Virtual Reality and Revit: The Software You Need To Get Started

During our webinar last week, we explored integrating Virtual Reality and Revit. We were excited to discuss the ways in which Virtual Reality is making its way into the world of BIM and how it’s beginning to transform the industry as we know it. The days of spending countless hours rendering are coming to and end and the ability to walk around your projects quickly has arrived with Virtual Reality and Revit.

These exciting developments inspired us to investigate the software options out there that make Virtual Reality and Revit possible. We looked into 3 popular Virtual Reality and Revit software options including; Lumion, Iris VR: Prospect, and Enscape. Here is what we discovered:

1. Lumion

Lumion has numerous 3D environmental objects including trees and people that can easily be added to your model. Creating a 360 panorama is very simple and can be achieved in just a few minutes. Linking Lumion to Revit with LiveSync is a pretty simple and quick process as well. One of the many noteworthy features of of Lumion is the Sky Light daylight simulator.

Virtual Reality and Revit

As you can see in the image above, the Sky Light daylight simulator makes your imaging look authentic and incredibly detailed. In order to achieve this level of complexity in the past, you had to spend a significant amount of time adjusting various settings. Now, with the awesome Sky Light feature, Lumion does the work for you with a click of a button.

Combined with a 360-degree panorama and a VR headset such as Oculus Go, you can present your client with a highly interactive, realistic piece of media that where they can virtually explore their structure before it’s even built.

2. Iris VR: Prospect

Iris VR’s tool Prospect also works with Revit. Its latest release includes the multi-user meeting functionality and allows viewers to join a client walk through from their computers without a VR headset. If the client or user does opt to use a VR headset, HTC Vive offers a lot of awesome functionality including the ability to fly throughout the model and view the model from unique perspectives.

While the software is constantly improving its visual quality and enhancing scenes, the style is certainly more animated and not as realistic looking as Lumion and Enscape, as shown in the photo above. Whether the cartoon style is a perk or a drawback really comes down to your own personal preference.

3. Enscape

Compared to the aforementioned Virtual Reality and Revit solutions, Enscape syncs with Revit the most seamlessly. Not only does the sync occur in real time as you work on your model, it also uses Revit materials which makes the exporting process very simple and is a huge time saver. For example,all you have to do is put a tree in Revit and it will transform into a realistic looking object in Enscape.

Virtual Reality and Revit

There are Enscape users who feel renderings from enscape aren’t the most aestetically appealing, however as shown above, there is no debate they do look realistic and detailed.

In conclusion, Lumion, Iris VR: Prospect, and Enscape are all great Virtual Reality and Revit software options. When it comes to choosing the right one for you, it really comes down to a matter of personal preference and the best match to fulfill the items on your requirements list.

Regardless of the Virtual Reality and Revit software you choose, having solid BIM content is essential and the first step in your Virtual Reality and Revit experience. Good BIM content that contains the right data, is searchable, and can quickly be found will significantly enhance the value of your Virtual Reality Revit models. UNIFI’s Create services can help you generate this content and Core services can help you manage your BIM content. Free free to contact us today to get your BIM content Virtual Reality ready!

Dec 5 @ 11 AM pst: Webinar Invite

You know you need a content management solution but the higher-ups just aren’t sure about signing off yet.

Join us for a ‘time and money saving’ feature demonstration that will give you the information you need to help your firm move forward towards better BIM management.

In this webinar, we will be taking you through a side-by-side demonstration of average BIM content workflows with and without the help of UNIFI products. 

If you have UNIFI you might learn a few new tricks and if you don’t you’ll get a clear view of the time savings our solutions offer.

Click here to register now. 

Virtual Reality and BIM: Client Engagement

Some of you may remember way back in the 90’s when Nintendo released the Virtual Boy. The device consisted of a headset and controller which is not too different from the virtual reality devices we see on the market today. Fast forward to today and technology has progressed to the point where are finally seeing the “reality” in “virtual reality” and the user experience has evolved into truly immersive environment is presented to users.

