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360° Vectorworks Panoramas with Kevin Allen

Emmy Award winning Entertainment Designer Kevin Lee Allen uses the Vectorworks Export to Panorama tool to create dynamic 360° browser renderings. These high-quality interactive Panoramas don’t add any significant cost or time burden, and the clients love the fun level of engagement.

Allen also describes the power of Vectorworks Cloud Presentations to create intuitive review experiences for clients. Lastly, after a few tips on optimizing your 3D model, Allen advocates for us to get more involved in discussions on the Vectorworks Forum, specifically about potential software updates that could make all our lives easier.

Introducing Kevin Lee Allen


Kevin is an Emmy award winning Entertainment Designer, Artist, Writer, and Producer. He creates for film, theatre, television, exhibits, events, fashion, corporate activations, and experiences.

As an author, Kevin has written 12 books on Entertainment Design. As an educator, Kevin has taught or lectured at Carnegie Mellon University, Montclair State University, Rutgers University and the Broadway Lighting Master Classes.

Why use 360° Panoramas?

The Vectorworks 360° Panorama adds a lot of interactivity, fun and engagement. Clients, in my experience, love panorama views.

I don’t see them as something that adds cost. The model has to exist, it just requires processing. A Panorama is (in my case) processed on the cloud servers and can be readily processed while other work is in progress. Most anyone can open the link and play around exploring the space.

These Panorama renderings escape the OpenGL quality and lighting limitations seen in other types of web-based renders. I can use Vectorworks Renderworks and Renderworks Styles to get the kind of images I prefer.

What are the pain points?

So the pain point I see is not about Vectorworks Panorama, but rather it’s about the Vectorworks Web View walk-through renders. The problem is not everyone can really ‘walk’ around. Some may find it difficult to navigate through the space.

The Web View technology, processed on the cloud via the browser or via the Vectorworks Nomad App, uses a set of keystroke commands for navigating around the model, similar to that seen in computer-based gaming. Since I don’t game, I’m often at a loss to explain it to my clients. In general, if the client doesn’t game or doesn’t have a child of a certain age, they are also at a loss to navigate the space.

However, using Vectorworks Presentations, I can create several Panoramas and link them together in a cloud-based presentation. This makes it easy for one or more members of the team to move around. They can see a pictorial floorplan and a series of different exported panorama views. Here is a sample of what this interface looks like.

Any solutions to share?

In all things, keep the overhead low. That is generally to say no matter how complex the design, keep the model lean.

If there is a concern about modeling a space, like a ballroom, I do that in a down and dirty way-using site survey photos as textures on wall objects. Sometimes that’s also a processing solution as textures minimize geometry.

I’ve also used some ballrooms as ‘generic’ so the spaces are used over and over again, even if they aren’t an exact match. In television studios, I ignore things like other gear in storage, basically putting the set and lighting in a black box.

What do you predict moving forward?

One of the possibilities I see is using Vectorworks Panoramas and Presentations to share ideas with programmers to more directly create interactive environments for virtual events. Today, we cannot feed audio and video, or fully navigate a virtual environment using Vectorworks alone. Though, I’m not sure I see that as part of the Vectorworks mission.

However, it is easy enough to move models from Vectorworks into other software, so our work as designers can continue using the software in which we are most comfortable. The key is always to use, and push, the software to see what it needs and then to start a dialogue with other users. There is a section of the Vectorworks Forum (registration required) for Vectorworks Enhancements.

It helps to vote ideas up that you like. The engineers and managers all participate in the forum and users can have a direct dialogue about the future of the software. Here that dialogue isn’t in an echo chamber, it lets the developers know what is needed.

XR Voices is an ongoing Interview Series featuring events industry professionals who are using innovative visualization tech.  We aim to share knowledge and entertain any opportunity to evolve the design process.
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