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%\Tekla\Tekla 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:
Close Tekla BIMsight
Copy text from the script into Notepad and save as CMD. Modify the target directory to your preference
Save the script with CMD extension
Right click and Run As Administrator
Open BIMsight and confirm all is working ok
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\
Attach it to a Linux image in VirtualBox, my settings below:
Depending on your host hardware, you might want to Disable Mouse Integration (little icon at the bottom of the screen), and install an app like Rotation Locker from the Play Store so that you can force the screen rotation to portrait or landscape.
Once installed you should be able to access the Play Store from your Windows PC and install apps into the Android VM:
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.
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
Specific Tips and Workflows
Real World Use
If you want a quick overview of what can be achieved, check out this Showcase page on the Lumion website.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
For Oculus Rift, choose LumionVR to render an LVR file:
You can watch as the renderer works its way through the left eye and right eye:
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.
Basic Use Download and Installation details
Download size: 6.26gb
Installed size: 14.6gb
On first launch, Lumion will benchmark your system so that it can self-configure the best performance settings for your particular hardware.
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:
Specific Tips and Workflows
We allwork 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.”
Archvision has a great reputation for providing quality Entourage RPC content and extensions to Revit, historically to assist you in creating more impressive presentation images and renderings. More recently, they have branched out to focus more on being a BIM content leader, including the development and release of their DETAIL WAREHOUSE app and content. This has been improved with recent updates, including the provision of DWG versions of this detail library.
A couple of months ago, Archvision partnered with AXYZ Design to now provide more high quality 3D people as part of the RPCs available to Archvision users (but purchased under a separate license). The official name of this product is “AXYZ Design 3D Human Characters Collections”.
For more information on the AXYZ partnership, DETAIL WAREHOUSE App Store release, and DWG availability, please see links, images and embedded press releases below.
Tekla has issued an XML file containing preset IFCsettingsforexport to Revit, specifically for Coordination. In some cases, this may already be available on your system, but in other regions you may have to install it manually.
Unzip the XML into this folder on all PC’s running Tekla Structures:
Note: you may need to adjust the above path to suit your Region
Once this file is included in the folder mentioned above it will be available in all projects. When the user goes to File – Export – IFC they will have a pre-saved setting named “RevitCoordination”. The user simply Loads that setting and exports the parts needed.
This “RevitCoordination” setting also is setup to export additional property sets for Design Workflow data that is entered into the member properties (ie. Beam, Column etc.) in Tekla Structures.
In times past, I had this dream that Revit would be the sole answer to every single architectural and modelling question. Due to the proliferation of excellent addins and addons, I now realise that Revit is positioning itself as the operating system of the BIM environment. It has a solid parametric, data and intelligence engine, which can be extended in many ways through the expansive API. One area in which Revit has sometimes wavered is in pure visualization, particularly of the real-time and photorealistic variety. Using RPC and Realistic display modes within Revit can achieve a certain result, but here are some questions:
Is using an additional presentation package, like Lumion, worth it?
Will it result in a better visual result?
Will the performance be acceptable?
I received a review copy of Lumion 5.3, and tested it using Revit 2015 Update 7. As usual, I have reviewed the software, but at the same time I am sharing practical tips and guidance on how to get up and running with Revit and Lumion.
To start with, let’s consider whether Lumion can really add value to your current design and development pipeline. You may be thinking “I don’t have a clue how to make a fly-through animation“, but that is where Lumion lives. It makes it easy for you to take your BIM geometry, and put it into a real, living environment. In a sense, it is a ‘complete’ visual presentation package, as it includes things like environments, backgrounds, materials, weather effects, water, entourage, vehicles, people, trees, landscape, furniture, terrain modelling, and it is all in a package that allows you to modify, manipulate and tweak basically everything in real-time. It has a clean UI and extremely fast rendering capability. For output and deliverables, you can easily export still images or rendered videos of the scenes that you have composed.
