A series of video tutorials on using Vectorworks Spotlight to draw a simple theatre plan with lighting equipment and fixtures data. Produced for beginners, by a beginner.
OK, so I’m currently taking first year Theatre Production students through CAD and Vectorworks so that they can complete their second lighting project – a small lighting design, communicated using VW. I have used many different CAD and design packages, 3D CGI software and specialised tools such as Cast Software’s WYSIWYG. Pretty much everything but Vectorworks.
My task was to learn Vectorworks in order to be able to teach it to Year 1 students and also help more advanced students with their drawings. You might know, being able to get stuff to happen by fiddling with menus is a world away from being able to teach it to others. And having a history in other software, I found many aspects of VW hard to learn – mostly because things didn’t “do what I expected”, relative to other packages.
Learning complex CAD software can be confusing, and it’s often useful to be able to revisit things you tried out in training sessions sometime in the future. So, I created a set of videos based on the very basics of Vectorworks in 2D that a beginner needs to get through before they can move on. Here is the series of six, using VW 2010, for the readers of On Stage Lighting to enjoy(?!) if CAD floats yer boat, please excuse the streaming head cold I had when recording them.
Disclaimer: As previously mentioned, I do not have a history of using Vectorworks and these tutorials are created by me, a new user with years of lighting design experience but about 12 hours flying time on Vectorworks. Bear this in mind. I probably do not have the answer to any VW questions you might have and if you are looking for a document based tutorial from someone who is experienced with Vectorworks Spotlight, I highly recommend the series by Kent Goetz at Cornell including Drafting The Light Plot. With all that in mind, enjoy….
Note: If you reading this via email or in your RSS feed reader it’s likely that you can’t see the embedded videos – just pop over to the site and they are all here waiting for ya…
Spotlight Tutorial 1 – Interface and Document Setup
This tutorial covers the Vectorworks interface, setting out the workspace and the basics of starting a document including page set up and scale.
Spotlight Tutorial 1 – Drawing and Accuracy
This video covers drawing using dimensions and snaps to produce your CAD drawing with accuracy.
Spotlight Tutorial 3 – Drawing Shapes
Apologies for the jumpy sound on this video, something happened during the Screencast-o-matic encoding process.
This video looks at drawing different shapes, the building blocks of CAD, and some ways to create more complex objects. We also take a brief look at Layers and Classes, ready for next time.
Spotlight Tutorial 4 – Creating A Theatre Drawing
This tutorial starts to use our new found skills in Vectorworks to draw a basic theatre plan and looks at some new ways to create complex shapes using Add Surface and Trim Surface.
Spotlight Tutorial 5 – Adding Lighting Positions and Fixtures
Using the Vectorworks library to add stage lighting instruments to rigging positions. Using symbols and entering fixture data.
Spotlight Tutorial 6 – Working With Data And Printing
This video looks at the basics of data extraction in Vectorworks Spotlight and a simple way to print your drawing. Last in the series.
The Very Basics of Vectorworks Spotlight
These videos cover some of the very basics of Spotlight. Vectorworks is a complex and powerful package and some tools and workflow have been simplified or missed out in order to get a beginner started. If you want to learn how to take more advantage of VW, make sure that you investigate the Spotlight toolset, drawing in 3D and integrating with the lighting design data tool – Lightwright.
If you have any questions, you can put them in the comments section and perhaps a VW god will answer your prayers. If you are experieced Vectorworks user, why not share your best tip for absolute beginners…..? Looking forward to reading your ideas and learning a few things myself. See you next time.
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Rob is a Lighting Designer and Moving Light Programmer and currently Senior Lecturer in Technical Theatre Production at Bath Spa University in the UK. He is also the Editor of On Stage Lighting and runs workshops in stage lighting practice.
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