The BIM Collaboration Format is getting more popular and more widely supported as the months go by. I was interested to find to this little command line utility that quickly creates a PDF file from a BCFzip. It can batch process multiple BCF files and it outputs a relatively clean PDF with the image and issue name.

What is it? From Sourceforge:
This project provides conversion/rendering of a BIM Collaboration Format (BCFZIP) file exported from Tekla BIMSight and similar applications to a PDF report. It can be useful in several ways, such as:
1) sending someone a PDF report instead of BCF file.
2) Print a hard copy of BCF report for signoff
3) Review BCF content quickly without installing or launching any BIM software

Command line usage:

cmdline.png

PDF output looks like this, 1 issue per page:

pdf.png

Download and main page at:
BCF2PDF download | SourceForge.net

Instructions, showing you can also use drag-and-drop for multiple BCFs:
1. Download the file BCF2PDF.rar from Source Forge and place in a folder.
2. Export one or more .bcfzip files from Tekla BIMSight or other similar applications.
3. Drag the .bcfzip files and drop onto the icon of BCF2PDF.exe executable.
4. One or more PDF reports will be created in the same folder as the source .bcfzip files.

By using a shared folder on OneDrive, you can Copy an entire OneNote notebook from one user to another.

Here’s how:

  1. Let’s call the user hosting the notebook OriginalUser, and the account we are going to copy to TargetUser
  2. In OneDrive web app on the OriginalUser account, share a folder to TargetUser
  3. Confirm you have access to the shared folder by logging in to the OneDrive web app for TargetUser. Select the folder and “Add to my OneDrive”
  4. Now, back in the OneDrive web app for OriginalUser, select a Notebook and Copy it to the folder you shared with TargetUser. Wait for it to complete copying…
  5. In the OneDrive web app for TargetUser, navigate to the shared folder and click to open the ‘copied’ Notebook in the OneNote web app
  6. Wait for the opening process to complete (this may take a while)
  7. Rename the Notebook on the TargetUser OneDrive web app
  8. Move to desired, non-shared folder in the TargetUser OneDrive. You will receive this message, and you have to press “Move Anyway”

onenote.png

I love unique tools. In the BIM world, we are presented with a wide array of visualization software, each supposedly better than the last. But I am interested in something that has real power, that is truly unique, something that can give me and my work an edge over the competition. And Lumion is one of those unique, powerful tools.

It is fast, easy to use, and the visuals are so immediately pleasing. In just a few minutes, you can go from a Revit model with links and topography, into a beautiful 3D environment. There is a huge library of People, Trees and Vehicles included with Lumion that can be placed immediately into the scene. The more time you spend working up the scene, the better and more realistic it looks.

During the preparation of this article, Lumion 6.3 was released. I have made an effort to discuss key points from that new release here. The big new feature of 6.3 is that Lumion now supports Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift! Find out more at this link.

vrLumion.png

So that’s the quick summary, but how does Lumion integrate with a real Revit environment? What considerations are there when working on federated models? What tips and tricks did I discover along the way?  Read on to find out…

This review is divided into the following major sections:

  • Real World Use
  • Summary of New Features
  • Basic Use
  • Specific Tips and Workflows
  • Learn More

Real World Use
If you want a quick overview of what can be achieved, check out this Showcase page on the Lumion website.

Test System
Lumion uses a live rendering engine, so effects and animations all essentially occur in real time. This means that you need a decent computer, with a good graphics card, if you want to get the most out of Lumion. I tested Lumion on my 2 year old workstation, with these specs:

  • Intel Core i7-4930K (6 cores, 12 HyperThreaded) CPU
  • 64gb RAM
  • NVIDIA Quadro K4000, 3gb GDDR5, driver 353.62
  • Samsung SSD 840 EVO 500GB + 3tb secondary drive

The above specs were more than acceptable for my use, but you may find that a newer gaming graphics card would compensate for a current mid-range system with less RAM.

From Revit
Lumion imports a number of native 3D formats, including FBX and DWG. However, there is also a Revit export addin (called the Revit to Lumion Bridge) available that gives better optimization to the exported 3D data. I found the addin very quick to use, even on a large site with multiple buildings. After exporting into one container DAE file, you then use the Import option in Lumion to bring that model into the current Scene.

EXPORTtoLumion.png

If you have some well developed Topography in Revit already, you probably just want to ‘feather’ the edges of the Lumion Terrain. A Lumion scene is made up of a number of parts, but it always has a base Lumion land surface (that could be flat or modelled to really any land form), and then you typically have a model imported from some other software, following which you would usually add content and entourage to the scene, such as People, Trees and Vehicles.

