With haunted houses and creepy attractions, it’s no wonder that Halloween, a popular holiday in North America and other regions of the world, is the spookiest time of year. But, what’s even scarier is the daunting task of designing lighting that makes even the most experienced horror-enthusiast’s skin crawl.

When it comes to ghastly entertainment design, look no further than Karyn Lawrence, a Vectorworks Spotlight user and a lead lighting designer at Radiance Lightworks. Lawrence has been working on large-scale haunted attractions for several years and knows exactly how to create lighting effects that make guests’ hair stand on end. Here are her tips for thrilling and chilling frights.

Image courtesy of Joey Gannon.

Image courtesy of Joey Gannon.

1. Focus on Your Theme

The team at Radiance Lightworks begins the design process for their haunted attractions months before October, concentrating on the attraction’s theme and researching source material. The team watches and reads a lot of horror content to better understand their goal and learn what elements of the genre they should include.

“Whether it’s a movie or a book or a classic story, our theme is where we start,” says Lawrence. “We’re very theatrical in our design approach.”

2. Set the Mood

Lawrence and her team then create two separate lighting plans: one for general ambiance of the surrounding environment and the other for attractions. The ambiance lighting sets the scene and kick-starts the goosebumps as soon as the guests walk through the gate. You can’t skip over the environment around the attractions, as it ensures a holistic, immersive horror experience that builds suspense every step of the way.

3. Balance Light and Dark

Though the dark plays a major role in haunted houses and the horror genre, according to Lawrence, a big challenge for creating optimum, blood-chilling effects is finding ways to carve out striking scenes with light.

“We light and treat every key prop and actor, and use the elements of horror to bring out the key scares,” Lawrence explains. “We have specific moments that are highlighted in certain ways.”

Image courtesy of waferboard.

Image courtesy of waferboard.

4. Focus on Key Areas

“Walls, props, and scenery that are specific to the theme or should be called out, as well as the actors and performers,” Lawrence says. She notes that even the smallest details, such as wallpaper, doorframes, and props, should be treated and given attention to create the mood and really emphasize important scares.

5. Safety First

A good haunted house should be nothing more than harmless fun. Besides highlighting specific elements in the haunted houses, Lawrence’s designs illuminate functional areas and signs to guide guests throughout attractions and minimize risks for all involved.

“We have to find the balance between making sure that all these beautiful props and designs get lit and get featured correctly, and making sure we’re taking care of the guest so they’re not being put in any sort of danger,” Lawrence says.

6. Embrace the Fear

“When I first started this, I wasn’t a horror fan at all. I was super scared of everything,” recalls Lawrence. However, after having worked on haunted houses for Radiance since 2012 and studying horror source materials, Lawrence is not only familiar with the macabre, but is also now a bit of a fan.

“I really appreciate seeing the growth in the horror genre,” she says. “I find myself seeing some new movies that we’re not even designing for!” This extra research helps Lawrence observe new horror techniques to include in her work.

7. Work with Sounds

Besides observing new lighting techniques, she has also learned about how emphasizing different elements, such as sound, can help build the terror and suspense. Lawrence’s team creates a terrifying experience for multiple senses by collaborating with the attraction’s sound designer to time lighting effects to noise cues.

“The teams work closely together, coordinating lights and sounds, to get the maximum amount of scares,” she said.

Light plot of haunted house. Image courtesy of Radiance Lightworks.

Light plot of haunted house in Vectorworks Spotlight software. Image courtesy of Radiance Lightworks.

8. Keep Updated Documentation

Lawrence plans her ghoulish designs by creating intricate 3D models of the attractions in Vectorworks software before she plots the lighting in the key areas. These thorough drafts are then passed to the onsite designers, who can edit the documents to reflect later changes.

“They can plot and update our documents so I can take into account any changes when planning next season,” she explains. “Vectorworks makes it easy to communicate, update, and keep things current.” After all, as a horror movie buff, Lawrence knows that there nothing’s scarier than being unprepared.

Dying to know more Vectorworks success stories? Head over to our case studies page.

