Recently I undertook a very detailed and intensive research project focused on BIM and Revit Content Management Systems. The results of that research will eventually become fully available… In fact it will be discussed in detail at an upcoming webinar (register here).

The research covered a range of product categories including Revit Integration and Management features. However, it also considered the cost and ROI of various content management systems. On a related note, I was very happy to hear that Unifi have now released  UNIFI Standard, a content management solution for firms with less than 30 design staff, offered at the very attractive $14/month. Basically, as a smaller firm you can still afford to access a lot of the awesome Unifi Content Management features, but there are service level differences that mean it makes more sense for larger firms to stick with UNIFI Enterprise.

For more information about the UNIFI solutions, check out the media release here, and to learn more about the webinar have a look at this page.

Key details on the new offering:

  • name: UNIFI Standard
  • for firms with less than 30 design staff.
  • licensing model is named user – each person is assigned a license
  • price is $14/user/month
  • there are service level differences between Standard and Enterprise (level of support, customer/account management, onboarding services, SSO integration) although both products have access to the same content management features.

UNIFI Enterprise remains for firms who need more than 30 licenses and it will have two licensing models – active users or open/concurrent licenses.  The pricing will be dependent on what type of license and how many are needed.

We live in an age of robotics, drones and automation. And those things can be interesting in their own right. But when it comes to Architecture, some technologies seem to replace warmth and light with cold industrialism. Happily, Enscape is not one of those technologies. Whenever I use Enscape, I feel this effortless artistry at my fingertips. It takes the most basic of ideas and makes them more real, adding depth and light and excitement. Yes, I know that Enscape is essentially an addin, a piece of software that consumes models and renders them in real time. But it is executed so well, that it makes it seem like so much more. And in fact, it really does legitimately enhance the quality of work that you can produce rapidly within your own office.

I have posted about Enscape before in this full review, and in this post about Enscape 1.9. The question is: What does Enscape version 2.0 bring to the table?

One of the most significant enhancements in Enscape 2.0 is an improvement to the lighting engine, a feature that results in more Realistic Lighting. There has been additional thought and development work given to things like indirect lighting, behaviour of reflections, and overall realism.  You will likely notice this difference if you open a model you used on previous versions of Enscape and try it with Enscape 2.0.

Realistic Lighting

There is also a really nice new Grass material that looks great and is very easy to use. Along with this, better trees, plants, and other improved RPC replacements have been added.

Improved Navigation Methods:

  • Hit the M key at any time to activate a mini map:

  • Also, you can now Right-click on element to orbit around that element.

Performance and Hardware

I was warned that Enscape 2.0 introduce a higher demand on GPU performance due to better visual quality. This may make it necessary to go one step left on the performance slider (e.g. high instead of Ultra) to get the same result and speed than in an older version. Lighting calculation starts at medium and will be quite demanding. “LOW” should be renamed to draft mode because that is what it is. If there are no artificial lights in the project, this is good for a quick walkthrough. My main workstation is a Metabox with a 980GTX graphics card, and I did notice some slowdown when setting Rendering Quality to Ultra. You may have to experiment with your own machine, depending on how good your graphics card is. Just turn the quality slider down a bit to get to the performance that you need.

Also, I have it on good authority that better Performance will be available in a hotfix soon.

Complete List of New Features in Enscape 2.0 for Revit and Sketchup

Here is a complete list of new features and changes made in development of version 2:

  • Design tweaks for SketchUp lights window
  • Option to disable grass
  • Replace the ugliest trees
  • Change light icon for Sketchup
  • Implement better realtime DOF (depth of field) method
  • Support artificial lights
  • Use new icons
  • better rendering quality
  • Don’t replace 3D+ RPCs with imposters
  • Mini Map
  • Compass
  • Orbiting global AABB
  • Support Skatter Plug-in
  • Adapt API for Revit 2018
  • Independent resolution for panorama & video
  • Sketchup: Export billboards
  • Setting to control the lensflare
  • Decouple roughness from alpha
  • Cancel video/pano/screenshot with ESC
  • Contrails
  • Grass rendering

Official Links

Enscape 2.0 has now shipped, you can read the official post here.

The 2.0 update release video is here:

You can get version 2.0 from this page.  It is a 177mb download, and it supports Revit 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018.

If you are getting into Enscape, the community forum is well worth a look.

