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Christian Fekete


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I guess I am completely confused now, I have been using viewports uniquely in Sheet Layers but I notice that you can also create viewports in Design Layers.

Can someone please explain to me what are the plus and minus of doing it one way vs. the other?

Thank you so much

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It might help to go back to the pre-history of viewports and Sheet Layers.  Before Sheet Layers were released, the name used for them was Presentation Layers (this snuck through is some of the documentation). If you think about Sheet Layer as being for the presentation of information, then by default, the opposite would be for the creation of information. i.e. modeling.  


Two great things about Design Layer Viewports.  1. They can reference information from another file, so if you are doing a project with multiple buildings you can put each in a separate file and then reference them in to the site plan to generate sections and elevations.


2. They can work kind of like "Super Symbols" that can be placed multiple times, but will also allow data to be on multiple layers. A symbol can only have objects on a single layer but many classes.


Before the inclusion of viewports, all work had to be done on Layers (now called Design Layers). You could use Layer Links to give multiple views of an object, but since Design Layers "Render to Infinitiy" only one could be rendered at a time (and had to be at the bottom of the stacking order) as the render would hide anything below it in the stacking order.


The places I hear about most in the use of design layer viewports are in multi-family residential where you will have the same unit type repeated multiple times. The other use is in Spotlight where you can use Design Layer Viewports to take a vertical set of lights and lay they out horizontally to be able to label them, but still have them show properly in the model.


Hopefully someone who uses them more than I do will step in with their opinion.


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Design layers are also really helpful when experimenting with the location of multiple buildings on a site.


And that Spotlight trick of laying out booms and non-horizontal truss (which is really cool) also works for any object that is built in one orientation and installed in another.



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When drafting light plots I use viewports and design layers thusly:

  1. A viewport can reference external drawings. I reference my set designer's drawing via a viewport on a layer specifically named “REF-version 1“or 2, or 3, etc. this is particularly valuable when working in repertory as you can simply turn on and off the different drawings the set designer has created and have each one appear underneath your lighting equipment when needed.
  2. I have more than one layer for my light plots. One for overhead stuff, another for items that sit on the deck, etc. when I place my dimmer racks on the floor backstage, I place them on the "deck" layer. I need to know where the dimmers are in relation to the overhead stuff so I create a viewport cropped to just the layer area where the dimmer packs are. before doing it this way, I would simply have a duplicate of the dimmer pack on each layer. Since I've started using reports extensively, this gave me multiple counts of the same dimmer pack. Using the viewport method, my reports now show me accurate counts.

As you know, layers and classes give us two methods of visibility control. Using an embedded viewport increases this to four methods. The layer and class of the of your current design layer plus all the layers and classes controlled by the viewport itself.

It's a terrific rabbit hole to explore.

Best, Scott

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