I have spent hours trying to figure out how to take actual camera locations from 123D (Photofly) and get them into Revit as ‘real’ cameras (3D views).  I thought it would be cool to be able to use a real-life camera location in Revit, because then you would already have the existing scenery as a background image (because 123D Catch would have used it in processing the model).  This was partly in response to this comment.

Its easy to export an FBX from 123D Catch, and open that in 3ds Max – you get cameras, yay.  You can use FBXIMPORT in AutoCAD and you get the named views (cameras), yay.

However, I have not been able to find an equivalent process for Revit.  At this point, I have to admit defeat.

My big idea was to convert the FBX into IFC with view information in the schema, and then open that IFC in Revit.  Sadly, I kept coming up against problems.  AutoCAD Architecture can import FBX and then export IFC, but the 3D views do not seem to come through.

One possible workaround would to compose your presentation in Showcase – you can export from Revit to Showcase, and you can also export an FBX from 123D and bring that into Showcase too.  But I want a purely Revit way.

If you have any thoughts on how to make this happen, PLEASE comment 🙂

Here is a list of links and notes that you may find useful.  There are some really cool resources on IFC available now – read on below:

Autodesk sign in is required on 123D Catch to actually activate the Export feature to allow exporting of FBX.

Explanation of the export formats available from 123D (formerly Photofly):

Menu Command Format Contents
saveas .3dp The 3D photo scene contains cameras, reference points, 3D mesh, reference lines, and distance measures. This is the native format for Project Photofly.
export .dwg The drawing contains reference points and reference lines.
.fbx The Autodesk FBX asset exchange file contains the 3D cameras, the photo textured 3D mesh, reference points, reference lines, and reference labels.
.rzi The ImageModeler file is a subset of the 3dp file based on what was selected at the time the photo scene was exported.
.obj The OBJect file contains the photo textured 3D mesh.
.ipm The Inventor Publisher Mobile file contains the photo textured 3D mesh and can be viewed with the free Inventor Publisher Viewer available in the Apple iTunes App Store.
.las The binary LASer file contains the 3D point cloud that was automatically extracted from the pixels of the source photographs. The LAS file format version is 1.2.


Camera Support – 3ds max and FBX


AutoCAD Architecture IFC export information

3D views can be export FROM Revit TO AutoCAD Architecture

List of IFC softwares, tools and viewers

IFC schema information for views (plans, sections, 3d views etc)

DDSViewer – can view DWG and IFC

  • also a very easy way to open DWG and save as PDF!

To get a free version of the DDS Viewer, visit the ftp server and download DDSViewer.exe
IfcWebViewer – online web viewer for IFC using WebGL

Exporting cameras as .3ds files using Flame

Vectorworks and 3ds

Showcase can import views from FBX files


Now here is something cool – Jon Mirtschin of Geometry Gym has been working on an IFC importer add-in for Revit (my previous post here) (current version 0.0.23 download direct here, or source page here).

What made me go ‘wow’ today was this: using this add-in, you can take an IFC file and import it as a Generic Model Adaptive Component in Revit 2012.  You can select the points and adjust it just like ANY Adaptive Component – but it came from Grasshopper via IFC!

Here is how to do it:

  1. Download and install the add-in
  2. Upon opening Revit 2012, you can see the add-in under External Tools – Geometry Gym IFC Importer
  3. You will need to email Jon to get a license XML file.  Paste that into the appropriate folder.
  4. Now, run the Geometry Gym IFC Importer again.
  5. Download, then select the IFC file that Jon provided today (see below)
  6. Click ‘Proceed’ then wait a bit
  7. The IFC will now appear as a bunch of Adaptive Component instances that you can select and modify!

Here’s the Grasshopper model, and here’s the IFC file.
Geometry Gym: Generative Adaptive Component

In fact, there is some serious 3rd party development happening on the Grasshopper to Revit front – check out:

importing IFC2x4.  Thanks to Geometry Gym, and Jon Mirtschin in particular, an IFC importer add-on for Revit 2012 is under development that aims to support IFC2x4 with nurbs profile / perimeter exchange.

Jon says:
I’m developing the Revit addon to import these files as the functionality is not available in the native importers. I haven’t built for Revit 2013 yet, but if you have Revit 2012 and want to try, the installer is available from http://www.geometrygym.com/downloads
via the comments at:
Geometry Gym: NURBS GH to Revit

And here is the link to the current build of the IFC 2×4 importer for Revit 2012:
ggRevitIFCx64 v0.0.11.msi (24th April 2012)
Note, Revit 2012 64 bit Addon to import IFC files.
This is an early public release for initial feedback and comment. Addon undergoing rapid development. Please use with care and send suggestions and observations.

(from http://ssi.wikidot.com/downloads)

Image from Geometry Gym

Here is an excerpt showing how IFC2X4 RC2 improves geometry capability:

Additional entities are added to the geometry resources. (1) The definition of manifold boundary representation has been enhanced to include advanced B-reps, based on NURBS. Therefore b-spline surfaces and b-spline curves are added. (2) The curve bounded surface based on bounding p-curves (curves defined in the parametric space of a surface) is added to allow any surface to be bound; it was restricted to only planar surfaces before. (3) Tapered solid of extrusion and tapered solid of revolution are now included to define simple taper, restricted to one section and to topological similarity of the start and end profile. (4) A fixed reference swept area solid is added to define an advance sweep along a directrix with a fixed orientation of the profile. The swept disk solid has been simplified by implicit start and end points on the directrix. (5) Elementary surfaces have been enhanced by incorporation or cylindrical surfaces. 

