Steve Shelley Released SoftSymbols for Vectorworks 2017

I’m not a Vectorworks user, but I have used it in the past.  But Steve Shelley is awesome, he makes Soft Symbols, and he’s the guy you need to stop and talk to at trade shows, he’s the guy in the f**king bright yellow jacket walking lighting trade show floors.  It’s Steve Shelley, y’all.  If you’re in lighting and you’ve never either talked to Steve and enjoyed a good gut laugh, you need to up your life enjoyment quotient and say hi to his self at a show.

Hi folks;

No joke! Field Template finslly released Enhanced SoftSymbols in the Vectorworks 2017 format. If you’ve been waiting to update your symbol packages, the wait is over!

[You’re receiving this note if you sent me email asking about updated symbols, inquired about vectorworks methodology, or i just tripped over your email address….]
In addition to updated 3.x packages, the Vw2017 Enhanced Packs include Sam Jones’ latest Data Conversion macros [from imperial to metric and back again], along with SoftMaps© and SoftData© pdf’s representing each Object Library.

There’s also the updated “Read Me First REALLY-Vw2017.pdf”, showing illustrated explanations of the new Vw2017 environment, including the new Resource Manager. Additional topics include best-practice tactics for installing custom symbol libraries, updating earlier symbol libraries [using the Batch Convert command], and creating User Folders.

To that end, we’ve added the “Read Me First REALLY-2017.pdf and the “Read Me First REALLY-2016.pdf” to the Downloads Dropdown Menu.

In the meantime, we’ve got to take a bit time off to work on a show or two. But once we get back to the mouse, we hope to update and add to these libraries. Sorry for the delay getting these packages out the door, but it’s just been one of those seasons of too many plates, not enough sticks.

Thanks as always for your support. Please let us know if you spot any anomalies. And best wishes for a safe, profitable spring.

Happy Drafting,


This guy!!

Seriously though, why would you not have a Field Template in your laptop bag?  Have you never had to crank out a plot after your Macbook took a crap at a gig, or your Windows machine won’t boot up because you screwed up the registry trying to uninstall that pirated copy of AutoCAD you had installed?  Be prepared.  Nobody is coming, it’s up to you.  I still have a space for an RJ-11 cable and a female RCA to mini-stereo plug in my travel toolkit and it has been worth having them in there every single time I have needed them in a pinch.

You Need A Steve Shelley In Your Library

Obviously, if you work in lighting, you have read this book.

Steve Shelley wrote a great text a while ago that has had three excellent revisions, called A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting.  If you’ve studied Theatrical Lighting in a collegiate (and hopefully high school) program, you’ve either taken a class from that book, or read that book as an assignment for another class, or maybe you just wanted to be best at what we do, so you went ahead and read as many things as you could get in between flying, gigging, classes, USITT, that show you have a plot due for, you know — all that.


AND I KNOWWWWW you’ve met Steve Shelley.  He is not the Steve Shelley from Sonic Youth, but I know for a fact that he rocks as hard as the other said Shelley.  Funny guy, big bright green freaking jacket that reflects the light from the planet formerly known as Pluto, like my skull.  Come on, does everyone in the world not have a Field Template?!  What do you do when your macbook decides that it has to update something when you need to be drafting or you previz your video card right out of your laptop?!


The point — have you read Steve’s A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting?  It’s the Third Edition; you need the book.  Get the book.  It’s really not even a difficult choice, it’s as important a book to read in our industry as Richard Cadena’s Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician and Technician.  Which, also you need to read.  Like, you know how you needed to read the rules on drivers’ ed when you took that?  Steve and Richard write content of that importance.

aaaaaaaand, consequently, because you need to read this:

PS:  Nobody paid me to write this, I believe this sh*t down to my very bones.  Be better, be safer, learn the most that you can.

What’s In YOUR Lighting Library?


Perhaps in the next ten years, we will see a big push towards marketing away from actual hands-on paper books.  Right now though, there are only a handful of things better than having a book in your hands, flipping through the pages, making everything tangibly make sense.  If nothing else, once you’re in a position to either have your stuff out of storage at your parents’ house, or once your stuff is out of storage once you’re off the road on tour, or – uh, once your stuff is back out of storage after that other tour, then I highly recommend getting a few, or all, of these texts!

The more you learn, the more you are worth, and the better you feel knowing the new info you learned AND that you’re better than you were prior to reading the information.  Knowledge is power!  I wonder why this is so hard for some people to understand…  you just don’t learn anything acting like you fucking know everything.

