Vista v2 Programming Guides - 1 - An Introduction

Vista v2 Programming Guides - 1 - An Introduction

Effortlessly create professional lighting on the Jands Vista with this ongoing series of programming guides plus operators' tips and tricks. Unlock the potential of your lighting rig with this powerful, operator friendly platform.

The Vista is a lighting console unlike any other you’ll have seen. It's simple, visual interface brings a whole new world of speed, ease of use and sheer intuitiveness to the art of lighting. Unlike other consoles where you must remember a series of complex syntax commands, the Vista puts all of this information in front of you on a familiar graphical user interface, with no compromise in performance or professionalism.  This series of articles over the upcoming Production Hubs will explore the Vista system from a programmer/operator's point of view and show how any lighting operator regardless of skill base or experience can effortlessly create professional productions.

Vista v2 Figure 1 

The Vista is the only console that lets you build your lighting designs visually. For too long the art of lighting has been separated from the technical expertise needed to operate the lighting console, or should I say "stifled by". I'm sure everyone reading this has encountered the situation whereby they have been trying to create a look or cue only to be undone by the lighting console, either because the operator doesn't know how to achieve it on the console or by the time they have discovered the convoluted number of keystrokes and commands involved, the rehearsal has moved on and you're now plotting the next state.  With the Vista this is a thing of the past as all of the needed information is presented in front of you allowing you to create what would be very complex looks or cues with a minimum amount of time and effort.

So what makes the Vista a visual console? Every piece of programming on the Vista can be achieved through a Graphical User Interface (GUI) there is no need for a keypad or face panel with numerous function specific buttons. This Graphical Interface is easy to master because it is familiar. Every time we use a computer we are presented with variations of the same graphical interface, we use windows, scroll bars, drop downs, expandable lists, and search functions. Why should lighting control software be any different. 

The Vista presents to the user an interface similar to that of any other computer program. For example, there is a menu bar at the top of the screen with a File menu, an Edit menu, a View Menu and a Help menu. Instantly the operator knows that the cut, copy and paste commands will be under the Edit menu and the save, save as, and open commands will be under the File menu. This familiarity allows an operator to instantly feel comfortable with the system which in turn means that they will be able to create more quickly and easily. 

Vista v2 Figure 2 

Layout your fixtures like they are in your rig.
One of the great advantages of Vista is that you can layout your fixtures visually in any orientation or format that you desire. Every time you patch a fixture it appears as an icon in the Fixture Chooser, you can then move these icons around the layout and reposition them into an order that suits you. You can also create multiple layouts for different purposes and tab between them, having a fixture appear on more than one layout. You can also place background images such as your plan behind the layout and then position your fixture icons on top of this and you can then colourise each different type of fixture so they are more easily identifiable.

For example, the picture below shows a layout that has been arranged to represent the bars onstage, we have an Lx 1 Bar and a Rear truss, we have labelled these bars to make it easy to quickly identify and we have also made each of the fixture types a different colour to easily identify them, the D40 Vivids are Red, the VL3500's Green and the VLX Washes are blue. You can see from this layout how easy it would be when operating to select the correct fixture to work with. 

Vista v2 Figure 3 

What this means for the operator is they can easily identify fixtures visually on the screen in front of them without having to remember meaningless channel or fixture numbers. For example, take the scenario where you are having issues with the 2nd lamp from Prompt side on Lx1 in the rig pictured above, without having to even look at a plan, you could grab the second lamp from prompt side and quickly reset it without ever looking away from your user interface, drastically speeding up the process. 

Working with fixtures visually...
When we select a fixture, the sidebar on the right hand side populates with the most used features for that fixtures, there options for all parameters, intensity, position, colour, gobo and beam. There is no hunting through encoder wheels or sub menu's to find these parameters, every time I select a fixture they appear right in front of me on the screen.

As you can see from the image below, the way of working with these parameters is extremely visual and intuitive. Take colour for example, as I select the fixture I am presented with a full HSV colour picker, all I have to do is click in any region of that picker and I will select the colour for that fixture, with the console doing the leg work for you. The colour picker is a very familiar way to choose colour, anyone who has ever used a photo editing program, all the way from Paint right up to Photoshop will have seen or used a colour picker before and can immediately recognise how to choose colour for the fixture. As opposed to the old way of dialing up colour on encoder wheels underneath two layers of sub menu where the operator also had to have an understanding of colour theory in order to use the three colour parameters to find the right colour (Phew... exhausting).

Vista v2 Figure 4 

See your cues as they are...
Every cue that we create when designing is not just a static state that will be snapped onto stage but rather is a series of changes that will happen over time that will bring that final state to the stage. The look is as much about the fade as it is about the final state. Unique to Vista is the ability to view and edit your cues as a timeline. Unlike other consoles which store your cues as meaningless values hidden under channel numbers of parameter names, Vista displays your looks as a series of "events" laid out on the screen over time. This enables the operator to visually see how their cues will play back over time before they even press the "Play" button, taking most of the guess work out of programming a cue. Having the events visually spread out in front of you also allows you to edit these events in unique and exciting ways. For example, just say you had a cue where the lights all fade to Full Intensity and Blue over 5 seconds, the way this is displayed on the timeline can be seen below. We can see the Intensity event in Blue and the Colour event in Yellow, as you can see they are both fading evenly over 5 seconds.

Vista v2 Figure 5

Now you change your mind and you want the colour to snap in before the intensity fades up. Without ever having to enter a number value you can visually select the fixtures then grab a handle and resize the colour event to 0 seconds.

Vista v2 Figure 6

We can then choose two of the units and lengthen the fade time so they fade up slower than the others.

Vista v2 Figure 7

From this quick little intro you can see how easily it is to edit and alter your cues and to at a glance realise what is going to happen when you play back that cue. Allowing you as the operator to quickly and accurately record and edit cues. The timeline allows us to be able to quickly create incredible lighting states that play back as if they would have been incredibly complex to program but with the Vista it only took a few clicks and a little bit of dragging, and a sum total of 15 seconds. Have a look at the image below and for those of you playing along at home, see how easy it is to visualise the cue playback. And for those of you used to operating syntax based consoles, see if you can work out how long it would take you to program in the old command line. This took me a sum total of 10 seconds.

Vista v2 Figure 8

Hopefully from this Introduction to the Vista v2 you can see how easy it is to create professional, seemingly complex lighting effortlessly. Even the greenest lighting tech can create a professional light show with pure ease because of Vistas intuitive operator friendly user interface. The most experienced of operators will be blown away by the power under the hood of Vista, with its advanced capability to handle all manner of advanced programming, such as Media Server integration, Time and Date events, Advanced timecode integration and tracking backup, plus with the visual display of the timeline you can finally unleash the creative energy inside your head with ease.

The next article in the Series will explain patching and explore how easy patching can be now that a console finally lets us work visually.

Eddie Welsh
Lighting Applications Engineer
Technical Resource Group

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