forward in terms of safety,” according to the Professional Lighting And Sound Association.

The Award was presented by Adam Afriyie MP, Shadow Minister for Innovation, Universities and Skills and was judged by a panel of eight independent judges drawn from across the industry. In making the Award, the judges explained: “the plethora of LED display technology caused CAST to re-evaluate its design and visualisation software which has led to a significant redesign of the graphics engine and fixture attributes. It now allows the full visualisation of modern display technology including video and LED screens and their content.”

Bruce Freeman, chairman of CAST Software and Gil Densham, president, accepted the Award at which time Freeman said, “WYSIWYG R24 is a total bottom-up rethink that delivers advances so revolutionary that they are ahead of the leading-edge! To assure that the system demands of the new features and visualisation in R24 are met with the same WYSIWYG speed and dependability, CAST designed and built a brand new proprietary engine. Now production professionals can model all the hottest new LED fixtures on a per diode basis and display them running in realtime. R24’s new visualisation incorporates the inverse square law feature and volumetric beams so WYSIWYG’s realtime Shaded View is really virtually real!”

Congratulations, Cast!

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:

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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.

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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.

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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:

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This is the image file without:

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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.

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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.

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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″!

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

R23 IS HERE!

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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.

Review of “LD Assistant” for AutoCAD

Designers all have their own preferences when it comes to CAD programs.  I try to stay in a wide triangle of CAD and visualization suites, with my favorites being Vectorworks 2008, WYSIWYG (I have R21), and AutoCAD.  It seems that every few years I encounter a reason to brush up on one of the three, so I just got proficient on all three.  Go figure.

AutoCAD users can benefit from a new build of a lighting-specific design and CAD program called LD Assistant, by Design and Drafting.  Christian Choi, a standard in the concert production realm, wrote a fantastic review of the product for LiveDesign Magazine.  Check it out.