Jump to content

Side arms


Recommended Posts

So I'm modeling some basic booms from my theater. Because I have time on my hands, and can be nitpicky, I'd like to have the lights in the drawing on side arms like they are in real life. Using the Safer Sidearm from the resource manager, when I insert it, it either ends up in space about 20' from the light or it puts the c-clamp end in the middle of the light where the shutters are. I don't understand how this is supposed to work.

Link to comment

You linked me to a very informative webinar that didn't answer my question. In the webinar he builds booms with full 2" pipes rigged 90 degrees off of a vertical pipe that he converts to hanging positions and hangs lights off of. The sidearms I am dealing with are of the 1/4" pipe rigged to a light in the place of a traditional c-clamp which has a c-clamp on the end of the pipe which is then hung on a vertical pipe. In the resource manager library there is a symbol under lighting accessories that is just the type of sidearm that I'm talking about. It is the City Theatrical Safer Sidearm. It being a light accessory, I would think that I would be able to attach it to a lighting instrument in the correct fashion coming off the top of the yoke horizontally 90 degrees. Instead it attaches to the light in the center of the fixture and doesn't perform the way that I would want it to at all. Now all this being said, in the 5 days since I initially asked this question I have modeled my own sidearm that is more realistic looking to my purposes and gotten it to behave the way I wanted. But thank you for trying to help.

  • Like 3
Link to comment

Having replicated this issue myself just now, @TomWhiteLight I wonder if you or someone could share what the proper method is for using this symbol as a static accessory. I assume I'm using it improperly or have an incorrect setting engaged somewhere. Or maybe the Safer Sidearm just isn't designed to be used as a Lighting Accessory but instead only as a hybrid symbol with the Symbol Insertion Tool.


In my workflow I have previously always used my own hybrid symbols to represent the different kinds of Sidearms, and haven't actually inserted them as lighting accessories to date. Clearly this symbol is supposed to be inserted as a lighting accessory, but isn't functioning properly in my tests, so I'm curious as to what I am stuck on.


Like @AWaters said, when I try and associate this static accessory [Light Acc City Theatrical Safer Sidearm] with a lighting device, it seems to place it somewhere in the middle of the Z height of the 3D portion of the lighting device, or below the 3D geometry of the lighting device, like in the screenshot below.




This differs greatly from how I had placed it in Top/Plan (see below). I'm left wondering why the 3D orientation (rotation and +Z height) were completely changed when it became associated with the lighting device, and how we are supposed to use it when hanging a light from a vertical position. Here is how I inserted it:



Again, the thought being that by inserting a Hybrid symbol from the default libraries, I am interested in using the 3D portion of the symbol to communicate how it is hung in real life - off of a vertical position or "boom". The sidearm's 1/2" (or so) Pipe would be at the height of the fixture yoke where the C-Clamp is drawn attached in 3D, and the rotation would be taken from what I drew in Top/Plan.


Instead what seems to be happening is that the symbol is following the behavior of any scroller lighting device accessory. It seems to have a +Z height of +0" starting at the "front" of the fixture, aka the gel frame slot. Mind you, this is the expected behavior for a scroller accessory, since they are mounted to the front of a fixture. However, it doesn't carry over to this type of accessory. Adding any +Z to the sidearm, +18" for example, causes the accessory to be moved "down", further away from the front of the fixture. So, further away from the yoke's mounting point. I cannot put in a negative value into the Z field for an associated lighting device accessory, which I'm assuming is purposeful and has to do with the relationship to the "parent" lighting device.


Like I said, my personal workflow has been using homemade symbols for various "Iron" in the past (sidearm, c-clamps, cheeseboroughs, etc). Curious to see how the provided Safer Sidearm symbol is designed to work as an accessory so that I may incorporate that in the future. I'd rather not be stuck in the 2008 way of doing things if there is a more efficient way!


Thanks in advance!

Link to comment
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

I think I understand, Just CC'ing my colleagues as this will have implications for future versions


So in the real world the safer sidearm replaces the C clamp and attaches directly to the yoke. They are rare over here in the UK I didn't notice them in the library before.


You could make these static accessories but you are going to need fine control of the orientation of the side arm. Rotating accessories is a few more clicks than rotating hanging positions. I think its misleading from us to have these in the accessory folder, I understand why they were put there but I think we need a different folder called 'rigging hardware' or similar.


I understand that they are permanently attached to the yoke, but they will need to be easily re-orientable and the lighting instrument will need to slide along the arm much like a lighting pipe. I know that an accessory will rotate with an instrument but we need the C-Clamp part of the side arm to remain a fixed point that the lighting device pivots round.


I think moving forwards they really should be a rigging object.  I don't think these objects will meet the criteria for accessories in the future.




I would make the side arms hanging positions (you could make them rigging objects but HP would be easier for now) and use right click attach to rigging object.


Select all of the side arms on a position and use Spotlight Numbering to assign names of positions...


For my Stage Right 1st side position I make the prefix SR1/ Then I number incrementally from bottom to top so I am left with the following names







I would also duplicate the leko symbol you are using and make a version without the C-Clamp, you could even make a version that had the small clamp that the safer sidearm uses. Do not delete or remove any Loci during this process.


