Vectorworks has partnered with MA Lighting and Robe lighting to bring to the industry a new open-standard format known as the General Device Type Format (GDTF).

GDTF is a standard for describing the hierarchical and logical structure and controls of any type of controllable device in the lighting and entertainment industry. GDTF will be used as a foundation for the exchange of device data between lighting consoles, as well as CAD and 3D pre-visualization applications. The purpose of an existing GDTF file is to reflect the real-world physical components of the devices and to provide control based on this information. A GDTF file contains and is derived from the device’s real-world geometry, attributes and abilities.

MVR is an open-file-format container that packages the GDTF files for all of the lighting fixtures in a design, along with a complete 3D model and data describing the positions and 3D elements. This allows designers to easily conduct previz and communicate directly from the CAD design to the lighting console.

The GDTF format has really taken off, with unified support from 35 of the biggest brands in the entertainment industry. Recently the format was certified as an open standard via DIN SPEC 15800 recognition.

A Profound Opportunity Beyond Entertainment Projects

Let’s call this what it really is: BIM for intelligent lighting and digital signage.

I strongly urge manufacturers in both architectural lighting and the digital signage industry to support this standard, as it has obvious and immediate benefits ranging far beyond entertainment projects. Think of the profound changes that were enabled by the simple IES photometry file standard (a format that dates back to 1986!!!!): Just a few bytes of letters and numbers describing the realistic output of lighting fixtures enabled a worldwide transformation of lighting calculations, renderings, simulations, and performance understanding of our built environment.

Now think of the profound possibilities enabled by something like GDTF: Driving the modern world of digital content in physical spaces via BIM simulation, interactivity, VR/AR simulation, digital twin commissioning, and so forth.

I only hope the GDTF group can come up with a snappier, easier to say and remember name for the standard!

Check out the video for more about MVR here:

For a deep dive, check out the following video: