Recently, I was involved in the development of a construction animation with my colleague here at Virtual Built. The end result was very good, but I observed quite a few challenges he faced along the way. For example, to get the data in we had to manipulate and modify quite a few things. We had a city model in FBX, but it was difficult to work with. My colleague had to add a lot of content to the animation to make it realistic, and then he also had to do some significant post-processing work to end up with a convincing end result. To achieve this, we used about 4 or 5 different software packages. At the time, I was thinking “surely we could produce something more easily and quickly in Lumion!“.

Right now I am pleased to be able to have a look at Lumion 8 in detail in this review, and I will be thinking about how Lumion could have optimised or assisted in the animation production. As you know, I have written about Lumion before, so let’s focus on a few major headings:

  • What Key Features in Lumion 8 can be used to really enhance and present your design? How could we quickly apply these new features to some existing workflows?
  • More links for Lumion 8 information
  • How to apply the OpenStreetMap patch?
  • Video Tutorials and Webinars
  • Graphics Card Hardware recommendations
  • Release video and first renders in Lumion 8

 

Key Features of Lumion 8

Let’s go through some of the key new features one-by-one. Firstly, I used OpenStreetMap to bring in some city context, then opened a model in Revit 2018 and used the LiveSync addin to bring the model into Lumion 8. This took about 40 seconds on my machine, as the video below shows:

Then I cleaned up the OSM City Model a bit (inside of Lumion) and positioned my model. I hid the Topography in Revit, and it immediately and automatically was hidden in Lumion (nice).

Now it was time to try out some of the new features of Lumion 8!

Styles:

What it means: “No more hunting around for the right effects. Gone are the days of meticulously balancing sliders. Once you dress up your 3D model with Lumion materials and objects, just click the Styles Button and select an interior or exterior style. In an instant your design becomes a beautiful render with a carefully balanced effects combination.”

How I used it: In my case, I used the model I had running in LiveSync. Styles is part of the Photo capability of Lumion, so to use it:

  • click the Photo button
  • click the Style button
  • choose a style
  • be amazed at how quick and easy it was to get something that looks great 🙂

Here is an example of the “Color Sketch” style. It amazed me how this transformed a somewhat bland image into something that had a kind of organic and architectural feel.

Here is one of the ‘hero’ shots showing the Styles feature:

Sky Light daylight simulator
What it is: Ready to render? If you haven’t added the Sky Light effect, then…well…no. Maybe not. Because it’s an impressive technology developed especially for Lumion 8 to heighten your image’s sense of environment, realism and depth. Sky Light is an advanced, daylight simulator for softening and dispersing the scene’s environmental lighting. Used in combination with Soft Shadows and Fine Detail Shadows, it strengthens the real-life interplay of these elements. Watch as the foliage and trees become photorealistic, and discover as people, buildings and landscapes suddenly look like they belong where they are.

How I used it: I tried out turning Sky Light on and off with different Photo Styles. It is one of the FX options, as shown below:

Here is another example of the daylight simulator:

Soft and fine shadows
What it is: Designing realistic shadows, whether from scratch or in a rendering program, may be one of the most difficult things you can do. Until now. In Lumion 8, you can inject realism into your render by turning on the Soft Shadows and the Fine Detail Shadows as part of the Shadow effect. Instantly, the shadows become softer, the penumbras grow. Hundreds of fine detail shadows are enriched and a realistic sense of depth permeates the image. You’ll feel yourself smile as you view your unbuilt design looking uncannily like the real thing.

How I used it:

I tried it out on my sample model. You find these options under the Shadow FX of the Photo toolkit. In the image below, the Soft Shadows are shown as the sun hits the floor, while the Fine Detail Shadows are showing the foot path outside the building with more clarity. So in a scene that was more developed, these options can really make the overall visual more clear and appealing.

