A couple of days ago I was considering how Architects design, and how their processes can be very detailed and effective, and yet those ideas are often presented in somewhat traditional ways: like a binder full of prototypes and design ideas that lead to the ultimate solution of a specific design challenge. During this particular introspection, I came up with the term “Digital Prototyping Framework”. Let’s call it DPF, because what we need are more acronyms in the AEC industry.

In all seriousness, I believe I have come up with a term that describes a new era in collaborative and cloud based design platforms. The term “digital prototyping” already exists, it refers a way of doing things that gives conceptual design, engineering, manufacturing, and sales and marketing departments the ability to virtually explore a complete product before it’s built. Industrial designers, manufacturers, and engineers use Digital Prototyping to design , iterate, optimize, validate, and visualize their products digitally throughout the product development process.

The concept of frameworks in software design is also well known, referring to something that provides a standard way to build and deploy applications. A software framework is a universal, reusable software environment that provides particular functionality…

By combining the idea of Digital Prototyping with Frameworks, I’m describing a tool or set of tools that empowers you to design, iterate, optimize, validate, and visualize in a standard environment that provides particular functionality.

The best example of a Digital Prototyping Framework that I’m aware of at the moment is Revizto. It provides a standard and consistent environment where design and feasibility studies may be recorded, discussed and reviewed. It combines 2D and 3D context, along with other technologies that provide high-value context to design tasks. It allows direct integration with reality capture and meshed photogrammetry, along with the ability to attach other data types to design nodes (referred to as “issues”).

Digital Prototyping Frameworks facilitate knowledge sharing and distributed design efforts, as the design process is fully exposed and transparent to those invited to the framework. The environment becomes familiar, and interactions are increasingly focused on design and ideation, rather than becoming distracted by technological barriers to design.

What is a Digital Prototyping Framework?

A tool or set of tools that empowers you to design, iterate, optimize, validate, and visualize in a standard environment that provides particular functionality, while providing access to contextual and historical data.

Why did I invent this term?

I hate the term “digital twin”. I think it is simplistic and does not describe anything useful about underlying processes and workflows. It implies “identicalness” between the physical and digital world, which is a grossly juvenile comprehension of potentially deep and complicated differences between something that is physically real and something that is not.

I believe we need some new terminology to describe new ways of working. BIM and VDC are some of these terms, but a DPF is part of how we connect BIM with VDC.

An example of a DPF in use:

Michael Clothier from Virtual Built Technology worked with Bronte Modra from Specialised Solutions to prototype and visualise the work required to install “anti throw” screens on a bridge in our local area. They combined reality capture information with physical models in the Revizto collaborative visualisation environment, and it was used as a DPF to describe both the design and the installation process.

Read more about it here.

I’ve recently had the chance to put the new Lumion 9 through it’s paces.

Why Lumion

At Virtual Built Technology amongst the many BIM services we offer, we also create construction visualisations and animations.

Virtual Built Construction Animations

This video is a mashup of various Construction Animations we’ve done over time. Contact us for more information: virtualbuilt.com.au

A Demo Reel / Mashup of some recent work…

Over the years we’ve played with many software solutions to get the kind of results our clients are after. Each time we do this kind of work it’s slightly different, either a client will require something different, there’s all sorts of budgets, a client might want to focus on a specific area, and what we can get our hands on in terms of models etc, is always different. In the past we’d model in Revit and Sketchup, federate and visualise in Navisworks or 3DS Max, animate in Navisworks or 3DS Max and then post production in iMovie or Motion and Final Cut. A complex high end animation, might see us jump in and out of several different applications several times over before completion.

However, since Lumion has come along, we’ve been able to significantly increase our output by simplifying the often many different steps we’d need to take. And whilst it isn’t quite a one stop shop, it is definitely made life a lot easier.

How we use Lumion

Firstly we define the clients requirements. Is it just images, or is it an animation? Then we define what are we trying to show in the images or the animation –  Is it the different stages of construction, the site setup, the greater site context (say a busy city street), the architectural finish? The animation might become more complex if there’s something specific that the client wants to demonstrate in detail (say safety, traffic, or a lifting sequence) In this case, we’re not just rigging up a camera, we might also be keying and animating objects.

