Posted in Resources on March 31, 2017 1:48 pm EDT

Brighter Ideas

Lighting design software options help designers create transformation and captivation.

Martin ShowDesigner image courtesy of Martin Professional.



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TAGS: 3d software, collaboration, design, immersive environments, lighting,


By Erica Cottrill

Lighting design is both an art and a science—adding dimensionality that communicates the subject, as well as guides attendees.

Lighting design is no longer conventional, offering high-tech features that can transform a space into something captivating. Previously designers used simplistic programs that calculate functions for church services. Today we have software that can take us on a virtual 3D color tour of the lighted space. The use of lighting software can powerfully illuminate the experience for attendees of a house of worship’s Sunday services, weekly happenings, and special events.

The lighting designer transforms the environment with visual cues provided by lighting-specific software that is designed to take the audience to another place. Virtual design tools promote the ability to be more creative with stage lighting and works with the intricate concepts that engage the audience. State-of-the-art lighting also gives designers the ability to be more resourceful, using everything from ellipsoidals to moving lights and color changers.

Lighting design is both an art and a science—adding dimensionality that communicates the subject, as well as guides attendees. Activities such as dimming the house lights for specific music or adding color can dramatically impact the performance.

As lighting design software becomes more complex and multifunctional, designers find fresh ways to design innovative systems, especially for new worship stages. Versatile tools can also be very helpful—LEDS, for example, can be used to achieve saturated color or can be applied for face lighting and softer tones.

Today’s software options can solve a variety of challenges, especially for churches with small budgets. With an “out of the box” vision and a careful selection of modeling software, church activities become memorable events. And high-efficiency, high-quality fixtures and lighting controls represent big business, as the demand for lighting design software demonstrates.

Church Designer contacted several major lighting design software makers, asking about their latest products right for house-of-worship application.

Vectorworks Designer 2017

Vectorworks Designer software is touted as the ultimate design package for indoor and outdoor spaces, enabling the house of worship lighting designer and end user to draft, model and present in a single, intuitive interface. With Vectorworks Designer—available for Mac and Windows—users can enhance their workflows and enable great design to materialize from concept to completion using compelling tools with powerful 3D modeling technology, the company reports. In addition, Vectorworks Designer offers up-to-date libraries that help communicate everything about a design.

Whether the focus is lighting, architecture or general event production, designers can serve all needs to help transform the house of worship experience. High quality renderings can be created with ease directly inside a Vectorworks’ design file, the company reports, thanks to default texture and render settings within Vectorworks’ objects and its easy-to-use Renderworks feature powered by the company’s Cinema 4D render engine.

Learn more about Vectorworks Design 2017 here: (visit link)

Graphisoft’s Archicad 20

Archicad is designed to connect to specific solutions for lighting calculation. It enables an architect or designer to pick up a lamp or spotlight with parameters, for example. Libraries in Archicad can contain specific objects or fixtures with the correct geometry and lighting specifications.

In addition, helping designers know how best to use daylight is one of Archicad’s key tools. The software works with Velux (roof windows and modular skylights) to calculate daylight that can be exported to the Archicad model to see how to best position windows or skylights. These metrics can factor in to develop light maps. Using that 3D design capacity the architect can then place shapes and lights and internally simulate lighting conditions with renderings.

While Archicad does not do lighting calculations themselves, it does give the designer tools to select design choices at early stages of a project. One such tool is the representation of accurate shadows for any geographical location. This can be visualized as a video showing the movement of the sun and the resulting shadows on a particular day of the year (sun studies) or as static images.

Another tool in Archicad that supports lighting and design is its high-end rendering engine that allows the user to create photo-realistic still images or fly-throughs based on accurate shadows with the addition of artificial lighting. Artificial light sources can import geometry and lighting specifications (photometric data) from IES files.

CineRender inside of Archicad, in particular the Cinema 4D R16 rendering engine, goes hand in hand with lamps and IES for a user doing lighting studies. CineRender from Cinema 4D supports IES and Archicad can load the parameters. When a designer wants to integrate, he or she will use a higher level lighting software—not to say CineRender or Archicad is low level, because its rendering engine is of “Hollywood quality.”

Learn more about Graphisoft Archicad 20 here: (visit link)

Martin Professional ShowDesigner

When lighting designers want real-time 3D software from multiple viewports simultaneously, fixture beams that show true-life distribution, and import of 2D and 3D AutoCAD DXF, SketchUp and Vectorworks, this is the product for them, according to Martin Professional. Its newly designed 3D engine provides photorealistic rendering in real time using the latest DirectX technology.

There are many benefits to incorporating Offline Visualization software into the toolkit of lighting designers in the worship community. The initial function of Offline Visualization software is the ability to pre-program your lighting cues in a virtual environment without the presence of the lighting rig. This allows for the programmer to work in a creative and comfortable environment without the need of energizing the lighting rig, which affords a significant cost savings for churches, reports Daryl Sutton, global market development manager–house of worship, for Harman’s Professional Solutions in Northridge, Calif. (Harman is owner of Martin Professional.)

With the creations of this virtual design, for programming purposes, designers also have the ability to create visual presentation, drastically increasing the effectiveness in communicating a new stage/lighting design to both leadership and staff to support a new teaching series, special event, conference, etc. Creating 3D visual renderings, or even a “walk around” video, truly increases communication and productivity within the team, Sutton emphasizes.

According to Paul Pelletier, product manager–controller solutions for the company’s Professional Solutions Division in Denmark, Martin ShowDesigner is a versatile lighting 3D software that allows users to conceive simple or complex scenery in a 3D environment. Users can import their own 3D model, and can add fixtures, truss, objects, and video panels.

Using DMX or Artnet, for instance, a user can connect MSD to any consoles and visualize their show in real-time. It is also possible to generate video

presentations with camera animations. So Martin reports that ShowDesigner is an ideal tool to present or program shows ahead of time.

On MSD 6’s user-friendly control users can create complex presentations, including lighting, video, and animated scenery, camera motion and reflection, transparency, shadow, and animated smoke effects.

The user interface has been completely designed with a modern look, offering a rapid workflow to quickly drag and drop fixtures, objects and textures. In addition, MSD Pro has the features necessary to pre-visualize lighting in 3D, integrate moving scenery, and create video animation, according to the company.

Learn more about Martin Professional ShowDesigner here: (visit link)





Learn more about the companies in this story:

Martin Professional Lighting