In recent years, the architecture, engineering, and construction space has taken a liking to this improved technology. With the exponential adoption of BIM, it’s no wonder why design and construction teams are reaching for ways to produce virtual reality using BIM. Teams are already generating a data-rich 3D model and virtual reality seems to be the next logical step in visualization.

VR and AEC

On the design side of our industry, virtual reality has primarily been used for visualization. Architectural designers have historically generated photorealistic renderings as a means to communicate their design with a pretty picture, but with the technological advancements of virtual reality and Revit, they are now able to take those renderings to the next level and create a truly immersive environment for their clients.

On the construction side, innovative contractors are beginning to tap into virtual reality as a coordination tool. This advancement in spatial coordination not only helps facilities managers visualize complex duct and pipe routing, but also gives the trades a clearer picture of the model, with the goal of identifying issues before construction begins in the field.

Virtual Reality and BIM
Photo Credit: MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions

Getting Clients Involved

BIM has been changing the way we design and construct buildings for some time now, yet the industry is still committed to producing 2-dimensional drawings to communicate a design. During the early planning phases of a project, user groups are typically presented drawings which include diagrams and floor plans which can be difficult for a building owner to understand or truly envision the built product.

Photo Credit: BizJournals.com

Design teams may even be confronted with the challenge to generate a physical mock-up so that the end users can validate the design before it has been constructed. Prior to designers leveraging virtual reality and BIM, there have been many methods to engage the users to gather their feedback. Believe it or not, the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance actually built a life-sized cardboard mock-up of their spaces to validate the design of their clinic before moving into the construction phase.

Virtual Reality and BIM

Some of the most innovative design and construction teams have begun to dive into workflows around producing virtual reality with BIM. One of the most compelling use-cases is for client engagement. Rather than presenting a diagram, floor plan, or even a photorealistic rendering to a client, the industry’s leaders in VR are already inviting their clients to review their designs in a virtual environment. This immersive experience gives the end users the opportunity to truly experience the space before its built and furnish more accurate feedback to the design team.

Designers are no stranger to changes initiated by clients and BIM has helped alleviate some of the pain points when reacting to these changes. When combining virtual reality and BIM, project teams are given the power rapid iteration of their VR mock-ups. With the right tools, a virtual mockup can be revised in parallel with the design model. With Revit add-ins like Enscape, designers can make changes to their Revit models and see the changes immediately using real-time rendering.

Because these changes to the design model can be synchronized with the virtual reality mock-up, cost to update the virtual mock-up can be kept to a minimum. Quite literally, a single techie armed with the right software can eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) the amount of time spent revising a virtual mock-up.

Photo credit: Thomas Miller

What’s Next?

The combination of virtual reality and BIM is proving to be more than just hype, but what can we do with this new technology? Interactive renderings, spatial coordination, and virtual mock-ups are just the beginning. Could the next form of client deliverables be a true 3D model with the intent to be reviewed in virtual reality? At some point, we will need to evolve the antiquated processes around 2D drawings and perhaps virtual reality is the missing link. We will be discussing the future of Virtual Reality and BIM on our next webinar with Simon Manning, Co-founder at Bevel Space. We hope you’ll join us.

In the meantime, please let us know about the exciting projects you’re working on that involve virtual reality and BIM in the comments below.

Leyard and Planar’s BIM Content on UNIFI

About Leyard & Planar

Leyard Planar
4x4 Clarity® Matrix® LCD Video Wall System and 3 Touch and Non-Touch Planar® UltraRes™ Series 4K Large Format LCD Displays. Photo courtesy of Leyard and Planar

Leyard and Planar are  global leaders in the design, production, distribution and service of LED and LCD digital displays, video walls and visualization products worldwide. Used in applications such as broadcast, sports arenas, advertisement networks, retail digital signage, control rooms, exhibitions, large-scale events and digital cultural experiences, Leyard and Planar enjoy marquee installations globally and have over 300 patents in display technology.

