PRP is accustomed to working in the limelight. Specializing in high-profile events with a focus on creating imaginative, immersive experiences, its design portfolio includes the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and many years of the halftime show of the CFL Grey Cup (the Canadian Football League’s championship game). With a core group of 13 employees, the company can scale up to 30 people depending on the task at hand. One of their team members is Production Manager Michael Scriven, a Vectorworks user since 2000.
“It's kind of the Swiss Army knife of design; it works the way you think,” Scriven explained. “When I started using Vectorworks, things made sense. AutoCAD was almost counterintuitive. I found Vectorworks to be a lot more flexible, more accessible.”
I can go from doing a layout for the athletes, to a staging layout, to a ramp layout to make sure we're not blocking fire exits. The ability to have everything in one program and then disseminate it to different stakeholders is the most versatile element of the software.
In 2016, PRP responded to an RFP for the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, an international adaptive multi-sport event for wounded, injured, or sick active duty and veteran service members. The firm won the job, which immediately presented challenges due to the event’s complex logistical elements.
“It was a unique situation because we didn't design the set,” said Scriven. “It was the set of charity partner WE Day. So, we had the challenge of integrating our show into their set. We had to try and massage our event into the confines of this predetermined set, lighting rig, and video/audio setup, while making the event as amazing as we possibly could.”
The team also faced high expectations associated with the event.
“The Invictus Games is similar to the Paralympics, which we designed in 2010, and there's an unexpected emotional component to it,” said Scriven. “For the athletes, this means more to them than anything. They're not just athletes, they're participants. These types of events are more rewarding but also come with an innate pressure because it's not just another concert.”
Pressure aside, PRP had work to do, including designing the mandatory components of the event, such as the opening and closing ceremonies.
“We had to augment WE Day’s setup to make it work, adding elements like ramps to help the athletes,” said Scriven. In a similar vein, PRP had to make the official athlete parade entirely wheelchair accessible. WE Day eventually incorporated these extra elements into their design for the rest of the tour because they liked what PRP added.
For coordination, Scriven relied on Vectorworks to keep PRP on task.
“The software’s integration ability is the most useful element, especially in events like this,” said Scriven. “I can go from doing a layout for the athletes, to a staging layout, to a ramp layout to make sure we're not blocking fire exits. The ability to have everything in one program and then disseminate it to different stakeholders is the most versatile element of the software. And for Invictus Games it was the best element.”
This interoperability helped PRP meet deadlines with enough flexibility for revisions.
“I don't get a lot of time to create nice drawings to show to a client,” said Scriven. “We usually get 48 hours to come up with a realistic plan, so I appreciate the speed and efficiency of the software.”
Scriven also said that his experience and approach to Vectorworks helped ease the complexity of designing projects like the Invictus Games.
“When you become really comfortable with something, like playing piano, it's instinctual, you don't even think about it,” said Scriven. “With Vectorworks, you know how to solve the problem; it naturally flows. You can think about solving the problem as opposed to thinking about what tool you want to attack it with.”
He recommends taking the time to master keyboard shortcuts as well, in order to complete tasks within the short timelines typical for projects like the Invictus Games.
“By setting up your own keystrokes and customizing them, you don't have to change the way you work,” said Scriven. “You can just change the way that Vectorworks operates to do what you need it to do.”
In particular, he is a huge fan of the 2018 redesign of the Resource Manager, which helps him stay more organized.
“The Resource Manager is the best thing,” said Scriven. “With the recent improvements, there is less management on my part. I can access all of my resources while working on my project file. Having that all in one place is a godsend.”
It's kind of the Swiss Army knife of design; it works the way you think. When I started using Vectorworks, things made sense. AutoCAD was almost counterintuitive. I found Vectorworks to be a lot more flexible, more accessible.
For PRP, bringing imaginative, immersive events to life is accomplished by creating meaningful memories. Thanks to Vectorworks, Scriven pushed boundaries to go beyond the possible, much like the athletes in the Invictus Games.
“Every single event has that one moment you take away from it, and creating that moment is most important,” said Scriven. “The hours are lost, but the minutes are kept in the memory.”
Images courtesy of PRP