Lumion is more then capable of all of the above, but more importantly it’s able to do it all with ease. The software is intuitive and simple. And since this type of work is very susceptible to ‘scope creep’, and client whims, this kind of simplicity and ease adds up to hours and hours of time saved.

Building a model (a typical example)

We primarily use Revit for developing a lot of our initial model content. Often we’re able to get our hands on the consultants models (or we build up our own), then we add some context like neighbouring buildings, streets, pathways etc. (Lumion can also do this with OpenStreetMap data) Then we add other content like cranes, concrete pumps, people, fences etc. This particular part requires some thought, because there’s a couple of ways we can arrive at the end result. Firstly Lumion provides a lot of really good content (People, cars, trees, cats, etc) and we can add this in Lumion (saving a few steps in the process), however, there isn’t a lot of “Construction” content or the right content, so we often need to get that elsewhere. Sketchup Warehouse is an example of a good source. Getting content from Sketchup Warehouse, we can either bring it directly into Lumion, or go via Revit into Lumion.

Back in Revit however, we can utilise the LiveSync option to quickly generate content and see it populating Lumion. I’ve created a tutorial of the LiveSync tool below.

Lumion Live Sync

This video is about Lumion Live Sync

In the more complex projects, we will use many 3D views to export different ‘scenes’ to Lumion. With each 3D view’s content being controlled by Worksets or Phases. Lumion has layer control (20 max) that can control the visibility of content. So, the different views in Revit might then correspond with different layers in Lumion.

The layer manager is pretty limited however, and one area Lumion could improve on.

Lumion Layer Manager

Lumion also has a feature called Variation Control that allows another layer of management to model variations

This particular feature is great for different phases of the same model. (ie construction phasing) You bring this feature into play particularly when you’re animating a sequence where you want a model to change over time. It is limited a little in its fine tune control, for example you cannot “fade” the different phases in, it’s just one at a time.

Images and Animations

Once my model is sufficiently built up and materials applied we can now begin composing images and animations. Lumion provides three different outputs. Photo, Movie, and feature called 360 Panorama.

Photo

In the Photo tool, you simply navigate your viewing window to a desired location and Store the camera. Then it’s simply a matter of adding a Style or adding various effects. Then hit Render and you’re done… It’s really that simple!

The camera location and Effect is stored, so, as you change your content (at your clients whims) you can very quickly fire off an updated rendering that reflects the changes.

Movie

I’ve created a tutorial on how to create an animation in Lumion.

Lumion Animation

This video is about Lumion Animation

360 Panorama

This tool is great and is something we’re doing more of. It provides something that is a more interactive.

Here’s an example of how it can be used

Lumion 9’s new features

There’s a number of improvements and updates Lumion has made over the previous release. You can see them here.

Lumion 9: New Feature Medley

Lumion 9 is available now! See what’s new here: https://lumion.com/what-s-new.html In this “New Feature Medley,” we’ll quickly walk you through a mix of new features, including: – Automatic file recovery (0:15) – Updated eye-level camera (0:22) – New materials (0:35) – Furry materials (0:46) – New objects (0:55) – Updated cluster mass placement (1:12) – Save groups (1:21) – Updated OpenStreetMap (1:33) – Updated import edges (1:45) Get involved with the Lumion community at https://forum.lumion.com/.

Summary

Lumion is a certainly a fixture in our animation and image rendering workflow. It’s a great tool that has significantly increased our speed and output.

Because the visualisation is so good even in the building/editing environment, we’ve been using it live in client presentations and meetings.

A great product.

One of the many BIM Services we provide at Virtual Built Technology is Construction Animations and Visualisations.

Check out our latest Demo Reel!

Let us know what you think… leave a comment or get in touch info@virtualbuilt.com.au

The Technical Stuff

Some of you may be interested in how we go about producing some of this content. I’ll keep it short and sweet, but you can see some of the programs we use below.