If you need to create a report of which units have the side arms, I would use a custom field in the OIP which can be created through Spotlight preferences. If you need to send this information to Lightwright I would repurpose one of the user fields for this, perhaps rename it rigging or hardware.


Reach out to me if you need help with customising data fields.




  • Like 1
Link to comment



So last week when I realized that I wasn't going to get a fast answer I made this model. This is a decent approximation of what a standard sidearm looks like here in the US. The Safer Sidearm is a modified version of this that puts more strength at the clamp on the pipe, but I've never actually seen them in real life. I started with a c-clamp that I found in the Resource Manager, extruded a 1/2" diameter circle off the center of the clamp, and then modeled that little tee piece that connects to the light. I converted this all to a symbol. When I brought the symbol into my drawing I converted it to a static lighting accessory, and then attached that to the rigging position that is my boom. I then did what you suggested and made a new version of the light I intended to hang and removed the clamp from that symbol. Then I went lazy and just lined up the top center of the yoke with the tee on the sidearm in 3D. Then I attached the light to the rigging position that is the boom as well. So now I can move the boom anywhere in my drawing and everything moves together. The light and the sidearm aren't technically attached to each other, but it looks right in my drawing and that is really all I'm worried about.



Edited by AWaters
  • Like 3
Link to comment

Correct, you can just use the rotate tool and it'll spin around the vertical pipe. The loci that is part of the c-clamp that I built the symbol around stays at the center of the pipe.


Edit: You just have to make sure you select both the arm and the light since they aren't technically connected.

Edited by AWaters
  • Like 2
Link to comment
6 hours ago, TomWhiteLight said:

Rotating accessories is a few more clicks than rotating hanging positions. I think its misleading from us to have these in the accessory folder, I understand why they were put there but I think we need a different folder called 'rigging hardware' or similar.

I just discovered that they were provided when @AWaters asked about them, and I completely agree. I think that reclassification would be great. Just to prevent confusion.


6 hours ago, TomWhiteLight said:

...will need to be easily re-orientable and the lighting instrument will need to slide along the arm much like a lighting pipe. I know that an accessory will rotate with an instrument but we need the C-Clamp part of the side arm to remain a fixed point that the lighting device pivots round.

Exactly my thoughts. It's that "one other axis" that I was thinking about as well: the Tee sliding along the arm. And the issue of where the Loci actually wants to be.


Also, thanks for your workaround suggestions. Like you suggested, I have been doing reports using my own symbols which has always worked well and gotten the core of the data I've needed (how many sidearms / where are the sidearms).


@AWaters solution of relating the lighting device to the rigging position and jumping over the sidearm is what I'd personally do now if I needed 3D representation of sidearms. It sounds like making the sidearms rigging objects or hanging positions would be the next step. It's certainly the only option now to have 2 versions of the fixture symbol (with and without a c-clamp) for efficiency as well as accuracy. A long term solution could be the option to choose "clamp/hardware" from a OIP dropdown and have a selection of C-clamp/Mega-Clamp,Tee, etc. I'm sure that's been requested before so I'm drifting off topic.


Appreciate your responses and the discussion.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

It's very much a theatrical workflow which to be fair is only a part of the Vectorworks Spotlight Users. In the UK we use De-Rig arms (Pipe) and I have noticed most users not wanting to bother drawing them.


We will take both your thoughts and suggestions moving forward.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
  • 1 month later...
On 8/18/2020 at 12:29 PM, TomWhiteLight said:

It's very much a theatrical workflow which to be fair is only a part of the Vectorworks Spotlight Users. In the UK we use De-Rig arms (Pipe) and I have noticed most users not wanting to bother drawing them.


We will take both your thoughts and suggestions moving forward.

@AWaters Is correct.  As a US based designer, the Side Arm (with or without the "Safer Side Arm") is a common accessory.  As it also is a replacement for the c-clamp mounting, it is vital to the shop order.  The steel must be ordered/pulled/replaced, etc.  So in my workflow, it is always a "missing" element that I must manually enter and calculate into all documents.   (including Lightwright) 


In today's world, the visual representation is becoming more and more important -- and taken for granted many times.  Rather than looking for a note or refence, the tech will just look at the drawing and hang the gear the way it "looks" >>> not the way it's noted on the side.  Add the fact that VW is a fantastic visual tool ... and 3D representations ... the mounting details become more and more vital. 


If y'all can implement the addition of these accessories that would be fantastic!

Safer Side Arm Diagram.jpg

Side Arm TEE only.jpg

Side Arm w-Clamp.jpg

Link to comment
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi Preston,


Alot of the sidearms you mention are in the libraries but under accessories. Now I don't think they should be accessories but rigging items. More on that longer conversation later. 


I will notify the content team of these. Also there is a new webinar coming out which will cover this workflow in great detail, look out for a Vectorworks webinar by Mark Doubleday. I would recommend you check it out.


Best wishes


Tom W

  • Like 2
Link to comment

@TomWhiteLight THX for the reply... I have searched and searched thru the libraries; both Accessories and Rigging. ... but unable to locate one.  I will try again! 