Some Tips

  • Try using White Mode with Outlines and Architectural Two-Point Perspective
  • Also try only using about 5% of Outline slider to see how it makes detail stand out

A Story

Recently, I was working as Construction BIM Manager on a significant health project.  We worked on the coordination of a very complicated operating theatre fitout with very limited area for services. Architectural elements had been modeled for coordination purposes only, but definitely not for presentation.  I was asked to try and quickly produce some images for a media release, and I immediately thought of Enscape. Would it be able to produce something convincing, even though we had no real entourage or materials applied? Below is the result achieved in just a few minutes:

I enjoyed using the white mode as it meant I did not have to spend a lot of time putting materials into the model.  To see how this looks with grass and trees, I used similar settings on the sample commercial Architectural Revit project. The image has so much life and range, and it required almost no work at all to produce:

Conclusion

With Version 2.0, Enscape has taken a big step towards exceptional visual quality and realism. Both the Revit and SketchUp versions are updated so no matter which program you currently use, the new features are now available. I hope you enjoy trying out the new version!

I’m excited to share this release with you, because it has some amazing improvements. Here are my top 3 new features:

  1. Visibility control of Linked Models. Basically, you can now turn individual models on and off like you would in Glue or Navisworks, and you can override colours! Those colour overrides can be saved into a viewpoint or issue. This is a massive enhancement.
  2. Phases Support like Revit. There are some really nice visual effects possible, now that Revizto can show you Existing and subsequent phases, along with various phase filters. This opens up a range of new possibilities for sharing and discussing work in and around existing buildings. You can now ‘markup’ a demolition phase directly in the model, and assign issues to get items resolved quicker.
  3. Clickable Links on Sheets. For sheets you export from Revit, you can now immediately jump to the related views by using the view symbol hyperlink, just like you would in Revit.

As you can see, the integration with Revit is getting tighter. This means Revizto is now even stronger for fully in-house review workflows, like model review and drawing markup within an Architectural firm. Of course, Revizto remains my favourite way to handle coordination for large multi-discipline teams, whether that be design coordination or services coordination tasks.

This image shows how you use the new Objects dialog to select ‘Links’ and then override the colours and visibility of each linked model:

What’s new in Revizto 4.4 release:
– Ability to color code links, categories and levels. New “Objects” dialog.
Visibility control of linked models and individual objects.
Phases support from Revit.
– Tag management system for the Issue Tracker.
– Clickable links on sheets.
– Console app for getting XLS reports from the Issue Tracker.
– Ability to attach new file formats to issues. The complete list of supported formats: pdf, txt, csv, xls, xlsx, doc, docx, jpg, png.
– Interface improvement. 3D tab: reconfigured toolbar.
– Brand new installer. Minor updates will come through as patches, containing only the differences and therefore being much less in size.
– Rhino support (direct plugin in Rhino).

Here is a direct link to the release build, or you can download from here:

https://storage.googleapis.com/builds.revizto.com/MSI/Revizto(x64)-4.4.39337.msi

Here is the release video, which goes over the new features:

While I’m at it, here are the resources from my BILT session on Revizto, which included a preview of 4.4:

BILTANZ2017 Revizto Handout

BILTANZ2017 Revizto Presentation

BILTANZ2017 Keynote Presentation

Good Revit Content management does not come immediately or without forethought. Unifi are giving you another chance to review some best-practice content management principles at an upcoming webinar. It should be very interesting to hear about some of the productivity and functionality improvements that are becoming available to allow you to manage your BIM content more effectively.


Update:


Register at this link

Here are some of the things that will be discussed:

  • Hidden power of saved searches
  • Batch tag editing
  • Batch Inserting
  • Schedule / Details / System families support
  • “Clone” wars – Cloning or copying content from 3rd parties
  • Multi-format support sneak peek!
  • Customize your UNIFI experience
  • Stump the pros – trying to do something unique with UNIFI? ask away and they will answer your questions live…

You can send in a suggestion at support@unifilabs.com

More about Unifi at this link

Sometimes you will want to duplicate a Revizto project, perhaps for archive or testing purposes, or to re-share it with a new team. This post shows you how to do it quickly and properly.

Here’s how:

  1. Start Revizto
  2. Load Full Cache by clicking Edit, then the yellow hamburger:
  3. Double-click to Open the Project
  4. Click Project and Save As
  5. Give it a new name
  6. If you want it to be a cloud project, you now need to Sync it to the cloud now. Currently it is just stored on your machine and the issue ids will not have populated. Just press Share, and then hit the Upload button at the bottom of that screen

That’s it, you now have a full copy of all 2D, 3D and issue information from the original Revizto project. You will have to invite new users to this project if you want them to be able to collaborate. Your existing project and users will be unaffected.