Leyard and Planar have achieved the #1 market share position in the global LED video display market and continuously strives to be the world’s premier provider of video walls and electronic displays for those who demand the best image experience.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) with Leyard & Planar

Leyard® CarbonLight™ LED Video Displays at the Amazon Understory at The Spheres . Photo courtesy of Leyard and Planar

As with many companies, BIM has been difficult for Leyard and Planar to predict and calculate a return on investment (ROI), however the steady trend in the adoption of BIM has led Leyard and Planar to continue to develop and share BIM objects with their customers. Leyard and Planar discovered that by sharing high quality BIM content with design teams, they not only gained exposure to be included in Revit models for rendering and documentation, but also opened up the opportunity for their products to be specified as part of an audio/visual design during earlier phases of a project lifecycle.

Who Uses Leyard & Planar’s BIM Objects?

While Leyard and Planar’s customers are typically authorized resellers who sell their products to end-users (i.e., building owners and occupants), the BIM objects themselves are mostly leveraged by architects, interior designers, and audio/visual consultants. These designers are contracted to design the spaces within a building and often specify (or at least have an influence on selecting) which products will be installed in the real world for the end-users. For this reason, Leyard and Planar have made an effort to make it easier for designers to find and use their BIM objects therefore increasing their opportunity of being specified.

Distributing BIM Content

Leyard and Planar began distributing their CAD/BIM content on their website because designers who were seeking Revit families for commercial displays were not familiar with the Leyard & Planar products. They began testing several web-based solutions to increase their BIM content visibility throughout the industry, however their experience on several other platforms proved to be anticlimactic, as they had very little insight into who was using their BIM content.

After multiple discussions with several large design firms, Leyard and Planar found that many of these firms were already using Unifi Core to subscribe to manufacturer “channels”. With that realization, Leyard and Planar committed to hosting their Revit families on Unifi Connect in addition to their website.

Leyard and Planar BIM

This gave designers access to vetted BIM content for video walls and other large commercial displays directly within their content management system, Unifi Core, meaning search results would display Leyard and Planar content in line with their firm’s standard library content.

Visibility of the Revit families themselves is only scratching the surface of the benefits of finding content in Unifi Core. Drilling down into each family uncovers the product information (or parameters in Revit terms) and gives the designer the opportunity to review the family before loading it into their project.

Leyard and Planar BIM

In addition to increasing the visibility of their products to designers, Leyard and Planar are able to leverage the metrics that are gathered by Unifi and discover who is using their BIM objects, where these users are located geographically, and how many projects their products have been loaded into.

Case Study: Amazon Understory at The Spheres

 

Leyard and Planar BIM
Leyard® CarbonLight™ LED video displays at Amazon Understory at The Spheres, Seattle. Photo courtesy of Leyard and Planar

“The Spheres is the latest addition to Amazon’s downtown Seattle headquarters and includes three giant intersecting domes housing more than 40,000 plants from the cloud forest regions of over 30 countries—creating a lush workplace with a direct link to nature. The innovative building offers employees a work environment that is more like a rainforest than an office.”

“To properly explain this groundbreaking new building, Amazon set out to establish a free, public visitor center at The Spheres, called Understory—the name of which refers to the lush habitat between the rainforest floor and canopy. Amazon assembled an accomplished team of local Seattle companies to design the exhibit space. Understory provides a fully immersive, 360-degree experience where visitors can get up close and personal with the science, engineering, and plants behind The Spheres. At a central media installation, visitors can take in sweeping interior views of The Spheres above, as well as stunning macro footage of its world-class plant collection on LED video wall displays from Leyard and Planar, A Leyard Company.” 

-Leyard and Planar

Leyard & Planar BIM Content Helps Designers

Leyard and Planar BIM

Due to the rising popularity of video walls, designers are increasingly being challenged to design spaces and incorporate these complex A/V systems. In most cases, designers don’t have experience with this particular type of technical solution and they struggle to find the information they need. Typically, a designer will lay out spaces with placeholder BIM objects for things like large displays, but when a real-world product is not selected until late in the project lifecycle, this results in last-minute decisions, change orders, budget overages, delays, and inappropriate product selection, which ultimately can result in an installation that looks like an afterthought rather than a solution that was really designed into the space. Leyard seeks to mitigate these issues by offering their BIM content to designers on Unifi Connect during the earliest phases of design.

