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Friday, 12 January 2018

Design Sharing and Viewing Options

Technology is not for everyone. Similarly, technology might not form the core of a person's daily lives, thus they do not intuitively know how it works or what to do with it. 

Scenario: You need to share a design with a client who has little to no experience with our design technologies, nor does he/she care to learn how it works.

From the typical Autodesk spectrum we have 5 design sharing and viewing techologies:

1. Autodesk Viewer
2. DWG TrueView
3. Design Review
4. AutoCAD Mobile App
5. BIM 360 Team

I am pretty sure that Revit Recess readers have already tested, or are even using at least 2 of the above programs. I use the Autodesk Viewer, Design Review and BIM 360 Team on a near daily basis. 

Keeping in mind that we need to share files with non-technologically inclined clients, lets look at a quick comparison of the Autodesk Viewer to BIM 360 Team.

For simply viewing over 50 different file formats in the browser, Autodesk Viewer is the answer. From the professional's side, simply upload the required files to the Viewer, and share the link with the client.

From the client's side, simply open the sharing email and click on the link in the email content.

The result? Quick, easy, simple to understand and even simpler to use.



Saturday, 30 December 2017

Sketchup + FormIt = Revit?

Many of my students have incredible Sketchup skills, mostly due to the fact that they were taught Computer Aided Design through Sketchup from their varsity days. I am sure that many of the Revit Recess readers themselves have completed an amazing design or two. For those with no Sketchup experience, do a quick internet search for something along the lines of "Amazing Sketchup Designs" to see for yourself.

However, if you want to, need to, or are "forced" to be at the forefront of technology (Let's be brutally honest, working in and through cloud is the future whether we like it or not) the likelihood of being exposed to the market leaders in design software in the workspace is inevitable. Now, before this post turns into a "Revit is best", "Microstation is better", or "Nothing beats paper impregnated with Potassium Ferricyanide", it is not the aim of this entry.

The aim is to discover how we can use Sketchup in conjunction with other software, such as Autodesk FormIt and Autodesk Revit.

Quite a while ago, Autodesk introduced FormIt as, in my opinion, a competitor to Sketchup. A number of advancements were made to the software since its release under the Autodesk brand, one of which is an add-in for Revit called FormIt Converter. Is it perfect? No. Is it getting close to perfect? Maybe. Is it usable? Definitely!

A quick search on Sketchup's 3D Warehouse site got me a simple-ish model of a Velociraptor skeleton.

This Sketchup Skeleton will go through 3 steps in order for it to be useable in Revit. First of all, the FormIt Converter add-in can be found in the Add-Ins tab, FormIt Converter panel. When selecting the Convert RFA to FormIt icon, you will find four options: Convert RFA to FormIt, Convert SKP to FormIt, Import FormIt to RVT and Reload Families.

In order to use a Sketchup object in Revit, we need to Convert it to a Formit file first (.AXM file format)

You will be prompted to specify a path to the Sketchup file, as well as a folder path to where the FormIt file will be saved.

Depending on the complexity of the Sketchup object, the converter will provide either a Succeeded or Failed result. More about the failures will be discussed at the end of this post.

There are a few similarities between Sketchup and FormIt, one of those being that one works in layers. All of the Skecthup layers will be brought into FormIt.

Once the above process has run its course, it is time to Import the Formit family into Revit. This is where a negative comes into play. When downloading Sketchup objects, rather stick to a Sketchup 2016 format. I have only experienced conversion failures with Skecthup 2017 and 2018 objects. The second negative is that, due to a Sketchup 2016 file being used, all of those individual layers will be seen as nested families. In other words, go and make yourselves a couple of coffees while the upgrade process for each layer takes place.

The end result could look similar to the image below.
 "Depending on the complexity of the Sketchup object" has been raised earlier. The more complex the object is, the more triangulations and quads existing in the geometry, the more likely it is that the conversion will fail. Another consideration is the overall file size: 2MB Sketchup file converted to a 4.4MB Formit file, which blows up to a 29.4MB Revit project file size (Fully purged)  

I guess that the message I want to convey is that one can use Sketchup objects in Revit, but it should be used very sparingly. Even better, rather design those Sketchup objects in FormIt from the start. Not only will you feel familiar with FormIt's user interface, commands and geometry manipulation, but you will also drastically decrease your overall project file size.

Have a great new year folks!

Friday, 15 December 2017

Split Canvas Prints in Revit

Splitting one print across multiple canvasses in Revit is easier than you think.

This Revit Recess entry will explain the steps:

First of all, one will need to create canvas frames. This can easily be done by creating a simple extrusion with a height above finished floor level, frame height, frame width, and frame depth parameter; all instance based.

The next step would be to create a random pattern of these frames on a wall. Due to the dimensions of the frames being instance parameters, we can easily push and pull the frame sizes and heights to what we would like.

You might have noticed that no backing was created for the frames. This is where the "trick" comes into play. The backing can be created as a fully transparent wall, 5mm in thickness. This will be our canvas.

By changing the workplane of your view to the front face of the wall added in the previous step, you can place and resize a decal image of your canvas image to suit your needs.

The end result?

Monday, 23 October 2017

Recreating History: Pretoria 1947

"Photogrammetry is the science of making measurements from photographs, especially for recovering the exact positions of surface points. Photogrammetry is as old as modern photography, dating to the mid-19th century and in the simplest example, the distance between two points that lie on a plane parallel to the photographic image plane, can be determined by measuring their distance on the image, if the scale (s) of the image is known." - Wikipedia

Have you ever wondered how your hometown looked 50+ years ago? Well, if you have access to Recap Photo and some old aerial photos you will very likely be able to recreate your own piece of history. I sourced some old aerial photos of Pretoria, South Africa from the Institutional Repository of the University of Pretoria and by using Recap Photo, achieved some amazing results!

The images below are of individual aerial photos taken in 1947. I was amazed by how rural some areas were - Areas where today there are major residential, commercial and industrial sites.  

Within Recap Photo, one can create a new 3D project using either the Aerial or Object functionality. Aerial is used for UAV and drone photos (Where one could have GPS data assigned to the photos) and Object is used for applications other than drones or UAV's.

The process of photo to mesh conversion takes place in 3 stages: Uploading the photos, registering the photos for mesh creation and lastly downloading the 3d model as a .rcm file.  

The end result? If there is enough overlap between the aerial photos you will be able to generate a 3D model with minimal user input. Are you excited? I definitely am!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Toposurface From Infraworks Model - Success!

In the beginning of 2015, I created a post where Infraworks' Model Builder capability was outlined. Since then, we have done numerous tests to see how far the software will get us - 2 Years later, I posted that in Revit 2018 one can link a Coordination Model (Navisworks file) which may be used for site planning. At that time, I could however not find a way of generating a toposurface from the Coordination model.

Enter my colleague Mitchell Parsonage, who managed to create a workflow with three easy steps :

1. Define your site extent in Infraworks and export to an OBJ format


2. Import the OBJ into Autodesk Formit, and Export to DXF

3. Link the DXF into Revit and generate a Toposurface from the Import


4. The end result? Nicely done Mitch!