Wizard software for a wizard movie

“ETC’s Emphasis software holds the key to the future of film lighting.” So says Mark Ackers of Lee Lighting, one of the industry’s leading film and TV lighting companies, currently using Emphasis on the top secret set of the third in a series of wizard movies!

Earlier this year Lee Lighting purchased two Emphasis systems to enhance its ETC Insight 3 desks to 2500 channels in preparation for the big-budget movie. Mark Acker, dimming electrician at Lee, said: “We’ve been using ETC consoles for more than ten years, and when we realised how many channels we’d need to successfully light this film we upgraded to Emphasis. The integrated WYSIWYG software’s a huge bonus and has been invaluable on one of the sets and also the model units.”

Although not originally developed for the film industry, WYSIWYG has been used by the film world before, most notably on X-Men and Stephen Spielberg’s A.I. Its star potential was recognised in 2001, when it was awarded an Emmy by the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, for the way in which it has changed the television industry for the better. It is only the third award given for lighting technology in the Emmy’s 53-year history.

Following conversations between Mark Ackers and Cast Software’s President Gil Densham, Cast is currently looking at ways of making the software even more user friendly for the film industry, with the inclusion of more film-specific lamps and special need items. Gil explained: “We first built WYSIWYG to satisfy our own needs, but we are constantly upgrading the product by incorporating ideas from the users in the field. Mark Ackers’ requests will only help to make this an even more valuable tool for the film industry.”

Mark added: “This is a really big step forward for our industry, in that it will allow us to draw each set onto the screen, then place the relevant lights using WYSIWYG. Being able to store an absolute record of which lights are being used, where and to what effect means that re-doing a scene (and that often happens) will be no trouble at all. That’s why it’s important that those of us in the field really communicate with the manufacturers.”

The prospect of new developments in WYSIWYG isn’t the only thing Ackers is eagerly anticipating. ETC’s forthcoming Emphasis Offline software, incorporating WYSIWYG, will make life easier for the lighting designers on set, allowing them the freedom to work anywhere.

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