As an accessory >>> you would place the accessory and then associate it with the proper instrument.  Thus all paperwork and information will associate the sidearm with the appropriate instrument.  Also, there are several rental companies that install c-clamps as requested as the attachment point is not always the same.  And in this case, the Sidearm.  Inventory calculations change.   Even prepping for the hang, knowing how the gear will hang is needed. 


I just looked up what a "de-rig" arm is.  I've seen those also here in the US.  And those would be considered "rigging".  As you still utilize the supplied c-clamp on the instrument to attach to the de-rig arm.  Whereas the antique-style Side Arm is actually more a part of the lighting fixture once it replaces the c-clamp.  (Personally I would prefer the de-rig over a side arm!  I wonder what the cost difference would be... ???)


Looking forward to see how this workflow should work.  Great news.


THX~  P. 

Edited by Preston
added text
Link to comment
  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

@BSeigel this is PERFECT!  And thank you for the Video Tour! 

  • Did you create this "Source-4 w/SideArm" symbol? 
  • The actual SideArm is NOT an accessory, but will create a different count of fixtures? 
  • Those with C-Clamps and those with SideArms?
  • Do you need one for each degree-type?

The City Theatrical Side Arm is a different creature... but will count the same. (?)


THX for the input!


Link to comment

You are very welcome,


"Did you create this "Source-4 w/SideArm" symbol?"
I did create a symbol for the sidearm/clamp that I nested in the symbol for the Source 4

"The actual SideArm is NOT an accessory, but will create a different count of fixtures?"

The sidearm is inserted as an an accessory, clamps can be set as accessories in 2021. For counting fixtures I would recommend using a worksheet that summarizes fixtures based on instrument type. 


"Those with C-Clamps and those with SideArms?"

The clamp came from the VWX libraries, I think I modeled the rest. Should be easy enough to customize. 


"Do you need one for each degree-type?"
I would recommend creating a symbol for each clamp/fixture combination


Hope this helps!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
  • 4 months later...

Greetings everyone

Just found this thread on sidearms and vertical booms as I am trying to get back up to speed on VW after a year of furlough from my job. I have never  been satisfied with the workflow drawing a sidelight or FOH position with sidearms. Schematic views may be an improvement but I have not quite figured that workflow out completely yet.


Would it not be better/easier to have the actual sidearm as part of the rigging device and have the "sliding tee" fitting as an accessory for the light replacing the c-clamp accessory? This would allow the possibility of the overhung/underhung fixtures on the same sidearm and not include them in the counting as part of the light fixture.


I discovered during my search yesterday that there are now many different versions beyond the traditional Altman "tee" available as well (from LightSource and City Theatrical as well as the brace component of the CTI Safer Sidearm). If these were added to the VW library as accessories it might go a long way to making it easier to draw (or at least to wrap my brain around if nothing else!)


Link to comment
  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

Hi @Kevin Jones


You will find in the resource manager under City Theatrical Accessories some safer sidearms....


Content are working on more, I have some doughty UK metric stuff.


In most cases the Side Arms are attached to the lighting device and so therefore making them an accessory is a good solution. However, In the UK and Europe most of the Boom/De-rig arms travel with the lighting position and I would call them rigging accessory's or similar. So having the choice to do both would be good.


Screenshot 2021-04-22 at 18.55.42.png


With regards to schematic workflows have you seen this?






Link to comment

Hi Tom

Thanks for the quick response. I can certainly see this working both ways. It just seems a bit less than clear right now.

As a touring dance lighting designer for most of the work I have done the booms with sidearms are built as needed to spec as sidearms may need to change heights to design spec whether using the Altman sidearm or hardware (KeeClamp or cheeseborough and pipe) sidearm approach since they are not part of most rep lighting plots unless it is a dance house.

I have watched part of the video link you sent but was interrupted part way through.

Mark has provided really great information but I will need to watch it all again and create a simple point by point worksheet for myself to be able to remember the steps the first few times I try to recreate the process.

Glad work is ongoing to improving the sidearm library.

Either approach (lighting accessory or rigging element) could work (I think at least) once it is clear what the steps in the process are.

In my mind it is a bit cumbersome to have so many different versions of the lights with multiple lenses, overhung, underhung, single tee and double tee sidearms in the resource browser library to simply draw a boom. As well as doing the light maintenance to make the counting work correctly. That is my main argument for the sidearm not being a lighting accessory but part of the rigging system.

The original question above about how to modify the relationship between the sidearm insert point, rigging position and the fixture is still not clear to me however. Perhaps the video link will make this clearer to me. Sadly, I was distracted almost immediately after I began to watch it earlier and have not been back to it since.

Thanks again for your response.

Be Well!


Link to comment

The best way I have found to build booms with boom arms is to use the ladder position function. You can set individual height for horizontal pipes and you can remove one leg from your ladder. Sadly it does not count boom arms but with the time saved ( this boom took about 2 min to make) you can just count them.

6m boom.pdf

  • Like 4
Link to comment
  • 2 years later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...