Topics

Best software / templates for lighting diagrams - Mac OS?

John Tarver
 

Hey All,
Curious what folks are using to make lighting plots / diagrams.  I've got a show coming up with probably about 15 sets over 2 stages.  In the past I've used illustrator and some home-make templates to indicate 2k's, kino's, soft boxes etc.  This works OK, but I'm looking for a more elegant and user-friendly solution ideally with symbols for most commonly used instruments.  I know there are some high end theatrical tools like WISIWIG but I'm after something really easy to use.  

Looking forward to y'all's suggestions.

Cheers,
John Tarver, csc
DP in hot and sticky Toronto.....

Jonathon Sendall
 

I'm using Google Sketchup for quick and easy set builds to look at angles but for lighting I use
the Lighting Designer app


Or for simpler set ups Shot Designer


Shot Designer is good if your moving the camera as it animates easily the camera moves and person movement.

I haven't tried Matt Workman's app Cine Designer but I know it works within Cinema4D which takes a little bit of getting used to but it can give you a feeling for what the light looks like as it renders light, shadows, texture etc.

Jonathon Sendall
DP, London UK

Jason Norman
 

I would look into Vectorworks. It’s the industry standard and if you understand illustrator/photoshop it follows many of the same principles. The free trial is great. Another is Graphic, it was created by AutoDesk and is also vector/cad based. Very easy to use/learn.

_________________
Jason Norman
IATSE 728
Console Programer
Lighting & Network Technician
(C) 360.481.5379

Currently on:
Grey’s Anatomy

Graham Futerfas
 

Hi John, hope you’re doing well.

I love Omnigraffle!! It’s super easy to learn and use, and works in layers like Photoshop or Illustrator. Worth the money, for sure.

I even made and modified stencils for film and moving lights, so DP’s like me who don’t have time to learn Vectorworks can make diagrams fast.

Here are some free links to them if you want to download:
https://stenciltown.omnigroup.com/stencils/film-lighting-2/

https://stenciltown.omnigroup.com/stencils/automated-lights-concert-theater-film-lighting/

https://stenciltown.omnigroup.com/stencils/transpo-dept-for-filmmakers-and-lighting-dept/

There are other camera stencils and stuff that I use a lot, like Windows, Walls, Doors, Furniture, etc.

Best,
-Graham





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Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com
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Sean Sheridan
 

Graham! I too am a big fan of Omni graffle it’s fast and easy to use. 

I also made some custom symbols as well. Happy to hear it being used out there.  Best wishes. Sean Sheridan 

SEAN SHERIDAN
Gaffer IATSE 52 

On Aug 15, 2018, at 10:42 PM, Graham Futerfas <gfuterfas.cml@...> wrote:

Hi John, hope you’re doing well.

I love Omnigraffle!! It’s super easy to learn and use, and works in layers like Photoshop or Illustrator. Worth the money, for sure.

I even made and modified stencils for film and moving lights, so DP’s like me who don’t have time to learn Vectorworks can make diagrams fast.

Here are some free links to them if you want to download:
https://stenciltown.omnigroup.com/stencils/film-lighting-2/

https://stenciltown.omnigroup.com/stencils/automated-lights-concert-theater-film-lighting/

https://stenciltown.omnigroup.com/stencils/transpo-dept-for-filmmakers-and-lighting-dept/

There are other camera stencils and stuff that I use a lot, like Windows, Walls, Doors, Furniture, etc.

Best,
-Graham





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Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com
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Remco Hekker
 

I've recently bought the images from filmsetobjects (.com)
They save me a lot of time and confusion on set.

Personally, I use them in combination with ShotDesigner. I love ShotDesigner but than I do a lot of short location shoots and no big soundstage work.


Remco Hekker 
Lighting-Cameraman / Colorist
The Netherlands 

Op do 16 aug. 2018 05:09 schreef Graham Futerfas <gfuterfas.cml@...>:

Hi John, hope you’re doing well.

I love Omnigraffle!! It’s super easy to learn and use, and works in layers like Photoshop or Illustrator. Worth the money, for sure.

I even made and modified stencils for film and moving lights, so DP’s like me who don’t have time to learn Vectorworks can make diagrams fast.

Here are some free links to them if you want to download:
https://stenciltown.omnigroup.com/stencils/film-lighting-2/

https://stenciltown.omnigroup.com/stencils/automated-lights-concert-theater-film-lighting/

https://stenciltown.omnigroup.com/stencils/transpo-dept-for-filmmakers-and-lighting-dept/

There are other camera stencils and stuff that I use a lot, like Windows, Walls, Doors, Furniture, etc.

