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Rack layoutDocumentation

Last updated: September 30, 2019

2 Rack counts in the Hobbyist version (or Pro version)

The Finale 3D Hobbyist version does not include the visual rack layout and addressing capabilities of the Pro version, but it does include powerful tools to count the number of racks required.  The Hobbyist tools allow you to create your own racks so the counts correctly reflect the numbers of tubes in your racks and any special configurations you might have of single-shot racks.  Based on the counts, you can print reports listing the total racks required for the show, and the racks required per position.

The process for generating rack counts is the same as the full rack layout process of the Pro version, except without doing any visual layout and without taking racks into consideration for addressing.  So even if you have the Pro version of Finale 3D, if all you want is the rack counts you can follow the simplified process described here.

You begin by creating or customizing racks by defining their numbers of tubes, the arrangement and angles of the tubes.   From the set of racks you define, Finale 3D produces an initial rack layout with the minimal number of racks to accommodate the show you’ve designed.  After that, you can print rack reports from the “File > Print > Reports” menu (in contrast the visual rack layout reports, which are in “File > Print > Diagrams”).  Scripting a show with rack counts is a simple, two step process:

  1. Design show
  2. Add racks for show

Of course, these steps assume you’ve already created your rack definitions.  The application includes example racks in the Generic Effects collection, which you can use to get started.  You can create your own racks from the Racks menu, or copy/paste and modify racks from the Generic Effects that are already what you want.


Adding racks for the show

Once you’ve designed your show, the menu item “Racks > Add racks for show” adds the required number of racks for all of the devices (effects) in the show, choosing from the racks in the active collection of the effects window, such as Generic Effects or My Effects.   In some circumstances you may have multiple kinds of racks that could be used for the same effects, such as fan racks or (tilted) straight racks for shells shot at angles.  To specify the kind of rack that is to be used for specific effects, you will need to use the “Rack Type” field as described in Using the “Rack Type” field to make effects go into fan racks

When you add racks to the show using “Racks > Add racks for show”, if some of the devices in the show require racks that aren’t in that collection, you’ll get a warning dialog when you add racks, indicating some devices remain unracked, as shown in Figure 1.

The common explanations are, 1) the collection of effects in the Effects window doesn’t include the racks you need, such as if you’ve selected the My Effects collection and your racks are in Generic Effects or your company inventory, or 2) the effects in the show have a Type that doesn’t match the structure of rack that would otherwise accommodate the size, such as if you have 20mm or 30mm single-shot effects whose types in the Type column are “comet” or “mine” instead of “single_shot”, causing them not to match the single-shot racks.

Figure 1 – If some effects don’t match racks, click the Details buttons to find out why.


When you try to add racks and get the warning message of unracked devices, you should click on the “Details” button to find out the explanation.

Figure 2 – The Details tell you why some effects don’t match any racks.


The details will help you determine why the effects couldn’t match any available racks.  Sometimes it is tricky to figure out, but there is always a clear, logical reason once you find it.  The most common reason is the second explanation, (2) above: that the Type doesn’t match.  The Type column for the effects in the Effects window determines whether the effect is compatible with the structure of the rack.  Single-shot racks are only compatible with effects whose Type is single_shot; candle racks are only compatible with effects whose Type is candle; cake racks are only compatible with effects whose Type is cake or ground.  All the other mortar racks are compatible with the other possible rackable Type values: shell, mine, comet, and other_effect.  The three remaining Type values, not_an_effect, rack, and rocket, are not rackable. (See Why is ‘Type’ important?.)  The Type of an effect is specified in the Type column in the Effects window.  The structure of the rack — whether it is a single-shot, cake, candle, or mortar rack — is specified in the rack’s VDL, which you can most easily see or change from the “edit rack” dialog.

If explanation (2) is indeed the problem, the solution is usually to change the Type of the effects to single_shot if in fact the effects are single-shots.  This requirement sounds a little bit arbitrary because an effect can obviously be both a single-shot and a comet (or mine or shell) at the same time.  Since Finale 3D uses the Type field for determining rack compatibility, you need to set the Type field to single_shot for all effects that you want to rack in single-shot racks.

We’ve mentioned cake racks a few times, and you may be thinking, “I don’t use cake racks, and nobody I know uses cake racks, so why even mention them?”  Even though cake racks are uncommon, Finale 3D does make the assumption that cakes and ground effects require racks, so when you do the function “Add racks for show”, make sure the effects collection includes a cake rack definition for your cakes, even if in reality your cakes don’t don’t use racks.  Otherwise you’ll get a warning message as in Figure 1, complaining that some of your devices do not match the available racks.



Table 1 – Example files

Download link Explanation
rack_layout_diagrams_example Example rack layout diagram (Pro only)
basic_rack_list_example Example rack list report (Hobbyist or Pro)