One of the featured speakers at the 2017 Vectorworks Design Summit in Baltimore last September was Remco Teunissen, owner of RTN Showsupport in The Netherlands. Starting out as a lighting technician, he worked his way up to technical producer, and in this capacity has worked on numerous entertainment projects across Europe, including award shows, EDM, rock concerts, and E-Sports. He started using Vectorworks in 1998 and regularly teaches courses in Vectorworks Spotlight to event professionals in the Netherlands.
1) How did you get into the entertainment design and technology business?
In high school, the vice principal was really involved with the community and felt, that a school should play an active role in the neighborhood. His way of doing that was by investing a lot of time and energy in accommodating cultural organizations with the schools auditorium for plays, conferences and other events. For the audio-visual part of these meetings, students were encouraged to help out and at the same time, learn the basics of audio, video and lighting. I was one of those students who was interested and spend many hours after school and in the weekends setting up the lights, PA system and scenery for any show or party at school. As there was almost no budget, we all learned the fundamentals of stage technology, as we had to do all the repairs and maintenance ourselves or had to built equipment from scratch.
At that time there were no courses in event technology at the university level in the Netherlands, so I choose my second love and enrolled in the Dutch University for Automotive Engineering. After a year it was obvious that this was not my real passion and I applied for a VAT number and visited the rental companies, asking if I could work for them as a freelancer. Of course they had me start with loading trucks and pushing cases, but I loved it and through self-study and asking the experienced crew a lot of annoying questions, I worked my way up as a technician.
In 1998, I bought a second-hand Apple PowerBook, which still had MiniCad 7 installed on it and learned myself how to make light plots and technical drawings. When the draftsman at a local production company resigned, I took his place and got the opportunity to climb the ladder to project manager.
2) How does Vectorworks help in your work process? You mentioned having an epiphany, a eureka moment when you want to share your work with the world...
The remark about having an epiphany/ eureka moment was meant a bit “tongue in cheek.” I gather it was a bit lost in translation from my end. Nonetheless, in my work as project manager and technical producer, my main task is getting a design in to reality. That means that I have to extract the information and have to distribute it, in a perceptible format to the parties involved. Vectorworks helps me with the use of records and reports to get clear and complete equipment lists to vendors for quotes.
The fact, that it’s very easy to get different views of a 3D model and send it out, with dimensions, to a set shop or venue, assures me that I get the meaning across.
As we all know, demands change, even during the production process and being able to make the changes in the drawing and hit “UPDATE” enables me to communicate these revisions swiftly and efficiently with the team.
3) Can you describe your work for one major project, such as League of Legends, and how Vectorworks played a role?
On the League of Legends World Championship, I was involved as stage supervisor, mainly managing the set up and dismantling of all departments, making sure that the teams got the best possible conditions to play the game.
Besides that, I took on the role of draftsman during the design and production process, keeping track of all the elements so they would fit together seamlessly on site.
The use of Vectorworks was invaluable as we had designers on three continents that had to fit their work together as a puzzle.
As not everybody worked with Vectorworks, it was a great benefit to reference from and be able to publish to DWG, PDF, and even Image files, thus having smooth communication between designers, venues, and vendors.
Furthermore we went from Groups stages through the Quarter and Semi Finals over to the Grand Finale, each in a different country and with a different set up. Vectorworks gave us the flexibility to adapt the essential “look and feel” to the different situations and still incorporate the local regulations on health and safety.
4) What are the features you like best or are most useful for you in Vectorworks 2018?
Without a doubt: Braceworks.
Even though a lot of riggers know how to calculate loads that the hanging structures transfer to hoists and the venue beams, not many have a degree in structural engineering.
As a result a lot of the decision-making on “Is it safe?” is done by rule of thumb and on the experience with similar structures in the past.
This method has proven to be fairly successful as the Entertainment industry has relatively few accidents, but if they happen, they tend to have disastrous consequences.
Brace works will calculate and show you where the biggest forces develop in the rigging system even if they are not always obvious.
Although a licensed structural engineer will need to give final approval, Braceworks gives you a preliminary insight as to which alterations will be needed to keep the system within safe limits. This results in saving time, money, and presumably human lives.
The other one is Multiple Drawing Views.
Now that designs are getting more and more complex, it is imperative to assess all the show elements in 3D space making sure there is enough clearance. With Multiple Drawing Views you can do that at a glance without constantly having to switch from a top view to a front view, to a side view and back again.
5) What advice do you have for young designers and technicians just getting into the business? Tools? Tips? Techniques?
“No man is an island unto himself.”
No matter if you’re a designer or a technician, always remember that the work of others greatly depends on the information you provide them, just as your work greatly depends on the information you are given. Whether you’re sending out light plots, construction drawings, or patch lists, repeatedly ask yourself the question: “Will the one I’m sending it to, understand what I mean?”
The willingness of others to work with you in the future, for a great deal relies on how easy, or difficult, you make it for them to do their part making a great show. Because in the end, that’s why I ended up in this business, right?