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Does anyone know of a decent yet inexpensive haunt design tool that would help me lay out my haunt to scale and see it in 3d?
 

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Are you working on a Mac or a PC?
What exactly are you looking for the software to do for you?
There are so many facets to a haunt, especially a "pro" haunt that you may find that you will have to look at several programs to cover all of the bases. Some of those programs may already bee on your computer.
 

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Sketchup is free and does scale well. It does take a while to use but it has lots of tutorials
 

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Go to general section and look at Big Johnson Haunt thread. It is a jpeg of the 3d work in progress.
 

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Agreed - SketchUp (now carried by Trimble Surveys after Google sold it off) is the go-to software and its free to boot. I suppose there is some learning involved but having used it since v.4, it has become second nature to me.

There are some other third-party add-ons you can use to animate your creations or stand-alone software to render SketchUp models as well. My avatar was created in SU and rendered in Vue (I have unfortunately lost the original full size rendering, so you can't see all the details, but it really does do a fantastic job of creating photo-real). Vue is expensive, but from what I see of SU Podium, it does as good a job for much less (note Vue does do a much much better job of creating "real" landscapes...).

SU has some rudimentary camera "fly-by" animation capabilities, but SU Animate allows for animation of the model components themselves.

http://www.suanimate.com/

http://www.suplugins.com/

http://www.e-onsoftware.com/products/vue/

Check out Vue's entry level render engines -they are free or very smartly priced- for beginners:

http://www.e-onsoftware.com/products/vue/#Enthusiasts
 

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Here's a simple example how Sketchup can be used... only learning curve is figuring out all the little tricks. The basic usage of the program is simple.

Once you figure out how to use it, you can model all your basic components of the haunt. Sketchup warehouse is an awesome resource for pre-made models.

PRE-PLANNING: How-to with Sketchup - Cemetery Entry Example
http://www.hauntforum.com/showthread.php?t=34972
 

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I hate self-promotion...but...

The resources at HauntDesignKit.com are free and ready to be downloaded. These would include wall panels, props, lighting, sound...even recreations of vendor products.

http://www.hauntdesignkit.com

Like the others said, with a few third-party software options you can really create your haunts in the SU environment. We (HauntDesignKit) are currently working on our own features and apps for SU made just for haunters!

-HDK
 
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