CAST was incorporated in 1994 as a lighting consulting company and to develop a lighting design software – wysiwyg (which means What You See Is What You Get – fitting for pre-visualization software). Today's penetration has achieved market dominance in the entertainment industry – it is the industry standard.
Since 1994, CAST has developed and delivered software solutions to the entertainment production industry by automating the planning, design and productions of film, TV, stage, theme parks, road shows and large special events. CAST's Emmy and Gemini award winning wysiwyg design suite, with its proprietary CAD plus industry-specific library of >20K intelligent, automated, robotic and conventional lights, hardware and equipment, and textures, provides the single point of design and pre-visualization for motion, lighting and media controllers.
Today wysiwyg Learn is taught in more than 330 academic and polytech facilities (an average of 20 students per class) around the world, and it has more than 9500 registered corporate and individual End Users worldwide. wysiwyg is the industry standard.
From the beginning, wysiwyg made it possible to pre-visualize (virtually) the set and stage lighting designs before installing any real hardware, lights or even occupying the venue, which increases productivity and reduce production costs for End Users (production professionals productions). Green-responsible production professionals and venues also know that wysiwyg's powerful pre-cueing and pre-visualizing capabilities can be used offsite on a PC and that delivers significant energy savings and reduces the carbon footprints of venues/productions.
wysiwyg previsualizes the plot in 2D, 3D wireframe and time-of-day Shaded View, and automatically generates the lighting plots, equipment schedules, pipe-tapes, colour cut lists, gobo lists and anything needed to make the show happen. wysiwyg has been morphed into a comprehensive software production design suite of tools which incorporates virtual realtime pre-visualization of lighting, motion, and media content used primarily for pre-show work, and that processes data and communicates with controllers of lights, moving and static, as well as listening to motors that move scenery and replicating streaming media content (for coordinating with lights and other controllers). Via CAST's developer program, wysiwyg is used by a continually growing number of hardware manufacturers and entertainment control systems for adding visualization to hardware, as well as for testing new conceptual lighting fixtures, robotic/automated hardware and new production technologies.
In 2005, Vivien - Virtual Event Designer, launched in April 2005, is the software tool for the full spectrum of event professionals who produce, manage and/or promote venues and front of house projects, from small meetings to galas, and special events. Vivien is a special events sales, planning, communicating and operations software tool for the burgeoning meeting and events industry which is serviced by professional event planners (of which there are more than 700,000 registered worldwide), designers and producers on the one hand, and venues that can provide just space or space plus a host of services (hotels, for example) on the other hand. Corporations, professional associations, as well as political, religious, educational and volunteer organizations use meetings and special events, including road shows, to launch or promote their products/services/causes, for team building, or training seminars. Private individuals celebrating weddings, special family events, and anniversaries, for example, use meetings and special events.
Compared to the other event planning software on the retail market, Vivien is distinctive. It is the only vertically integrated software tool designed for the USD140 billion events and meeting industry that can be used in all the major facets of the business: sell design communicate deliver.
CAST Software Ltd. is located in Toronto, ON and currently has 25 employees, who are working to deliver three unique products to the marketplace, wysiwyg, Vivien, and now BlackBox (code name today). CAST's 6000 sq. ft. head office includes an appealing work space for up to 40 employees and a classroom with computer systems designed for training of up to 8 customers at a time.
CAST's strategy is to design products that are robust, practical (making all Users more efficient), generic and adaptable. Our products should interconnect with all the significant entertainment hardware available from various manufacturers. CAST's philosophy focuses on the greater good - the overall best interest of the industry and its professionals will be served by ensuring that our products are nonpartisan and any manufacturer or any new product can be adapted to connect a CAST product. CAST continues to add new manufacturers to its growing list of Registered wysiwyg Developers (RWDs) which today numbers more than 45 manufacturers.
CAST's strategy extends to importing and exporting electronically to/from other software efficiently so that industry professionals can enjoy the maximum flexibility and mobility without sacrificing their file integrity when sharing information.
