The BlenDMX project was completed in early spring 2019. A new research project building on this project has been approved for a year of funded, mentored research at the University of Virginia as Andy's DMP thesis. The new project will involve development of a first-person lighting design workflow in Unreal Engine using RTX technology for rendering.
Andy is currently working to enable lighting designers to simulate their art in a virtual 3D environment by building a software bridge between offline light board editors and the world’s premiere open-source CAD program, Blender. Combined with NVidia’s bleeding-edge realtime ray tracing technology, “RTX,” his project will instantly deliver accurate lighting simulations, saving designers both time and money by dramatically reducing the amount of in-venue rental hours required in preparation for a performance. Most importantly, this project, “BlenDMX,” will enable heightened creativity in lighting designers who will no longer be bound by the design practicalities of rental space. Collaboration with other designers will be as simple as sending a rendered image or video of performance lighting. Digital tools have revolutionized workflows of scenic, video, and sound designers. With the recent release of RTX and Blender’s new rendering engine, it is now possible to offer these opportunities to lighting designers.
Over the past few years, Andy has worked with community theatre companies in Northern Virginia that are supported by local non-profits on tight budgets. As an assistant producer and technician, he has seen firsthand how limited, expensive venue time has restricted the artistic abilities of our design staff, most especially in the lighting department. As a student employee at UVA, he also understands how a well-resourced staff can equally struggle with adequate design time due to a crowded venue schedule. Furthermore, Andy has found that lighting designers often face difficulties in communicating their visions because there is no concrete way to preview their ideas for others. Andy created the first draft of BlenDMX to support his lighting designer at a local non-profit community theatre, where other simulation programs could not offer the design functionality we needed. BlenDMX is a major milestone in Andy's mission to create software products that support the creativity of artists.
The Idea Ecosystem
BlendDMX sits in a unique position as a project undertaking because it combines emergent technology with artistic design for performing arts. If it is to be successful, it must draw equally from these two disciplines. In support of that effort, Andy has worked with lighting designers in both the entertainment industry and in educational contexts at UVA to inform my designs and exchange ideas. As more information about RTX integrations becomes available, Andy is investing time in online support communities to learn more about making the most of this new technology. He is also working with experts in Blender 3D modeling to ensure a smooth program integration. Presently, he is preparing a substantial update for the entire BlenDMX platform, hoping to release an exiting new roadmap soon.