Computer Design... printing plots?

gafftaper

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I'm always been a drafting table and paper guy... or napkin and pencil... but with the new theater next year I'm finally going to have the chance to go computerized with both my light and set designs. I've got a lot to learn in the next year or so about this software.
Anyway, this got me wondering how do you print out a full size plot? I took a look at larger format printers and they are really expensive. Can you save your plot to something universal like a PDF and then take it to Kinkos and have them print it on a large paper?
 

soundlight

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IMO, a large format printer should be standard in a college theater facility.

If your plots fit on a 24" wide by whatever sheet, you could easily go with the HP DesignJet 130nr with a built in roll-feeder and cutter, you'd be fine for up to 24" wide. It also has the Mixed-Ink (light cyan and light magenta as a complement to the standard CMYB). We have one of the DesignJets here, and it's absolutely awesome. It works much more often than the plotter, and is consistent in its printing, and doesn't need the print head cleaning that the 10 year old plotter does because it's so much newer.

For 36" printing, the price jumps significantly, and you go to something like this.

For 42" printing, you go to something like this. I'm almost positive that this is the one that the TD here has in his office. Very nice plotter.

Funny, that. Getting a 42 inch model and printing on 36 inch paper from it would be cheaper.

Make dead sure that if you get a printer, it can speak Adobe PostScript 3. This is vital to being able to print many plots and any adobe files.

Also, with a plotter, your students could design on the computer as well, as that is how many professionals do it these days. (Notice that I didn't say most, I couldn't find the recent poll numbers of old geezer lighting designers. No offense to them!)

But, if you really aren't gonna buy, check out the art department if your college has visual art as a major. They will probably have something like the DesignJet over there (our DesignJet is actually an art department discard because they couldn't get it to work, but we could, so it's ours now!).
 
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zac850

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Or just give kinkos a call and see what file-types they can read/print.

I assume you could just export your CAD file as a PDF and they could print it out.
 

gafftaper

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How about design programs, what is everyone using to design the shows?
Yeah, didn't ask that question because it's been well covered in other threads. I'm getting a copy of WYSIWYG included with my lighting system and probably going to purchase Vectorworks. I've been playing with the free version of Sketchup and really love it as my drawing ability stopped developing in 1st grade, so I'm probably going to purchase the full version of that too.
 

Van

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I've got a cast off designjet 650. A freind at the Portland Opera Association got them to give it to me. It's ancient and monochrome but it's does the GP's and workingdrawings just fine. As far as printing at Kinkos The last time I used them to print a GP < before I got my plotter> they wanted everything in AI < adobe illustrator> < wierd!> There are a lot better options for getting plots Etc. printed. Kinkos and Office depot are great for Office types but you should look into a company like Ford Graphics. They are a proffessional "blue printing" company, although I don't think they actually do blue prints anymore. and can handle any job. I believe they have an outlet in Seatle.
You know you can get a 42" HPdesignjet 500 Full color plotter for $2995.00 straight from HP.
 

gafftaper

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Yeah I was looking around on line at plotter prices and they aren't ridiculously priced... and hey when you're already $800k over budget on your theater whats a few thousand more?

Looks like $2795 with the educational discount for the 42" Designjet 500
 
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Van

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And the cool thing is you can use them for all sorts of things like.... printing your own wallpaper, Reproducing vintage posters and artwork for scenic purposes, Printing out really big pictures of Bikini models....... All sorts of useful things.
 

gafftaper

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And the cool thing is you can use them for all sorts of things like.... printing your own wallpaper, Reproducing vintage posters and artwork for scenic purposes, Printing out really big pictures of Bikini models....... All sorts of useful things.
Uh yeah Van... you know this is an official state job working at the college... it's also my big break to get out of High School. This sounds like a great way to get fired the first day... plastering my office with life size printouts in sexy poses.

But yeah the thought had occurred to me that there are a lot of cool scenic applications as well.
 

soundman

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When we did Chicago in the fall our scenic designer printed out some newspapers on 42*36 paper with our ploter. The newspapers went around the show portal, making them by hand would have been time consuming and the results would have been sub-par. The down side is it went through a roll and a half of paper.
 

Van

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When we did Chicago in the fall our scenic designer printed out some newspapers on 42*36 paper with our ploter. The newspapers went around the show portal, making them by hand would have been time consuming and the results would have been sub-par. The down side is it went through a roll and a half of paper.

Don't buy paper rolls through a local supplier, always hit Ebay. I don't remember the place I got paper last time but it was 1/4 the price the local plotter supply place wanted, even with shipping.
 

jfitzpat

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How about design programs, what is everyone using to design the shows?
Zac850 is right, you'll find a zillion threads on AutoCAD and Vectorworks. I've been using AutoCAD since the days when you had to type commands into the interpretter, and still do mechanical drawings with it on a regular basis. But for lighting designs I've been using Capture (www.capturesweden.com) for about 3 years.
It isn't the most sophisticated 3D CAD application, but it isn't a toy. The sample projects are an opera house (complete with the backstage area):



And a multi universe awards show:



I happen to think that the live visualization is excellent, even for a simple rig (I just threw this sample together for something else today):



The bottom left pane is a live orthographic view, which I find helpful for simulating back-of-house POV. The exported images are not ray trace renders:



But pretty darn good for something you can alter from the controller in real time. Regarding the question at hand, I actually generate a lot of plots and reports in a smaller format (11x17) than I used to. When I need larger, I use the PDFWriter printer driver that came with Adobe Acrobat to print to a PDF file which I take to Kinkos.

-jjf

Disclaimer: We sell a version of the standard Capture that only works with our control software. But FWIW, I was a loud proponent for the application long before that arrangement.
 

len

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Can you save your plot to something universal like a PDF and then take it to Kinkos and have them print it on a large paper?
I believe you can even email it to them to print out, assuming they have a printer.

One other option would be to contact an architect, a graphics company, etc., and see if they would do it for you. You probably would pay them, but you'd pay Kinko's.

Or look on ebay, etc. Maybe you could find a large format plotter/printer there.