Best,
-Graham





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Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com
---

John Rossetti
 

John

I tend to go around this idea a different way.

My expertise is visualisation I am a photographer, moving or still, in the creating  images.

What I’m not is a computer programmer/operator, those that use AutoCAD and the like professionally are in a different league/industry.

 

20yrs ago I used to use AutoCAD until I realised you really need a degree to use it to its fullest.

 

It’s like a lot of situations these days people get out their phone/tablet/mac/pc and by the time they have powered up, run the program, drawn an outline, picked some fixtures, drawn it, I have my A4 squared pad out drawn it and given it to the Gaffer, and had a cup of tea.

If I want I can scan it and give it to a software designer or the art dept for later use/improvement/incorporation

 

In other words, I still find “software” restrictive, in any form. With a paper pad and a pencil, I am instant and free (and quick) and if it’s raining , nothing plays up, of if the sun is shining I can still see the screen and. . . NO BATTERIES.

 

If at this stage you think I’m a luddite I should add that I also build computers for a living and as far as earning real money these days I design (and light) scenery for computer games (on a pc, at home, using very sophisticated software)

 

It’s just that my needs as a cameraman are different and fast.

 

What I do you from time to time is use a sketch tablet its nearly as good as a pen and paper (it uses both) but produces an electronic version as I go, or I can store it for use later.  AceCad

https://www.acecad.com.tw/index.php/en-us/products/digimemo-digital-notepad-with-memory/digimemo-a402

and when all else fails you still have a bit of paper !!!!!

 

John Rossetti - London

John.rossetti@...

+44 7836 298 881

 

 

Sean writes: 

Graham! I too am a big fan of Omni graffle it’s fast and easy to use. 

I also like OmniGraffle.  
I haven’t checked in a while - are there lighting templates for it?  
Are there ways to get more?

mdp

Mark Doering-Powell, ASC
LA based DP 





Graham Futerfas
 

Hi Mark,

Graffletopia, a third-party site, used to be the free spot for Stencils, but now it’s one free download per month or something like that.

I think The Omni Group then created their own Stenciltown.com, which has the free ones. If you go to SencilTown, and search for lighting, you’ll find at least three Stencils that I’ve created or modified for lighting. FilmLighting V2 has a lot of the same original ones that have been with Omnigraffle for forever, but I also added new stuff, and options to look less cartoon-y.

I also created an Automated\Moving\Theatrical template, because I shot a couple of low-budget Stand Up Comedy Specials, and didn’t have a proper LD. I tried to follow some of the Vectorworks shapes and icons, and there’s places for DMX address numbers on the lights.

And I did a Transpo one, because I did a few night exteriors, and needed to be able to draw in Condor’s and trucks, police cars, etc.

I should upload my Camera Staging modified version, too. I have a small Jib\crane in there, Dolly, track, a camera that looks more like a RED than an ENG one, etc.

I tried to download and learn Vectorworks for a while, but couldn’t even figure out how to get started. It seemed so complicated, and for $2500 (they often have 50% off sales, too), it’s way beyond my needs. Most of my diagramming is fast and doesn’t need to be as accurate as the Vectorworks software allows.

With Omnigraffle, I think I have the Pro license, but you don’t really need it unless you’re doing a lot of custom shapes and stuff. I can email you off-list some diagrams and stencils I’ve done, and you can open them and try it out if you want. I think there’s a free trial.

I’ve been using Omnigraffle for many years now, and can create a full lighting diagram in minutes, and I really like to start diagramming, then keep tweaking it as ideas come to me later. It forces me to light the sets in my head and think about the details that I might not have discovered until we showed up to set.

OK, that’s enough for now about my love of Omnigraffle.

Best,
-Graham



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Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com
---

AJ
 

Hi Graham, what a terrifically informative and helpful post! Thanks for sharing your experience. 

I love what you said about how diagraming forces you to light in your head.  So true.  

I should give Omni graffle a new look, although I usually end up sketching out diagrams on the back of the scout itinerary..haha.  It is quite interesting to think about how being able to revisit and update might change or evolve the process.  Does Omni Graffle allow you to save version histories?  Or at least toggle back and forth between undos?  Being able to see the evolution of the ideas could be a great feedback loop.

Thanks again for your generous share! 

Best,
Alan Jacobsen
DP - NYC. 





--

Alan Jacobsen - Director of Photography

www.alanjax.com


Oscar nominated STRONG ISLAND is now also nominated for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking EMMY!!! 

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DP - NYC

Graham Futerfas
 

Hi Alan, thanks.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but you’ve inspired me to get it done.