If you’re a designer who has recently been challenged with designing a space which includes LED or LCD video walls or large commercial displays, have a look at the Leyard & Planar Channel in Unifi Core. Not only will it save you time from modeling a placeholder from scratch, but perhaps it can help guide you into selecting a final product earlier in the project lifecycle and prevent issues that can have an impact on budget and scheduling.

Nov 21 @ 10 AM pst: Webinar Invite

For this episode of INDUSTRY INSIGHTS we will explore integrating Virtual Reality and BIM. Simmon Manning, Co-founder of Bevel Space will be joining as our special guest. Manning is a XR specialist with over seven years of experience in the architecture and construction industry. His company provides virtual and augmented reality experiences for visionary companies to stimulate user experiences. We will gain his insight on how Virtual Reality is pushing the BIM industry forward and the limitless possibilities Virtual Reality and BIM have in store.

Webinar Details:-Introduction to Virtual Reality and BIM
-Interview with Simon Manning, Co-founder at Bevel Space
-Q&A

Click here to register now!

Revit 2019 System Requirements

Revit 2019 System Requirments

With 2019 just around the corner, Revit 2019 will start to gain traction. Along with every new version of Revit, Autodesk publishes a set of requirements and in this post we’ll cover the Revit 2019 system requirements in detail.

Operating System

It’s no surprise that the Revit 2019 system requirements include a 64 bit Windows operating system. This requirement hasn’t changed in several years and the supported versions are as follows:

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

A central processing unit (CPU) is the component in a computer that carries out the instructions of a program by performing the basic arithmetic, logical, control and input/output (I/O) operations. Said differently, the CPU is the brains of the operation.

The Revit 2019 system requirements specify that the application will use multiple cores for many tasks, using up to 16 cores for near-photorealistic rendering operations. I think it also goes without saying that the highest affordable CPU speed rating will always be recommended.

 

Entry Level

-Single- or Multi-Core Intel® 

-Pentium®, Xeon®, or i-Series processor or AMD® equivalent with SSE2 technology.

Balanced

-Multi-Core Intel Xeon, or i-Series processor or AMD equivalent with SSE2 technology.

Performance

Multi-Core Intel Xeon, or i-Series processor or AMD equivalent with SSE2 technology.

Random-Access Memory (RAM)

Random-access memory (RAM) is the component that handles a special type of data storage. Rather than storing long-term data like the files on your hard drive, this type of memory temporarily stores data and code that is currently in use.

With that being said, more RAM does not necessarily make your computer run faster. Typically, more RAM allows your to do more things at the same time, but in the context of the Revit 2019 system requirements, more RAM will ease some of the pain while working on larger Revit models. It is worth noting that the numbers below are based on Autodesk’s internal testing and customer reports.

Entry-Level

4 GB RAM

(Sufficient for a 100 MB Revit model.)

Balanced

8 GB RAM

(Sufficient for a 300 MB Revit model.)

Performance

16 GB RAM

(Sufficient for a 700 MB Revit model.)

Video Display Resolution

Resolution defines the number of pixels that your computer outputs to your monitor. When working in graphically intense applications, the lower resolution will typically perform better.

The Revit 2019 systems requirements are no different, being as working in the Revit is heavily involved in displaying 2D and 3D graphics. So make a note for yourself – if your computer seems sluggish when hooked up to your shiny new 4k display, try turning the resolution down and see if it helps smooth your pan, zoom, and orbit functions.

Per the Revit 2019 system requirements, Revit supports several display resolutions up to 4k/UHD (3840 x 2160 pixels). The table below outlines the minimum resolutions for each level of hardware.

Entry-Level

1280 x 1024           with true color.