Want to wow your clients and improve your presentations with stunning renderings? Whether you’re new to rendering or looking for techniques to make quicker, easier, and more detailed illustrations, the SITE: VIZ | Site Design Visualization Using Vectorworks webinar gives you the skills to create more realistic, appealing site design visualizations. After just 60 minutes, you’ll be equipped to detail to your clients exactly what it’s like to be inside your designs, even down to the furniture.

Todd McCurdy, vice president of landscape architecture and planning at Morris Architects | Morris Terra, will guide you through the rendering process, breaking it down to explore model bits, render modes, image props, light and shadow, entourage, and composition. The webinar also features a question and answer session hosted by Vectorworks Product Marketing Manager– Landscape Eric Gilbey.

After you’ve finished watching the webinar, take this test to receive one LA CES PDH. Keep growing your skills and earning continuing education credit by registering for our Irrigation Design in Vectorworks Landmark 2017 webinar on November 10.

Last month, teams spanning borders and times zones raced against the clock for 48 hours to flex their BIM and design muscles through Build Earth Live’s Hyperloop competition. Organized by Asite, the annual competition raises awareness of cloud-based working, international developments in interoperability, and how new technology is revolutionizing construction. With 65 teams made up of 250 designers from 29 countries participating, this year’s event focused on designing termini stations connecting Dubai and Fujairah, which would reduce travel time between the two cities to less than 10 minutes at 10 percent of the cost of conventional high-speed trains. An extra incentive for this year’s teams is that the United Arab Emirate (UAE) government is considering building one of the Hyperloop designs in the near future.

Photo courtesy of BuildEarthLive.com

Photo courtesy of BuildEarthLive.com

The final judging took place in Dubai, where two representatives from each of the seven finalist teams presented their design to a judges’ panel and live audience. As headline sponsor of the event, we are excited to congratulate the winning teams. Additional sponsors include the Dubai Future Foundation, Hyperloop One, and Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority.

“We’re incredibly honored to sponsor a BIM competition with a true multidisciplinary approach at its core,” said Jeremy Powell, director of product marketing at Vectorworks. “The Build Earth Live Hyperloop competition this year had fantastic results from all the teams and showcased a series of entries that demonstrated the great possibilities that exist when design teams collaborate with several fantastic software programs in an openBIM workflow.”

As previously mentioned, Build Earth Live recognized the efforts of multiple teams. While team Mobius took home the overall award this year, team BIM Unlimited also received praise for their collaborative effort, winning the award for Best Multi-Disciplinary BIM & Use of Interoperability. Additional awards included Discretionary awards won by team HyperNova and Future Architects, team BIM Fusion’s BIM for Sustainability or Constructability award, team rLoop’s Best use of BIM for Design, Drama, and Excitement award, and team Hyper Poland’s BIM for Innovation award. You can explore the full list of individuals that make up the winning Build Earth Live teams here.

Team BIM Unlimited’s winning design.

Team BIM Unlimited’s winning design.

“The Build Earth Live Hyperloop competition has exceeded all expectations. With thanks to His Excellency Saif Al Aleeli, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation backing the 8th edition of the competition, we received phenomenal international attention and team registrations,” said Tony Ryan, CEO of Asite. “In short, the response was off the Richter scale. The results speak for themselves.”

Learn more about the benefits of Open BIM collaboration here.

From the new Resource Manager to innovative irrigation tools, Vectorworks 2017 has introduced many great features and tools. For this roundup, we’re breaking down how to use some of the most useful updates of the new release.

The first video takes you through the new Slab Drainage tool. Explore how to create and edit drains and connections, and how to understand the information attached to each drain.


Next, learn how to use the Railing Fence tool that allows for easier creation of custom railings and fences with BIM workflows.


Now you can elevate your drawings with the Interior Elevations tool. This tutorial shows you how to generate and update multiple interior drawings linked to a drawing marker.


Once you learn about door and window styles, you’ll be creating and editing objects with greater efficiency.


Lastly, you can now convey information more quickly by using viewport data visualization. Watch this video to learn how to control graphic attributes of smart objects based on data.


To keep learning about the new features in Vectorworks 2017, head over to our Feature Videos playlist. And if you’re completely new to Vectorworks software, check out our playlist Vectorworks 2017 – The Basics to get started.

