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Truss Tool - which chord?

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Hi fellow VW experts.

Soi have been using the new truss tool that allows you to snap lights to the truss. this concept seems great!

but it seems you can only snap lights to the middle of the truss, regardless wether its tri truss or box truss or whatever else.

i thought you would be able to snap to the chords of the truss, so if its tri point down, then there is one centre rail that you can snap too.

if its tri point up or box truss you have a front chord or back chord that you can snap too...



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There is a reality that much of the way that Spotlight works is based on theater lighting design. This is a prime example. The way the label legend works is another. Nothing particularly wrong with that, but you have to decide if you are going to completely stay in the Spotlight mindset or move forward with workflows that are more suitable to one’s particular discipline. 

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16 hours ago, frozenwaffles said:

@scottmoore can you explain your second thought about workflows? is this something i have to decide or the software developer???

That is actually a very loaded question. I try to minimize my usage of a lot of the functionality that Spotlight provides. That functionality is very useful and powerful, but it also is the major culprit in what slows the application down.  


My priority, with my typical work load, is to spit out information as quickly and efficiently as possible while still maintaining a consistent look to my drawings.  It is always a question of whether I want to follow the Spotlight process or use my personal workflows. That involves an entire library of custom symbols, a ton of unique saved views, design layers, sheet layers, etc.  It’s just a question of how you want to work.  


The VW world in general has decidedly opted for a “Spotlight-centric” workflow; basically using it as a plug-and-play solution.  I suppose I am one of the dinosaurs that is marching to the beat of a different drummer. Where I really run into problems is when I have to start mixing the two workflows by either dragging in a Spotlight symbol or collaborating with someone outside of my workflow. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

no i really don't. i need to be able to indicate to crew if the lights are on the front or back chord. this really makes a big difference.

i'm not asking to create multiple lighting positions or whatever. i just want the 'red line' that fixtures snap to, to be on both the front and back rails of the truss. its actually incredibly simple and should have been done from the very beginning.

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I totally agree. That is why I generally avoid the additional functionality (hanging position functionality) and just put things where they belong and I do it just for that reason. What if I want a fixture yoked out from the top chord?  That is a feature that is not addressed at all in Spotlight functionality. 


We are on the the same page I believe. 

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The Red Line addition came with Braceworks and as I understand it is largely about where the Load of the attached objects is measured from. In terms of of attaching a light to a piece of truss, just place it on the chord you want in Top/Plan. It should associate with the piece of truss well enough. In terms of moving instruments around then yes, the red line is a complete pain. The Move by Points tool is very good for that. Putting instruments on a Top chord needs to be done retrospectively by adjusting the instrument height after you have inserted it. A bit of a bore, but not difficult. How to show lights on all 4 chords of a truss in a 2D and 3D view is more of a challenge!


Lighting Instruments also do not snap to the 3D centre of a truss chord, but rather the geometric bottom of the truss symbol which is also a real pain. Converting lengths of truss to hanging positions will help sort this out by giving you the ability to modify the truss symbol height in the hanging position.


You can easily yoke-out instruments using the 3D rotate portion of the OIP which I find solves almost every rigging need.


I think its a really hard call for Vectorworks. If you monitor in any way the Spotlight Facebook group you will find that many many users are simply looking for the plug-&-play functionality of WYSIWYG and Draphty. However many others, myself included want a more bespoke solution where they can adapt the built-in drawing style to our ways of working.


Lets hope that the 2020 update will address some of this.

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Thank you for the clarification Mark. Very informative. I’ve opted to avoid the braceworks trussing for now due to the added bloat to the drawing as well as severely increased rendering times. 


My comment regarding yoked out fixtures is simply because there are no 2D representations in Spotlight symbols for that iteration. I prefer to display those fixtures in plan view as they are mounted as opposed to having to refer to another 3D drawing or using an annotation that might be overlooked by technicians. 

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It would be great to have the WYG attachment setup implemented in VW but for now, you can attach the fixtures and then move them without too much trouble to show their realistic position... labels also help.The functionality of actually attaching the fixtures is great because of all the database/worksheet/report functions which you can now customize.


Remember that you now have 3D labels in case you're doing ladders or more difficult non-horizontal hangs.


And then we just pray for somebody on the crew that can actually read a plot 😉





lx shot.jpg

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As to the yoked out fixtures, I;ve always thought that there should be an iteration in the symbol library that included that option; a standard hang/floor fixture and a yoked out version.  This just makes for much clearer plots and takes a bit of the guess work as to what will fit and what won't without having to go into 3D views.  It would also drastically improve how you implement ladders and that sort of thing.  


This won't happen in Spotlight as there are just way too many fixtures to have to go back and update and would add significantly to the time it takes to create new symbols.  (it does not double the time at all by the way).  The development team already has a huge workload.  I'll just keep plodding along with my own library I think.  

Screen Shot 2019-09-04 at 1.02.37 PM.png

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

IF the engineers can ever figure out how to do planar graphics for the Spotlight Lighting Tool, you could just change the view you see depending on the orientation of the fixture.

that would save having to have double fixtures, which if an error is found can mean that something gets forgotten on the fix, and you would have multiple different 2D views to use for sections, and rotated instruments.

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I've recently started to play with this newer Truss Tool as well, and also have had frustration with the red snapping line at the center of the truss instead of on the chords. However, it seems that sometimes I am able to position a light over a specific chord without snapping to the red line at all, and it will still attach to the hanging position, which is great. I haven't been able to figure out why I'm sometimes able to do this, and sometimes not 😂


Here's an example of me successfully hanging some lights on a specific chord of a truss object that's been converted into a hanging position.


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It seems that the problem is the Auto-positioning "red line" widget that means that when you drag an instrument along a truss (which is the intuitive thing to do) it automatically centres the device at the centre of the truss (which is not the intuitive result any lighting pro would expect). If the widget could be adjusted to allow an instrument to maintain its original path relative to the position's geometry then that would be a great enhancement.


You can turn off the widget in Spotlight preferences though. Very dull when you just want to manually adjust a few items. However, the facility is there which will at least solve @frozenwaffles original dilemma. It just turns off the widget, not the ability for a lighting device to auto-associate with a position.


Perhaps another Quick preferences toolbar button?

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

This behavior has been fixed in 2020,

It will now allow you to place you lights on either chord of the truss when the red Load attachment line highlights

If you want it on the top chords or side hung you will have to manually add the truss height to the fixtures 'Z' coord (or manually drag and drop in the appropriate view) and/or rotate the light to the desired orientation, the same as before. An important note is that the OIP for Lighting instruments now includes x,y and z rotation fields to make it easier for to control the orientation of the light in 3D

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