Balanced

1680 x 1050         with true color.

Performance

1920 x 1200        with true color.

Video Adapters

Video adapters are like their own motherboards in themselves. They contain the same components that we mentioned earlier, except their RAM and graphics processing units (GPU, not CPU) are dedicated for processing and outputting graphics.

Below are the minimum requirements for video adapters per the Revit 2019 system requirements. It is worth noting that while these are the minimum requirements, Autodesk’s online tool can help you select certified and recommended graphics hardware.

Entry-Level

Basic:Display adapter capable of 24-bit color

Advanced: DirectX® 11 capable graphics card with Shader Model 3

Balanced

DirectX 11 capable graphics card with Shader Model 5

Performance

DirectX 11 capable graphics card with Shader Model 5

Hard Disk Requirements

Unlike RAM, your hard disk stores files for the long term.

Revit occupies quite a bit of space once installed, especially if you’re installing the built-in material and family libraries. At minimum, you need 5 GB of free space on your hard drive. Note that the standard Autodesk Revit family libraries alone total over 2 GB.

The Revit 2019 system requirements do not specify a minimum hard disk speed, but if you’re working with point clouds you’ll want something faster than your average hard disk (typically 5,400 or 7,200 RPM). The Revit 2019 system requirements specify that a 10,000 RPM hard disk or solid state drive (SSD) are ideal for dealing with point cloud data in Revit 2019.

Conclusion

Overall, the Revit 2019 system requirements are fairly reasonable and, as usual, it really comes down to budget. For just around $1,000 USD you can find several powerful desktops on the market that meet the performance specs above, however if portability is a requirement and you need a laptop, you’ll probably be shopping within the realm of the balanced requirements. 

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Revit to Sketchup: How to Convert Your Model

Sketchup

It is a common workflow for designers to turn to Sketchup during the early phases of a building design because jumping straight into Revit model often more time consuming. We won’t cover that topic in this post, but rather the less common workflow of going from Revit to Sketchup. We’ll cover some recommended techniques and some common errors to watch out for.

In part one, we covered the process from the Revit side of the workflow, where you prepped your model for export. Now in Part Two, we’ll cover the final steps when importing a model from Revit to Sketchup and cover some common issues.

Import Your CAD Files

In Sketchup, navigate to the File menu and select Import. Browse to the models that were exported in part one and select one to import.

Note that when converting a model from Revit to Sketchup by importing a DWG, Sketchup may throw a vague error stating “Import Failed”. I have notice that 9 out of 10 times, this is due to the AutoCAD DWG version that you exported. Double check that your DWG was exported to the 2007 version as shown in part one.

If you don’t have access to the original Revit model to export the CAD files in the appropriate version, another option is to change the version from AutoCAD. Open one of your DWGs in AutoCAD and run the Save As command. In the Save As window, you can force AutoCAD to save the file to an earlier version using the Files of type dropdown menu (see screenshot below).

Sketchup

Alignment

You’ll notice that the reference lines that you modeled in part one are aligned with the x, y, and z axis automatically. Those model lines help identify extents of the model, so Sketchup should have a similar insertion point for all of your models. If they aren’t aligned, you still have the benefit of adding the model lines because now you can easily get these models aligned by using them as a reference when importing from Revit to Sketchup.

Continue to import your DWG models as needed to complete your Revit to Sketchup conversion. Don’t forget to use the model lines as a reference to align your models!

Sketchup

Happy Modeling

Exporting from Revit to Sketchup can be a tricky process, but hopefully the steps that I’ve outlined here will help you get over a few technical hurdles.

Sketchup

Do you have any additional tips and tricks when exporting from Revit to Sketchup? Please share them in your comments below.

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Headed to Autodesk University? Here Are the Small but Important Things You Need to Bring

AU

AUAre you as excited as we are? Autodesk University is just one week away! It’s almost time to head to Vegas, meet like minded people, learn from industry experts, explore the exciting things your peers have been up to, and show off the awesome things your company has been working on.