Here’s a free YouTube tutorial I made this morning for anyone that wants a quick start to lighting design in Omnigraffle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux4uS-R_Fk4

My personal stencils are linked in the description below the video. I tried to be brief, but informative, and I showed lighting plots I’ve done for other shows.



This week, I’ve had one Omnigraffle lighting diagram open for several days on my computer for a spot I’m shooting next week, and have constantly been tweaking it with new thoughts and ideas.

I’ve also used it for projects where I know we may be coming back in 6 or 8 months to shoot a similar setup, and it’s nice to have a record of what we did.



Omnigraffle allows you to work in layers and groups, much like Photoshop or Illustrator. I usually have a few layers going on: The Set Diagram\Layout is on the bottom, then maybe a camera\actor\product layer, then a Grip layer with pipe-hangs, truss, large frames, etc. Then I have a Hanging Light layer, and a Ground Lighting Layer.

The best thing is, I can toggle the layers on and off, so if I just want to print or PDF the lighting, then they don’t need all the camera and actor blocking, or whatever.

It’s important to be disciplined about the layers, in my opinion, and you have to toggle the little Pencil icon to switch which layer you’re writing to, but it’s easy enough to copy, delete, change layers, and paste if you make a mistake.

You could possibly save different lighting schemes on different layers, turn them on and off, but I don’t know if it saves all your deletions like you’re asking.

For many theater and club venues, and some stages, they often have a tech packet they can email you with their pipe and truss points all laid out. I usually import this PDF onto a bottom layer below everything in Omnigraffle, and that gives me a place to start, and it’s often closer to scale in terms of size and distance.

There are Grid lines you can turn on and off that also help me quickly estimate and scale distances. My diagrams aren’t super-precise, but they’re just meant to be a communication tool more than anything.

The original lighting aesthetic was very cartoon-like, so I’ve added stencils that I think look a little cleaner.

Let me know what you think of the video.

Thanks,
-Graham




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Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com
---

John Tarver
 

Hey Graham!  
Nice to hear from you as well.  This sounds like what I'm after.  Also thanks for the stencil links.  Really appreciate it.

Cheers,

John Tarver, csc
DP in Toronto

John Tarver
 

Graham!
Just saw this post.  Wow!  You win the CML prize for question response - an actual YouTube tutorial!  

Anyway, I'll do your tutorial after I finish all the tasks my wife has in store for me today! ;)

Cheers!

John Tarver
DP (and handyman) in Toronto

Graham Futerfas
 

Hi John, it’s definitely been a while! But your name came up a few weeks ago when I was talking with some film school buddies.

You can download the free trial of Omnigraffle and check out the tutorial, which should help get you started. See if you like it, then I think you just pay for the key to unlock the free trial. You probably don’t need the Pro version.

I’ve been meaning to make that video for ages, and this thread inspired me to just get it done. I’m such a Grafflehead and spent a lot of time futzing with those templates, so I hope others can get use out of them and build even more templates. I also finally was able to upload my revised Camera Staging template, but you can get all those links in the description of the video.

Wish I could do Vectorworks, but honestly, if I’m shooting a job that really requires Vectorworks, they’re going to hire an LD with a Draftsperson who’ll do all that anyway.

Let me know how you like the software. Good luck,
-Graham



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Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com
---

Andy
 

Canvas for Mac

https://www.canvasgfx.com

A drawing program for Mac that is easy to use and yet has the capabilities of full technical drawings.  It has been my choice for lighting plots for over 2 decades.  No, there is no light template, you simply make a page with images of lights that you create so that you know exactly what they are and which size.  That way you are only dealing with lights you actually work with.   Using a paper catalog from a lighting manufacturer that is in our industry gives you quick access to all of the pertinent photometric data.  I use either Mole-Richardson or Arri catalogs and have found that the light output is pretty much within 5%.  

Using layers allows you to build everything separately and add it to the final view, so keys, fill, architecture, etc can all be separate.  In addition camera positions with lens angles of view can be added.

Normally I include the stop we will be shooting for a given camera package as part of the info.  No problem to be accurate a couple of months before a shoot.

Lighting plots are a starting point.   My crew knows that this is the minimum I expect, they are free to add on to what we are trying and to make it better.  They also know I am not standing at a monitor shouting and waving my hands in the air demanding to see them make “my” images on the monitor.

Andrew Sobkovich
Director of Photography
Los Angeles

Ted Hayash
 

I will second Graham's love for OmniGraffle - it's powerful and easy to use, with layers and templates and the ability to create your own templates. This helps when using less conventional fixtures. The vector based drawing programs are much more powerful, but also have a steeper learning curve and a price that comes along with the power. One advantage to Vectorworks et al is that if your art department designs their sets in Vectorworks, often they will share their files with you which is a huge time saver as well as giving you accurate distances, which is important when laying out plots that other people will rig without supervision of the person who made such plot. Such accuracy can be achieved in OmniGraffle, but it's unlikely that you'll get a ready made file. Likely, you'll have to measure and draw your own set.

