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|LD Assistant Review
By: Stephen Ellison
Inside the popular design software
|LD Assistant latest lighting design and event planning software by Design and Drafting, and it’s a package that raises the bar for lighting designers who want to create drawings, schedules, and rendered movies of their designs. Combining lighting, sound, video, set design, and event planning into one program, the Windows-compatible software’s 2-D drafting and 3-D modeling tools are designed to save time and streamline work flow, get the client to interact with the design process, and ultimately win more jobs.
Menus and 2-D/3-D tools
Design and Drafting is a licensed developer and OEM partner with Autodesk, from which it leverages licensed Technology. Building on this, LD Assistant 13 offers advanced menus, including Lighting, Visualization, and Production. If you need a generic virtual space to test out fixtures, the Lighting menu includes Create Room, where you can define a 3-D room with a stage inside and general downlighting. In the Lighting menu, Panel View is a button for LD Task, which brings up a list of nine tasks; each takes the user to another window populated with the choices associated with the task. These windows are designed for novices as they familiarize themselves with the program. It is organized in the order that you would design your plot; as you go from task to task, a plot and documentation are created.
The Lighting menu is home to the tools that work with lighting fixtures:
Create, Data, View, Focus, Display,
Modify, Schedules, and Utilities.
Create offers content fly-out windows
with library folders of the blocks that you can add to your drawing. The content section contains blocks for light fixtures, truss, stage elements, chairs, and more. Create includes three tools to help automate the design process. The first is the Create Room tool, while the second allows truss and lights to be quickly added to a space. The third, Automatic Lighting, uses a popup window to add fixtures to light a target object using the standard McCandless 45° method or along a polyline you create.
A lighting fixture or other object in a plot contains data that may need to be visible on the plot or only in a schedule. A button in the Data section accesses a pop-up indow based on the object you select. The attributes available to fill in are based on the type of object. The choice of visible attributes is in the Display section.
The View section provides a visual
button for each type of 2-D and 3-D
view available. The Focus section
two ways to select and focus
lighting fixtures along with buttons to
focus a camera, speaker, and projector.
The Display section allows fixtures
to be turned on and off. One note
about lighting fixtures: You must focus
them with Quick Focus before using
the On and Off functions. With a large
enough plot of fixtures turned on with
visible disbursements as cones, the
drawing gets a bit confusing; you can
change them to a line representing the
center of the light. This choice is only
visible in 3-D mode.
The Modify section provides buttons
to access popular attributes,
including Intensity, Color, Gobo,
Shutter, and Specific Data. The latter
brings up a window that allows you to
select the attribute and enter new
data. The final two buttons provide a
window to renumber five different
attributes or help you find a fixture on
the plot by position and unit number.
In the next section, data from the
plot can create schedules or paperwork
documentation. Once you have
fixtures on the plot, assign at least a
position and unit number. To control
the plot from a console, you must
patch the fixtures, keeping track of that
information. If the plot is going on tour,
you can create the circuit numbers and
cable connections. This information
can be changed in the plot or schedule
and updated to the other. The worksheet
button allows the data to be
manipulated outside the program in
Excel, allowing for custom schedules.
Utilities contains ten buttons for
utilities. The first two allow the creation
of lighting scenes within the drawing
and saving the information as if creating
cues. You can open a scene later,
which behaves as if you are playing a
cue so that you could render that
scene. The next utility is for objects; it
provides a window to choose utilities
that affect the geometry, data, and plot
of either the block as a whole or specific
attributes. If you don’t want to
create a legend or key yourself, a utility
will do the work for you.
One utility allows individual fixtures
to be changed into a multi-light group.
This becomes a special group, which
acts as one fixture. To make a plot
look neat, the Align and Nudge utility
aligns all selected objects along any
axis. Three available wizards create a
new LD object, a complete project
report with multiple drawings and
schedules, or a script file to run every
time you want to produce a report.
The last of the ten buttons opens the
LD Options box where options specific
to LD Assistant may be changed.