After you have imported a model and integrated into it into the scene, I feel that it is very rewarding to add some content to the scene immediately. The large library of content allows you to quickly get a ‘look and feel’ happening that will help drive the artistic process from this point forward.

I say “artistic process”, because that is actually how Lumion makes me feel – like an artist, not like a boring BIM technician. And that is a good thing! Rather than wrestling with the usual mind-draining, complicated Revit modelling tasks, Lumion is like a breath of fresh air. The payoff is immediate, unlike some other rendering workflows that often require many hours of material mapping before anything remotely aesthetic can be generated.

From Navisworks via FBX
I thought it might be interesting to try and play with a relatively basic building form or mass, and see how Lumion can make even basic geometry look quite impressive. To start with, I used a model in Navisworks of Room spaces (which were exported from Revit via NWC). Then I exported these Room masses from Navisworks to FBX.

FORMS.png

The resulting FBX file was 167mb.

I opted to try the Mountains in Spring scene template. The water in Lumion is nothing short of beautiful. Its almost too good to try and demonstrate with a screen capture, but I’m going to try anyway… Keep in mind that as you navigate in Lumion, the water is moving and rippling and lapping away at the smooth stones. Amazing!

water.png

In just a few minutes, I had trees, a power boat, a sunbaking man, and even a fish, horse, and offshore wind turnbine placed in the scene. Lumion has this potential for rapid, beautiful scene development that is unparalleled in my experience.

quickscene.png

Modifying Placed Objects
The Lumion interface is clean and uncluttered. Sometimes, you will ‘discover’ how something works in Lumion, and it will just make sense. For example, if you are trying to move a Person and can’t select them, keep in mind that you should pick the object Category from the bottom-left corner of the window, and then you will be able to modify objects of that Category.

ObjectType.png

Modifying the Environment
I was impressed with the fact that the sun height is extremely easy to modify, to get things looking just right, as the screencast below shows:

Key points to remember
Some of the features added in Lumion 6.0.1 and 6.3 are focused a lot on improving the image quality, which means you are getting the very best output from the scene creation work that you undertake. Another key differentiating feature of Lumion is the overall ease-of-use. It does not feel like a complicated piece of software, and it allows you to get up and running quickly. Then, as you learn more about Lumion, you can progressively discover the additional features that are just below the surface of the main user interface.

Summary of New Features
Lumion 6.3 now supports the rendering of VR panoramas for Gear VR and Oculus, and it is very simple to use. First, press the MyLumion button, Set a Viewpoint, then click Render VR Panorama:

rendevr.png

For Oculus Rift, choose LumionVR to render an LVR file:

vrsettings.png

You can watch as the renderer works its way through the left eye and right eye:

vrrendering.png

Finally, open that file in the LumionVR viewer (included with your Lumion 6.3 installation) and interact with the scene using the Oculus Rift.

There are also some key aesthetic additions that became available during the releases of Lumion 6 through 6.3, and the imagery below gives you an idea of what each effect can accomplish once applied to your projects.

Hyperlight 2

hyperlight2.jpg

OmniShadow

omnishadow.jpg

PureGlass

pureglass.jpg

SpeedRay Reflections

speedray_reflections.jpg

Basic Use
Download and Installation details
Download size: 6.26gb
Installed size:  14.6gb

First Launch
On first launch, Lumion will benchmark your system so that it can self-configure the best performance settings for your particular hardware.

1-benchmark.png

After the benchmark you will be presented with this Start screen, which will allow you to quickly create projects for a variety of different scenes and enviroments:

2-startscreen.png

Specific Tips and Workflows
We all work in different ways. And we all have our own artistic style. So when considering how to best integrate Lumion with an existing design and presentation workflows, there will obviously be some variations. But essentially, you will take models from a content creation suite (such as Revit) into Lumion, and then perform various tasks such as site modelling and adding entourage, after which you will tune various presentation style settings and export to a video or still image.

You can read a real world example of how UK architectural practice Lovelock Mitchell has made Lumion a part of their day-to-day design pipeline at this link. I could certainly identify with this comment that Michael Chevasco made in the article:
“If you like the visualization side of architecture like I do, then you might find experimenting with Lumion artistically rewarding, for example, positioning the sun just right to create a certain mood, or the getting the wind to blow through the grass in a scene. I enjoy those things and Lumion makes it easy.”

