Technical director Matthew Geasey has been at Clear All Visuals for four years, and a part of the entertainment industry for over 12 years, but it was only just a few months ago that he began his journey with the General Device Type Format (GDTF) and My Virtual Rig (MVR).
Vectorworks, Inc., Robe lighting, and MA Lighting launched the GDTF and MVR in March 2018. By early 2019, they announced the availability of GDTF 1.0. Since then, it has gained momentum across the industry’s manufacturers, software programs, and professionals, including Geasey, who has quickly established himself as an expert user.
GDTF Founders MA Lighting, Vectorworks, Inc., and Robe lighting.
“Workflow is huge,” notes Geasey, “whether it's a drafting project, previz project, or just a simple presentation. For many years, you’ve just had to pick and choose your best way to figure it out. Once I got the full scoop on GDTF, I threw all my other stuff out the window. This is what we've all been waiting for, something more uniform across numerous platforms.”
Once he made this discovery, Geasey started talking to his colleagues, who all believed GDTF was just for lighting. “Not necessarily,” he would tell them. “It is for manufacturers to have a proper way to deliver information about their device. This is inclusive of 3D models, information for controlling the device such as DMX and its physical capabilities. There is still room for growth in the spec from user input.” Others believed that GDTF is only for the three companies that created it. “That's not the case either,” he would correct. “It is a global initiative for the entire entertainment industry, from architectural to corporate. Anything that these devices are used on everybody can now get the information.” Another big misconception, he says, is that lighting programmers often think the GDTF is a profile. “It is not a profile for that device. It is a container that has all of the information to create a profile for that device.”
The GDTF is versatile for the needs of entertainment professionals. Courtesy of Vectorworks, Inc.
For those just beginning to explore GDTF and MVR, Geasey recommends building a very simple project. “If you're a lighting programmer using a drafting software, or any software that utilizes MVR or GDTF, go grab a fixture off the share site, pull it down, insert it into the software, see what it does, and put it into another piece of software and see if it does the same thing, and it should,” he says. “That is the concept behind it: one file, numerous pieces of software that can read it, and it's still the same information, which is a huge problem right now in programming, where there's a lot of interpretations on third-party applications and users. On the MVR side of things, make a super simple scene with some truss, then stick lights on it, and assign the GDTF file to that lighting device. Don’t overcomplicate it in the beginning, and if you get stuck, ask questions on the forum. I cannot stress that enough. The forum is there as a community to help you.”
Once a user incorporates GDTF and MVR into their workflow, their processes will move much faster. “GDTF would cut down on their workflow of gathering information if it's all coming to them at once from the manufacturers. It is especially useful in order to stay updated on the latest, newest devices and their specific information,” Geasey adds.
Geasey hopes that the future of GDTF lies in the clouds—cloud services, that is. “I imagine it would be like how we utilize the Vectorworks Project Sharing feature,” he explains. “There is a master file that has all the information, and no one can adjust it other than the super admin. I would see the same thing working for an MVR file, which gets hosted somewhere like Dropbox, and you can pull the information down, just like a code system, update it, and send it back up where anyone can download it and have the latest file. Up-to-date files are extremely important in today's world, which is in constant flux.”
Geasey recently participated in a Vectorworks University presentation titled “Integrating GDTF & MVR into Your Workflows.” He discussed why he has transitioned his workflow to include GDTF and MVR file formats, how he has created these file types, and the benefits he has experienced thus far. “I would love for manufacturers to check out the presentation and learn more about GDTF because they are the ones responsible for building the initial GDTF files as it is their product.” He also recommends programmers—who have the ability to use GDTF with their chosen control platform—to listen in and learn as much as they can about this new way of sharing information. Anyone in the 3D scene-making world operating on cross-platform geometry tools should also tune into the presentation to learn about the extended capabilities that MVR offers over 3D formats such as glTF. “MVR is a container of everything that we know that we use inside the entertainment and events industry,” explains Geasey. “That information is much bigger compared to strictly geometry-based formats like 3DS, SPX, or OBJ.” For further education, check out the video “GDTF & MVR: The Future is Fixed” and visit the GDTF website.
Courtesy of Matt Geasey.
Two years since the launch of GDTF, Vectorworks, Robe, and MA Lighting celebrate the anniversary with 35 manufacturers signed on to support the open standard, which has been officially recognized by DIN SPEC 15800, a German Institute for Standardization and an independent platform for standardization in Germany and worldwide. A DIN SPEC specifies requirements for products, services and/or processes, and acts as a strategic instrument for quickly and easily establishing and disseminating innovative solutions on the market. As a DIN SPEC, GDTF will act as a standard for describing the hierarchical and logical structure and controls of any type of controllable device in the lighting and entertainment industry. GDTF will be used as a foundation for the exchange of device data between lighting consoles, as well as CAD and 3D pre-visualization applications.
“Having GDTF and MVR as a DIN SPEC 15800 is an awesome step in the right direction,” says Geasey. “I would hope that now we have the DIN SPEC 15800 established, other standards’ committees see this as the right way to move forward with these cross-compatibility standards.”
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