Models:
The actual model content always comes from a variety of different sources, but primarily we produce most of our modelling content in Revit. This is often where we start, where we federate models and develop up a scene.
However, we’re also use prone to using Sketchup, 3DS Max, Meshlab, Reality Capture (Drone captures), Lumion (for content)

Animation and Visualisation:
When we get into animating our scene, we again play with a few different tools. Navisworks is ok for relatively complex scenes, and if you persist with the rather clunky Animator you can get some really cool shots and sequences. The biggest downside with NW is the visualisation department. You can render our the animations, but it’s really intense on your computer…
Navisworks is also good for dealing with construction programs in Primavera or MS Project which although not impossible (with the use of scripts) is difficult in other software.
3DS max is also good for animations, but we’re finding lately that’s it’s a bit overkill for what we need to do, plus there’s quicker and easier solutions.
That brings us to Lumion. Lumion is really great at producing some of this content. However, I’m not going to go into it too much… stay tuned for an upcoming post!

Post Production:
Gone are the days of Windows Movie Maker and iMovie. Most of our content goes into post in Final Cut Pro and Motion. Here we’re slicing up music, adding annotation and text overlays. Here we also can add calendar sliders and other widgets.

Workflow:
As you can see above, we need to use a lot of different applications to get to the result. On some projects we may use several applications several times over to get to the final deliverable. There is a lot to of other things to consider along this journey too… things like file formats, budgets, and timeframes. The biggest thing here then is having a good workflow.

What technology stack should you use when managing and collaborating on a significant and complicated design-build infrastructure project?

Stantec recently shared their workflow on their Ideas website – and it has Revizto right in the middle of it.

Here are a few quotes to get you started:

“The team decided to implement Revizto early in the design phase. It’s an easy-to-use, secure, file-neutral, cloud-based, model-review solution. Model files were published to Revizto, unattended, every night. Each day, the design-build team and Sound Transit could visualize the current design in all areas of the facility. We saw a vast improvement in collaboration and engagement because the model was accessible to anyone, from anywhere, at any time.

Revizto’s issue tracker became a one-stop shop for model-issue and clash management. Typically, a team might use Revitzo to coordinate a single building model. But our team took that a step further by using it for the entire site—multiple buildings, the site, the tracks, and the underground utilities.

This is a process we intend to implement across our suite of transit projects going forward, changing the way we do work by building it into our mindset from the start. By using Revitzo at the very early stages of design, we were able to facilitate a level of teamwork and collaboration that was instrumental in helping us to meet deadlines, stay on track, and stay in lock-step as a project team.

the ability to visualize and identify issues early and across the entire facility saves thousands of dollars in change orders and construction delays.”

Interior of Sound Transit OMF East (image from Stantec post)

Read the whole post at:

https://ideas.stantec.com/design-technology/merging-design-technologies-helps-fast-track-transit-project-in-fast-growing-seattle-area

Over at Virtual Built Technology, we have an aspirational view of our industry – that together, we can arrive at a set of best practice workflows for BIM and VDC projects.

We have been developing and refining our own set of internal workflows for a number of years, and today we would like to start sharing those with the world.

We will periodically post best practice workflows in the Resources menu on our site.

bim and vdc resources

From here you can browse to various resource types, including:

  • Workflows – for workflow documents and flow charts
  • Content – for BIM files like Revit templates and families
  • Automation – for scripts, like Dynamo graphs

The individual resource pages are also fully Disqus comment enabled, so you can start a conversation there. Let us know if you think we are on the right track… or not 🙂

Already, you will find our How to Use a Revit Control File guide, and a script that will automatically create section-boxed 3D views from a Revit Control File.

Also, from anywhere on our website you can immediately contact us using the Intercom badge at the bottom right of the screen – it looks like this:

Click on it anytime and let us know if you have any questions or suggestions, or would like assistance with your BIM and VDC projects.

We look forward to engaging with you soon!


It is extremely easy to reduce the size of a point cloud dataset using Recap. “Decimation” is the process of discarding points from the data to improve performance and reduce disk usage.

With the release of point cloud support in Revizto, you can now bring a point cloud into the Revizto platform in a number of ways:

  • Export from Navisworks
  • Export from Revit
  • Import points directly in RCP or RCS format

Once the reality capture model has been added to Revizto, you sync it to the cloud. From there, you can download and view the point cloud on your iPad, and of course you can start creating issues that relate to the captured condition on site. You can even overlay 2D drawings onto the reality capture data.

The decimation process is very easy :

  1. Open your Recap file (add scans and index first if necessary)
  2. Click Export
  3. Give your file a name

  4. Click the settings button
  5. Move the slider to adjust your point decimation – you might use around 50mm decimation for a lot of site applications.

