This isn’t an introduction to the UVA d3. Michael S. Eddy wrote a great piece on the system in April. Instead, this is an introduction to the future of media and control—which is what the d3 represents.

I love the fact that a bunch of content guys (with the help of a few itinerant gamers) have completely redefined the media server game. They built the original system for their work on the Massive Attack 100th Window tour and the feature list has been growing ever since. But there are two things about the d3 that qualify it for the title of paradigm-shifting, world-beating game-changer.

The most talked about characteristic is the combination of pre-visualization and control. This by itself would be enough to set the d3 apart. Since the d3 treats every point of light as a simple image component, regardless of what it might actually be (LED wall, automated luminaire, PARcan), it can drastically reduce previsualization and programming time. Once the system is set up, totally redrawing the entire stage composition can be as simple as dragging and dropping a new QuickTime movie onto the stage, whether you are still in the studio or five minutes from start of show. The snarky part of me thinks it’s great that a content designer might make a lighting designer obsolete (convergence works both ways, boyo).

But the much more subtle and possibly more important change it brings is the user interface itself. It is, quite simply, the most powerful, intuitive, and flexible interface I’ve ever seen. It’s gorgeous. It represents the coming of age of media server UI design. The three dimensional visualization acts a centerpiece, able to be oriented and manipulated in real time.

The UVA d3 is a huge step forward in design and visualization. I look forward to where this takes us.