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CAD/Revit or Vectorworks?

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by mbrown3039, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. mbrown3039

    mbrown3039 Member

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    I was recently having a discussion with some folks in the entertainment world when the subject of CAD v. Vectorworks came up. When it comes to design/construction field (especially as we move towards a Revit world), the only thing I see is CAD; most of the rock-n-roll folks felt the same, with a bit of Vectorworks here and there. But the theater folks seem to swear by Vectorworks...so, I ask this: if you could only own/learn/use one or the other, which would it be (and why)?
     
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  2. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Depends on your day job. Mine is new construction projects and building/systems design so I go toward Revit. We encounter some subconsultants who are in AutoCAD only but by and large most architects/consultants are in Revit, and that is the expectation for performing coordination with.

    If I was doing production design though it would be Vectorworks. Vectorworks has a better understanding of the entertainment industry baked right into the program, but I have yet to encounter anyone using it for building design.
     
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  3. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    In my experience the designers like vectorworks and the fabricators like AutoCAD. I've never known a TD who prefers Vectorworks over AutoCAD.

    I played around with the free trial of Revit, and don't see an application for it in theater. If the whole idea is BIM, the short lived nature of live events precludes the use use of Revit. My understanding of BIM is that it allows someone to know where a specific junction box is, 10 years after the building is built, without ever stepping foot in the building. Seems like a great tool for someone like @BillConnerFASTC, who is going into new projects and whole building renovations, but for shows/events that use "temporary structures", there's really no use for compiling and organizing that vast amount of data.

    Someone who uses Revit or other BIM application for theater could chime in and change my mind...
     
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  4. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    I've done it. If you put in some effort to build a library of content for yourself, you can knock out things like sight-line studies, lighting plots/schedule, rigging plots/schedules, and so forth pretty quickly. If you're trying to design a set you're going to drive yourself nuts. AutoCAD is more forgiving and better at generating the kinds of construction views you need for individual parts and components.

    You can also do a hybrid and do the scenery in design CAD, and link it into a Revit model of your venue. Or you can import Sketchup, but if you make changes to the Sketchup file then you have to reimport it to reflect those changes in Revit. If you make changes to linked in DWG/DXF files, Revit automatically reflects those changes in your model.

    I do see a number of themed attraction designers working in Revit, but they're on a whole other level from your average production design and using $$$ plugins for photorealistic renderings. Lot of time and money goes into coordinating and confirming the experience before the project gets built.
     
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  5. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    My pet peave,

    CAD means 'Computer Aided Drafting' or Design or a short version of 'CADD'

    AutoCAD a one program for CAD and certainly not the only one.

    I've used them all and many others. Vectorworks A/V/L tools are unmatched. 1% of my construction work uses those tools. Learning Revit feels like switching to CAD from paper. Benefits and drawbacks galore, but mostly a lot of work.
     
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  6. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Revit is a design tool and the BIM part of it seems to help contractors. AutoCAD is a drafting tool, more suitable for designing theatre equipment and systems in my opinion than Revit, and probably better at scenery for the same reasons. Revit shows a wall and somewhere else it shows how the wall is built, which is unlike scenery, where no such standard wall details exist for all aspects. Revit seems much friendlier and more amenable to rectilinear design.

    So I suspect Revit is fine for lighting systems (and AV that I don't do) where its locating devices around a building and the variety of devices is limited, and many of those devices are available from manufacturers in the correct format for REVIT. Rigging systems including curtains and tracks don't fit that model and what seems more frustrating is Revit doesn't seem to allow you to show the same thing in two places - like a batten at high and low trim, orchestra shells stored and deployed, and curtains opened and closed. Also to show obstructions "beyond", like on the other side of a beam or wall, is helpful to rigging. The ability to do that in a drafting program like AutoCAD makes it much better at communicating to the people building it, still in my opinion the primary function of drawings.

    I look at old plans - like 30-40 years and older - and they communicated the intent of the designers much more clearly todays very literal pictures of a building that Revit produces.

    I have looked at Vectorworks, so can't comment. When I was active in production - up till early 1980s - it didn't exist. Seems like the goto tool for those involved in production.
     
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  7. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    I think the team at Autodesk did it right by putting 'CAD' right there in the product name and giving it to schools for free. the term CAD is synonymous with AutoCAD these days.
     
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  8. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    I used to do all my shop sheets in AutoCAD. I built models of our entire complex and would drop individual sets into the theatres in Sketchup, and mostly railed at designers who would give me designs in Vectorworks. Vworks is fine for Lighting design and you can easily import AutoCAD designed sets into it. Vectorworks does NOT import into AutoCAD very well.

    I think it's important to be versed in all of them, not necessarily facile, but at least have a working knowledge.
     
