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CAST Software Slams R25 Down Onto the Design and Visualization Software Table

Writing reviews of products is a hard thing.  It is one of the hardest things about being a writer, contrary to popular opinion.

It’s no secret that I am a fan of the wysiwyg Lighting Design suite, I’ve been using it for years.  Pretty much every show I’ve designed over the last five years has been done in a version of wysiwyg.  I design them, print out the plot and paperwork, make pretty renderings for the client of what the show’s gonna look like down to the texture on the carpet on the camera riser if they want, and spend some time in virtual reality programming my palettes and positions to write the show totally offline.

I got to beta test R25 when it was being run through the paces.  I designed a show in R25 beta that I executed this last week in Tampa – corporate show, medium sized rig in 3 ballrooms, maybe 2500 people.  I was behind the Hog III driving my lighting spaceship to give the client a good show.  Everything was programmed offline with updates on site, all through wysiwyg Perform Unlimited.  Epic success prevailed.  Looks are accurate, as are the photometrics.  I’ll put my renders up against renders from Dialux, AutoCAD, or VectorWorks any day, any time.  When I walk on site, I have confidence that the hard work I put into designing each show comes with me in that little purple dongle.

To first be critical – for my experience as a user, wysiwyg R25 solved my issues in the CAD department.  The addition of a toolbar to deal with text solved a long time personal annoyance with the product.  Such a simple addition, but so important.  It’s a fine detail point – R25 has a lot of very fine detail hones, and some major implementation of other new features.  One such feature is the ability to export fixture point-of-view images to the third party lighting control app we all love, Luminair for iPhone and iPod.  On a side note, Ryan Hisey from Synthe FX (the Luminair people) is also working on the interface for the iPad.  I can’t WAIT for that!  I would buy an iPad JUST for that purpose – to take around with me on shows.

Let’s get into R25 a bit and look at the individual components – R25 has a lot of enhancements.  In addition to not needing to render live shots (because the shaded view is so damned good that you can just screengrab), the enhancements and improvements in some of the basar functions of the suite make it faster to use.  Why is this important?  It’s important because if you’re a working designer with plots flying around the office like hotcakes, you need to be able to use your design suite with the speed of a ninja and still have the artistic stroke of Rembrandt.  R25 made it happen.

CAD Mode – had lots of enhancements here, by no means an exhaustive list, I’m just capturing some of my faves:

  • Font Styles – they’re all over the place now, I love it.  Love it, love it, love it.  Seriously, such a simple little addition and it made a huge difference in the way that you interact with the program.  The text toolbar makes such an improvement over the interface.  I wonder how many more times I can mention it, get the point?
  • Positioning tools – send to back, bring to front, and tools for alignment.  Big deals here – speeds up the interaction time within CAD.
  • Visual Truss Assembly Indicators that show you how your truss is assembled (you know, “M”s and “W”s and all) with the foresight to know what’s happening before you add a bunch of lights and realize you screwed up the truss when you were putting it together.  In addition, the right click menu options for truss assembly are much more robust.
  • Cycle – for those of you who might not know what this is, it is an invaluable CAD tool.  When you have objects stacked on top of one another in 2D space, you can click one time and “cycle” through all objects in that space without having to switch views and all of that other stuff.
  • A quick Polygon tool for making exact polygons

Text and Alignment toolbars!

Truss positioning tools in action:

DESIGN Mode – more cool enhancements and features:

  • Pan and Tilt Locking in the Focus Designer Tool – when you’re just building looks without a console in the Design mode, you can lock pan, tilt, or pan AND tilt to get those looks you want, easier.
  • Library items all appear smooth, which is extremely great
  • There are some new Camera features too that have been added – I tend to group these in with the Design and Live modes, since this is what I use most often to make client renderings.  Camera views are now lockable, which is great, along with being able to save a new shaded view as a new camera.  Hotkeys to switch between cameras is in place, which makes bouncing around during pre-viz a snap – and not like just a finger snap, like a real-time Blaine and Antoine from In Living Color “Around the World and Back” Snap.  Yeah, that’s right.

