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Soft Symbols for Vectorworks

Discussion in 'Lighting and Electrics' started by Herr_Sprecker, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. Herr_Sprecker

    Herr_Sprecker Member

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    I would like to get folks' feelings regarding the Soft Symbols package from Field Templates. I'm working my way into being comfortable drafting plots in Vectorworks. Even with the discounts available at the trade shows, Soft Symbols represents a fairly significant investment, and I'd like to get feedback about it from anyone who has it or has used it.

    Thanks!
     
  2. zac850

    zac850 Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I look at a lighting plot as a communication tool. When I am drafting, my goal is to communicate my wishes and desires to the electrician as cleanly and effectively as possible. I like to think that I do this fairly well with the basic symbol library in VW.

    I know many others who view their light plot as an extension of the design, and want the plot to be a work of art in and of its self. (Or see it as an opportunity to advertise themselves, if you see a designer produce a beautiful plot, (s)he also probably produces beautiful art on stage.

    Would I personally invest in it? Right now, as a student, no. In the future, maybe?

    Having said all that, I did receive one plot with these symbols, and it was a beautiful plot. There was something about the symbols that made it a joy to read the draft.
     
  3. Pip

    Pip Active Member

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    Can you show us examples of them? I'm not familiar with them.
     
  4. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I assume you have seen the green plastic field templates? That is what the symbols look like. Is it worth $125 for symbols that are already built into VW? Probably not. Field Templates claims that their symbols are more accurate in terms of things like size and shape, but most manufacturers let you download the symbols for their fixtures for free.

    If you want your plot to look like a piece of art, spend the time to make it look like one, tweak your symbols and personalize them, make sure your line weights and other drafting conventions are followed. Use a good looking easy to read font for text. It doesn't matter whether you use the built in VW symbols or Field Template's symbols to draft your plot, it is all about how you use them and make them your own.
     
  5. Pip

    Pip Active Member

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    Yeah of course... Huh. Interesting. Yeah well I've seen some fantastic looking plots using just the built in symbols in VW.
     
  6. Herr_Sprecker

    Herr_Sprecker Member

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    That's kind of what I thought. Seemed like a lot was already set up and included with VW, and Soft Symbols was just a beef-up of what was already there. Thanks for the opinions!
     
  7. Sony

    Sony Active Member

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    I really like the symbols which are included with VW. They are clean and functional, I can't see spending any money to upgrade them. I don't see how much of an upgrade they could be.
     
  8. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    In defence of Shelly...

    Soft Symbol has a lot of stuff VW doesn't have, as Steve updates the symbol library more frequently then VW - who is galacier at doing symbol revisions and updates. Thus if you need a SeaChanger, as example, SS will have it while you end up creating one in VW.

    I personally don't use it, mostly as I can't be bothered to want to spend the time updating all the assorted symbols on a bunch of existing plots that get used over and over, whose symbols currently work fine.

    If I were drafting new all the time, I would spring for it, just to get the striplight feature, as well as symbol library of positions, booms, accessories, etc... all of which I have already created and added to a library.

    Steve B.
     
  9. quarterfront

    quarterfront Member

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    I do plots in VW and don't particularly like the stock symbols. Of course, I'm using VW 8.5.1, c.1999, so what do I know? ;)

    Until I started using VW I drew all my plots with a handy dandy Sanders template that a friend gave me when I was in college, and when I started using CAD my biggest complaint was that I felt like the stock VW symbols were ugly. Jagged, graceless and too complicated. Then again, what do I know? ;)

    So, in order to keep my plot nice and pretty and looking like, you know, MY plot instead of some cold, lifeless computer generated data output, I made my own symbols in VW, which I've been using ever since.

    Would I bother to do this again? Hmmmmm.... Don't know. OTOH, would I pay extra $$$ for a set of CAD symbols for a light plot? No freakin' way!

    Then again, I only draw about 8 plots a year, so what do I know? ;)
     
  10. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Soft Symbols isn't worth the money IMHO. Granted on the East Coast Shelley can do no wrong. A good majority of Broadway Designers use his pacakge. But that doesn't mean you need to use it yourself.
    Also, last I knew, they had no 3D component in VW so if that's something you're interested in stick with the VW symbols.
     
  11. LandruDesign

    LandruDesign Member

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    OK...I'll be the contrarian here...

    I think that SoftSymbols are WELL worth the $. I own a current license. They are by-far the best-drawn and most-complete commercially-available VW Symbol set.

    I really don't care for the majority of the stock VW Symbols. 99.9% of the Symbols I use are my own - either from scratch or adaptations of manufacturers' DXF files. Though his and my approach to drawing is a little different, I really value Shelley's set at the times when I need a Symbol and I don't have the time to do a decent job at drawing one - or can't get good info on a given fixture. I'm VERY picky about my plots and don't want them to look like something was kludged together.

    SoftSymbols can also be great teaching aids as to one really good approach to drawing Symbols.
     
  12. Balo

    Balo Member

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    I use Soft Symbols with Vectorworks 2008.

    I find that they are the easiest and cleanest way to present my plots to my crew during a hang. Before I started using them, I would find my crew all lurking around my table trying to decide what the number or abbreviations were on the fixtures whether it was 26 or 36 or MFL or WFL. Now, they see the symbol clearly and go right back to work, no questions because it was clear and easy to read!

    When time is short and creating your plot is a matter of the best communication, I choose to use soft symbols. Money that was well spent and a good write off.
     
  13. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    You do realize that you didn't have to use MFL or 26 designations with the VW symbols right?
     
  14. SteveB

    SteveB Well-Known Member

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    Correct. Many experienced users of the stock VW symbol set have modified the symbols to be more readable.

    I modified all the ellipsoidals to get rid if the tiny little "36" on an S, as example, instead using the USITT standard "\", "X", etc... to indicate 6x9/36, 6x12/26, etc... But, I HAD to go and make the modifications, and building strips was time consuming, which is why I need to go and buy the SoftSymbols set, as I'm getting tired of having the modify the symbol, then having to go back and browse old documents to find improved symbols.

    Steve B.
     
  15. soundman

    soundman Well-Known Member

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    If you edit the symbols in the Vectorworks library file you will not have to dig through old changes. The other option is to create a master library file with the symbols you commonly use.
     
  16. Grog12

    Grog12 CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    Or as an easier option...you use the stock symbols with "\" and "X" for all the manufacturers built into the program. No editing needed.
     
  17. Balo

    Balo Member

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    If they're built into the program, why are they so difficult to find? I don't see a library folder labeled as such or a switch in their attributes to change it to be more useful. Maybe that's why so many people here are looking for an alternative?

    If you have the knowledge, please share it.
     
  18. LandruDesign

    LandruDesign Member

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    The easiest thing is to add the resource folders/files as favorites in the Resource Browser. (Click the gray arrow botton in the upper right-hand corner of the R.B.)

    Not sure where things are on your machine, but have a look @ /Libraries/Objects-Entertainment. Those folders will either be in your User folder structure or in the main VW folder.

    That help at all?
     
  19. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    Fixture symbols with the USITT standard markings are not in any of the built in fixture libraries in VW. You either have to edit the stock symbols, build your own, or use third party symbols like Soft Symbols. The stock VW symbols all have the extremely annoying halftone degree numbers that are darn near impossible to read.
     

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