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  9. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    From a submittal for dead hung battens - can't do this in Revit - make the chain "stand up" above an upper chord and go through the lower flanges.
    upload_2018-11-2_13-15-4.png
     
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  10. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    The practical problem is being bought into each of them. I've already got $40k+ tied up in software, some of which has annual maintenance fees. That's just to support what I do individually -- not even what other members of my team need.

    After my student trial of VW was up after college, I haven't looked back and wouldn't be able to now because I cannot justify the cost on top of the other programs I have a stronger need for. Next time I encounter VW it will have been so long since I used it that I won't even remember where to start.
     
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  11. DanH

    DanH Member

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    I've gone the opposite direction from most replies so far - my first experience with CAD was with AutoCAD (one of the the 2000s versions, I think), but then doing more theatre & special events, I've been in an almost exclusively VW world for the last 10 years.

    When I started using it 10 years ago, Vectorworks Spotlight - the package specifically targeted to entertainment lighting - had powerful workflows that you could only achieve by adding plugins and custom libraries to AutoCAD, and it was much more efficient. Under the hood, all of these features were just bolted-on to the core VW engine, but they still worked quite well.

    Unfortunately, in recent versions, the cracks have started to show, and VW Spotlight now seems much more like a loosely-assembled collection of plugins than a cohesive product.

    One way in which this is apparent is how graphical performance on a large plot hasn't kept up with increases in computer horsepower - my high-end gaming desktop (i7-7700, SSD, 32GB RAM, GTX1070) still struggles just scrolling around the plot sometimes, and it seems to be because it has to re-load info from every fixture as a separate plug-in object....

    It's particularly apparent after using another system with a more-cohesive interface for a bit - whether Drafty, Capture or WYSIWYG - and then coming back to VW, and finding that the UI for the Number Instruments tool, Find and Modify tool, Object Info Palette and Resource Manager all work in different ways, like they were cobbled together from various different programmers.
    For example, if I go to 'Replace' an instrument, there's now a noticeable (and infuriating) delay while it opens a miniature version of the ENTIRE resource manager - this used to be a quick and easy function.
    Likewise, a recent version introduced a 'new' title block/border function, which was more powerful but lacked some basic functionality of the old, took twice as long to enter data, and lacked some basic functionality like being able to tab through fields. Not to mention that the 'old' title block function was removed, so opening a drawing with an 'old' title block gave you a hideous mess demanding to be 'updated', except the 'update' would throw away any info in the old title block that it couldn't match up to the new one. Good luck trying to re-PDF an old plot....

    I could go on with countless more-specific examples, but the overall impression is that the priority for Spotlight over the years has been to bolt-on features rather than cohesively-functional and well-thought-out software.

    Granted, I've optimized my workflow around it to be reasonably efficient, and major changes would take me some time to learn and adjust, but it'd be worthwhile if the end result was a more efficient piece of software.

    (this turned into a bit of a VW rant, sorry)
     
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  12. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    @DanH you make some good points. I've seen all that and don't hold out much hope for improvements soon. V2019 did not thrill me.

    The bigger issue is that BIM and CADD are very different processes, with similar goals. Choose your path carefully!
    (Autodesk now has many thinking BIM is only their product. If only the developers are as good as the marketing.)
     
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  13. cbrandt

    cbrandt Well-Known Member

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    I've been pretty disgusted with the new resource manager. I *think* their intention is to use that to bring everything more closely together and give an aligned interface. In effect, it takes me twice as long to find any resource, and it has crashed quite often. It has gotten substantially better than release, but I still don't like it as much as the old one.

    The new title block interface is a hot mess.

    On the otherside, the new truss tools save me a hell of a lot of time and work an order of magnitude better. It would be nice if they spent the next year focused on cleaning up the interface and making everything run more smoothly. I have hopes based on the fact that 2019 had some intended improvements under the hood to help there. I can't say that I've noticed it directly, but I'll reserve judgement.
     
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  14. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    I'll disagree, respectfully. CAD is the *field*, I wouldn't know that you meant AutoCAD from that usage, either.

    I'd be more likely to know you meant "Wikipedia" if you said "Wiki" or even "wiki", though I'd grump about getting the name wrong there, too.

    And don't even get me started on "internet".

    :)
     
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  15. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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    Does that mean it ruffles your feathers when someone says, "I downloaded it offline"? Rather than, " I downloaded it from the internet." or even, "I downloaded it off the internet"?
     
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  16. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Nope. Means that, unlike the associated press, *I* still know "the Internet" is a proper noun, and must be capitalized. :)
     
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  17. RonHebbard

    RonHebbard Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    @Jay Ashworth And then there are folks who type "prolly" when they mean "probably". "prolly", not to be confused with the British term brolly, or umbrella. Go figure.
    Toodleoo!
    Ron Hebbard
     
  18. Jay Ashworth

    Jay Ashworth Well-Known Member

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    Well, no, Ron; "prolly" wouldn't bug me at all.

    I'm a *names* guy; people getting proper nouns wrong is what sets me off. :)
     
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