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Lock Model lights on the Z plane


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Hi all: 

When I'm setting up renders for different scenes I will move Light Objects (not Spotlight symbols, just plain light objects) around the model to generate different looks. Its easiest to do this in Top/Plan of course but I run into the frustrating issue of the lights moving in the Z axis when I do that. More often than not moving the light will cause it to drop to the Z=0 or even below the z plane. Then I have to go to the OI or a side view to re-position it. My fondest wish is that VW will add a axis lock (hopefully a hotkey) as many modeling programs have, but in the mean time is there a simple way to move the X/Y position of a light object without inadvertently changing its Z? 




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Thanks Rob: 

But that's kind of the point. If I'm pushing objects around in a scene, I wan't to click and drag a light to re-position its focus onto where I've moved them visually rather than type in exact coordinates as I'm experimenting with different compositions. I don't know what the XY needs to be until I see it in its new position. I just know that I don't want its Z to be -6' or something. 

@EAlexander That's a good idea. I suspect that's whats going on especially when they drop to exactly Z=0 but often it will be random heights as well. Sometimes up, although not as frequently. I'll insert a LO at Z=18' or something nice and round. Move it around in Top/plan and then see that its Z has dropped to 11' 7 7/8" or something completely random. What I'm really hoping for is a tick box somewhere that say "Lock Height" or something. Or what we desperately need for all our work--the much wished for XYZ locks or even something like the plane lock you get in SketchUp by holding down the Shift key. That would solve this and many other issues of moving objects in 3D. 

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@EAlexander  Great call. Yeah holding down ` seems to do the trick. I've only tried it out for few minutes but that seems to work. But I can't figure out what it's snapping to. I mean the Z=0 makes sense but it will drop from 18' with a "Look to" of 5'  to some completely random number Z=15'6.06" Look to= -2'5.94   These are actual numbers from my experiment just now after letting up on `   I guess it doesn't matter now that I know I can turn off snapping to, I guess, solve the problem. Thanks. 

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As you've discovered, you are seeing the light snap to geometry below. In addition to suspending snapping, you have a few additional options to prevent this:


- Place light objects in their own layer. You can then set your layer options to one of the Show Others modes and avoid snapping to lower objects while still allowing light objects to snap and align to each other. I recommend having a layer for render lights even if you use one of the other methods.


- Use the Move by Points tool with Object Retention mode off. This should keep the move action co-planar while still allowing you to snap to objects below.


- Move in Top view as opposed to Top/Plan. That seems to avoid snapping to objects in 3D planes.

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@JBenghiat   Thanks. 

I'm generating storyboard renderings for, sometimes, dozens of scenes including around 8 or 10 lights so I'm making these moves potentially hundreds of times in a project.

Yes I do have them in their own layer but switching between layers or layer options is also time consuming.   I always forget about the Move by points tool, but I'll give that a try--although that will only allow for location changes not pan and throw, so that would have multiple steps too. I work with light objects visible in WF only so I don't accidentally get a lamp-shade in a render.  Toggling back and forth between show and hide lights is also a lot of extra steps. 

I think the tilde temporary disengage snapping is the best option but thanks for your additional recommendations. 



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1 hour ago, SeanOSkea said:

I work with light objects visible in WF only so I don't accidentally get a lamp-shade in a render.  Toggling back and forth between show and hide lights is also a lot of extra steps. 


You may have misunderstood one of my suggestions, as wireframe and light visibility isn't a factor for any of them. If you're reacting to the Top view suggestion, you can still be in wireframe in a Top view.


Also FYI, if you're using viewports for your final renders, you will never see the light geometry, regardless of the preference.

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Interesting. I never work in Top WF. I would have assumed as a 3D view it would be even more likely to have unplanned snap jumps too. But you're right in Top they stay put, surprisingly. Thanks, but EAlexander nailed it with the snapping suppression. Just holding down ` does exactly what I need without switching modes or tools. But you've pointed out a lot of other great points. Thanks. 

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To the original poster's point, Light objects behave inconsistently and differently than other objects in Vectorworks. They often snap to the plane perpendicular to the screen, and they should not. Other objects don't snap the way Light objects do. It's irritated me for ages, and should be considered a bug and should be fixed.


It also happen in front or side views. For example in Right view, if you drag a light or its target point (if it's a spot light), it often changes not just the Y and Z values, but also snaps to things on the X axis even though it's perpendicular to your screen.


Yes there are workarounds to make it not snap at all, but in orthographic views it shouldn't be snapping that way in the first place.



Edited by Andy Broomell
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