What’s New with GDTF and MVR?


It’s been a few weeks since we last shared updates for the entertainment industry’s open-standard format, General Device Type Format (GDTF), so here’s what’s been cooking. 

On Display at the Vectorworks Design Summit

For starters, GDTF and My Virtual Rig (MVR) were demonstrated at the fourth annual Vectorworks Design Summit in November. Released in Vectorworks 2019 this past September, MVR is an open-file format that provides a complete 3D model with data describing the different fixtures’ locations and GDTF files for the lighting fixtures used in a design.

MVR_Summit-1Vectorworks VP of Marketing Jeremy Powell presents on GDTF and MVR during the 2018 Vectorworks Design Summit. Photo by Jason Dixson Photography.

At the Summit, GDTF and MVR were showcased during the CEO Keynote. They were also demoed in the Previz Studio and during the session, “The General Device Type Format (GDTF) and How to Add it to Your Workflow,” led by Theresa Hull, designer at Visual Workhorse, Inc., with help from René Berhorst, head of product management at MA Lighting International. Hull compared the current workflow of moving designs from Vectorworks Spotlight to the previz app Vision, and consoles such as the grandMA2, with the new possibilities that GDTF and MVR promise; pointing out that the effort to bring to life the two formats is a huge community service project to the entertainment community.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 12.52.45 PM

Prior to MVR, how Vectorworks exported to grandMA. Image courtesy of Theresa Hull’s Design Summit presentation.

Screen Shot 2019-01-03 at 12.54.50 PM

The new workflow includes data, and geometry in a streamlined workflow, thanks to the joint development of GDTF and MVR. Image courtesy of Theresa Hull’s Design Summit presentation.

“The user experience of GDTF and MVR received during the Vectorworks Design Summit was enormously positive,” said Berhorst. “We showed the first workflow of a stage drawing made with Vectorworks Spotlight 2019 and Robe fixtures hanging in the rig or standing on stage. All fixtures used the new GDTF file format. The export from Vectorworks as an MVR file and the import to a grandMA3 console or on a PC works flawlessly, and within a few minutes the full set came to life.” 

The Fixture Builder is Here

A new web-based fixture builder is now in private beta with select lighting device manufacturers. The fixture builder makes use of the current GDTF version and allows manufacturers (and eventually end users) to create GDTF files for their fixtures. This greatly simplifies the process and reduces the amount of time it takes to generate GDTF files. Based on modern web technologies, the fixture builder also ensures cross platform usage.

“The General Device Type Format is a comprehensive format to contain all information required to describe a lighting fixture or another device, and yet it is still easily understandable for device or control board manufacturers and customers,” said Robe lighting Customer Service Representative Petr Vanek. “As the user experience has been a key element in the evolution of GDTF, the fixture builder provides a user-centric approach to creating GDTF files. When developing the GDTF, it has been important for us to focus on users' experience, be it end customers or control board manufacturers.”

GDTF_Fixture Builder Start page

The GDTF fixture builder start page.

In addition, the GDTF fixture builder features many important tools covering multiple tasks related to GDTF editing, such as a 3D Model viewer and parameter editor, Content wheel creator for Prism, Gobo or Color wheels definitions, and a DMX builder to define simple or complex DMX Modes together with advanced features like Channel modes and relations. A dedicated LED emitter section allows users of the fixture builder to add, edit, and visualize spectral power distribution. When using the Fixture Builder, GDTF files can be created very quickly thanks to possibilities to copy/paste entire sections or to import existing files with prepared definitions. Created files are also ensured to be correct to given GDTF specifications through internal validation processes.

GDTF_Fixture Builder DMX section

GDTF_Fixture Builder Geometry-1The two photos above illustrate an example of the DMX builder’s functionality.

The fixture builder is now in private beta with fixture manufacturers for the upcoming months to get it to top-notch quality. Manufacturers interested in participating in the private beta should email info@gdtf-share.com. Once completed, this latest feature will be free to use, and it will be available on GDTF-share.com.

Connecting in the Forum

Last but certainly not the least, the user forum is now up and running on the GDTF website. Monitored by members of the three founding companies: MA Lighting, Robe lighting, and Vectorworks, the forum will be the central place for having discussions about GDTF and MVR, as well as receiving answers about progress or technical issues for the formats. The forum is simple to use and logins are free to setup.

“As the excitement has continued to sustain itself since our initial announcement about GDTF last April, we felt it was important to create a single location for conversation, and questions to be exchanged and addressed in a public place,” said Jeremy Powell, VP of marketing at Vectorworks, Inc. “The availability of this new forum on the GDTF-share.com website, is a significant step for us, and we look forward to engaging with the industry in further discussions about GDTF using this new forum platform.”

Let the GDTF and MVR conversations commence!Take Me to the Forum

Topics: Entertainment


Our blog subscribers receive tech tips, user success stories, webinar opportunities, and important company announcements.

By submitting this form, you agree that Vectorworks, Inc. and its authorized partners may contact you in regards to news, offers, and the use of our software, services, and platforms. Learn more about our privacy practices and your data on our Privacy page.*


Request your free trial to begin using Vectorworks. From 2D drawing to 3D modeling to fully integrated BIM, we provide new solutions to help you work faster and smarter.