Here is another example of soft and fine shadows:

Hand-drawn outline effect (Pro only)
What it is: Lumion 8 makes it easy to clearly communicate the form of your design with the “hand-drawn” outline effect. Apply it together with photorealistic, sketch or artistic effects to draw a focus to your building’s general shape and form. It’s the bones of your design, rendered beautifully and easily.

How I used it: You can add the Outlines effect from the FX button. Once you have added the effect, you can fine-tune with the 3 sliders. I found that increasing the Outline Density really helped to punch out even very thin elements in the scene.

Here is another example of the Outlines effect:

Soften hard edges (Pro only)
What it is: In real life, the edges of any surfaces generally appear slightly rounded or worn. They are never perfectly sharp. With the new edges slider in Lumion 8, your model will take on a more natural and weathered look, one better representing the real qualities of physical homes and buildings. Impart age and realism by smoothening the edges of adjacent faces. Soften the corners of brick, concrete, wood and other materials. A simple slider movement, a more realistic building. Easy. Effective.

You can check out an tutorial of how to apply this Material modifier here:

Here is a comparison image of the Soften Hard Edges feature:

“Look at fixed point” for the handheld camera effect

What it is: Create an impressive first-person video and never lose sight of the most important parts of your design. As an addition to the handheld camera effect, the new “Look at fixed point” option in Lumion 8 lets you lock the camera onto a single target point.

Check out this video of the ‘Look at fixed point’ feature:

Feature Summary

We have just looked at a few of the key features in Lumion 8, but I think you will agree that yet again, Lumion brings new productivity features that are also artistic and professional. I recommend you give Lumion 8 a try, and keep in mind that some of the more impressive features are available in the Pro version only.

Below I will include some links and more information about Lumion and Lumion 8. You can get it here.

Trial version is available at this link https://lumion.com/free-trial.html (not yet updated to Lumion 8?)

More Links for Lumion 8

New Features

Focus on 5 New Features

Focus on 5 New Tools for Productivity

Styles Feature

Sky Light, Soft Shadows and Fine Detail Shadows

Sketch, tilt and render

 

Important Changes to OpenStreetMap

With Lumion’s OpenStreetMap (OSM), it became possible to instantly surround a project with context. OSM was also a beta feature still in development and it used a third-party service to import accurate map and building height data.

The third-party service has announced they are closing down, and on February 1st, Lumion will no longer be able to download the map and building height data.

In light of this news, Lumion developed a little tool called the “OSM Patch” to ensure continued map functionality.

  • Click here to download ‘OSM Patch’ for ‘Lumion 7.5 Pro’.
    Click here to download ‘OSM Patch’ for ‘Lumion 8 Pro’.
  • Close Lumion
  • Extract into your relevant \Program Files\Lumion 8.0\ directory and ‘Replace’ files.
  • Start Lumion
  • You should be good to go with OSM

Video Tutorials and Webinars

Expand your rendering capabilities with more video tutorials:

Effects

Build Mode

Materials

 

Graphics card recommendations:

  • Popular Choice: GeForce GTX 1070 for its mix of optimal performance and accessible price.
  • High-end: GeForce GTX 1080 Ti for its extremely fast GPU and excellent efficiency.
  • Mid-range: GeForce GTX 1060 6GB for its attractive price/performance, quiet operation and quality efficiency.
  • Budget: GeForce GTX 1050 for its affordability and ability to provide a smooth, optimal Lumion operation.

 

Release Video and First Renders in Lumion 8

Parisian Bistro, rendered with the highest quality enabled in 18 seconds
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080

Farnsworth House, rendered with the highest quality enabled in 22 seconds
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080

Farnsworth House Interior, rendered with the highest quality enabled in 22 seconds
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080

Starting at this tweet, Konrad Sobon triggered quite a discussion around Revit addins and how to manage users, deploy addins, and track their usage. He has worked on coding a tool called Mission Control for HOK that has a MongoDB backend and evidently harvests data from Revit sessions across the company. This is just one of many tools we are seeing recently related to project data, project intelligence, and similar analytics.

