Excited about this! Keep in mind that this only operates in a sandbox, testing environment…
Check it out and download at:
Revizto 4.0 Open Beta
And you can discuss on the forum at:
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
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:
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.
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 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
To install the exporter addin:
Export and Import to Lumion:
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:
Use large terrain brush to quickly match Lumion surface with Revit topography:
More information on terrain material and feathering here
Here is a List of File types that can be directly imported to Lumion:
You can use the Camera tool to Store a Camera, and return to that same position later:
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
If you are working on a live, shared, cloud Revizto project, you may wonder how to easily ‘replace’ the entire current model with a fresh version.
Note 1: if you Overwrite model content in Revizto, the Issue Tracker is not affected: Issue list, conversation history and related details are retained.
Here is one way to update the model by replacing with a fresh export:
Note 2: remember you can revert to a previous version with the Cloud Revisions tool
To Merge Projects (add new Models to an existing Cloud model):
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.
AXYZ Press release:
Detail Warehouse on App Store
Get it here:
Detail Warehouse in DWG Format
Tekla has issued an XML file containing preset IFC settings for export 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.
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:
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:
Installing the Main application
Installing the Revit addin
Here are a few notes on how the Lumion license works:
Current hardware list here, minimum details copied below
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:
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.
It is easy to place models, just:
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!
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:
Chauviere from HKS said at one of the above links, “I don’t think many people know or appreciate the hard work behind optimizing 3D objects to low polygon count, and still have them look convincing. The amount of high-quality plants and 3D objects in the Lumion library that can be used is impressive.”
|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:
Summary of each section:
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
You can download the Lumion 5.3 demo for free at http://lumion3d.com/demo/
Note: customers who buy Lumion PRO receive the link to the Lumion viewer (together with their license code and the download manager)
Link to tutorials:
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.
Developments of Lumion over the past 18 months leading up to Lumion 5.3:
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.
“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.
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.
You can view release notes at:
Older shortcuts page:
I previously posted about Lumion at:
What Revit Wants: Real-time visualization with Lumion
If you haven’t seen what it does before, there is a set of videos at this link:
Revit Landscape – Urban Design: Lumion 3D
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.