How to Use Lumion with Revit
Latest Revit exporters are available here:
Export Revit models to Lumion – Revit to Lumion Bridge

3-exporters.png

To install the exporter addin:

  1. Run applicable installer, such as RevitToLumionBridge_Revit2015.exe
  2. Restart Revit
  3. The addin will now be available on the Add-Ins ribbon

Export and Import to Lumion:

  1. Open a Revit project
  2. Go to a 3D view
  3. Run the Exporter
  4. Go to Lumion
  5. New Scene based on Template of your choice (I chose ‘Hills’)
  6. Import using this button:

    4-import.png

  7. Name your import and tick the box

Tip: Make landscape flat:
You may want to ‘flatten’ an existing landscape prior to matching Revit topography with Lumion terrain. The image below shows which button to use:

flatlscape.png

 

Use large terrain brush to quickly match Lumion surface with Revit topography:

largeterrainbrush.png

More information on terrain material and feathering here

Here is a List of File types that can be directly imported to Lumion:

file_types.png

Performance Notes

  • The Revit exporter was very fast, taking about 300mb of Revit data to a 230mb Collada file in 90 seconds
  • Saving in Lumion is very quick and unobtrusive

Saving Viewpoints
You can use the Camera tool to Store a Camera, and return to that same position later:

store%2Bcamera.png

Learn More
For more tutorials, including how to “Learn Lumion in 15 minutes”, check out this Tutorials page.

What about using Lumion on very large infrastructure projects? See:
Lumion for large infrastructure projects

Interested in finding out more about materials included with Lumion? Check out this link.

Using Lumion 6.3 for Virtual Reality – Video Tutorials
Tutorial: 01 – Render For Gear VR
Tutorial: 02 – Advanced Render Settings Gear VR
Tutorial: 03 – Copy Gear VR Panorama to Your Phone (1st time)
Tutorial: 04 – Copy Gear VR Panorama to Your Phone
Tutorial: 05 – Render For LumionVR (Oculus Rift)
Tutorial: 06 – Advanced Render Settings LumionVR (Oculus Rift)
Tutorial: 07 – Three ways to open LVR files
Tutorial: 08 – Move Between Viewpoints in LumionVR (Oculus Rift)
Tutorial: 09 – Add Effects to 360 Panoramas

Further reading:

Using some Visibility parameters and a simple formula structure, you can use a Revit family to store a collection elements and then selectively show them by using a single lookup value. This allows you to drive many visibility states (programmatically) through the modification of a single instance parameter value.

In the case below, I created a Annotation family and multiple Yes/No visibility parameters, which I applied to Lines:

PARAMETERAPPLIED.png

Then, I make a VisibilityEnum integer parameter, and set the Yes/No parameter formulas to a given integer:

FAMILYENVIRONMENT.png

You can also use Greater Than and other operators to show items that are visible across multiple visibility states:

operators.png

In the project environment, you only need to set one instance parameter to change visibility states:

project%2Benv.png

Finally, with some inventive use of Excel and Dynamo, you can drive this visibility parameter programmatically, even mapping the visibility state to the owner view of the family instance in Revit:

getAndSet.png

Ever wondered how to install and use BIMserver to create your own IFC web viewer?

Sometimes I finish a blog post and think, what a mess…

That’s because I often sketch out things as I do them, on the fly. And so you end up with essentially a collection of notes. In any case, here are my notes on how I got BIMserver up and running on my workstation, so that I can view, merge and work with IFC files locally. I hope you can understand the fragments of thought below 🙂

Prerequisites
The bimserver Java module will be limited by the Java version on your system. So, if you want to be able use big memory, you should be running a 64 bit Java engine.

Install JDK for 64 bit windows, such as from here:

Windows x64 187.31 MB jdk-8u77-windows-x64.exe

Download and Installation
Release 1.4.0-FINAL-2015-11-04 · opensourceBIM/BIMserver

osbim.png

Put the bimserver jar file in some logical place on your computer, it will create subfolders here.

Important Note! I discovered that bimserver doesn’t play nicely with file paths that have a whitespace character, so use underscores if you have to

Start by double clicking the JAR file – bimserver-1.4.0-FINAL-2015-11-04.jar

Then, tweak settings to your liking. Here are mine:

settings.png

Click Start

Allow the BIMserver engine to initialize itself for a few moments, it will create a bunch of folders.

Once its ready, you might have to give it access through Windows Firewall

firewall.png

Click Launch Webbrowser, then fill out the login details:

ui.png

Once logged in to the client in the browser, use Project – New Project, and give it a name.

You now have a space where you can upload, merge, view, query and validate IFC files.

To Merge IFC Files

  1. Add ‘sub projects’ for each IFC you want to merge
  2. Checkin a model to each subproject
  3. You can now view the 3D merged IFC model in your web browser by clicking on the top level ‘eye’ symbol and wait for Loading to complete
  4. Also, you can download the top level ‘merged’ project as a single IFC

 

SUBPROJ.png

To test your merged model, you can immediately create a New Project and Checkin your merged model.