You might be thinking “I don’t have time to learn yet another modelling tool“, but if you spend any time at all in post production software like Photoshop, 3ds Max, After Effects or something similar, then Lumion does not represent a steep learning curve. The interface is relatively unobtrusive and simple to understand. The Lumion addin allows for building models to be exported from Revit, but it also allows models to be updated and reloaded into the Lumion scene. As one person put it, “Use Lumion and Revit together and you will enjoy the synergy.”
You can check out a very concise ‘getting started’ style video here:
To put it simply, when you pair a powerful and parametric building design tool like Revit, with a free-flowing, smooth, flexible presentation software like Lumion, you have a very formidable design and presentation pipeline at your disposal. So, let’s learn a bit more about Lumion…
This remainder of the review has been divided into the following 5 sections:
Download, Installation and Deployment
Workflow (BIM friendliness)
Quality of Output
Real-world applications and Case Studies
Download, Installation and Deployment: Installing the Main application
You will receive an activation email, with a unique download link
Download and run the ‘download manager’
Copy the activation code from your email to the download
It will now automatically download Lumion, usually to your Downloads folder (about 4.94gb)
You should copy the installation .exe and .bin files to some safe location – these are what you will use to install Lumion on other PCs
The installer should run automatically – all you need to do is set the install path
Start Menu – Run Lumion 5.3
Agree to the Licence Agreement
Lumion will now run some benchmarks and initialize itself
Once the next screen appears, you will get a ‘system speed’ rating
Note: I was expecting to see a Revit addin automatically installed… but I have since realised that this is an additional step… see below.
Examples of cards with about 2,000 PassMark points: GeForce GTX 745, Quadro K4000M, GeForce GTX 570M or faster.
Harddrive: 20GB of disk space
Using Lumion and Lumion Pro via Remote Desktop or similar virtual desktop solutions is not supported.
Lumion and Lumion Pro require an internet connection.
Workflow (BIM friendliness)
There are a number of ways to move data from Revit to Lumion, such as using DAE format via Exporter, or FBX via built-in export. The dedicated DAE exporter addin from Revit is the recommended method.
The Exporter addin (Revit to Lumion Bridge) works in orthographic 3D views and takes all visibility filters for the view into account. If you try to export from a Perspective view, the Lumion export addin will be disabled. However, in Revit 2015 R2 you can easily convert a Perspective 3D view into an orthographic or Parallel-3D View to allow export to proceed. Here’s how:
Ensure that a Crop Region is applied and Visible, and the view is “unlocked”.
Then, right-click on the View Cube and switch to Parallel-3D view, like this:
Then, run the exporter. The UI is relatively easy to follow:
I tested using ‘normal’ accuracy, and the file size result was like this:
You can then easily open or create a scene in Lumion, and then import the model you just exported from Revit:
Once in Lumion, you can use the WASD keys to walk around, and QE keys to move up and down. If you hold the right mouse button and drag, this will change your view direction. Holding Shift will speed up your movement. It is quite a fluid navigation system. F1/F2/F3/F4 turns shadows on and off and makes other quality vs performance changes.
Click the category (people, transport, landscape etc)
Click Change Object to select desired model
Click to place in the scene
To bring in external models, like DAE or FBX exported from Revit, use the Import models option.
Depending on how your model heights were configured in Revit, you may need to move your model downwards in Lumion. In my case, I had to move the model downwards in the Y-axis by about 150m (yes, Lumion understands the vertical to be the Y axis, not the Z):
To update the model, just re-export the DAE file from Revit. You can reload by: going to Import mode, selecting the spanner for ‘context’ menu, selecting your Model and then clicking on the blue circle, which will open up the context menu with the reload option:
It is interesting to note that even new objects (ie. newly added to the Revit model) that have a Revit material name matching a currently overridden material in Lumion, will then adopt that Lumion material when the import is reloaded. Nice!
There is a brief tutorial video on the Lumion to Revit workflow here:
So, is Lumion able to do anything that Revit can’t do? In a word, yes. For example, it can handle things like sculpting large-scale terrain models very easily, as this demo shows:
Add to that: movie effects, ocean / water, the large model and material libraries, lighting effects, render quality, and the overall ability to transform a scene from a collection of polygons into something that more effectively represents the real world.