Archvision have a new beta 3D RPC creator service available. You can upload a 3D file and the service will generate a 3D RPC. Place this in the correct location, and you can use that RPC directly in Revit.

Prepare an obj file following these steps.

  1. Just head over to http://labs.archvision.com/ and login with your Archvision account details.
  2. Then you should be able to access the ‘Creator’ at https://creator.archvision.com/
  3. Hit Create RPC
  4. Fill out the fields and hit Create

There are a few more steps from here, but I will refer you to this page that will give you more details.

Basically, you will need to consider the detail and quality of your content, as well as its purpose. Do I have highly detailed content that I want to render? The above will likely be quicker than modelling in vanilla Revit family geometry, and the result will be lightweight. However, aside from overall size it will be more difficult to handle any kind of parametric modification of the content.

Enscape is continuing to develop new and amazing ways to quickly visualise and present your Revit model… and now, your Sketchup models too. I will cover both of these below…

1) A quick look at the Enscape Sketchup Extension
Sketchup is still a solid workhorse in a lot of firms, as it is almost too easy to use. Some architects immediately feel comfortable using Sketchup, where Revit has a bit of a steeper learning curve. Personally, I hope to see more designers moving into Revit for early concept design with massing or adaptive components or Dynamo, but in the meantime there are plenty of people out there building really nice models in Sketchup. Which is why Enscape is releasing this Extension, I suppose!

After installing the Enscape extension for Sketchup (you can see some tips on how to do this at the end of the post), you will probably want to immediately start tweaking settings. As with Revit, you can have the Sketchup window, Enscape window, and Enscape settings all open and ‘live’ at the same time. For some reason, Enscape started with maximum bloom and extremely warm colour temperature, but after tweaking that a bit it started to look really nice as usual:

As Sketchup models are quite light compared to Revit, I was able to run on Ultra settings and the experience was smooth (helps to have a Metabox in this situation of course). Overall, the Experience of using the Extension for Sketchup is almost identical to the Revit plugin implementation, which is great.

You can achieve a really interesting result just by playing with the time of day and the sky orb brightness:

Which leads me to the new features..

2) Enscape 1.9 Platform Updates and Updates for Revit
One of the biggest updates in this latest version is that now Revit Decals are supported. As you probably know, a Revit Decal is basically a flat item that gets stuck onto a flat surface like a Wall. From there, you can pick an image and set the size. Now that Enscape supports this, it is much easier to do things like customised signage, and it can be done very quickly and photorealistically. Previously, I had a challenging workaround through custom RPC, but the support of Decals should make this process much easier for flat elements.

Enscape now also has Oculus Touch support, along with a handy heads-up display when you look at the controls in VR:

Further, more support for Glass and Glazing materials has been added. Essentially, Enscape is working to support every applicable material property from Revit, which is great.

A couple of other things:

  • you can set the frames per second on exported video
  • you can ‘move’ the clouds to really get your scene looking just right
  • you can modify the brightness of Sun, Moon and Stars. It is seriously impressive to set the time to night, and then boost the stars right up. It is quite beautiful 🙂

More details on the 1.9 release:
https://enscape3d.com/version-1-9/

Preview releases for Revit and Sketchup addins are available at:
https://enscape3d.com/preview

You can download Enscape at:
https://enscape3d.com/downloads/

The extensions page is at:
https://extensions.sketchup.com/en/content/enscape-rendering-sketchup

Here is a video that summarises the updates in 1.9:

Check out this video of the Sketchup plugin in action:

Sketchup Installation 
Here is how you can manually the install Enscape Plugin for Sketchup:
1) Download the .rbz file (currently from the Preview / Alpha page). I’m currently using
enscape-1.9.0.403-g355786d.rbz

2) Go to the Extension Manager in Sketchup

3) Choose Install Extension and pick the rbz file

 

4) Accept the prompts

 

5) You might have to restart Sketchup. Then you should be able to start Enscape from the Extensions menu:

You can read my previous detailed review of Enscape here:
Learn How To Completely Revolutionize Your Revit Presentation Capability In This Enscape Review

Every now and then, you come across a software product that makes complete and absolute sense. As a Revit professional, I have spent a lot of time learning how to use Revit: how to play by the rules, and also when to bend them. With all my Revit experience, I recognise that there are some things that just don’t quite work perfectly in Revit. One of these is the rendering and material management process.