One of my favorite three books to teach in University environments — Steve Shelley’s A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting, Third Edition — informative, entertaining, and from a trusted source in the Lighting Industries.  Make sure to check the different book styles, you can get this in hard cover, paperback, and on the Kindle if you want
.  For me, at two bucks more for the paper book, I went paper book.




One of our industry’s few true Product Managers left, Brad Schiller’s book, The Automated Lighting Programmer’s Handbook, is a true testament to a career of experience, profile, and understanding. Read Brad’s book and understand what it is to live your life as a lighting designer, lighting programmer, and touring lighting ninja.





From Richard Cadena, one of our industry’s most prolific writers, Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician & Technician.  This is a book that, if you desire to get into this business as a technician, engineer, R+D scientist, student, lighting designer, or just that person who stands by the loading dock door and looks hard at people without credentials, this is the book to read.





Another awesome text from Richard Cadena
Automated Lighting: The Art and Science of Moving Light in Theatre, Live Performance, and Entertainment
continues to be the most trusted text for working and aspiring lighting professionals. The book is in its second edition, Richard keeps it fully updated to include new advances in lamp sources, like LEDs and plasma lamps, automated and programmable displays, updates for managing color, and new methods for using electronics.



Not having a Richard Pilbrow text is kind of like never having green vegetables — not only are you going to be full of shit, but you are also going to be missing out on vegetably-delicious-important-goodness.  Richard Pilbrow (or Ricky Pilbrizzle, as he is affectionately called) is one of the fathers of this industry, his work has been seen and experienced by so many over the years, and he has shaped this industry into something amazing.  I highly recommend getting this text.  Make sure to get Stage Lighting Design: The Art, the Craft, the Life from Richard Pilbrow, and his new book, A Theatre Project. Life changing stuff.



From W. Oren Parker, R. Craig Wolf, and Dick Block — another of my three favorite lighting texts in the University environment… Scene Design and Stage Lighting is a complete basic lighting design and collaboration text that pushes the message of communication among the areas of design and production.  Several book styles to choose from of course, including a Kindle edition of the Worlf/Parker/Block version.





Michael Gillette has several awesome texts out in the Entertainment market, this is yet another great classroom text, and a definite book to make room for in your personal Lighting library.  J. Michael Gillette’s book, Theatrical Design and Production: An Introduction to Scene Design and Construction, Lighting, Sound, Costume, and Makeup, is in its Sixth edition.  I have two editions myself…  one second, and one fifth.




An AWESOME text from lighting designer Kevin Lee Allen comes Vectorworks for Entertainment Design: Using Vectorworks to Design and Document Scenery, Lighting, and Sound, the Vectorworks text if you’re either teaching or learning in the University environment.  Kevin has a way with Vectorworks that only the giraffes understand out on the Savannah Plain…  so just go with it and get this book, especially if you’re not an AutoCAD-trained, lifetime CAD user.  Kevin will help you to learn.




A later edition of the text… Scene Design and Stage Lighting from Wolf and Block continues the work set forth in the earlier editions ofScene Design and Stage Lighting.  Well worth the read, and a definite candidate for long term spots on the bookshelf.






Another masterful bit of copy from Richard Cadena, Lighting Design for Modern Houses of Worship (Book) is the go-to text if you’re looking to improve your lighting skills in the House of Worship genre. Richard’s style of breaking things down into understandable, digestible pieces really adds to the reading experience… once you’re finished reading his texts, you realize that not only did you just learn something incredibly valuable, but you now want to read more about it. Richard’s good like that.



As far as great lighting references go, the IESNA Lighting Handbook might be one of the best references out there for a general lighting designer to have on the shelf.  There’s a funny thing about this though…  you’re gonna pay a few hundred dollars for this book; it’s an option to buy once you’re accepted into IESNA, which I was, and I took advantage of getting it at the reduced price.  Once you’re a member of IES though, you also get the compendium of papers and white materials that goes along with the industry at the time.  I still keep mine as handy as a crescent wrench, there are unbelievably awesome materials in this text.



For the Architectural Lighting minded folk among us out there…  a Jason Livingston text that is well worth the sixty bucks, Designing With Light: The Art, Science and Practice of Architectural Lighting Design.  I picked this book after a reference from LightFair last year, I highly recommend reading this little gem.





The third edition of Jim Moody’s absolutely incredible book, Concert Lighting: Techniques, Art and Business, only gets better after you’ve read the first and second editions.  Jim Moody is a concert industry father — a man who has done more in his days than most — and this book is a good, solid look into what many call the ultimate job.

I’m of course referring to concert industry work.  What were YOU talking about?!




That’s enough for this time…  please check back, and often!

