[Above: Three stages of design and visualisation using Capture software. 2D plan view, 3D isometric view, Visualize view]


Scale models of theatre scenery have been used as a staple tool of the set designer for many years.
In 1990, Patrick Woodroffe built a quarter-scale studio to try out large concert lighting rigs.

LSI: Classic Gear - 4:1 Studio (April 2019)
[External Website]
From Lighting & Sound International

LSI: 4:1 Studio (November 1990)
[1.29Mb PDF]
From Lighting & Sound International

Software for Lighting Visualisation

MA3D (for GrandMA desks)

  • Free of charge
  • Unlimited
  • Works best with GrandMA desk / software
  • Windows only
  • Website

ChamSys MagicVis

  • Free of charge – included with MagicQ software
  • Windows / Mac / Linux
  • Aimed at concert / event lighting designers who use MagicQ
  • Website

Martin ShowDesigner

  • Windows only
  • Website [product now discontinued]




  • Windows only (will run on Mac with Windows OS installed)
  • Website

ESP Vision

  • Designed for use with Vectorworks
  • Website


  • Venue / Environment visualisation, including scenery etc.
  • Mac / Windows / Linux
  • Website

Amazon Shop


SketchUp for Scenic Design
Buy at
Amazon UK
Amazon US

SketchUp for Dummies
Buy at
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Designer Drafting and Visualizing for the Entertainment World
Buy at
Amazon UK
Amazon US

External Links


3D Warehouse Sketchup 3D models


Capture Lighting Visualisation Software [Sweden]
Lightconverse Visualisation [UK]
SketchUp 3D modelling and design
Vivien - Cast Lighting Event Design & Planning Software
WYSIWYG Lighting visualisation
Zacview Visualisation for theatres [Germany]

Glossary of Technical Theatre Terms: Visualisation

Software for constructing detailed 3D models and producing animated 'walkthroughs' and 'fly-throughs', owned and developed by Autodesk. The program is now known as 3DS MAX and is becoming the industry standard for 3D design for visualisation and animation.
Autodesk website

Industry-standard CAD program for architects and designers. WYSIWYG contains a cut-down version of Autocad, along with visualisation tools.

Computer-Aided Design. Using a computer to help with 2D plans and drawings, or increasingly for 3D visualisation of how a set will look, and how lighting will affect it. See also WYSIWYG.

Canadian creators of WYSIWYG software.
Cast Lighting website

(Computing Term) Graphical User Interface. Describes the visual appearance on-screen of computer software or operating system. 

Club / DJ control and visualisation software by Martin.
Martin website

1) A wooden box representing the walls of a theatre space in which cardboard scale models can be placed by the set designer. See also MODEL.
2) UK-based CAD in Theatre specialist. Lighting symbols for CAD programs are available as a free download.
Modelbox website

Powerful visualisation software for students and scenic designers. Doesn't have the engineering accuracy of Autocad or the lighting simulation of WYSIWYG but is much more geared towards theatre, and is much easier to learn.
Openstages website


1) (3D Design) The process of producing a real-world style image within a 3D design program. Depending on the computer power, a fully rendered image can look as good as a photograph of the real world equivalent. Rendered images are used by lighting, scenic and multimedia artists to present ideas to other members of the production team.
2) (Design) The art of creating an illustration on paper showing how a design concept will look when built. 

Visualisation software produced by Martin.
Martin website

1) Refers to the auditorium / seating area of an ancient Greek or Roman theatre.
2) Two scene preset compact manual control desk made by Century Lighting. 
3) 3D model archive project for creating accurate (and amazing) VRML models of old theatre buildings. (Windows operating system only).
Theatron VR website

(3D Design) Virtual Reality Modelling Language. A language for describing 3D objects within a simple text file. With a VRML Viewer, complex models can be emailed between designers and other production staff for comment. The VRML Viewer allows the user to move around the 3D model using simple mouse moves.
VRML is pronounced 'verrmul'.

Acronym of 'What You See Is What You Get'. Mainly used in the context of a software tool for lighting design and production administration. Capable of stunning 3D rendering of lighting states, and direct connection to a lighting control desk. Enables accurate pre-visualisation of lighting designs and greatly increases the understanding between director / producer and lighting / scenic designer in the early stages of a production.
WYSIWYG product details