Over the years, I have seen rendering in Revit come a long way. You may remember the complete re-tooling of the Material management system a few years back? But even in 2016 and 2017, it is still a time-consuming process that requires a lot of tweaking. Having to wait each time for the result, then tweak settings, then wait again… well, we just don’t have time for that in today’s world, right?

That is why we have seen a huge increase in the amount of ‘real-time’ rendering tools and engines for Revit and BIM. But the one real-time rendering tool that really makes complete sense for Revit, is Enscape.

If you haven’t heard of it before, here is a quick overview of what it is and how it works…

RIBBON.png
Enscape Ribbon

Overview
Basically, Enscape is a real-time rendering engine for Revit. It understands lighting and materials, and enables a plethora of visual effects. To use it, you simply open your Revit model, and literally just press the Enscape Start button. It will rapidly export the selected 3D scene view to a new Enscape window, and you will be able to walk around in a rendered environment using the default settings.

The first moment you see it in action is really jaw-dropping. Just how fast and smooth it is to go from a drab Revit coordination and documentation environment, to this bright and colourful, photorealistic world – it is something you really need to see with your own eyes. But, the ‘wow’ moment is really just the beginning…

first%2Bimage.png

You see, Enscape maintains a live link to the current Revit session. So whatever changes you make in Revit, are then quickly visible in Enscape. Want to change the color of the walls? Just modify the material (Appearance Asset) in Revit, and watch as the color changes in the rendered view. Are you working on an interior furniture layout? Well, open a plan view in Revit and start nudging the furniture around with the arrow keys… then observe the furniture move in the rendered Enscape window! As I said, for rapid material and modelling iterations, Enscape simply makes complete sense.

Also, any changes you make to the Enscape Settings are applied immediately to the live Enscape window. You can apply and remove visual effects, modify the lighting, colour, bloom effects, depth of field, clouds and so on without ever really having to wait for a lengthy render process. Once you have the desired settings, you can save that as a profile for use on any future projects.

Of course, if you are ever involved with briefing clients and communicating design intent, you are probably already starting to perceive the potential of Enscape. When you start to look around at its overall capability in more detail, you will understand the new power that Enscape puts into your dusty Revit hands.

Getting Started
To launch Enscape, you can’t have a Perspective view as the current view in Revit. This is a Revit API limitation. So, you should go to a Drafting View or a Floor Plan view, and then select the desired ‘launch’ 3D view from the drop-down list on the Enscape ribbon. Then, press Start…

You should review the HUD (heads up display), which shows you the basic WASD navigation method (very familiar if you are a PC gamer). Left mouse button and drag changes view direction, right mouse button and drag changes the time of day…

Tip: hold down Shift to walk faster

navigation.png

Now, let’s see what Enscape can do!

1) Virtual Reality
I put this item first partly because of the current hype around VR, and also because at Virtual Built it was one of the main reasons we started using Enscape on real projects. We experimented with a lot of tools that allowed varying types and degrees of virtual reality experience, and we also looked at the whole pipeline – the process of taking Revit data, exporting it to some other platform, playing with lights, materials, content and so on, and finally generating or simulating the model in virtual reality.

In the end, we found a lot of the alternatives left something to be desired. Primarily, we wanted something that required minimal re-work outside of Revit, and also that created real-time virtual reality (not static panoramas). And we were really pleased with the workflow and experience of using Enscape. The image below is taken from a real client presentation that we delivered during an important function for one of the top building companies in our state:

WP_20161201_17_36_10_Rich_LI.jpg

The Virtual Built Enscape VR Kit

Live VR Mode
The VR experience in Enscape is started in the same way as the normal windowed mode, you just need to press the Enable on the VR Headset pane. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are now both supported, and at Virtual Built we have had good results with both devices.

vrEnable.png

With the Oculus Rift and gamepad navigation, the experience is very ‘easy’, for want of a better word. You can quickly explain the basic mechanics to a new users, and then allow them to navigate the rendered VR model. Depending how you want to implement this, you may also then need someone to drive the Revit session at the same time. You can have the Revit user modifying materials and furniture layouts, while the Client is experiencing all of these changes in a human-scale, immersive environment. Trust me, it is pretty revolutionary… It was this experience which partly led to the title of this review.

