MCAD Tech News (#302)

17 Mar, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

For Tait Towers, AutoCAD Rocks

Complex and spectacular concert sets emerge from a 3D AutoCAD–based workflow.

By David Cohn

People go to the show because they love the music, but audience members at today's rock concerts are equally blown away by the elaborate staging — moving video screens, rotating stage platforms, and as much pyrotechnics as a Fourth of July fireworks display. Choose any artist from U2 to Lady Gaga. Chances are that all of the staging was designed and built by the same small company — Tait Towers — and every element of those complex stages was designed using AutoCAD.

Tait Towers, the premier touring entertainment company in the world, has designed stages for almost every artist touring today, including rock band Bon Jovi's The Circle Tour. (Image courtesy of Tait Towers.)
Tait Towers, the premier touring entertainment company in the world, has designed stages for almost every artist touring today, including rock band Bon Jovi's The Circle Tour. (Image courtesy of Tait Towers.)

Founded in 1978, the company gets its name from one of the first self-contained lighting towers used in the concert industry. Michael Tait, lighting engineer for the rock group Yes, designed the towers in the early 1970s, and everyone started calling them Tait Towers. The name stuck. Tait figured out that touring shows not only needed good lighting that could be assembled quickly; they also needed good roadworthy stages and sets. Today, the company designs and constructs entire concert productions from the most unassuming location imaginable, a small town nestled in the verdant Amish farmlands of eastern Pennsylvania. Yet for more than 30 years, rock superstars have come to Livitz, Pennsylvania, because Tait Towers is unquestionably the premier touring entertainment company in the world.

It All Starts in 3D in AutoCAD

According to Tyler Kicera, the company's director of design, a band typically hires a designer who is responsible for the concept: what a show is going to look like. "That designer will come to us with anything from a napkin sketch to models," Kicera said. A small team at Tait Towers will then help the designer develop that idea into a modular system that can be built and sent out on the road. "We'll take that designer's sketch, and step number one is to get it roughly drawn in AutoCAD in 3D," using generic versions of the company's standard components. Read more »

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David Cohn is the technical publishing manager for 4D Technologies as well as a consultant and technical writer. A former senior editor of Cadalyst, he is the author of more than a dozen books about AutoCAD and is currently working on a book about the land speed record. He is based in Bellingham, Washington.


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


27th Annual Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference
July 25–29, 2011
Phoenix, Arizona
The Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC) features technical presentations by industry experts, advanced workshops, and seminars as well as an exhibition hall filled with providers of metrology systems. The conference registration fee includes annual membership dues and full access to all CMSC activities. Read more »

August 7–11 2011
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
SIGGRAPH 2011 — the 38th International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques — will offer technical and creative programs focusing on research, science, art, animation, music, gaming, interactivity, education, and the web. Read more »

2011 Autodesk University User Conference and Exhibition
November 29–December 1, 2011
Las Vegas, Nevada
Autodesk University 2011 will include hundreds of technical classes and hands-on labs, advanced classes for experts and managers, and free Autodesk certification exams. Registration for this event will open later this year. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


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CAD Manager's Toolbox: The Mighty User Suggestion Box
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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

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