There is a nice little addin in the works from Emanuel Favreau … he is working on a Revit to Unity exporter that includes all materials and textures. You can open a sample model in WebGL here (probably should use Chrome).
There is obviously a lot of development in the industry at the moment to create the best experience in moving BIM models into gaming environments for various reasons, and there are a lot of solutions that are doing this in various ways. Typically, these offer real time rendering and visualization, and the side benefit of allowing models to be viewed in VR. Which method do you recommend?
To follow up the discussion of my quick and dirty Revit model OBJ exporter, I want to point out that Adam Nagy completed his series of posts on the AEC DevBlog on a Revit model exporter and viewer for iOS using an even more minimalistic custom data format for uploading to the cloud and viewing on an iOS mobile device:
Part 1: Revit add-in to upload geometry data to a storage service
Part 2: An iOS application to download and display the model using OpenGL
Part 3: Interactive view orientation and manipulation using gestures
While the OBJ format I looked at is more heavy-weight than Adam’s minimal custom format, my implementation includes some other enhancements which make it quite effective as well. I have also heard of other home-grown viewer implementations with some support for switchback, individual element tagging and object identification based on VRML and on the Unity gaming engine. If you are interested in a finely tuned exporter with more complete coverage and control over what gets exported, you might want to take a look at the open source STL exporter. Finally, for high-end exporter requirements, the Revit IFC exporter is also open source.
There has been a lot of talk recently about real time rendering, about using game engines as visualization tools on BIM platforms, and generally about making an awesome 3D development environment that allows for instant and immersive presentation of the building model.
I don’t think that this environment exists quite yet – either the tools are too game oriented, or they are too building oriented. We don’t have one tool that just hits all of the sweet spots. But one day … one day I think we will.
Can you picture a day when work and play will be somewhat synonymous? When the software you are using to design a building will allow instant visualization? It will allow you to fully apply real environments, real weather, real materials – and see the effects in real time. Navigation will be intuitive, first person, and fast.
There are a few tools and technologies that are getting there. Below I have provided some links that talk about Unity 3D, Twinmotion and Showcase. To be brutally honest, I have Showcase installed but I balk at the prospect of learning and implementing another tool – I want it to BE Revit. Built in. Don’t increase the amount of software in my ecosystem – reduce it. Please.