CAST's First Product
Even in its first form, wysiwyg made it possible to virtually pre-visualize the set and stage lighting designs before installing any real hardware lights or even occupying the venue. Even this initial version increased productivity and reduced production costs for Users (and their clients). wysiwyg also proved to be useful for testing new conceptual lighting fixtures, which assisted hardware research and development. wysiwyg's visualization, reports and renderings became the standard used by producers, set designers and lighting designers virtually the whole production team. And wysiwyg automatically generates the lighting plots, equipment schedules, pipe-tapes, colour cut lists, gobo lists and anything needed to make the show happen.
wysiwyg is an Emmy and Gemini award-winning software suite that continues to be the top choice of entertainment professionals worldwide. wysiwyg is used to plan, design, and pre-program productions/shows and prestigious events around the world. Just a few samples of wysiwyg's work include: The Queen's Jubilee at Buckingham Palace, numerous Olympics ceremonies, Cirque du Soleil's shows, Disney's shows and many concert productions, including U2 and Elton John. wysiwyg is also utilized by many large theatrical venues from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden to the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto. As well, wysiwyg is used extensively by major film productions: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Spiderman, X-Men, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alexander the Great and many more.
Since 1994, wysiwyg has morphed from a lighting design tool into a comprehensive software suite of tools that incorporates realtime live pre-visualization of lighting, motion, media content -- the 3D tool-of-choice for proactive professionals in all facets of the entertainment industry. Consistent with the evolving innovation of the past, today wysiwyg is earmarked for progressive advancements in communications allowing for automation and robotics all to talk to each other.
Current Industry Production Problems Observed
The entertainment industry is global and can be only described as huge in capital, revenue and expenditure terms. An increasing creative potential is made possible by incredible innovations and advancements which includes automation of industry technology including lights, cameras, motion controlled robots, etc. This technology innovation represents incredible capital costs and to be offset by increased revenue and reduced production costs. The success of these advancements has raised the WOW-expectation of audiences -- but the problem is behind the scenes.
The problem: as invention made most hardware more distinctive on a standalone basis, the innovation distanced the technology from interacting or communicating with other show technologies. Each technology/piece of hardware works well on its own but coordinating / communicating / interfacing between these technologies is extremely limited and difficult to accomplish, and it requires costly planning, plotting and pre-cueing for each technology and then their collaboration, if that is even possible.
Worse yet, once you get a particular mix of technologies to work for a particular production, it is not possible to reuse the same set up – there is no recovery for the sunk cost of cueing. This outcome, unresolved, also indicates that the ROI or planned utilization of the new technology, which will not be used as frequently as first envisioned – foregoing the advantages/gains originally promised, is not achieved.
wysiwyg already plays a significant role in addressing this issue and is well-respected by the professionals that use it. For this reason we know CAST is ideally suited to launch a new integrated communication solution, which facilitates and enhances the creative process by pulling together the disparate technologies and then delivering substantial cost savings. As well, BlackBox will permit the reuse of existing technology in other projects, without significant reprogramming costs, for additional cost savings.
BlackBox will revolutionize how productions are staged and will become the new standard in the industry.
Leveraging today's strengths for the future
For about the last 3 years, CAST has been working at rebuilding segments of wysiwyg with new components/segments and operating philosophies (meaning a combination of innovation and invention) with a view to create a new method of high speed communication between all the entertainment industry's disparate technologies. This new high speed communication device promises to unite and revolutionize the entire industry for large and small scale productions alike - covering lighting, media, sound, motion, robotic cameras, performers, you name it - touching and synchronizing realtime every element/component of a production.
BlackBox incorporates the latest computer hardware, featuring the latest in multi-threaded processing technology with solid state memory to increase performance for realtime computations, with proprietary software, all configured for full redundancy and backup. BlackBox is an all-in-one, multi-directional high-speed communication hub (plug and play), offering a time-line driven approach to ease coordinating and connecting control devices to instruct or receive instructions from each other in realtime. Object and spatial information specific to a production and place will be uploaded via a new special wysiwyg.BB file version residing natively in BlackBox.