Based on this little exchange with @gschleusner , @arch_laboratory is hard at work making sure we will all have access to this soon 🙂

When working with serious hardware and big 3D models, computer memory management is an important thing. You want every byte of RAM to be doing a job for your system. So I was very interested to read this detailed write-up by randomascii where he describes ‘zombie handles’ that can hold or consume memory on your system. His post is very detailed, but I will go ahead and over-simplify it for you:

  1. Download findzombiehandles_prebuilt package from here (or clone the github here)
  2. Unzip it and open an elevated Command Window at that location
  3. Run FindZombieHandles

You should get a list of zombie processes and the parent executable that initiated them.

From here you could investigate further with Process Explorer or attempt to kill them with Task Manager or taskkill.

Currently, exporting a flat 2D DWG file from AutoCAD or Navisworks to Revizto will probably yield the following message:

However, you can simply take these steps to work around the issue:

  1. Open the DWG file
  2. Select all objects
  3. Change the Thickness to something small but non-zero (like 0.1)


  4. Export the model to Revizto (either directly or via Navisworks)

  5. Once in Revizto, you may want to change the background of your Scene to all-white or some solid colour. Just click on Edit -> Lighting and Materials

  6. In the Editor, click on Illumination -> Environment Settings and change the Sky Type to Color

  7. Finally, click Save and Quit

In Revizto Viewer, you can now see your DWG file as thin surfaces where there used to be 2D lines. This also means that you can use the measure tool:

You can use a similar method to the above (change Thickness to non-zero) while using a 2D DWG file, to:

  • export from AutoCAD to Navisworks as ‘3D’ elements
  • export an FBX from AutoCAD as 3D

I have been chatting with one or two industry insiders over at Autodesk recently, and there are some pretty big changes coming to the BIM360 fraternity of products. For the most part, it seems like these will be very welcome improvements. However, it may have an impact on how you run projects through BIM360, and so it might be advisable to check out the upcoming BIM360 webinar (link). Details below:

Stay up to date with everything new in BIM 360. Each month, join us and the BIM 360 Product Team to find out how you can take advantage of the most recent and upcoming product updates.
• Learn how BIM 360 can help you improve project delivery
• Stay up to date with the newest features
Get early insights into what’s coming in the next updates
• Participate in Q&A with the BIM 360 Product Team
• Get the resources you need to be successful

If you are new to BIM 360, check out our product overview before the webinar and bring your questions.
Copy & Paste the following url into your web browser:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4bDXLJzga8&feature=youtu.be

Image result for bim360 autodesk

In infomercial clips…

The First Time You Automatically Tag All

 

What You Should Do with CAD

 

What You Should Do With Antiquated Processes

 

What It Feels Like to Open a Revit Error Report

 

What a Collaborative BIM Team Looks Like

 

Don’t Blame the Tools

 

Yes, BIM Is Starting To Make Sense!

 

 

If your domain host happens to crash and they go ahead and restore MySQL data that is a few days old, which database tables are likely to be most important to incrementally rebuilding your WordPress data?

Here’s what I discovered recently when I had to do that – these are the key tables for posts, media, comments, categories and tags:

wpu8_commentmeta.sql
wpu8_comments.sql
wpu8_postmeta.sql
wpu8_posts.sql
wpu8_terms.sql
wpu8_term_relationships.sql
wpu8_term_taxonomy

I found it quite easy to use the ARI Adminer plugin from WordPress for this. You could also use phpmyadmin or mySQL Workbench or similar:

Note to self: Remember to keep regular backups of your entire database (export via phpmyadmin or similar) and your content (FTP the /public_html/wp-content/uploads/ folder, or ZIP it via cPanel and then download)

As you probably know, Forge is kind of like Autodesk’s way of opening up a model API for anything and anybody to connect to (over-simplified description, I know).

If you do want to start playing with Forge, Philippe Leefsma has put together a whole lot of boilerplate code that you can deploy on Heroku. He has shared a collection of node.js-based boiler projects for the Autodesk Forge Web Services APIs.