Camera lock – when you’re trying to move around a locked camera view, you get this to remind you it’s locked:

Turning a new shaded view into a new camera, lickity split:

Presentation Mode Features and Enhancements:

  • Objects in Layouts can be locked into place
  • Text Toolbar and Alignment Tools – WOOHOO!
  • Modifiable corners on rounded rectangles in Presentation Mode
  • We can now make perfect circles, 45 degree angles, and rectangles in Presentation Mode.  Simple?  Yes.  Awesome?  Yes.
  • The New Plots feature has been optimized for speed and stability
  • Worksheets are now SO MUCH EASIER to work with – column and row options, alignment options.

LED Walls and Video got a lot more awesome in R25 too – Gil Densham told me that people were calling R25 “video WYG” at ProLight+Sound in Germany this year!

  • Video can now be displayed on LED Walls and split into sub sources!  WTH!  That is awesome.
  • LED Walls now have a tab in their properties that allows modification of image/video sources and intensity
  • LED Walls are now selectable in Design Mode, which is a huge time saver
  • A generic video projector was added to the library
  • LED Walls are up to four times brighter in shaded view

Here’s a quick video of R25 in action – pre-viz and design:

Another pretty great feature of R25 is the connectivity with Synthe FX’s Luminair 2.0 app for iPhone and iPod Touch.  The wysiwyg/Luminair connectivity allows you to export fixture point-of-view images into the program.  I have been getting some questions about this and why it is useful, and frankly the best explanation I can come up with is an example.  Let’s say that your electricians are up in lifts trying to focus a large array of fixtures to specific shutter cuts, which can be a very difficult thing to call from the deck.  Instead of trying to give them pieces of paper or focus charts, wysiwyg can export selected fixture points of view to iPhones or iPod Touch handhelds with Luminair installed, allowing your electricians to have an exact image of what their cuts and focus are supposed to be.

In my opinion, this is a revolutionary idea.  wysiwyg and Luminair are essentially and potentially changing the way that we work, for both speed, accuracy, and general lack of confusion.  I think that is pretty cool.

When I design, I use wysiwyg.  In my head, lighting design is spatial, intangible, and ethereal in most cases.  I use it to design scenery, too.  If you’re using something else, at least try R25. I think your creative lighting muscles are begging for it.

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

random-wysiwyg-jimonlight

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 [email protected] 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 Wins A PLASA 2009 Award for Innovation!

plasa-wyg-innovation

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!

Brazil’s VJ Zaniz – Production Reel

I’ve been finding a lot of interesting digital visuals lately, as I have a weird architectural lighting project in my head.  One of the artists I’ve come across lately is Brazil’s VJ Zaniz – his work has a very interesting quality – sometimes it feels very Cubist to me, other times slightly impressionist.

Here’s a video reel:

Thanks, VJ.TV!

Just Too Cool Not to Post

I’m sitting here at my desk – I float between a background movie on my lefthand screen and iTunes depending on my mood while I work.  Today I had iTunes going, and I was listening to a fantastic Disco Biscuits jam, and apparently I fired up the visualizer accidentally.  This crazy colorful visualization happened, and I had to capture it at least for one second.

itunesviz1

Friday Morning Productivity Killer: iTunes 8 Visualizer

After installing a 1GB video card to do some amazing WYSIWYG viz, I realized that I still hadn’t figured out how to control the visualizer in iTunes 8 yet.  There isn’t a lot of info posted about the controls for the visualizer (which you reach by pressing CTRL+T, by the way), and I knew there was a way to control the parameters.

Lo and behold – when you press Shift and ? (in order to accurately type a ?) you are given the glorious help menu!  iTubes 8 Viz control is as follows:

? Toggles the help screen
M Changes the mode
P Changes the palette
I Displays the track info
C Toggles auto cycle (which is on by default)
F Toggles freeze mode
N Toggles nebula mode
L Toggles camera lock

Experiment around with these, you can actually get some pretty great video FX for your favorite tunes.  Stand by, because I’ll be writing a review of the Arkaos VJ software soon – that’s like DMX-able visualizations in a box!