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Wesley Burrows

Seating Section Workflows?

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I'm curious,  for those of us that have to deal with larger seating layouts regularly, how do you approach it?   Do you start a ballroom or convention center layout with a giant rectangle and then start cutting in aisles for fire code etc?  Build it a section at a time?  For that matter which of the three different seating layout tools do you use?

 

A few times a year I'm doing layouts that max out around 15,000 seats.   This get's to be a special kind of bloated and difficult if you were to try and do as an enormous rectangle.    

 

How about bowl style seating layouts.   Such as similar to the below image?   Though this shows round horizontal aisles usually (in my situations)  it's more of angled straight lines to form the "curve".     

 

hollywoodbowlseatingchart.jpg

 

 

Edited by Wesley Burrows
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I actually do it manually starting with just one seat (A hybrid symbol).  I never use the seating tools - I haven't found them to be accurate or easy to work with and I like to keep it simple. 

 

I'll start at centerline, x number of feet back from the stage and build out my first run.  I usually only put 14 seats per run to keep fire egress in check, and then add a row gap (4' or 6' depending on the job).  I build out the whole first row this way and this gives me an idea on width and numbers per row.

 

From there I group and duplicate array or use the move to points tool to create rows.  Standard for me is to leave 2 feet from chair back to chair front.  Some people try to do 18", but I prefer 24 for comfort if possible.  I'll add left to right aisles (parallel to the stage apron an d 6 feet wide) at a logical break point.  I try to build out the whole thing, only working on House left or house right.  Once I'm satisfied, I mirror everything over centerline.  I put all the rows and blocks into one master group - go into that group and ungroup all the rows.  This way, I only have one group envelop and by hitting select all, I can get an accurate count from the OIP.  Important to not duplicate or double up seats or rows as this will really throw your numbers off.

 

Angled seating is more finicky, but I use the same basic method.  I never put one chair alone, even if it fits - people like to sit together.

 

For sweeping rows (curved).  I make sure to have an accurate locus origin point for everything and tend to use the Rotate tool in ROTATE AND DUPLICATE mode.  It takes a while to do this, but I start with one, then grab two and turn that into 4, then 4 into 8, etc.  You have to do each row (different radius) manually, so it's slow going, but it works.  I've tried Duplicate along path for this, but never satisfied with the results.

 

I use a low poly 3D chair as part of the symbol.  After I move the model into Cinema 4D, I usually swap out the master chair symbol for a higher poly one and then all the instances update.  As long as things are tidy, centered, and the same size, you're good.

 

All that said - massive seating layouts are one of my least favorite ways to spend an afternoon - but not as bad as actually setting up the chairs on site :)

 

e.

Edited by EAlexander
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I do pretty much the same thing. If it is a complicated layout (circular, lots of angles) I generally work out aisle placement based on the aforementioned 14-16 wide maximum rows. That then creates some polygons into which I place my chairs. At this point, rotating your working plane becomes a fantastic feature. 

 

One ither note regarding really complicated floor layouts; they can be time consuming to draw, but our end results can look fantastic. Keep in mind, however, that someone has to actually install those chairs and a lot of change-over crews are going to be in well over their heads with a bunch of radial angles.  Because of this, I class my polygons and then use the rigging tool to install points in the corners of each. I then arrange a rigger or two and a few stagehands to layout the points and have found that the additional expense for these personnel is well worth it in time savings and avoided issues. 

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Thanks for sharing your workflows and experiences.  I find it very insightful!    From a code standpoint,  (USA based)

 

I too have often found the 14-16 seats (size dependent) to be max in a row to meet this IFC requirement:

 

"Aisle accessway travel distance - The maximum length of travel along the aisle accessway shall not exceed 30 feet (9144mm) from any seat to the point where a person has a choice of two or more paths of egress travel to separate exits. (IFC 1017.4.3)"

 

I rarely run in to any client/producer, etc,   pushback on that from a theatre seating standpoint.    I do however run in to pushback on seating for banquet rounds.   Does anyone have any sources for code (I know it varies somewhat by municipalities) regarding rounds?     