The main page includes step-by-step workflows on how to get started, deploy the code, and test the framework:

Check it out at:

https://github.com/Autodesk-Forge/forge-boilers.nodejs

Revizto doesn’t strictly offer an API (yet) for connecting to its data. But you can use the command line to export an Excel file of all of the current issue tracker data. And you could schedule this export as a Windows Task. If you are in the habit of creating custom dashboards and connecting a whole lot of data together (as I am), then this could prove to be a pretty powerful way to access and share issue tracker data with the wider team. Further, it provides an opportunity for accessing model markup information even in a non-cloud-connected state

Here’s how to export from Revizto using the command line tool, called ReviztoConsole :

Get the Revizto Project ID by hovering over the project name in the Viewer:

 

The command line syntax is like this (notice the project ID):

C:\Program Files\Vizerra LLC\Revizto4\Service>ReviztoConsole issues --project 12845 --export xlsx --outfile E:\temp\12845_issue_export.xlsx

Which looks like this in Explorer:

And the Excel file looks like this:

As you can see, a lot of the issue tracker fields are available here. The Snapshot and Comment fields also may include hyperlinks to a web-hosted version of the issue snapshot as well.

Note: you can use the command ReviztoConsole projects to show a list of your current project IDs and their parent folder name on your system.

The first time you opened Revit, you likely found it pretty confusing. So many commands, so many ribbons, so many little buttons and drop down menus. Dialog box after dialog box… What’s a Family and how do I place one? What is a View or a Schedule, and how do I make one? As time goes on, the User Interface becomes less of a barrier, but in those early stages, it can be daunting.

Perhaps you are a student using Revit for the first time, or perhaps you have used Revit for a while but want to deepen your understanding? Happily, Dan Stine (and Jeff Hanson) have put together the Revit 2017 Architectural Command Reference. This is a book that can serve as a guide through the maze of Revit commands and the user interface in general.

The book is well composed and logical, and includes some nice features along the way such as Tips and Quick Steps. It includes a lot of graphical content, so that you can easily follow along whether you are using Revit as you read it, or simply kicking back on the couch with a coffee (and studying Revit 🙂

There is a lot of depth in this book, and I can’t really do it justice in this short post. But have ever wondered how Revit calculates reflectivity from RGB values and percentages? There is an explanation and a table for that in this book, along with a lot more.

You know how when you are first learning something, you have to go over and over it a few times until you get it? This book is a perfect accompaniment to that kind of learning, as it provides a step-by-step consideration of how the commands work and the user input required.

The Authors

Dan Stine is a well known and widely respected Revit professional. He has written or contributed to numerous publications and he is also a prolific speaker and instructor about Revit, Architecture and BIM. You can check out his own blog here.

Jeff Hanson is a Senior User Experience Designer at Autodesk Inc and he brings a deep knowledge of Revit from inside the Factory.

Summary

This book provides you with an easy to use reference for all of the usual Architectural Commands available in Autodesk Revit. It can be used daily as you are working in Revit and learning the software. It can help you understand what each command does and how it may be used in your overall workflow. The book is organized in the same way the Revit user interface is presented. Each tab of the Ribbon is represented as a chapter in the book. Within the chapter each button is represented in the book as it appears on the Ribbon. It is a very logical and methodical reference to use when learning the Revit user interface.

Personally, I was pleased to see a detailed index of commands, which allows you to quickly locate the relevant command in the book. In that sense, it is truly a reference. Along the way, Dan doesn’t just explain the basics of a command, but in some cases offers additional insight and even alternative commands or ways of accomplishing a similar task. I recommend that you check out the Revit 2017 Architectural Command Reference, and it may help you find your way the maze of the Revit UI.

Bonus Content

Also included with this book are nearly 100 videos tutorials which will further help you master Autodesk Revit. You can use the provided code and login details one you obtain the book. There are 96 videos amounting to around 1.7 GB of content!

Where can you get it?

On Amazon here