If you need any help, reach out to us at tech@vectorworks.net or tweet us @VectorworksHelp.

Veteran lighting designer and Vectorworks software user Jeff Ravitz knows a thing or two about being the boss. After all, Ravitz is not only the Emmy-award winning founder of lighting firm Intensity Advisors, but also has been the lighting designer for The Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, for three decades.


Courtesy of Flickr user Alive87.

Ravitz recently spoke to Live Design for an exclusive webcast, “Lighting Perspectives with Jeff Ravitz,” about his experiences creating and evolving the vibrant shows for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, as well as lighting tips and techniques for other designers.

Here are three of Ravitz’s most enlightening pieces of industry wisdom:

Know Your Artist: Since partnering with the band for their Born to Run tour in 1984, Ravitz has learned the general flow of a Springsteen show and mastered techniques that accent the show’s energy. “For me, it was always about lighting the band and then creating the environment of light around them,” Ravitz said. “I took it as my obligation to not get in their way, but rather enhance what they’re already doing.”

After 32 years working with The Boss, Ravitz knows exactly what lighting Bruce loves in his live shows — and also what techniques to avoid. For instance, because Springsteen loves making sure all audience members in the venue can see the stage clearly, Ravitz has avoided using backdrops that might obscure the sightline to the stage. For Springsteen’s latest tour, he mounted vertical strip lights to the upstage railing to add depth to stage while still empowering Springsteen to make use of as much of the space as possible.

Go With What Works: Ravitz says that while the band’s performances have retained the same basic framework over the past several decades, new songs have been added to the band’s roster and the technology has improved greatly. He is always looking for new lighting technology that will complement the show and meet the performer’s needs.“I’ve always been a big fan of keeping what works and improving the rest,” he said. Ravitz’s designs for The River Tour 2016, which celebrated the re-release of Springsteen’s 1980 album “The River,” demonstrated that while lighting technology evolves, designers can still draw from classic styles to create a wow-worthy show. In fact, Ravitz specifically worked to emulate lighting techniques that would have been used at the time of the original album’s release with modern technology.


Hang plot over the stage, courtesy of Intensity Advisors.

Refine Your Style: Throughout the years working and touring with Springsteen and a number of other performers, Ravitz has gotten his designs for shows down to a method. Knowing what styles work for different types of songs and shows, and how different lighting equipment affects the stage, helps Ravitz to “sculpt” the performers out of the darkness with carefully composed displays that enhance a mood or moment.


Jeff Ravitz highlights key lighting techniques in the webinar.

Ravitz has refined the composition of his shows so that a great deal of attention is paid to the three key elements: toning vertical surfaces, creating a color environment, and separating the musicians from the color. Ravitz uses all the tools at his disposal, including floor lighting, back and side lighting, textured and patterned washes, and a bold color statement on the stage surfaces, to help set a mood, direct the crowd’s attention, and create interesting visuals for audience members who view the stage from a variety of angles.

“Utilizing the tools at our disposal, we really can make each song look individual and unique,” Ravitz said.

Ravitz also gave webinar attendees a look at some of his preferred lighting fixtures and past lighting plots, as well as insight into how he uses Vectorworks Spotlight:

“It allows us to put all the data for every light onto the plot, create paperwork that goes out to everyone for patching purposes, as well as the team putting the system together in the shop, and we can share that back and forth with one another,” he said. “If I want to move a truss six feet higher or lower or closer or further, I can do it in a couple of seconds and I love that.”

Watch a recording of the full webcast and learn more of Ravtiz’s rocking techniques for painting stages with light over on Live Design. And if you’re going to be at LDI this week, stop by booth 337 to learn more about all of the tools and features in Vectorworks Spotlight software that empower Ravitz to design.

An international judging body has selected Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner to design the extension of the Beyeler Foundation Museum, a structure originally designed by Renzo Piano. Chosen from among the proposals of 11 other prestigious architecture firms, including SANAA, Sou Fujimoto, Smiljan Radic, and Souto de Moura, Zumthor’s project will be built on a previously private plot in the Iselin Weaver Park in Riehen, Basel.

Photo of Peter Zumthor by Martin Mischkulnig.

