CMU School of Drama

Friday, September 30, 2016

Simply Powerful

Stage Directions: Today’s CAD packages have—and this is perhaps an understatement—a lot of power beneath their proverbial hoods. An industry-standard drafting suite like Vectorworks or WYSIWYG costs thousands of dollars, not only in up-front costs but in ongoing update and maintenance fees. They also demand many hours in training or searching through forum posts or watching YouTube tutorials looking for the exact function one needs. The creators of Drafty decided this was unacceptable, and thus, Drafty was born.

8 comments:

John Walker Moosbrugger said...

The industry standard cad programs are about one thing. Control. You want to be able to precisely align, shape, and morph each part of your drafting to be exactly what you want it to be. This is my problem with CAD programs like drafty, aside from being a web based program, a concept that absolutely drives me insane every time I have to use one. I can see this program potentially being useful for lighting designers or people just starting to understand the concepts of drafting but as a scenic designer I don’t ever want to be limited by what my CAD program can and can’t do. I often am, even using Vectorworks or Autocad and it’s one of the reasons I love learning new programs. Rhino, Revit and many other newer programs bring new things to the table that make Autocad look like, well drafty.

Chris Norville said...

Well, I guess this could be a good entry level program, but would be useless for a professional application. What is wrong with having a high powered tool to do a high powered job? If creating complex technical documentation takes a complex technical tool, then itll take what itll take. If we don’t need a complex tool to do a complex job, then we shouldn’t use something that is too complex, but I don think the current CAD programs are too complex for the user intelligent enough to be making technical drawings in the first place. Firstly my complaint is stylistic, why would you want you light plot to look like everyone else’s. Secondly, CAD is for solving problems, I am unsure of how much creative problem solving can happen with this software. If people think that CAD is restrictive to the creative process now, just wait until you have fewer options.

jcmertz said...

I have to agree with Chris on this one, I can't see this being a useful tool for any sort of actual mechanical or structural design. However, for lighting plots, especially on a small community and educational theater scale, I can see it being a really useful tool. A tool purpose built for entertainment will ease the learning curve for those new to CAD but familiar with theater.
For me there are two competing lines of thought on products like this. One one side, it is true that for most of the things we do AutoCAD and Vectorworks are like cutting butter with a chainsaw. We only utilize a very small fraction of the power of these tools a lot of the time, because we aren't doing things that are as complex as the tool was designed for. There is an argument to be made, therefore, that a tool like Drafty would be a good decision because you are paying for what you use, and not for a whole box of extra tools you are unlikely to ever need. The flip side of this, though, is that if you are only exposed to tools that do what you need right now, you are more likely to be stifled creatively because you aren't aware of what is actually possible, as Chris said.

Emily Lawrence said...

For someone who has never used programs like Vectorworks or AutoCad, this program seems like it would be really helpful. I have had people try to give twenty minute lectures on how to effectively use the other software, and it just does not help and if anything leaves me with more questions than I had going in. I might try to start out with Drafty as my beginner program that I teach myself. Even by starting on something more simple, it would still be easier to draft on more complicated software.
With that in mind, I almost wonder if this program is even useful because of the ability to only access it through the internet. It seems as though it would become more of a burden that designers cannot bear to live with. This is one of the reasons that this program may be used, but it will never be able to match the other professional software that has already been developed. While it does have it down sides, Drafty seems like it would be a good starter software for young drafters who then can later move onto the more complicated ones.

Nick Waddington said...

I personally have never used a drafting program of any kind for any reason, which leads me to be a bit cautious and yet a little bit curious whenever i see something like this. When i start considering the program, i think about its ease of use for a beginner, its simplicity, and the quality it produces. this being said, it really may fall short when considering it. first of all, the need for a internet connection, while not crippling, still makes it more difficult. and while it has steps to teach the program to beginners, it also has pretty poor quality. I would recommend this to a highschool shop class which may not have had the budget for something like AutoCad or VectorWorks, but still wanted to teach the basics.

Antonio Ferron said...

I definitely think Drafty is an interesting concept. I'd have to play around with it for a little bit to really understand how I feel about it. I think it could be useful for those trying to do quick drafts and sketching layouts and ideas. Without getting my hands on it I can't now how quick and easy it REALLY is. For those beginning to understand the concepts of CAD programs this would probably help, but as far as becoming an industry standard, I cant see it. If you're efficient in other CAD programs it seems like Drafty would become almost useless. It's pretty much a dumbed-down version of something I already have. And if you don't already have another CAD program, it seems like Drafty might be pretty limiting. Again, I'd have to play around with it a little bit to see how useful of a tool it really can be.

Julien Sat-Vollhardt said...

I first heard about drafty on the r/techtheatre subreddit, which is actually a very nice resource and community for production technology. I agree with the point that many other commenters have made in that I do not believe Drafty will be very useful for professional scenic design and lighting design. While ease-of-use is important to consider, I deplore the trend of sacrificing function for the sake of it, something I have seen particularly in Apple software. I would rather have steeper learning curve and be rewarded by greater functionality, than a lower curve, and not have enough functionality.
Nevertheless, I think that one overlooked and extremely useful feature of Drafty is the creation of signal flow charts and rack diagrams. There, drafty's automation and snapping works wonders and is very welcome. All in all, I think Drafty has a place in smaller productions and for less expensive applications, by simply will not cut it in a regional theatre.

Jacob Wesson said...

Like Julien, I saw this program on the tech theatre subreddit, and even though I'm not a fan of the discussions in the way he is, I agree it's a useful way to discover fun little things such as this program. I agree that it won't be particularly useful for large-scale production design, but, at the end of the day, Vectorworks and CAD require a significant bit of computing power, and aa smaller-scale program where you can sketch out ideas in a 2D/3D space without committing to a full-scale drafting is a useful one. CAD is an inherently difficult skill to learn, since it requires not only a significant amount of computer knowledge, but a cohesive understanding of drafting convention and how the two relate. By making a program that mixes those two for you, in a fashion, makes Drafty a potentially useful teaching tool more than an actual drafting program that actual designers in the field to use. I agree with everyone else, though, in that if you already have a drafting program of choice, there isn't a huge reason to try this one out other than to look at a different style of drafting/drafting program.