Here are a few other ways to integrate Enscape into a VR workflow, such as with Google Cardboard devices and easy sharing to mobile phones…

1a) Exporting and Uploading a Stereoscopic Panorama from Enscape (VR View)

  1. Start Enscape and set your viewpoint at the desired panorama location
  2. On the Revit Enscape Ribbon, use the “Take Panorama (Stereo)” option

    1%2Btake%2Bpanorama.png

  3. Wait for the Export to finish

    2%2Bwait%2Brender.png

  4. Then use the My Panoramas button to see the completed Render
  5. Click on the cloud to upload the panorama
  6. Then click to view the panorama online

    3%2Bview%2Bpanoramas.png

  7. You can share using the QR code

    upload%2Band%2Bview.png

Here is an example panorama:
http://panorama.enscape3d.com/view/lcdszxzq/

1b) Viewing a Live Stereo Render
Just tick the Stereo setting…

viewing%2Bin%2Bstereo.png

2) Effects Settings in Enscape
Enscape includes a range of effects that are useful for architectural presentations, including PaperModel (think sketch pen style) and a true Architectural ‘Two Point Perspective’, where vertical edges are always vertical.

The effects in Enscape are mainly controlled on the General and Image tabs of the Enscape settings dialog. Below I show an example of each of the main effects.

1default.png

Default

 

2paper.png

Paper Model

 

3poly.png

Polystyrol

 

4%2B2pt.png

Two Point Perspective

 

5%2Bdepth.png

Depth of Field

 

6%2Bglobal.png

Global Illumination OFF

 

7%2Bultra.png

Ultra Quality

 

8%2Bsaturate.png

Saturation 150%

 

9%2Bwarm.png

Color Temperature – warmest

 

10%2Bbloom.png

Bloom effect

 

5%2Blight%2Bview.png

Light (intensity) View

 

12%2Bimage%2BsunShadow%2Bcontrast.png

Sun vs Shadow Contrast – maximum

As you can see, while the Default settings look good, there is a lot of flexibility and room for experimentation. Because the changes are seen in real-time, you can do small tweaks and see the results immediately, meaning you can more quickly achieve the specific look-and-feel you want for your current design.

3) RPC
Enscape now supports rich photo realistic content (RPC), including custom content built using Archvision tools. This essentially opens up a lot of potential for rapid creation of RPC for use in your Revit and Enscape scenes.

Tip: keep in mind that 2D RPC will tend to look a little strange in Enscape when you move up close and pass by on one side of it…

Here is a quick overview on getting the RPC into your Revit and Enscape scene:

process.png

Read my previous post about it here:
Turn Any Photo Into Enscape Content In a Matter of Minutes

Tip: Make an Enscape View Template to quickly share your 3D view settings to different viewpoints in Revit

4) Output Options
There are a host of new ways to export your presentations once you begin to adopt Enscape into your workflow. Above we have already discussed:

  • simple navigation (view still images, and move around your model in real time)
  • Virtual Reality panorama image export and upload, and the
  • Live VR experience.

There are many others, such as:

  • Export still image (default hotkey is Shift+F11) as file, or to a Revit Rendering view in the Revit file
  • Export to EXE – a standalone viewer for the current project that you can share with clients

    EXE.png

  • Save Perspective viewpoint to Revit session

    revit%2Bview.png

    createv.png

  • Export video (set Start and End frames, then Export to video file)

    video%2Boptions.png

    Setup video

Personally, I suggest you start with the basic desktop Enscape interface, and get comfortable navigating around and showing your Revit model to others around you. Then, you can naturally grow in your Enscape knowledge and explore more of the settings and output options. It really can give you a clear edge over some of your competitors, particularly in design- and presentation-focused fields such as Architecture studies or high end Design Competitions.

5) Updating Enscape
Enscape has an auto-update feature that will open a dialog when you first start Revit, and then prompt you to download the update through the browser.

182.png

You can also manually check for updates from the About dialog box:

UPDATE-ABOUT.png

Note: this review was prepared using Enscape 1.8.2.

Final Thoughts
At Virtual Built, we have started to explore the use of Enscape on a variety of projects. It is a great tool for real-time immersive VR presentations, and it maintains a very strong link to the Revit environment. For that reason it is not a disconnected endpoint, but an extension of the familiar Revit BIM environment… that gives you new and impressive ways to present and share your designs.