The Production menu provides tools
to automate the process of creating
your show. The Production tab is broken
down into six sections, the first
being Lights. In it, you can create a
theatrical lighting fixture. The options
available in the pop-up window will
design a basic can fixture by choosing
the insert location, fixture length,
and diameter; you also can choose
the orientation. Clicking Okay creates
a block with all the attributes associated
with a lighting fixture, which can
be used in schedules and renderings.
For House Lights, you can only
make a cone-shaped fixture. The next
item is the Pipe/Tube-Rope Light. I
haven’t had a chance to make use of
the rope light function, but I use it to
create pipe for hanging lights. It will
create a pipe from a line quite nicely. I
played with the Rope Light function
for fun, and it creates a nice effect.
The next section is Trussing. To
create truss, start with a line from
which to build it around. The pop-up
box offers the basic choices for building
box, triangle, and I-beam truss
along with options for pipe and block
truss. The pipe truss only has the
choice of diameter. The block truss
has no choices; simply pick the line
and click Okay and it becomes a 12" box truss. The pipe tool creates a
pipe just like the tool in Lights.
With Stage/Access, you can build
stairs up to your stage and add security
posts and curtains. The Stair tools
allow you to choose the staircase
height, tread width, and number of
treads, which sets the height of each
step based on your stage height.
The Curtain tool starts with a line
that is used to build the curtain. It will
be at the bottom of the curtain; as
you build the stage, set this line at
the height of the stage. The pop-up
window allows you to set the height,
fold width, and fold depth; there is
also a check box for Straight on Top.
When you click Okay, it creates a curtain
in 3-D. You can change the color
by setting the color in Properties.
Next, we find a section named
Room, where a 2-D drawing can be
turned into a 3-D structure by building
walls. Trace over-the-wall lines
with a polyline and then use the Wall
Build tool to make them into walls.
Choose the wall width, height, and
where the line meets the wall. Finally,
add doors and windows to your walls
and use the Wall Build command to
turn all the objects into a block.
Seating allows an area to be filled
with seating so that chairs don’t have
to be individually inserted. The Fill
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Lighting Design Software and Event Planning Solution LD Assistant by Design & Drafting merges advanced lighting algorithms with CAD industry standard 2D drafting & 3D modeling tool set. Designed for the Entertainment Lighting, Event Planning and System Integration markets, LD Assistant’s user interface is familiar to more than 11,000,000 users in over 130 countries. The software successfully combines lighting and event planning into an ALL-IN-ONE product designed for users at any level of technical expertise.
Lighting Design Software LD Assistant is used by CAD professionals around the world.
• Lighting Design - Photometric Lights that include Halogen, Fluorescent, Mercury Vapor & others.
• Stage Lighting - Create lighting, sound and video plots, generate advanced paperwork.
• Scenic Design - Industry standard 3D modeling tools make set design quick and easy.
• Event Planning - Advanced seating tools allow quick place of tables and chairs.
• Event Visualization - Fully animated flythroughs, flyovers and walkthroughs in real-time.
• Pre Visualization - Connect to lighting consoles using SACN, Art-Net or Pathport.
• 3D Visualization - Play Video and 3D Audio as you Walk through your design.
• FX Rendering - Renderings look like photographs with Raytrace and Radiosity technology.
• Wire & Cable - Track Cable length, Name, ID, Price, To/From Location and more.
• 2D Drafting - Create a complete set of 2D working drawings to give your Architect.
• 3D Design - Easily turn a 2D room drawing in to a 3D model ready for texturing.
• Exhibit - Quickly add truss, light your design and make a walkthrough movie.
LD Assistant software used by professionals around the world for:
- 2D Drafting
- 3D Modeling
- FX Rendering
- Auto Build Truss
- Ribbon Interface
- Pre Visualization
- Built-in Schedules
- Tx & Rx DMX ASCN
- Drag & Drop PDF files
- Motion Path Animation
- Animation Walkthrough
- Real-time Camera View
- Audio Playback in Cues
- WMV, MPG, MOV & AVI
- Multi-processor operation
- AutoCAD 2013 DWG Format
- Photometric Lights w/IES Files