 

I usually use this as a reference:

https://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dhn0/mdax/~edisp/tst001962.pdf   (I live in Kansas City,  and we do events all over the US,  but this seemed like a good starting point)

 

For rounds, we are usually seating 72" rounds of ten, and  that document shows ~6' table edge to edge if any seat is back to back,  which is typical in a round configuration.    So I usually start my round layouts @ 12' centers.   Then people want to try 11',  10'  etc,  to squeeze more people in.    I know that a lot of places will set this way,  without saying a word,   but if the fire-marshall gets a wild hair and wants to shut it down he could.  

 

Does anyone have any clear sources that either give me a leg to stand on @ 6' edge to edge,  or somewhere that shows that 4' or 5' edge to edge is ok in certain circumstances?     Or just general best practices that are a good starting place for code compliancy. 

 

-W

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4 hours ago, Wesley Burrows said:

For rounds, we are usually seating 72" rounds of ten, and  that document shows ~6' table edge to edge if any seat is back to back,  which is typical in a round configuration.    So I usually start my round layouts @ 12' centers.   Then people want to try 11',  10'  etc,  to squeeze more people in.    I know that a lot of places will set this way,  without saying a word,   but if the fire-marshall gets a wild hair and wants to shut it down he could.  

 

Does anyone have any clear sources that either give me a leg to stand on @ 6' edge to edge,  or somewhere that shows that 4' or 5' edge to edge is ok in certain circumstances?     Or just general best practices that are a good starting place for code compliancy

3

I have the same questions. Most of my clients tend to try putting 10 lb of guest into a five lb seat and it can be hard to get them to understand the dangers implicit in this.

 

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Good day, 14 seats is just fine as a starting point.  However the vast majority of the codes read is that you cannot have any more than 30' to an exit row (think standing in the center of a 60' aisle, you have 30' to the choice of 2).  Here in LV we have what are considered to be the strictest fire codes in the country and I have not had one single floor plan kicked back from any out of town show in almost every state following LV codes.  Using this length, to maximize seating with headstrong clients you CAN do a 50+ft aisle, but you cannot exceed 30 ft to any egress path.  Also, keep in mind that the width of the row path (from the back of the seat in front of you to the front of your seat) starts at 12" and opens by .3" per chair added over 14.  So by using the standard 18" row path, you are basically covered for seating sections of 50+ ft never to exceed 60.  if you actually do push it to 60' youll need a 20" aisle, but I recommend a 22" aisle.  I can only imagine that most just do it so they never run into an issue.  The thing to always keep in mind with seating of these widths is that the aisle widths usually need to go beyond 6ft to accommodate the funneling of people from each section.  The simplest way to do this is to calculate all people that will be funneling into that area and do the standard .2" PP calc.

 

Wesley this is a fine resource, however you have to know that Clark County actually governs the Fire Codes, so you should be looking at http://www.clarkcountynv.gov/building/fire-prevention/Pages/FireCode.aspx for your info.

 

The 6ft rounds of ten indeed need to be placed on 12' centers, however you CAN nest them provided the occupancy does not exceed linear exit space.  To nest tables successfully, take your tables, place a 12' diameter circle, draw a 6' radius line from the center to the edge, then draw a line straight down from the middle point of  that line down until it hits the diameter line of the 12' circle, this is as close as you can nest them.  (Assuming 18" chairs of course)  Regardless of how you distribute the tables, you must have a minimum of 3' aisle from chair to chair.  This does NOT change if the width of the table changes, you still must have 3ft.  So a 5ft rd, IS permissible to have on an 11ft center, again, assuming the 18" chair.  If you do not have chairs (ie high boys, cocktail tables) you still have to maintain the 3ft aisle.  This rule of thumb basically applies to anything involving rounds to anything, other chairs, tables, walls, banquet setups, bars, you get the drift. Needless to say that Clark County has really buckled down on these regs since the mandalay bay shooting.  Lots of egress problems there... message me if you want some more info.

 

And don't forget to keep those fire extinguishers clear!  

 

Love this thread and I would love to hear about stories about other fire marshals, they can be rough, even when they are wrong! :-)

 

 

 

On 12/27/2017 at 7:52 AM, Wesley Burrows said:

Thanks for sharing your workflows and experiences.  I find it very insightful!    From a code standpoint,  (USA based)

 

I too have often found the 14-16 seats (size dependent) to be max in a row to meet this IFC requirement:

 

"Aisle accessway travel distance - The maximum length of travel along the aisle accessway shall not exceed 30 feet (9144mm) from any seat to the point where a person has a choice of two or more paths of egress travel to separate exits. (IFC 1017.4.3)"

 

I rarely run in to any client/producer, etc,   pushback on that from a theatre seating standpoint.    I do however run in to pushback on seating for banquet rounds.   Does anyone have any sources for code (I know it varies somewhat by municipalities) regarding rounds?     