The Collada DAE export was very, very fast – under 1 minute for a 150mb Revit model. Accordingly, of all the file types that can be used to get data from Revit to Lumion, I would expect that the recommended and preferred method is via the DAE export in the free addin.
Quality of Output
Lumion is targeted at rapid, real-time, moving animations with models that may also be animated. So the result is usually something that looks very ‘alive’. Coming from an architectural background, you may initially be surprised at the overall ‘look’ of things and you might find it slightly cartoonish. However, I recommend that you give it a try and have a go at tweaking a few of the display settings.
It is very easy to create a flythrough or fly around animation. Just start the movie tool with the film icon, then create a number of keyframes as you would with other animation tools. Then, you can easily export to mp4.
Real-world applications and Case Studies
I tested using a medium rise model:
Once the model was imported, it was very easy to select entire materials and replace them with more appealing versions:
To delete models, you can remove them directly from the library and they will disappear from all scenes that they are currently placed in. However, you can also delete the model only in the scene you are currently working on, and it will remain available in the library for use in other scenes:
Children´s hospital with more than 15,000 plants and trees
Summary of Lumion 5.3
In review, let’s consider some of the questions raised at the beginning:
Q. Is using an additional presentation package, like Lumion, worth it? A. Yes, it would be very difficult for plain Revit to deliver the same speed, quality, and content
Q. Will it result in a better visual result? A. When it comes to real-time scene export, a Lumion visualization can be much more alive and animated than a Revit equivalent. You can also easily deliver your scene as a selection of high quality images, or as a rendered video.
Q. Will the performance be acceptable? A. Yes, provided you have a decent CPU and graphics card (refer to requirements above)
Summary of each section:
Download, Installation and Deployment – 7/10, necessary to manually install addin
Workflow (BIM friendliness) – 8/10, support for updating changed models
Performance – 8/10, much improved in more recent versions and fast export to DAE
Quality of Output – 9/10, smooth and appropriate for the visual style
Real-world applications and Case Studies – 9/10,
(see links above to see how companies are using Lumion)
My overall software score for Lumion 5.3 is 9/10.Its definitely worth a look if you do any kind of presentation work with 3D models!
In a future post, I want to look at the large-model workflow from Infraworks to Lumion via FBX. Other links, tips and resources
If you migrate your work from earlier Lumion versions take into account that the material system has been changed in Lumion 5. This requires you to re-apply the materials to your objects.
If you select option “Skip Interior Details” then these Revit Categories are skipped:
How to delete objects? You delete imported objects by using the Imported Objects Library. It cannot be deleted from the Library if you have a scene open and using that object, so first clear and start a new empty scene.
Then in Build Mode click on Import button –> Change Import Object –> locate your object to delete and doubleclick the Rubbish bin. That will permanently remove the object from the library and the files.
Editorial note: “In the interests of editorial disclosure, I would like to note that this review was completed with some financial consideration from the developers of Lumion. Luke Johnson”
Information related to older versions
I have been familiar with Lumion for some time. A full scale Lumion review has been on my radar for a while, but like anything, it takes time to have a proper look at a piece of software.
My past experiences with Lumion had been hampered by less-than-stellar hardware. You really do need a decent workstation to have a fluid and productive time with Lumion. In my case, my new workstation at Virtual Built has 64gb of RAM, a 6 core (12 hyperthreaded) processor, and a Quadro K4000 video card.
If you want to see a project go from Revit to Lumion (also this thread):
A free version for non-commercial use is available from this page. The free version will apparently be updated to version 2 in January 2012 (only a few days of that month to go…)
The company line:
Lumion® is a real-time 3D visualization tool for architects, urban planners and designers.
It’s perfectly suited for creating videos, still renderings and live demonstrations with a quick turnaround.
Lumion offers excellent graphics in combination with a fast and efficient workflow, saving you time, effort and money.
It is in fact so easy to create awesome still renderings and videos with Lumion® that it almost feels like cheating.