In this day of the personal computer most lighting designers have been using them to create their lighting designs. Now there are a variety of software tools available for the designer to use. Softplot 9.2by Crescit Software, available from Stage Research is one of many CAD lighting programs available to the designer to help them realise their design concepts. Not only can CAD programs do the drawings of the placement of the lights but they can help with the generation of the paperwork that is also required to go along with the design. The package, Softplot 9.2, is the latest version from Crescit Software. Now you should not expect it to be as flash as products costing a lot more. But you should not discount this software is does have a lot of features and it does the job very well.
I have been using an older version of this software so it was with great interest that I decided to try out the latest version demo. After downloading the software, it was a very easy and quick install. Now when I started the software it was not quite what I was used to from previous versions but you can modify the way it looks, But with a bit of playing around in the view menu you can customise the way it looks to give you a better layout with more screen space devoted to the actual drawing.
As will all these type of programs you need to spend time setting it up to suit your style. Also another thing to remember is that is it is American so you need to set up it up for Australian voltages and some of the connectors information is not relevant. It has an extensive database of lighting fixtures, truss and other elements. All of these can be dragged and dropped onto the drawing area in any location that you require. There is an inbuilt database of lighting fixtures( many of which are Field Template’s Soft Symbols), rigging etc that you can add to, either by importing extra symbols from SoftSymbolstm or design your own with the graphics editor. You can tailor the set up with the number of instruments and what type. You can then input the venue that you are designing in. You then you can add the set design.
The software is fairly intuitive and it will not take you long to get a plot happening. It is just a matter of picking a lighting symbol and placing it on the lighting bar where you want it. You can also assign its patching, colours and what accessories that you want with it. You can also “turn on” the fittings and see in section or front view what the coverage will be like. Very useful to have in this reasonably priced software package.
I found with this software that I was spending less time on some of the tedious tasks of lighting design and more time on the actual design itself. For its price this is a very good tool for the lighting designer that does not want all of the bells and whistles. It generates all of the info that you require. It may not be as powerful as Vectorworks but for the price it is great value for money and I would recommend it.