Computer technology has not only influenced lighting equipment and control systems, it has also influenced the way in which a lighting designer designs. What used to be created with pencil and paper by a team of assistants can now be completed in a fraction of the time and manpower using specialized computer programs. Today, designers can use programs initially developed for other industries, such as Adobe Photoshop and AutoCAD, to create light renderings and computer-aided draftings.
Highly specialized software programs have also been developed specifically for the theatre lighting designer, such as Nemetsehek’s Veetor- works for Lighting Design, Lightwright created by John MeKernon Software, and WYSIWYG from CAST Software. These products provide highly specialized tools developed especially for the theatrical lighting designer, such as two-dimensional and three-dimensional drawing capabilities. A designer who chooses to work in three dimensions may also have the option of rendering his or her design within the computer in order to visualize what it might look like on stage. He or she also can provide paperwork, which is quickly and easily generated.
The creation of these specific software programs has revolutionized the way in which a lighting designer can work. No longer does he have to waste time and manpower to see how something will look by hanging a light, focusing it, and then playing with the look during rehearsals. All of that work can now be done within a computer-generated model that can be used to create looks the designer intends to use. These images can then be shared with other members of the production team to help visually communicate lighting ideas that were previously left to the imagination until technical and dress rehearsals. Technology of this sort allows designers to work on more shows from their home base and to spend fewer hours in the theatre reworking any given production.