Due to its speed and ease of use, you will be able to test it out quickly on a few projects and experience that initial ‘wow’ factor. From there, I hope you will start to see how it really can revolutionize your Revit presentation capability, taking you to the next level of beautiful Revit artistry.

I hope you enjoy trying out Enscape, and feel free to reply here with your thoughts 🙂

How To Get It
Go to this link to get access to a 14 day Enscape trial

————————————————–

Other Links
Check out some of the LinkedIn posts about Enscape from Phil Read, like this one:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/enscape-update-youre-using-revit-only-makes-sense-use-phil-read

How to Make Custom RPC with Archvision:
RAAS Cloud Rendering

More example images
Below I show some more examples of each of the main effects.

1%2Bdefault.png

Default Settings

 

2%2Bpaper%2Bmodel.png

Paper Model

 

3%2Bpolystyrol%255D.png

Polystyrol

 

4%2Btwo%2Bpoint.png

Two Point Perspective

 

5%2Blight%2Bview.png

Light (intensity) View

 

6%2Bdepth%2Bof%2Bfield.png

Depth of Field (far objects out of focus)

 

7%2Bglobal%2Billumination%2BOFF.png

Global Illumination OFF

 

8%2Bultra%2Bquality.png

Ultra Quality

 

9%2Bimage%2Boversaturate.png

Saturation 200%

 

10%2Bimage%2Bcolor%2Btemperature%2Bwarm.

Color Temperature – warmest

 

11%2Bimage%2Bbloom.png

Bloom effect

 

12%2Bimage%2BsunShadow%2Bcontrast.png

Sun vs Shadow Contrast – maximum

Design is a funny thing. The word itself carries a certain weight, it is somehow deliberate and exciting at the same time. Yet, so often design is let down by the poor translation or communication of ideas. You may have an excellent ‘design’ in your mind, but displaying or presenting that to a client is an entirely different matter. Every designer faces the same challenge of communicating their design ideas in a thoroughly engaging way: whether the communication be to their clients, other stakeholders or even as part of their own internal design process.

This is a site about Revit, but this article is about discovering new possibilities, new ways to express your design, new ways to add context, realism and reality. It is also about a powerful piece of software called Lumion a design communication tool that I personally use and have used for quite a few years. Thecombination of Revit and Lumion give architects a complete toolkit for modeling, understanding, sharing, adjusting and presenting their design.

So, what is Lumion? Recently, I was speaking to the Chief Operating Officer of Act3D, (the parent company of Lumion), Roger Hammond. He told a me a very heartening story about the development of this piece of software…

Often we don’t immediately recognise the full potential of a new, beautiful idea. Roger describes that Lumion was initially designed to be a powerful presentation tool, but Architects soon discovered that it can also shift the way they design in very positive ways. He describes how a new user of Lumion can easily get comfortable with the basic concepts of the software, even those who are not ‘technical’ or especially comfortable with computers. Yet, once they start using Lumion, they get to grips with it easily and quickly learn to iterate design changes and brief clients more rapidly and smoothly. Lumion gives a certain realism and context to your design that can assist you to modify and improve the design internally, before it is even time to present it to anyone.

We often become so used to a way of working that we almost feel like there is no other way, or that perhaps we already have the best way. Yet, if that were true, innovation would not be a reality. Sometime, disruption is necessary. So if you have an established way of designing and communicating, take this opportunity to reevaluate as I review Lumion.

The user interface itself is nice and clean and easy to read and understand. As someone used to complicated programs like Revit and AutoCAD, this is a welcome breath of fresh air to me. Rather than present you with an overwhelming and detailed set of buttons, Lumion allows you to progress your digital presentation in stages, from Building to Materials and Lighting and Presenting and so on.

Lumion – A User Interface For Designers

In this way, the development of your design and your presentation output can be very logical and layered. You can import your design from a variety of different programs and platforms (like Sketchup and ArchiCAD, not just Revit), and once imported you can add people, trees, and soft and hard landscaping. You can sculpt the site topography and add water and grass areas. Once you feelcomfortable, you can dig deeper, modify lighting, adjust materials, add special effects, work on camera angles…

And finally, you can display your design in some truly simple yet beautiful and intuitive ways. The key thing is not to be afraid. You can’t break things in Lumion, it is not a imposing or complicated environment. Navigation is straightforward, nothing is very complicated. As you use it, extra functionality will reveal itself. It is a tool that has been built for designers, and its development has been shaped by their feedback. Roger recalls that it is not uncommon for users to say that Lumion has changed my business”, and there are plenty of ‘wow’ moments. For example you can add the ocean to your scene with just one click…

We have experienced this realisation at Virtual Built. Recently, we have been demonstrating Virtual Reality tools to our clients. However, in some programs it can be difficult to populate a scene quickly and then output to a suitable VR platform. This is not the case in Lumion, as the included content means you can get upandrunning quickly. If you have a few basic building models, you can add site context and a few nice little details like a truck or a crane to create a site utilisation model, and then output to a number of different VR panoramic formats.

