3 Tools for Ultimate Workflow in Lighting Design
The National Theatre of Norway is embarking on streamlining its workflow using Vectorworks Spotlight with Renderworks, ESP Vision and Lightwright 5. These three packages combine to provide the ultimate workflow package for theatre lighting design.
The National Theatre is the largest theatre in Europe, situated in a prestigious position between the Castle and Parliament buildings in the center of the Norwegian capital of Oslo. It has three permanent stages in the main theatre, as well as others around the city.
It is nown for its high quality productions and balanced mix of classic and groundbreaking productions. Its alternating focus on traditional and contemporary productions is reflected in its annual theatre festival program, held in house every two years including the Ibsen Festival and the biennial Contemporary Festival. (Is it annual or every two years?)
The National Theatre has a stated goal of becoming recognised as one of Europe's leading theaters, for both their traditional and pioneering productions. To help achieve this, the technical and lighting team have determined to streamline their workflow and processes. They have invested in both software and training including Vectorworks Spotlight with Renderworks, ESP Vision, and will include Lightwright 5 in the near future.
Vectorworks Spotlight is a 2D/3D specialist lighting design package which enables designers to create light plots, generate drawings and paperwork for the lighting production. Renderworks is the visualisation package that enables the user to add material finishes and switch on the lights to produce still suitable for client presentations and storyboarding. ESP Vision takes the visualisation further , to animate the lighting plot and cue it with a simulation desk within the software. This results in valuable time and money savings as setup can be done offsite. Lightwright 5 interconnects with Vectorworks Spotlight to generate, edit and manage the light plot data. This in turn is used to produce all of the paperwork, layouts and stock lists that are needed for the production.
The team at the Oslo National Theatre have already had their ESP Vision training during an exciting trip to Las Vegas, where they learnt how to use the systems advanced computer simulation technology, to achieve high level, realistic visual presentations for their lighting designs.
With the ESP vision training under their belts the team’s next step in their streamlining process was to re-examine and learn more about the Vectorworks Spotlight software that they already use. Some of the team have been using Vectorworks for a while, whereas some of the team were new to it. Getting every member of the team on board with Vectorworks is an important step in making the design process more efficient and more accurate.
The team invited us to visit them for a three day Vectorworks Spotlight training session. The first two days were spent covering the foundation elements of Vectorworks. This was important revision for the more experienced members of the team and provided the new users with basic knowledge of the program and how to draw with it. We started by setting up some template files for the various members of the design team to use. Template files provide resources for all future drawings andcan be further honed by adding favourite settings and preferences. We then explored the 2D drawing tools, and transformation tools which form the basis of any design drawing, to create 2D plans and construction details.
Introducing students to the Resource Browser and the vast content that comes with the Vectorworks software is always the best part of the training session. Learning how to access these resources and create your own is an essential part of using Vectorworks efficiently. Being able to reuse objects, resources and settings saves a huge amount of time and ensures that the whole team are using the same objects with the same, correct information attached. ESP Vision Lighting includes its own library of Vectorworks symbols that include additional data to aid accurate previsualisation when the plot is exported to ESP Vision.
During the third ‘Spotlight day’ we looked at the team’s current workflow and how they could best use Vectorworks Spotlight to help them improve processes. We started from the beginning of a new project, where users need to import third party files, such as DWG and PDF files. Once the plan is imported the team looked at how they could use the Event Planning suite to quickly mock up a room or venue in both 2D and 3D with just a few clicks. Seeing the model come to life in 3D really wakes everyone up! After lunch the real excitement started when we looked at how to draw and build up the lighting plot, add data to lamps, focus them and then switch them on! The fact that the team can even add Gobos to their lamps really blew them away! We finished the three days by putting together presentation layouts using sheet layers and viewports, before exporting them to PDF as finished presentation documents.
The team’s next steps will be developing their Vectorworks skills through much practice and collaboration as well as looking into how they can use Lightwright 5 to manage their paperwork better. Lightwright 5 is designed specifically to manage professional lighting design paperwork. It has been designed to work with Vectorworks Spotlight, so that when changes are made in the drawing they are reflected in the paperwork, and vice versa. Providing a seamless workflow cycle, Lightwright 5 is a cross between a spreadsheet and a database, that understands what works in the theatre and enables great detail to be included about lights. It produces paperwork that can be distributed among the team in a variety of different formats.
We wish the team at Oslo National Theatre great fun with their newfound skills, and, more importantly, look forward to hearing about the great efficiency savings they make in the future. Thanks to the team for their hospitality!