Further notes
You can now create multi-tasked IFC geometry tasks, which look like this:

ifc%2Bmultitasking.png

Sometimes they use lots of memory!

geommem.png

Keep in mind that this is essentially a web application. The ‘next level’ would be to set this up to run on your company webserver to share IFC models internally or to everyone via the cloud.

The source for the web viewer is here:
opensourceBIM/bimvie.ws: Javascript client for Building Information Modelling, using open standards like IFC, BCF and BIMSie. Using Bootstrap, BIM Surfer, etc..

This video may be of interest:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqIVylRMRu0

These are simply direct links to be able to access the trial download for 2017 Autodesk AEC products, you will still need valid serial numbers if you wish to activate.

nw2017.png

You will be interested to note that on first launch, this splash screen may pop up:

licensechoose.png

Live links:
Revit 2017 Part 1 | Part 2


Not yet live:
Revit LT 2017 Part 1 | Part 2
Revit Architecture 2017 Part 1 | Part 2
Revit Structure 2017 Part 1 | Part 2
Revit MEP 2017 Part 1 | Part 2


Building Design Suite Ultimate 2017
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSADV/DLM/BDSU_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_001_007.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSADV/DLM/BDSU_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_002_007.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSADV/DLM/BDSU_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_003_007.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSADV/DLM/BDSU_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_004_007.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSADV/DLM/BDSU_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_005_007.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSADV/DLM/BDSU_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_006_007.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSADV/DLM/BDSU_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_007_007.sfx.exe

manage.png

Building Design Suite Premium 2017
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSPRM/DLM/BDSP_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_001_006.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSPRM/DLM/BDSP_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_002_006.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSPRM/DLM/BDSP_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_003_006.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSPRM/DLM/BDSP_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_004_006.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSPRM/DLM/BDSP_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_005_006.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BDSPRM/DLM/BDSP_2017_Enu_Win_64bit_dlm_006_006.sfx.exe

Navisworks Manage 2017
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/NAVMAN/DLM/Autodesk_Navisworks_Manage_2017_Multilingual_Win_64bit_dlm_001_002.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/NAVMAN/DLM/Autodesk_Navisworks_Manage_2017_Multilingual_Win_64bit_dlm_002_002.sfx.exe

Navisworks Simulate 2017
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/NAVSIM/DLM/Autodesk_Navisworks_Simulate_2017_Multilingual_Win_64bit_dlm_001_002.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/NAVSIM/DLM/Autodesk_Navisworks_Simulate_2017_Multilingual_Win_64bit_dlm_002_002.sfx.exe

Advance Steel 2017
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/ADSTPR/DLM/ADSTPR_2017_ML_WIN_64BIT_DLM.sfx.exe

AutoCAD 2017
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/ACD/DLM/AutoCAD_2017_English_Win_32bit_dlm.sfx.exe

http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/ACD/DLM/AutoCAD_2017_English_Win_64bit_dlm_001_002.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/ACD/DLM/AutoCAD_2017_English_Win_64bit_dlm_002_002.sfx.exe

AutoCAD MEP 2017
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BLDSYS/DLM/AutoCAD_MEP_2017_English_Win_32bit_dlm_001_003.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BLDSYS/DLM/AutoCAD_MEP_2017_English_Win_32bit_dlm_002_003.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BLDSYS/DLM/AutoCAD_MEP_2017_English_Win_32bit_dlm_003_003.sfx.exe

http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BLDSYS/DLM/AutoCAD_MEP_2017_English_Win_64bit_dlm_001_003.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BLDSYS/DLM/AutoCAD_MEP_2017_English_Win_64bit_dlm_002_003.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/BLDSYS/DLM/AutoCAD_MEP_2017_English_Win_64bit_dlm_003_003.sfx.exe

AutoCAD Design Suite Ultimate 2017
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/DSADV/DLM/ADS_Ultimate_2017_English_Win_32bit_dlm_001_002.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/DSADV/DLM/ADS_Ultimate_2017_English_Win_32bit_dlm_002_002.sfx.exe

http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/DSADV/DLM/ADS_Ultimate_2017_English_Win_64bit_dlm_001_004.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/DSADV/DLM/ADS_Ultimate_2017_English_Win_64bit_dlm_002_004.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/DSADV/DLM/ADS_Ultimate_2017_English_Win_64bit_dlm_003_004.sfx.exe
http://trial2.autodesk.com/NET17SWDLD/2017/DSADV/DLM/ADS_Ultimate_2017_English_Win_64bit_dlm_004_004.sfx.exe