Technical Planning Made Easier by Switching to Spotlight from AutoCAD

Between the two of them, John and Conni Nowell have nearly half a century of experience in the entertainment industry. Given this experience, you’d forgive the couple for simply sticking to what they know.

But sticking to what you know doesn’t promote creativity and better work; to the contrary, it can cause limitations.

The Nowells realized this, which is John Nowell enthusiastically switched to Vectorworks Spotlight from AutoCAD for the work he does with the couple's production company, Jupiter Productions. Read on to explore why John Nowell switched to Vectorworks and the newfound freedom that the software has offered the company.

Why Jupiter Productions Switched to Vectorworks Spotlight

Before switching to Vectorworks, John Nowell was using AutoCAD for his work as a lighting  production electrician. But, as time went on, Nowell began to notice that more and more of his colleagues and other lighting designers were switching to Vectorworks. As he put it, “I felt as though I was seeing more of my work in Vectorworks [than AutoCAD], and that was becoming more interesting.”

And while sharing work between Vectorworks and other design software is entirely possible, Nowell decided that adopting Spotlight would make his day to day easier when collaborating with several colleagues on a production.

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In addition to improved communication and collaboration, Nowell also realized that AutoCAD didn't evolve and give him the tools he needed as a production electrician.

“There are all the various built-in features that a production electrician or master electrician uses, great tools, that just simply aren’t in AutoCAD,” he said. “I did a bunch of digging around for things like Lightwright or truss tape for AutoCAD, but I wouldn't find anything. I had some Excel sheets that friends produced. Those eased the process, but there's nothing on the level of what people are producing in Vectorworks!”

Nowell mainly cites his friends as the reason why switching was the “obvious choice.” He still enjoys passing on further knowledge to others that have "changed sides."

The Detail-Focused Workflow of Jupiter Productions

In an interesting distinction, Nowell doesn’t classify what he does as “drawing.” Rather, he says he’s “very much an annotator.”

On any given project, he’ll receive a finished drawing in Vectorworks from a lighting designer; and from there, the real work for Nowell begins. “I’m adding plug up and patch information, multicore looms, and labeling lighting positions.” 

“There's a creative enthusiasm amongst groups of production electricians that I’m fortunate to be part of —   constantly striving to add to the effectiveness of the workflow," Nowell added.

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Since AutoCAD isn't purpose built like Vectorworks, there were lots of slow downs and manual work required in Nowell's previous software. He points out, “It's just the speed with which one can do this in Vectorworks and the level of detail that you can provide on the plan, which can be achieved a great deal more efficiently because there are good tools to do that with.”

John and Conni Nowell aren’t the only industry veterans who’ve adopted Vectorworks as their preferred design tool. Click the button below to watch a free webinar on how Brian Wajda switched to Vectorworks for designing live events:


Topics: Entertainment


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