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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!

WYSIWYG Release 24: Virtual Lighting Designer Heaven

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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.

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WYSIWYG R24 COMES OUT NEXT WEEK!!!!

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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.

The JimOnLight.com Podcast – Reminder for the Giveaway!

On Friday of this last week, I launched the JimOnLight.com Podcast – the first podcast features an interview with Gil Densham of Cast Lighting, the makers of WYSIWYG.  I’m dropping a reminder here because I want to make sure people enter for the big giveaway – two free licenses of Synthe-FX’s iPhone and ArtNet control platform, Luminair 1.5!  A $99.99 value, and I’ve got two for you!

Listen to the podcast – there are two questions that need answering in order to enter the contest.  Contact me through the contact form – do NOT, and I repeat, do NOT POST YOUR ANSWER in the comments!

Good luck!

The JimOnLight.com Podcast, Episode 1: Gil Densham of Cast Lighting

The first JimOnLight.com Podcast is ready! I had an interview with Cast Lighting‘s CEO Gilray Densham a few weeks ago, and we talked about WYSIWYG, Black Box, and some other exciting information. Please check it out!

I’m also giving away two free licenses of Synthe-FX’s software Luminair 1.5$99.99 each! In the podcast I asked two questions – contact me through the contact form with your answers, and a winner will be randomly selected from the group of correct answers! Good luck! The deadline for contest entries is Friday, April 24, 2009 by 11:59pm.

Let me make sure I’m clear about this – do not post the answers in the comments! Use the contact form!

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.

Weekly WYSIWYG #9: WYG-It 2

A while ago I was testing out a Marquee console and a Whole Hog II side-by-side – back when I had WYG R20 at a University I was teaching.  I had this great device called a WYG-It 2, which was two DMX universes, a midi port, and connected to my computer/WYG setup via USB.

Check out the WYG-It 2:

The WYG-It 2 allows you to output DMX directly into WYSIWYG from a console.  It’s a few bucks shy of $1200, and if you’re doing a lot of preprogramming or Pre-Viz in WYG, you need it.  I wish I had one now!  The unit doesn’t need external power, and I never had one freeze up, ever.

Go get one of these at Cast Lighting’s Store.

Weekly WYSIWYG 8.5: McNamara Tunnel – WYSIWYG Renderings!

A special installment of the Weekly WYSIWYG posts – I posted an article yesterday about Marcus Wuebker’s lighting design and programming for the McNamara Tunnel in Detroit’s Airport.  I just got an email from Gil Densham from Cast Lighting – that contained the renderings from the project, which was done in WYSIWYG!  Thanks Gil!  Check these out:

Weekly WYSIWYG #6: Showcases

Cast Lighting has a great feature among its PR capabilities – it allows users to post renderings of their work to the Cast Lighting website for showcasing purposes.  Among these showcases are the genres of Theatre, Television production, Concert production, Corporate design, and an “Other Projects” category, which has some interesting works.  Take a minute and check these out – see why those of us who use WYSIWYG do so!

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.