Massive Rigging Structures, Designed with Braceworks

“It couldn’t have been done without Braceworks,” said Ben Elmore of Freeman, a tradeshow, exhibit, and event company, when discussing his recent project, the largest  of his career.

In the past, the project was something Elmore could only have dreamed of, but with the accurate documentation capabilities of Braceworks, his dream became a reality.

With Braceworks, Elmore has a suite of production capabilities at the ready, such as:

  • Analyzing complete 2D structural systems.
  • Conducting static analyses and FEM analysis with results that display graphically on the model for easy reference.
  • Automatically generating detailed calculation reports.
  • Exporting files as DSTV to share information.

Continue reading to see how the designer and Marcus Downey of Stage Rigging used Vectorworks’ entertainment rigging-analysis module.

Elmore’s Massive Design

With the help of Freeman’s video, LED, and scenic designers, Elmore designed three separate rigging structures for an event at the Indianapolis Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium.

The temporary structures that Elmore created for the event were scattered across three different locations in the stadium: the football field itself and two exhibition halls. The rig on the field required two semi-trucks of rigging, with 220 feet to the lowest point on the bridles with an 80-foot drop, in addition to 240 groupings of 50-foot wire rope.

The exhibit hall rigs weren’t small projects either, with one hall featuring 120 hoists and another using 80.

The Bridle tool in helped Elmore calculate all of this inventory, adding, "The tool worked perfectly on the massive bridles."


How Braceworks’ Data Capabilities Create Accurate Designs

The design of the Indianapolis-based event started just as any of Freeman’s projects does — with Elmore selecting his specific layer in a shared Vectorworks file and beginning to build his rigs.

Elmore uses Braceworks to check motor control plans and ensure none of his truss spans or hoists were overloaded as well. From there, he starts to place “mark out stickers,” clever markers that Elmore created using a script and specialized record formats in Vectorworks. These stickers include any information he adds into a worksheet so that the install team has all the information they need to build the structures exactly as they appear in Elmore’s layer.

Hoist Sticker Screenshot

Elmore uses Braceworks the most for its data and calculation capabilities. He even said that the majority of his job involves making sure all the rigging elements are in place, the right data is attached, and then pressing “the whammy button” to have Braceworks automate the load calculations.

Such trust in the software leads to efficiency, accuracy, and — when it comes to rigging structures — safety.

“As long as I know I’ve put everything in the layer correctly, I have 100% confidence that Braceworks is distributing those loads better than I ever could,” said Elmore.

Freeman’s Vectorworks Experts Group

In addition to putting on impressive productions with Vectorworks Spotlight and Braceworks, Elmore is a part Freeman’s Vectorworks Experts Group. Here, he can share bits of Vectorworks knowledge with other designers in the company, such as a formula for curved truss.

“Another strong selling point for Braceworks is curved trusses. I've been to so many rigging classes over the last 18 years, and I've never seen a formula for a curved truss. I suspected it would involve pi and some geometric stuff that I don't understand,” said Elmore.

But, one day, Elmore came across a formula for curved truss on the Vectorworks Forum: “Now, I drop a curved truss into Braceworks, I put motors on it, and I move weights around and it reacts as much as I would expect it to.”

Elmore shared this formula in his Vectorworks group, and now, all of Freeman’s designers can create something they didn’t even know was possible before.


If you want to chat with other Vectorworks pros in the vein of Freeman’s Vectorworks Experts Group, check out Vectorworks Coffee Breaks, which are a great opportunity to learn with peers and Vectorworks experts without leaving your desk.

To view upcoming Coffee Breaks, click here.

Practice Your Own Braceworks Workflows

Are you looking to practice Braceworks workflows like Elmore’s? A great way to do so is by downloading a free sample project from Vectorworks University.

Click the button below to download a sample trade show project and begin your mastery of Braceworks:



* Images courtesy of Ben Elmore, Freeman.

Topics: Entertainment


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