Just recently, I discovered Google SketchUp 6, a brilliant, fully animated modeling program for both 2D and 3D work. With the constant additions of downloadable models submitted from around the globe, the already extensive image library is amazing. For me, the largest asset of the program is its ability to pan and zoom at will, so my directors can really get inside the model, and hopefully there will not be any surprises once tech arrives. I've never been really keen on CAD programs, as it usually takes me longer inputting all needed values rather than just sketching the thing myself. I have found this program to be readily and quickly manipulated for those things that I can't do. SketchUp Pro 6 is a more powerful version and allows me to drop in any CAD drawing and take it from there. Above all — what astounded me most — was that Google offers up the general software program free! It is not, however, limited or restrictive just because it is free. The difference between the general SketchUp program and SketchUp Pro is really the ability to drop in those CAD elements, and the Pro does come with a very helpful layout program (SketchUp Pro 6 LayOut), easily taking your models and drawings right to the presentation page where notations can be made to add clarification to builders, producers, assistants, etc.

I do anywhere from 16 to 21 mainstage productions from September to February and 30 secondary productions in varying degrees of complexity throughout the rest of the year, so this program has had a profound effect on me, as I can now model up/sketch my ideas, give them texture and color, add as much detail in elements and dressing as I want, and quite simply — with the move of a cursor — add the dimension lines for building purposes. It is much easier for me now to strike that “model” piece for a director when he requests it rather than fight for it because I spent so much time sculpting it. And when all is said and done, I can drop it into Google Earth just for fun or a laugh.

C J Howard
Resident Designer/Technical Director
American Academy of Dramatic Arts
New York, NY