Which Visualizer Should I Use – 4 3d Stage Visualizers Compared!

capture visualizers Jun 07, 2023

Visualizers can be a great way to work with stage lights in a virtual world, whether to work ahead, practice, or mock up designs for a client. In this post, we’re going to go a little deeper and explore (4) 3d stage visualizers and some of the differences between them.

This evaluation starts with a free visualizer and ends with a paid visualizer. The first section of this post we’re going to go through the four visualizers to discuss the strength and weak points for each one. Then, in the second half of this post, we will discuss the pricing.

Before we get started, I would like to mention that a couple of these visualizers were provided to share my honest review and evaluation. The opinions and expressed in this post an the video are completely my own.

Chamsys Magic Q

To get this started, we will begin with the Chamsys Magic Q. This visualizer is a very basic visualizer and is completely free to it’s users.

This visualizer does run on a PC and also comes with their consoles. If you do have a Chamsys console, it’s a great tool to use along with their console.

You’re able to design your stage and set up the lights. If you’re just wanting to see how the lights will look and the basic color combination, then this visualizer is a good fit. This is also great for those working with a tight budget.

The downside to this visualizer is that it’s very basic. There is no ability to set up props or much of anything else. This is more ideal for current Chamsys users and those that just want to use a visualizer to set up lights.

L8 Visualizer

The next visualizer is the L8 Community Edition and offers two options, the onboard control or the visualization only. The interesting part of these two options is with the onboard control mode, you can actually use this as a console and pre-program your lights with it. For this post, we’re going to use the visualization only.

The L8 visualizer functionality reminds of a video game type of feel. You have two different modes, the DMX mode where you set up your lights and then the room mode where you build out your stage and design looks.

When using this, you will first use the room mode to build your stage. When building out the stage, you have a library of props to choose from. Once you build your stage, you can then switch to the DMX mode to begin adding in your lights. With the L8, you can only patch one light in at a time.

Once I was comfortable with the L8, I really began to like it. Once you get comfortable with the “gaming” feel of it it’s really easy to use. What I really enjoy is that when using the visualizer you can visualize it just as you would with your eyes.

Overall, it’s really easy to use and it’s a good visualizer to go with especially if you’re someone that is comfortable with the gaming world. The downside to the L8 would be the patching process and it can get tough when looking for information, and if fixtures aren't in the library you may not be able to get them created.

Capture Visualizer

If you’re familiar with Learn Stage Lighting, you probably already know that I use the Capture Visualizer often in my videos and tutorials. It’s a great visualizer and great for those who are comfortable with using CAD.

When using Capture, you’re going to have 4 different views. You can set and arrange these however you wish. When using Capture, you have the ability to attach a lighting console. This visualizer also has the ability to go offline and still use it to create your stage and looks.

You’ll have the library of prop options just as you did with the L8. The quality of the visualization with Capture is very good. With this, you can do a lot with creating a stage and the ability to design different looks.

If you’re an ONYX user, Capture does support a 2-way communication with ONYX. This means you have the ability to create a movement inside of Capture and then transfer it to ONYX. This feature is at the moment still in beta but it is working pretty well and will be a future part of both programs.

Overall, Capture is a great visualizer and is a program I use for my projects. The quality of the visualization is very good and the software is updated every year, so it stays up to date. If you are someone that is comfortable with using CAD, you’ll most likely find yourself right at home using Capture.  And one of the biggest benefits is the support - the Capture team is very good and very quick at adding new fixtures when requested, which is a HUGE plus in our book!

Depence2 Visualizer

The Depence2 visualizer is the last on our list and was originally designed for designing fountains or pyrotechnic/fireworks shows that somewhat were for stage design. They also had a visualizer called “Realizzer” and now, they have merged their programs and created Depence2 that can work for concert designs but also stage lighting design as well.

Overall, the interface of Depence2 is very easy to use and I appreciate that you can access everything in just one window. This visualizer has the different modules you can begin with such as the construction module that allows you to build your stage and then the lighting module that you will add your lights as well create you different looks.

What I really like about Depence2 is that it will automatically patch in your lights as you bring them in. The quality of the visualization looks very good, it’s easy to use, and very smooth. This visualizer also has a CAD viewer option which is very cool to use.

Overall, I really enjoyed using Depence2. It’s very easy to use and out of the more advanced visualizers I had to go to the manual the least with Depence2. It’s very simple and you can learn how to maneuver very easily.

Which Visualizer Should I Use – (4) 3d Stage Visualizers Compared! Pt 2

Now, that we have walked through the the capabilities of each visualizer in this second section we’re going to discuss the pricing for each one.

 Just as we did in the first half of this post, we’re going to start with the MagicQ Vis. Each visualizer does have different pricing points and options so we will walk through these below.

MagicQ Vis

As we mentioned earlier, the MagicQ Visualizer is free and does come with the Chamsys console. To make it work, you have to patch the show and fixtures inside of Chamsys and then output via DMX to the MagicQ Vis. This visualizer does have the ability to work with other 3rd party visualizers.

Capture Visualizer

Up next on our list is the Capture Visualizer.

As you already know, I am a big user and a fan of using Capture. It’s great a tool and offers a lot of options to it’s users.

The pricing for the Capture visualizer is listed above and of course the pricing is available on the Capture website. With Capture costs and their 5 year upgrade cycle is what really makes it worth the investment.

Regardless of which edition you go with, once you purchase Capture, you now have 5 years to be able to upgrade for each edition each year if you want to. If you don’t want to do the edition upgrades then you don’t have to upgrade every year!

If you decide you outgrew the edition you originally selected you can at any time just upgrade to a new edition.  The upgrade cost between editions essentially "credits" what you already paid for towards the higher universe count.  The only "gotcha" is that to go from edition to edition, you MUST be in the current year to upgrade.  But, you can purchase both the year-to-year and the edition-to-edition upgrade at the same time.

Overall, you don’t have to do a yearly subscription and you can pay to use the updated editions or not. Either way, it’s saves you money in the long run.

Depence2 Visualizer

The last visualizer on our list is the Depence2 Visualizer. You can see the full pricing and options available on their website linked above.

As the pricing list shows above, you can select the different modules that you want to work with. For stage lighting, it does have a module available and if you want to add other modules to add to it you can do so.

Depence2 is designed for professional users but if your setup uses a lot of universes then it might make sense to sign up with Depence2. It’s a great visualizer and out of all of them, it was the easiest to pickup and using.

Overall Review

As I mentioned in the beginning, each visualizer has it pros and cons. There is no one fits all and each one is designed to work with a specific set of needs.

The MagicQ Vis is good if your looking for a simple lighting visualizer and would be a better fit if you already have a Chamsys console.

The L8 is a great visualizer that was designed for those with a gaming background. Once you adjust it’s easy to set up and get going with your visualization.

Capture is what I use almost daily and I really like that it’s good for those used to working with CAD. It’s also great for ONYX users and be sure to keep an eye out for that integration.

Lastly, Depence2 was a pleasant surprise and I look forward to learning how to use it more. It’s very easy to use and was definitely designed for those working in production professionally.

Just like you would in stage lighting, it’s not about getting the “latest and greatest”. It’s establishing your needs in a visualizer, the capability, and selecting the right visualizer for what you want to do.


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