I have been using Lumion over a number of years and different versions, so I was excited to see theupdates and new features available in Lumion 7. The major new features are listed below, and we will dig into each feature and uncover the new opportunities they present.

Lumion 7 New Features
OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an online resource that stores 3D building models along with map information like roads and water areas. In the past, I have used many methods to try to get a locality plan or model created, and it can be quite clunky and challenging. However, in Lumion 7, this is now completely automated. Using the OpenStreetMap import, in just a few minutes you can have a realistic map in Lumion to locate your building models, and it will even have adjacent 3D building models as well! It will automatically ‘cut out’ your own building model from the OSM data. The OSM function in Lumion 7 is still Beta functionality, but it can already be very useful to quickly add context or a background to your design.

To get started with OSM in Lumion, just:

  1. Start Landscape mode (left side flyout menu) and turn the OSM switch ‘On’

    OpenStreetMap Switch
  2. Click the Longitude / Latitude area to bring up a searchable map
  3. Search for your location

    Location Search
  4. Set the import Range and press Download

Tip: hold Shift + Spacebar and use arrow keys to move quickly on large sites

Check out this page for more information on OpenStreetMap and Lumion.

New Features for Weathering and Foliage
Building models sometimes appear ‘flat’ due to the way various platforms handle materials. However, in Lumion 7 you can now remove the coldness of computergenerated imagery by seeking out edges, roughness and other properties of natural materials to make them look like they’ve been around a while. My associate here at Virtual Built, Michael Clothier, recently used this to add realism to an important theatre building in Adelaide that is currently under construction.

You can also cover models with leaves or add weathering, ageing and transparency. Even transform any object into thousands of leaves or add ivy to a wall… These tools are implemented through the Material Editor, so the workflow is logical but the effect is quite impressive indeed.

Here are some examples:

Boardroom

 

 
Pool Villa

To get started with these tools:

  1. Enter the Material editor
  2. Select a object to change
  3. Set a Material from the Lumion Library, and doubleclick on it
  4. In the editing pane, you will find the tools on the right…

    foliage_weathering.png

  5. Then, simply drag the sliders until you have the desired look and feel


Light strips

Sometimes, the available Lighting tools in presentation software can be quite limiting. Happily, in Lumion7 you can now add light strips or area lighting, meaning you can go beyond simply ‘spot lights’. I really enjoy adding these new lights, because as usual they can be edited with sliders, and you can view theeffect in realtime… there is no need to wait for a lengthy rendering and then realise the lights were switched off 🙂

To get started with the new Light types, open the Object pane:

lights.png

Then select the Area Lights tab:

line%2Blight.png

Place the light and then modify the sliders until you have the desired effect:

MyLumion
You can use Lumion to share a navigable panorama to anyone who owns a smartphone. It is incredibly simple and powerful and is one of the features I hinted at earlier in the article. It is something that allows you to put your design on display in a new way, and get valuable client feedback and engagement. Then, you can quickly iterate the design and send them a new link.

We have used this to create sets of views for various stakeholders, but the key thing is really how easy and quick it is. You don’t have to print something or even save an image and find it on your hard disk. You can do all of this creation and sharing in just a few clicks. We have found it to be a real gamechanger.

You can view a basic demo of the technology from one of my sandbox projects here.