Ted "fan of run-on sentences" Hayash
Cinematgrapher
Los Angeles

 Ted Hayash
Ted Hayash
Director of Photography 
www.tedhayash.com


On August 18, 2018 at 3:53 GMT, Graham Futerfas <gfuterfas.cml@...> wrote:

Hi Mark,

Graffletopia, a third-party site, used to be the free spot for Stencils, but now it’s one free download per month or something like that.

I think The Omni Group then created their own Stenciltown.com, which has the free ones. If you go to SencilTown, and search for lighting, you’ll find at least three Stencils that I’ve created or modified for lighting. FilmLighting V2 has a lot of the same original ones that have been with Omnigraffle for forever, but I also added new stuff, and options to look less cartoon-y.

I also created an Automated\Moving\Theatrical template, because I shot a couple of low-budget Stand Up Comedy Specials, and didn’t have a proper LD. I tried to follow some of the Vectorworks shapes and icons, and there’s places for DMX address numbers on the lights.

And I did a Transpo one, because I did a few night exteriors, and needed to be able to draw in Condor’s and trucks, police cars, etc.

I should upload my Camera Staging modified version, too. I have a small Jib\crane in there, Dolly, track, a camera that looks more like a RED than an ENG one, etc.

I tried to download and learn Vectorworks for a while, but couldn’t even figure out how to get started. It seemed so complicated, and for $2500 (they often have 50% off sales, too), it’s way beyond my needs. Most of my diagramming is fast and doesn’t need to be as accurate as the Vectorworks software allows.

With Omnigraffle, I think I have the Pro license, but you don’t really need it unless you’re doing a lot of custom shapes and stuff. I can email you off-list some diagrams and stencils I’ve done, and you can open them and try it out if you want. I think there’s a free trial.

I’ve been using Omnigraffle for many years now, and can create a full lighting diagram in minutes, and I really like to start diagramming, then keep tweaking it as ideas come to me later. It forces me to light the sets in my head and think about the details that I might not have discovered until we showed up to set.

OK, that’s enough for now about my love of Omnigraffle.

Best,
-Graham



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Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com
---

John Tarver
 

Hey Graham,
Finally had a break in my schedule to dive into this.  Omnigraffle seems like a great choice.  Really easy to use (vs Illustrator) and your lighting stencil sets are great!  Thanks so much for doing this and sharing with the community!  Bravo!

Best regards,

John.
__
John Tarver, csc
DP in Toronto 

John Tarver
 

Hey Graham,
And I also loved your "location trucks" set - now we can download google maps and stick that condor right where it needs to go!  (until it bumps into trees and electric lines of course!)

JT
John Tarver, csc
DP in Toronto

 

For most of my drawings I use Graphic which works on the Mac and iOS.  https://www.graphic.com/mac/

It also has a stencil library facility where you can easily add new objects to existing ones or create your own.  I just did a quick test dragging in a JPG of a lamp into a drawing and added that to a new library.  V easy.

Its not got all the connection functions of Omnigraffle but its a darn sight cheaper..

Michael Sanders
London Based DP.

+ 44 (0) 7976 269818




On 2 Sep 2018, at 15:27, John Tarver via Cml.News <johntdp=mac.com@...> wrote:

Hey Graham,
And I also loved your "location trucks" set - now we can download google maps and stick that condor right where it needs to go!  (until it bumps into trees and electric lines of course!)

JT
John Tarver, csc
DP in Toronto

Graham Futerfas
 

You’re welcome, John. I’ve obviously loved Omnigraffle, but it takes just a little getting used to. Once you have the hang of it, you’ll get very fast with it.

Michael, I’m happy to export different versions of the Omnigraffle Stencils to see if you can import them into Graphic. I’m not sure which format would be ideal, but I can do .png, or .eps which is a vector based image, with a transparent background. Let me know and I can email them to you.

I know some people have commented about Omnigraffle’s price. $100 is definitely a commitment, especially if you’re not sure how much you’ll use it. You most likely don’t need to pay $200 for the Pro license, especially if you’re just starting with it. I suggest doing their free trial and take it for a spin, and hopefully my YouTube tutorial will get you on your feet quickly.

Best,
-Graham





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Graham Futerfas
Director of Photography
Los Angeles, CA
www.GFuterfas.com
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