A Student's Graphical Scripting Survival Guide

Posted by Guest Author on 1/8/16 11:38 AM  |  4 min read time

By Helen Garcia-Alton, Entertainment Design Intern at Vectorworks, Inc.

Hello! I’m a recent graduate of Towson University with a degree in design and production. As a student, I took a class from Vectorworks’ own Frank Brault, where we studied the ins and outs of lighting stages. With my background in theatre lighting design, I currently work as a freelance lighting designer, programmer, and electrician in Maryland. I decided to apply for this internship with Vectorworks because I have always enjoyed using the software and knew it would be an opportunity to get more experience with design technology. And based on what I’ve learned about Marionette, a new graphical scripting tool in the Design Series of Vectorworks software, my decision has already paid off.


On my first day at Vectorworks, I learned more than just how to use the coffee machine. The only course I’ve ever taken on computer programming was back in 2009, so my eyes started to cross as I attempted to figure out how to do scripting with Marionette. My first breakthrough occurred when I was able to make and then extrude a square. It turns out that the process is simple once you understand what you’re trying to do — just stringing together a short series of nodes that are mostly inputs.

Marionette When learning Marionette, start with a simple object and go from there.

So, if this is just a different way to make an extruded rectangle, why do it in Marionette instead of using the Rectangle tool? Well, I asked myself that, too. The convenience of using Marionette is based on what you want to accomplish. Marionette can be used to create objects (building shapes, repeating patterns, truss structures) or to perform operations (such as cutting objects into pieces in a pattern). The magical thing is, if I make my rectangle with Marionette, it is all referenced; every parameter is controlled, and the formula is just re-run to produce the revised object, item, or function. If my rectangle were more complex, say, a Source Four symbol (check out the Marionette node network for slicing that some of my colleagues made!), then I change the way the parameters function, including thickness, the distance between slices, and even the way it is sliced just by editing parameters in certain nodes! In the case of this Marionette definition, it’s editing the Vec3 node with a x,y,z value for the direction of the slices.

Marionette I took a familiar Spotlight object and put it into Marionette. Even pre-existing objects can be modified.

Of course, this is just the beginning of what I do with Marionette now that I understand how it works. If you're looking for a place to start, sign up for our free Marionette Monday webinar series that begins on January 18. The series will take you from beginner to advanced user, offering concrete tools and examples of how to use Marionette in your daily design process. We also have several helpful Marionette tutorial videos, like this wonderful introduction video (yay hexagons!). Our YouTube channel also includes links to the referenced resource files, so following along is super easy. Create a free account on the Vectorworks Community Board to learn more about the software and the possibilities with Marionette, see my projects, and share your journey.

This article first appeared in our bimonthly academic newsletter, For the Love of Design

Topics: Academic, Resources, Tech Tips and Workflows, Production & Lighting Design, News

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