Summary
There is no software program available that can automatically interpret a client’s design brief, provide suitable visualisations, interpret client feedback, and iterate this process while learning at each step. A good Designer can do this. But with the right tools, parts of that process become much easier. As a designer, you will be able to interpret the brief and interpret client feedback. With Lumion, you can quickly and easily present your design, in context, and in a multitude of rich, realistic, immersive ways. By thus improving the way you communicate and iterate your designs, you designs themselves will improve. And your client satisfaction level will soar…

So I recommend that you give Lumion a try. And be ready to be surprised 🙂

You can also check out my previous reviews at:
Lumion 5
Lumion 6.3

Lumion 7 Webinar:
https://youtu.be/jFgjIjuE1U4

More information on the new features: https://lumion3d.com/whatsnew.html

Update Note: Lumion 7.0.1 has now been released, you can read more at this page

Guide 1: Using Lumion in Virtual Reality Workflows
Lumion VR
Lumion VR viewer is no longer supported, instead you can render static images for viewing on a variety of VR platforms. I will provide some notes on how you can do this below.

vr-settings.png

Using A Mobile App like PlainVR
Here’s how:

  1. Render VR Panorama images (these will be 360 degree jpg files). You can use default 64mm eye to eye and 360 slices
  2. Upload those to a photo sharing service
  3. Get the direct HTTP image link
  4. Copy and paste that into the QR generator at http://vr.plainconcepts.com/ and click “Generate”
  5. Install PlainVR app on your phone or tablet
  6. Scan the QR code from the app

 

vrt.jpg

Photo: Virtual Built Pty Ltd using Lumion VR to PlainVR for builders in a Revit training session

Embedding VR to a Website with VR View
Google has kindly provided a web service for rendering images in VR, its called VR View. After creating your stereoscopic image, you can follow these steps to embed it into your site:

  1. Upload to a photosharing site (like imgur)
  2. Input code like this to your site:
    vrviewcode.png
  3. Publish and view on web browser or mobile device

Here is an example for you to look at…

http://wrw.is/p/vr-view.html

Note: in Blogger, after you add an ampersand character to the code, it converts it to some other characters. basically, you can’t ‘edit’ after you input the code, if you publish it directly it won’t replace to & and it works…

Using Oculus with Lumion
To do this:

  1. Render a 360 jpg file from Lumion then
  2. View it in a panorama viewing app, such as Oculus Photos
 

How To View On Oculus Rift on Vimeo

Note: You can use a Oculus DK2 with an Xbox controller instead of an Oculus Remote. Typically use theA button to select what you are looking at.

Guide 2: Layers
Did you know you can easily move objects between layers?

  1. Activate Select mode
  2. Select Objects
  3. Activate the Target Layer
  4. Hover on the layer
  5. Use the up arrow that appears

More info: https://forum.lumion3d.com/generaldiscussion/howtomoveobjecttolayer/

Guide 3: Installation and Links
If you would like to get started using Lumion, here are some steps to get you started quickly:

step1.png Verify your computer
Click here to see if your PC is suitable for Lumion
Click here to see the general system requirements for Lumion.
Click here to install the latest graphics card software and all available Windows updates.
step2.png Get the download manager
You will get a special email that lets you download the software…
Lumion 7 Viewer will be released later. An update email with download information will be sent as soon as the viewer is released
step3.png Download Lumion
Doubleclick on the Download Manager to run it.
Follow the instructions to install Lumion. Click here if you have any problems.
step4.png Register your license
You can register your License Key to a forum account.
You can now get technical support on the Lumion Support Forum
step5.png Get started
Congratulations! You are now ready to start Lumion for the first time.
Click here to learn how to get the most out of Lumion.

If you view a lot of IFC files in Tekla BIMsight, you may find that the cache or storage folder fills up quite quickly. If this is in its default location of %localappdata%TeklaTekla BIMsight then you could use up valuable space on your SSD.

We can easily move this folder using symbolic links. In the script below, we:

  • check the default directory exists, and if so rename it
  • make a symbolic link to a new target directory, in this case I have used E:TeklaBimSight
  • make the new directory if necessary
  • copy existing contents to the new directory

To use the script:

  1. Close Tekla BIMsight
  2. Copy text from the script into Notepad and save as CMD. Modify the target directory to your preference
  3. Save the script with CMD extension
  4. Right click and Run As Administrator
  5. Open BIMsight and confirm all is working ok
  6. Optional: delete the bimsight.old directory to cleanup
if exist "%localappdata%\Tekla\Tekla BIMsight" rename "%localappdata%\Tekla\Tekla BIMsight" bimsight.old
mklink /d "%localappdata%\Tekla\Tekla BIMsight" E:\TeklaBimSight
if not exist E:\TeklaBimSight MD E:\TeklaBimSight
robocopy /mir %localappdata%\Teklabimsight.old E:\TeklaBimSight\

BIMSIGHT.png