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Lighting Devices sometimes break into parts

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I have long been a non-Spotlight AutoPlot user (thanks to Sam Jones). I am converting everything over to Spotlight now that the Lighting Device Parameters are unlimited and can be arranged in the IOP.

I am basing most of my symbols on the symbols that ship with Spotlight, but redrawing most of the 2D to how I like things to look on the plot.

Each 2D portion of a symbol contains several 2D symbols (ie. body, lens, cap, etc.) that combine to make that specific fixture type.

Sometimes, a Lighting Device on the drawing seems to break apart into these different parts. So I can't select the whole fixture, but each contained symbol. Everything is attached, and moves as one fixture, but the Lighting Device info is separate for each part. For example, I select the cap of a S4, and the Lighting Device info is mostly blank. I move the cap, and the rest of the light moves, but still only the cap is selected.

I have not yet nailed down what I do to "break" the drawing, or what to do to fix it. It doesn't always happen.

Has anyone else experienced this, and have any advice on what I could do to prevent this as I build a several-thousand-fixture library?


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

The instrument insertion tool thinks the symbol is a multi-circuit symbol because the main symbol contains ONLY other symbols. If you place a piece of text, rectangle, etc in the combined symbol the instrument insertion tool will then see it as only a single symbol and insert as one Lighting Device.

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That makes sense ... but in practice, it isn't consistent.

My 36-degree contains:

-S4 Body symbol

-S4 575w Cap symbol

-S4 36-deg Lens symbol

(no other symbols or non-symbol objects)

My 5-degree contains:

-S4 Body symbol

-S4 575w Cap symbol

-S4 05-deg Lens symbol

(no other symbols or non-symbol objects)

The 36-degree "breaks" into parts. The 5-degree is fine.

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Double check the 5-degree, I'm almost positive that you will find something else in the symbol in either the 2D or 3D.

If you do a select all in the symbol how many objects are selected?

Make sure all the classes are visible, even if the object is not visible it still may be there.

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I am attaching a VW2014 file.

All classes on. Identical construction. Only three symbols (no other objects) within 2D symbol definition. 5-degree is OK, 36-degree is not. Big Mystery!

Now, I do understand how to make the 36-degree behave correctly (add some non-symbol object to the symbol), but why isn't the 5-degree a multi-circuit unit?


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The ONLY difference between the 5-deg and 36-deg symbols in the 2D is that the 5-deg has 4 objects in the lens symbol, and the 36-deg has 3 objects in the lens symbol. No groups. No records attached in the 2D.

Now the 3D is a different story ... Just now I copied the 3D from the 5-deg's symbol definition and pasted it into the 36-deg's symbol 3D definition (deleting the previous 36-deg 3D geometry), and the 36-deg inserted as a single Lighting Device. So there is something weird about the 3D side of the 36-deg that was making it bust into its parts upon Lighting Device Insertion.

So with the 3D identical, now both are acting the same, but not acting the way Kevin describes that they should (single Lighting Device vs. multi-circuit Lighting Device).

So it still doesn't explain why now BOTH aren't going in as multi-circuit fixtures, since the 2D only contains three 2D symbols (with no other objects).

Vicious cycle!

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I have not made ANY changes to the 3D (other than the copy-replace mentioned above) from the Spotlight symbols that ship with the product. My workflow for creating my library is to start with the Spotlight symbol, change the 2D to what I want it to be, then rename the symbol. I've essentially been doing nothing with the 3D, as I've been concentrating on the 2D and Label Legends for now.

If the 3D is what isn't right, then I'm pretty sure it isn't right in what ships with Spotlight. FYI, I'm not pointing fingers, but just trying to understand how it all works.

Thanks for your insight!

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Teresa -

Is adjusting your approach a little an option?

- Create a "generic" Hybrid symbol (out of actual geometry - not other Symbols) that mimics the different parts you're using multiple Symbols to create.

- Create "degree-specific" Symbols with the Light Info Record dsta attached - and, that include your degree text and lens color-coding.

That way, you'd get the look you want and the Spotlight Lighting Device object would only "see" the 1 internal Symbol.

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Andy -- I'm happy to adjust my approach; what I'm trying to do right now is figure out how best to make everything play nice.

It's probably that I'm just being dense here, but I don't think I completely understand how Spotlight decides that a fixture should be a single vs. multi-circuit Lighting Device.

I'm going to try to explain it in my own words, and please correct me if I am wrong:

If there are nothing but symbols in the symbol definition, then Spotlight makes each symbol into a part of a multi-circuit Lighting Device. So in my original file that I attached earlier in this thread, the 5-deg was made into a single Lighting Device because the 3D contained more than just symbols (even though the 2D was only symbols); but the 36-deg contained only symbols in the 2D and the 3D, so it broke it apart into a multi-circuit Lighting Device of the three symbols that were in the 2D.

So, to fix this, there could be any non-symbol object in the 2D or the 3D, and the fixture will insert as a single Lighting Device.

And if I want to make sure that something inserts as a multi-circuit Lighting Device, everything in the 2D and 3D needs to be contained in a symbol.

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I don't think I completely understand how Spotlight decides that a fixture should be a single vs. multi-circuit Lighting Device.


If there are nothing but symbols in the symbol definition, then Spotlight makes each symbol into a part of a multi-circuit Lighting Device.


So, to fix this, there could be any non-symbol object in the 2D or the 3D, and the fixture will insert as a single Lighting Device...

You're not being dense. I'm just learning the finer details, myself - for somewhat similar reasons to yours: transitioning to the SL system from AP w/o losing the functionality and level of understanding to which I'd become assumstomed. As one of my previous posts revealed, I've still got a bit to learn...

The best that I can tell, you've figured it out.

A few things:

1) Simply adding a 3D locus to your 36? Symbol made it work in terms of fixing the "breaking." I inserted it @ the body's pivot point.

2) You also need to make sure the body geometry gets the "Default Instrument Texture" texture applied in order for the "light" part to work.

3) You should be able to streamline your 5? Symbol as it contains 3D geometry from the Hybrid S4 body Symbol and basic 3D non-Symbol geometry. In fact, I think you could consolidate your different parts for both Symbols and make things a bit easier to manage - like I said before, w/o losing your intended look.

Have a good one.

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Always something to learn.

Be careful adding loci - there must be one at the center of the body rotation. It also becomes the light source. More than one loci has always caused problems.

The "Default Instrument Texture" is a strange short cut to allow slightly less complex geometry. If you build your bodies with a hole or recessed area back to the loci, then you can use simple fill colors w/o texture or whatever you want.

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Be careful adding loci...

You're right about being careful, Rick. At the same time, most of my Symbols contain several 3D Loci (Insertion Point, snap points, and key fixture points). The trick is making sure that the one @ the center of the body is at the top of the stacking order so that it's the first one that the LD code finds. I know that that is "off-convention" a bit but, that done, things work beautifully.

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This is a very helpful thread. I haven't really looked much at the 3D side yet of Spotlight symbols, but just been using whatever Spotlight ships with. Some of the "gotchas" that I knew about from other versions have been fixed in the recent releases, but I'm finding that there are now new "gotchas". Just need to learn the rules by which Spotlight operates ...

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