  6. Save the file

There are other considerations, such as:

  • How can you set up coordinate systems to work with Revit, Navisworks and Revizto?

These will be considered in more detail in another post.

Harlan Brumm recently tweeted about updates to Revit:


Details and direct links related to the above are provided below:

Revit 2018.3.2

Details:

  • includes an update to the product which is needed to maintain access to the following feature after October 31st, for more details refer to Autodesk Knowledge Network:
    • • P&ID Modeler
  • Fixed a security vulnerability in communicating with web services.

 

Revit 2017.2.4

Details:

  • Fixed a security vulnerability in communicating with web services.
  • Upgraded AdWebService to enable alternate user authentication methods.

 

Revit 2019 ?

  • Similar fixes were included in 2019.1 as per this related post

 

In unrelated news, latest Autodesk Desktop Connector can be downloaded at this link

 

Once you start to run more than 4 monitors, most computers start to struggle. So, then you need more computers to have more monitors 🙂 And then, you need to share one keyboard and mouse across multiple computers… so you need a mouse and keyboard sharing utility, that preferably also shares your clipboard.

I just added the 5th monitor to my office setup:

All you need is to install Mouse without Borders on both machines. The utility allows you to use keyboard, mouse and clipboard from one computer on another one.

You can get Mouse without Borders from Microsoft Garage here.

Experienced Navisworks Coordinators typically have a very solid workflow in place for grouping clashes into clash groups. Some prefer to do that part manually (with selection and filters), so they can observe and determine which items should be grouped together. Others will use an auto-grouping tool, like bim42 Group Clashes, or iConstruct.

If you are using iConstruct and you wish to use the Navisworks clash group data downstream, you may wish to preserve existing clash groups at each subsequent clash run, and only group the ‘new ungrouped’ clashes. The bim42 Group Clashes tool has a tickbox for this, and iConstruct 2019 provides a filter. If you are using iConstruct 2018 or older, you may be wondering how to preserve existing clash groups and only “push” the grouping rules for clashes that are currently not grouped.

 

Here’s how:

  1. Run the Clash Manager from iConstruct
  2. Find the list entry without a name
  3. Versions:
    • iConstruct 2019 has a filter for “Show Ungrouped Clashes”
    • iConstruct 2018 – select only the ‘unnamed’ Clash Group: ,
  4. Then click “Create Clash Detective Group”
  5. iConstruct will immediately create the relevant groups from only the ungrouped clashes
  6. You can then go ahead and Sync to Revizto, or use the data downstream in some other workflow

 

Here’s a video from Robert Gadbaw that clearly demonstrates this workflow:

This workflow will allow you to use iConstruct to group your clashes, and preserve those groups when Syncing with Revizto. Revizto has a very solid and customisable connection to Navisworks that includes the ability to sync the clash results with Revizto Issues in both directions.

I’m sure you are aware that intellectually Revit shared coordinates take minutes to explain, but emotionally they take years to master 🙂

I’ve been looking for a way to check and validate coordinates using the Revit API. One method I implemented in VirtualBuiltApp is to gather Grid Intersection coordinates and compare those, but obviously you need a federated model with links to achieve that comparison.

One interesting fact to note is this:

  • two Revit models can Report functionally identical shared coordinates (same translation and true north rotation), and you can still receive “The host model and the link do not share the same coordinate system. Default center-to-center positioning will be used”. hashtag sadface, hashtag why-revit-why

If we put this another way:

  • if two models don’t have some related history (created from the same file), or
  • if Acquire or Publish Coordinates has not occurred between those models, then
  • the Shared Coordinate error will appear — even if they report identical Spot Coordinates and True North Rotation

If you are wondering what the Revit API actually does support in terms of Shared Coordinate setup and validation, here is the best bit of Revit API Shared Coordinates information I can share:

A GUID-based relationship is set up between the files. Setting up the same relationship has been possible via the API via Document.AcquireCoordinates() for a few releases.

With 2018’s SiteLocation.IsCompatibleWith() it is also possible to identify if two coordinate systems are the same.

This is part of a long thread between Dale Bartlett, Jeremy Tammik, and the Revit development team.

Also, keep in mind that BIM 360 Design (Revit Cloud Worksharing) does not support Publish Coordinates. Only Acquire Coordinates can be used in that environment.