From http://buildingsmart-tech.org/ifc/IFC2x4/rc2/html/annex/annex-e/IFC2x4-RC2_whats-new.htm

First off, a couple of links to Exporter add-ins for Revit 2013:
IFC Exporter on Sourceforge
Autodesk Exchange Apps – IFC Exporter for Revit

There have also been a few quite a few posts on other blogs about IFC recently.  Here is a selection:
Using two different versions
I alternate a bit between 2012 and Revit 2013 for optimal import results. Have not quite decided yet on what is best. 13 works faster, but I’ve seen a bug on windows which I love. Right now I use the 2012 imports, and so do I upgrade the file to 13 afterwards. 
Using ADT as a middle-man
If an item … Certainly will not be exported correctly, you can isolate it in a view, export view’et to 3D DWG for ADT and send it to the IFC from ADT. Boring… but it works. I’ve done this on an entire parking garage with a fall in all directions and had to realize that the correct 3D geometry, after all, it is very important.
via Google Translate of http://revitnorge.blogspot.com/2012/04/revit-2013-og-ifc.html

Improved ArchiCAD Connection Add-In for Revit ApplicationsFree Add-In developed for use by Autodesk Revit programs in the  Structure and MEP disciplines. This application is recommended for use  with IFC-based model exchange between GRAPHISOFT ArchiCAD and Revit  applications.  The Add-In for Revit  applications variously enables  direct import of ArchiCAD IFC models and IFC model export to ArchiCAD,  or serves to optimize Revit’s standard IFC import and export functions  used to exchange data with ArchiCAD.

Revit Add-Ons: GRAPHISOFT Interoperability Downloads

DP stuff: IFC Export – Revit 2012 (describes various problems with 2012 IFC)
DP stuff: Update – IFC Export -Revit 2013 (issues improved in 2013)

All Things BIM: IFC Export from Revit: Reply
I’ve been monitoring the discussions in the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) group on LinkedIn for some time now and recently saw a post criticizing IFC export from Revit 2012. I saw a few discrepancies in the methods described in the blog post, so I decided to run through the same tests myself. …

Geometry Gym – Revit import Grasshopper IFC addon
You can test for yourself.  Here‘s the grasshopper files used in the demonstration and some example IFC output..  You need to download the latest plugins from http://www.geometrygym.com/downloads


Do you agree? 

Here is a more complete quote:
One of the biggest practical obstacles to effective diffusion of BIM in the industry is the lack of data exchange standards and associated protocols. The Industry Foundation Class (IFC) definitions being developed by BuildingSMART will be useful, but will probably be used mainly as an archive format. IFC is too complex, too large, and too fragile to survive in the real world of live projects. Commercial IT companies are much more likely to produce a robust solution in this situation than committees of experts.
So why not accept the facts as they are and recognise Revit (for now) as a de facto industry standard? We can allow or incentivise Autodesk to licence the Revit file format—perhaps one or two versions late—on a FRAND (Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory) basis to its competitors, and use competition law to regulate the situation. (It’s important in this to separate out the idea of data interoperability from application interoperability—how different systems store data from how they represent the behaviours of data objects. The first can probably reasonably be made public, the second probably not.)

Read the entire article at:
Beyond BIM – Building With Perfect Information: AECbytes Viewpoint #64

Image from aecbytes.com

DWG import and export (free)

Currently, the best way to exchange DWG/DXF with SketchUp is to use SketchUp 7.1 & the DWG/DXF import plugin for SketchUp 7.1 (Free)

As of now, both SketchUp version 7.1 and the optional installer are available for download. Only the Pro version of SketchUp 7.1 is available for download, but that’s OK – it will revert to the Free version after 8 hours use, and you will be able to continue using it.
Jim’s SketchUp [Plugins] Blog: SketchUp 8 Free & DWG/DXF

Direct links
Google SketchUp Pro 7 Download

DWG/DXF import plugin for SketchUp 7.1 (Free)

The DWG/DXF importer isn’t available in Google SketchUp 7.1, however it is offered in Google SketchUp Pro. You can download this optional plugin for Windows or Mac that enables the DWG/DXF importer.

Last updated: June 2008
IFC2SKP works inside SketchUp and has the ability to load IFC datafrom popular BIM (CAD) applications such as Revit, ArchiCAD and Microstation. The plug-in will not only load the geometry or object data into SketchUp from the IFC file format but it will also display the BIM data of each imported objects. IFC2SKP has been updated to work in SketchUp 8.  


Direct link:
Download IFC2SKP Program File

OBJ importer
If you need an .obj importer plugin for Sketchup, you can check out FluidImporter.
FluidImporter is super fast (entirely written in C++) and completely free.

Downloads | FluidRay – Physically Based Renderer

Older OBJ importer:
View topic – [Plugin] Import OBJ with Materials v1.9 20110223 • SketchUcation Community Forums

Various Sketchup resources and plugins:
Resources – SketchUp Sage

Autodesk says it is releasing its IFC exporter so that users can more directly control exported elements. Users may, for example, change the representation of exported elements, should they find another, more useful encoding.

Access to the Revit IFC exporter open source code, as well as information regarding the Revit IFC Exporter Open Source Committee, can be found at the SourceForge repository at http://sourceforge.net/projects/ifcexporter.

GraphicSpeak � Autodesk releases Revit IFC Exporter as open source

You may be unfortunate enough to have to translate a BIM model from ArchiCAD into Revit. I have done this in the past (with limited success) using IFC.

However, I was browsing the AUGI Forums today and came across this post, which recommended the use of Solibri IFC Optimizer. This is a free Java utility that launches from your browser (you do need to register first). You then feed your IFC file into it, and it, well, optimizes the file.

I gave it a go and it reduced an IFC I recently worked on from 21.6 mb to 13.7 mb – so it actually does work.

Check it out if you are using IFC…