Photo of Peter Zumthor by Martin Mischkulnig.

“Peter Zumthor brings the sensibility and experience needed to design a structure of excellent quality for this special place,” comments Sam Keller, director of the Fondation Beyeler, regarding the judges’ decision. Zumthor has extensive experience in the design and construction of museum buildings, including the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Austria, the Kolumba in Germany, and his current project, the new Los Angeles County Museum of Art building. Now he will bring that expertise to the Beyeler Foundation Museum, near the Swiss-German border, which has established itself as the most visited art museum in Switzerland. Since its opening in 1997, 6.2 million have visited the building.

Zumthor is best known for the minimalist aesthetic of his works and for his exploration into how the materials and physical qualities of a space evoke experience. These ideas are manifested throughout Zumthor’s portfolio, including the Therme Vals in Switzerland.

Photo of Therme Vals courtesy of Pepechibiryu.

Photo of Therme Vals courtesy of Pepechibiryu.

The 2009 Pritzker Prize winner is excited about the opportunity to contribute meaningful work to his birthplace. “The sky above Basel, the city, and its surroundings — those are the landscapes of my youth. It warms my heart that I am able to design an important building here,” says Zumthor, a longtime Vectorworks software user.

“We are happy to have one of the world’s best architects as a partner for the project,” says Hansjörg Wyss, chairman of the Beyeler Foundation. Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner’s full design for the museum will be presented in the coming months.

To learn more about projects from other notable Vectorworks software users, head over to our case studies page.

Long nights, early mornings — it’s tough being a student sometimes. On top of the large workload, you have to think about the cost of tuition, materials, and all the other odds and ends that accompany college life. That’s why we want the hard work you put into your projects to be worth more than just a good grade, so we’re launching the third annual Vectorworks Design Scholarship. Now your all-nighters can score you up to $10,000 USD, a major resume booster, and free publicity that will get you noticed by potential employers.

Connect with us on social media using #FundMyVision.

Applying is an easy two-step process. First, submit your best individual or group project, whether you completed it for a class assignment or if it’s a project you worked on just for fun. Then, just answer three questions in 150 words or less each. Another major bonus is that you can enter as many times as you’d like. We’ll accept entries from students currently enrolled in an accredited design program and registered for at least six credits, or students who have graduated during the 2015 or 2016 school term.

After you apply, you can sit back and relax until Friday, August 18, 2017, the day winners are announced. The program includes two rounds of judging. Notable panels of judges from around the world will evaluate submissions based on design integrity, originality, the effective use of computer technology, and communication of design vision. First round winners will receive $3,000 USD and the opportunity to compete for the grand prize Richard Diehl Award, worth an additional $7,000 USD. Plus, if you win, your school will receive free Vectorworks design software and complimentary training for faculty and students, basically earning you some seriously good karma with your school.

Winning designs from previous years of the Vectorworks Design Scholarship.

Winning designs from previous years of the Vectorworks Design Scholarship.

So put your ramen-fueled all-nighters to good use and apply for the Vectorworks Design Scholarship before the final deadline of July 15, 2017. Make sure you share your excitement with us after submitting using #FundMyVision on social media.

While much of the world engages in an eternal Apple vs. Android product debate, designers and architects face an even bigger decision when it comes to choosing technology.

Recently, Competitionline, a leading platform for architectural competitions in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, asked their audience a simple question: “What software do you use?” More than 300 architects and planners in fields ranging from building construction and scenography to interior design and landscape architecture participated in the poll.

The results speak for themselves. For 3D workflows, Vectorworks software is the second-most favored program and is tied for first place pertaining to 2D workflows.

2D and 3D poll results from all participants.

2D and 3D poll results from all participants.

Landscape Architecture versus Architecture 2D and 3D poll results from all participants.

Furthermore, another one of their illuminating studies found that Vectorworks users may have more job opportunities. Competitionline evaluated all job ads published on their online job market from 2013-2016 and discovered that experience with Vectorworks software was the second-most asked for out of all software programs on job listings.

Learn more about how we continue to develop tools and features that empower designers to create unmatched experiences by checking out our Vectorworks 2017 software.