“An Absolute Game Changer” - How GDTF Revolutionized a Designer’s Workflow


Better Renderings Thanks to GDTF and MVR

Tony Fransen has only been using GDTF (General Device Type Format) and MVR (My Virtual Rig) for a few months, but he speaks about the file formats as though they’re what his creative process has always been missing.

“It’s kind of the Holy Grail,” he stated.

The production designer, who’s worked with the likes of Prince, Oprah, and OneRepublic, was introduced to the file formats through colleagues in the entertainment industry. Fransen uses Vectorworks for drawing and modeling, MA for control, and a variety of previz options for renderings, making the advantages of a unified definition obvious to the designer. “From my first export, I was blown away. It’s an absolute game changer for moving projects around between different pieces of software.”

GDTF has forever changed Fransen’s workflow — for the better.


Overcoming the Short Timelines of Entertainment Design

GDTF and MVR help Fransen conquer the biggest difficulty in entertainment design: “the number one challenge is always that our timelines are very short. Production designers work on projects for months, and we’re often doing some technically challenging work.”

GDTF and MVR’s unified standards have allowed Fransen to easily work around the design constraints of the past. Fransen can now seamlessly move 3D elements between his design, previz, and control products. “If I need to go somewhere else and do one piece of the project, I can do that. And then, I can come right back to Vectorworks and I’m back to my modeling world, which I just love.”

Fransen also no longer has to worry about combating the never-ending carousel of new fixtures with new profiles. Once manufactures upload their fixtures to gdtf-share.com, you can simply download the fixture information and use it immediately. “It’s nice being able to get a heads up, and the GDTF is going over to my control console, MA,” he said. “That’s been a huge help.”

For Fransen, time-consuming imports and exports of data are now an artifact of the past. He now has time to invest more into the aesthetics of his work.

The Nashville native who now resides in Northwest Arkansas has been using renderings since 2003, and they’re an important part of his design practice. Fransen said,Over the years, renderings have become the true stand out between my work and the other guys. That said, the industry has come a long way and 3D modeling and rendering in general is getting easier and more accessible. The over-arching goal for me and the types of clients I work with is to render with as much realism as possible, as quickly as possible, without sacrificing what is actually doable.”

And, according to Fransen, the quality of his work has gone “way up” since adopting the GDTF and MVR formats into his workflow. “It’s literally insane what I’m getting away with. Just beautiful quality,” he said cheekily.


How Tony Fransen Used GDTF and MVR for the Beloved Benefit

With a new set of tools in hand, Fransen began his work on the lighting design for the Beloved Benefit at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Featuring performances from Maroon 5 and Usher, the benefit raises money to combat social issues facing the people of Atlanta, Georgia.  

The project was massive in scale, featuring about 600 moving lights, thousands of feet of LED wall, and trusses that extend as high as 136 feet.

As if the scale of the stadium wasn’t enough of a challenge, the Beloved Benefit was a 2,000-person dinner. Fransen needed to light stages for performances, as well as the ground floor for donors attending the dinner.




After modeling in Vectorworks, Fransen used MVR to move the model into Capture. Here, he was able to create photo realistic renderings of his lights. According to the production and lighting designer, MVR “simplified the rendering process and allowed for a way that we could show the client a realistic view of what we were going to achieve.”

Within these renderings, Fransen was able to embed live video, only increasing the quality and realism of his design. Fransen spoke proudly, “We’re finally moving into a world where we can move these 3D files around between different pieces of software!”




Join the GDTF and MVR Revolution

More so than anything else, Fransen consistently uttered one phrase when talking about GDTF and MVR: “I’m really pumped.”

More and more designers have integrated GDTF and MVR into their workflows, too. “I don’t think anything this big has come along in our industry in quite a while,” Fransen said. “The more lighting manufacturers that support the GDTF model the better, as it will allow us as designers to get our paperwork, mode settings, and even addressing, and patching completed in a more efficient way.

This is a future I very much look forward to. “

Watch the video below to see how others are using the revolutionary file formats.