Come See Jim at PLASA Focus Stamford, November 11-12, 2012

Hey, are you in Stamford, Connecticut – or anywhere near?

Are you a fan of light and lighting?

Do you love going around to trade shows seeing what’s new and hip in the world of light?

Then hop the albatross and get to PLASA Focus Stamford!!!  It’s today and tomorrow, November 11-12, 2012.  I’ll be in the CAST Group booth for this show, come get a free hug while you can!  I’ll be in Booth 121 — or as soon as you come into the conference room, just look for the big CAST stand!

I’m also going to be giving my presentation called The Birth, The Childhood, and The Apparent Adolescence of Lighting Design Technology at 1:30pm Monday and 12:30pm Tuesday.  Come check it out, it’s free!  It’s also not a sales pitch, I really hate that at these shows.  PLASA Focus shows are all about the manufacturer and maker NOT hiding behind their huge Vegas-sized booths and have to actually answer questions and talk to people.  The room is tiny, and it is 10000% worth it.  Come check it out!

I also HIGHLY recommend checking out the following seminars, all available at PLASA Focus Stamford’s Seminar Schedule site:


  • John Huntington’s What Is A Network, and Why Should I Care? — 1pm Monday
  •  Richard Pilbrow’s Architecture and the Art of TheatreDesign — 5pm Monday
     PS, he’s also signing his book then too — and that book is AWE-SOME.
  • Wendall Harrington’s Is Video Killing Theatre? 9am Monday
  • Don Holder’s Lighting Design:  The Past, Present, and Future — 10am Monday
  • Bill Sapsis‘ Heads Up!1pm Monday


  • TMB’s The Art of Wireless Control by Lumen Radio — 1030am Tuesday
  • The Tribe’s Visual Design for Live Performance — 11am Tuesday
  • Steve Shelley’s A Practical Guide to Starting A Career in Technical Theatre — 1pm Tuesday

This is going to be a great show!

FREE STUFF! Templates and Templates and Drafting Supplies, OH MY!

Well, today is going to be a light posting day, because I’m driving a truck with our belongings from Denver to Dallas.  Dallas, here we come!  However, as I’m doing my 14 hour drive in a bobtail truck governed at 65 MPH, I’m giving away some stuff that I don’t use anymore to someone who needs it!

When I arrive in Dallas today, I’ll pick two people at random from the people who contact me through the contact form to get this stuff.  It could be 8pm CST, it could be 11pm CST.  Send me an email via the contact form – I’ll pick someone for each of the two.  If you have a preference of which you’d like, please let me know in the email.

The first of the two of these is this pile of lighting templates, and lighting templates!  All you have to do is email me through the contact form.  That’s it!

I’ll send you, in a brown envelope:


One (1) Field Template @ 1/2″ scale
Two (2) Phil Monat lighting plan templates @ 1/2″ scale
Two (2) Phil Monat lighting section templates @ 1/2″ scale
Two (2) Phil Monat lighting section templates @ 1/4″ scale
One (1) Phil Monat lighting plan template @ 1/4″ scale
One (1) Steve Shelley special Stagelight template @ 1/4″ scale

and eight random steel gobos!

I’m also giving away the stuff you see below to one person.  I’ve had it sitting in boxes – it’s doing me no good anymore, and I’d rather just give it away to a reader who needs it!

If you’re reading via RSS feed, please go hit the website and contact me via the contact link if you’re interested!

I’m sending someone the following, stuffed into a USPS Priority Flat Rate box:

drafting supplies

1 – full set of Cray-Pas “Expressionist” oil pastels
1 – balsa sander
1 – X-Acto 45 degree triangle
1 – pencil sharpening paddle
2 – X-Acto mitre boxes (aluminum)
2 – Staedtler lead sharpeners, one mechanical, one battery operated
1 – Ames lettering guide
1 – erasing shield
4 – random fountain pen tips
1 – flexible curve
1 – large 45 degree triangle
1 – large 45 degree triangle with circle template
1 – drafting brush
1 – pounce bag
2 – bottles of SOBO craft glue
1 – Alvin geared compass
1 – electric eraser and refills
a bunch of leads for lead holders, including Repro Blue leads
a whole bunch of different weights and sizes of mechanical pencil leads
a ton of colored pencils, drafting pencils, and watercolor pencils

and other stuff that I probably forgot to mention. It’s worth quite a penny if you were to buy all of this new, so if you’re interested, just email me using the contact form on the site.  I’ll draw someone at random when I arrive in Dallas.

GOOD LUCK!  Please take this stuff off my hands, the shipping is on me!  See you in Dallas!