 

I usually use this as a reference:

https://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dhn0/mdax/~edisp/tst001962.pdf   (I live in Kansas City,  and we do events all over the US,  but this seemed like a good starting point)

 

For rounds, we are usually seating 72" rounds of ten, and  that document shows ~6' table edge to edge if any seat is back to back,  which is typical in a round configuration.    So I usually start my round layouts @ 12' centers.   Then people want to try 11',  10'  etc,  to squeeze more people in.    I know that a lot of places will set this way,  without saying a word,   but if the fire-marshall gets a wild hair and wants to shut it down he could.  

 

Does anyone have any clear sources that either give me a leg to stand on @ 6' edge to edge,  or somewhere that shows that 4' or 5' edge to edge is ok in certain circumstances?     Or just general best practices that are a good starting place for code compliancy. 

 

-W

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Wesley, you can message me and I can provide you some very good resources on max seating arrangements.

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On 11/3/2017 at 7:44 PM, scottmoore said:

I do pretty much the same thing. If it is a complicated layout (circular, lots of angles) I generally work out aisle placement based on the aforementioned 14-16 wide maximum rows. That then creates some polygons into which I place my chairs. At this point, rotating your working plane becomes a fantastic feature. 

 

One ither note regarding really complicated floor layouts; they can be time consuming to draw, but our end results can look fantastic. Keep in mind, however, that someone has to actually install those chairs and a lot of change-over crews are going to be in well over their heads with a bunch of radial angles.  Because of this, I class my polygons and then use the rigging tool to install points in the corners of each. I then arrange a rigger or two and a few stagehands to layout the points and have found that the additional expense for these personnel is well worth it in time savings and avoided issues. 

 

 

Do you use a custom hoist symbol for these points or just use one that you typically don't have in the rest of the rig?

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I would just use one that doesn’t occur in your rig. Odds are you are going to class it completely different and present it as it’s own sheet so it really won’t matter. All you need is a marker to denote coordinates. The riggers will know what to do with that. 

Edited by scottmoore

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Folks—a tremendous insight into the working stage professionals GTD. Awesome.

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Great thread. I’ve been persevering with the seating layout tools in VW - in fact I find curved layouts almost impossible without.

 

That tool does need some improvement granted (like why it has to re-draw constantly when nothing has changed - drives me mad) - but there are some advantages to it - like automatically showing seating count etc.

 

That said - if you just want a simple “total of all seats” and not sections - that’s really easy to achieve without the seating tools by just using a regular worksheet.

 

I would love to see an overhaul of the seating tool.  In fact - isn’t there two?  One legacy and one new?  I have no idea which is which!

 

Edit : 

 

Found this http://app-help.vectorworks.net/2017/eng/VW2017_Guide/EventDesign1/Creating_a_Basic_Seating_Layout.htm

 

It seems that Seating Sections are Spotlight only - would assume they supersede / are better than Seating Layouts?

 

Doesn't this need to be consolidated?

 

Edited by Andrew Davies

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I would agree that the seating layout and seating section tools should probably just be a single tool. There has beeen much discussion about the quality and reliability of these tools and as such, I simply don’t use them. I find seating layouts are just not that difficult to produce manually.

 

Seating is one of those line item job descriptions that fall really low on most designer’s priority list but quickly can become the absolutely most important thing on site when you start to run into issues. The changeover crew either not knowing how to install the chairs correctly or simply doing it wrong, finding out you have an issue with codes or the fire marshal or running into manifest concerns with the ticketing staff. All of these can become serious stress issues between the designer, producer, promoter and local entities. I would rather absolutely know exactly how the floor plan was created and how it is to be implemented as opposed to assuming VW got it right.

 

I’ve had teamsters furious with me that there was “no way they could fit that many rows on the floor!” All I had to do was walk over, ask them where they started their first measurement (which was wrong on their part) and how far apart they were planning on setting rows (also wrong on their part). It’s nice to confidently say, “set your tape here, set your rows at _____ inches and you will have exactly what I drew.”  That was a lot better for me then having to second guess if VW had actually correctly populated the seating areas based on my input data. 

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