By this point, you’ve probably spent a lot of time ensuring all of the major things you need for Autodesk University are covered. We know first hand that these “big things” require a lot of focus and effort, so it’s easy to forget about the minor details that can truly make or break your experience at AU.

The last thing we want is for you to be at Autodesk University next week and think, “this experience would be a lot better if only I had…”. To avoid this, we put together a list of some small but important things to bring that you can easily bring along last minute to Autodesk University:

1) Phone and laptop chargers:

You’ve already packed your powerstrip and extension cords, but don’t forget your laptop and phone chargers. Your devices will likely run out of battery from the long days at AU, so having the chargers and extra batteries you need is an absolute must. If you’re traveling from overseas, be sure to bring an adapter as well.

2) Your colleagues direct phone numbers:

You’re probably used to communicating with your colleagues on Slack, Skype for Business, or email on a regular basis. While these mediums are excellent, they require Wifi which is free in the hotel and conference area, but coverage may be spotty in between. There are an array of reasons you’ll need to reach the colleagues that are with you at AU throughout the day, and having their direct phone numbers will ensure you can do so regardless of Wifi coverage. It is also a good idea to start a group message with all of your team members who will be at the show so that everyone stays in the loop.

3) AU App:

Your colleagues phone numbers aren’t the only thing you’ll want to add to your phone beforehand. Download the AU App ahead of time for your show guide, map, and agenda for the conference. You can also manage your schedule, get updates in real time, and connect with other attendees. While four days seems like plenty of time, it flies by faster than you’d think. You want to make sure you’re able to attend everything you want to attend and meet everyone you want to meet, and having this outlined in the palm of your hand is very helpful.

4) Comfortable shoes:

While those high heels or spiffy oxfords are a great choice for a typical day sitting behind the desk at the office, you will quickly learn they’re not ideal when you’re on your feet for all day for four days straight. AU is not the time to break in your brand new kicks and there has never been a better time than now to choose comfort over style. Nevertheless, you want to ensure you are dressed appropriately head to toe. AU describes the events dress code as “professional but comfortable”, so don’t go overboard and wear your slippers. Find a happy medium that is both comfortable and professional. Your trusty flats or loafers that you’ve worn many times before are a great choice for this event. It never hurts to pack bandages as well just in case you or your team ends up with blisters.

5) Snacks, water, and medicine:

Not only does being on your feet all day cause discomfort with the wrong shoes, it also requires a lot of energy which makes you hungry and thirsty. It’s important to have high energy and enthusiasm when representing your company, and let’s be honest, no one wants to talk to a hangry person. While there are snacks and lunch time, they’re never close enough when you’re hungry so bring your own energy bars that you can quickly gobble on the go. Staying hydrated is equally as important. Remember, Las Vegas is a desert and you will become dehydrated more quickly than usual. Bring along a bottle of water and make sure to drink it throughout the day. Just in case those hunger and thirst pains bring on a headache, it doesn’t hurt to have some Tylenol, Advil, or Mortin on hand.

6) Earplugs and sleep mask:

Another key aspect of maintaining high energy at AU is to replenish with a good night of sleep. While the bright lights and celebratory atmosphere Vegas offers is certainly fun, it’s not especially conducive to optimal rest. Bring along earplugs and an eye mask to make sure things are as dark and quiet as possible. You can also request a humidifier in your room from your hotel if the smokey air is bothering you and keeping you from getting rest.

7) Lip balm and breath mints:

The dry desert air in Vegas is sure to chap your lips almost right away. To avoid this discomfort and pain, make sure you have lip balm in your pocket and apply it generously throughout the day. While lip balm is great starting point, the cliche phrase “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” certainly applies here. You’ll be talking to dozens of people on a daily basis, and you don’t want your excellent message to be distracted from by your dragon breath. Breath mints will solve this issue.

8) A tote or messenger bag:

At AU, a tote bag or messenger bag serves a dual and important purpose. Firstly, it’s a great way to carry around aforementioned essentials in addition to your phone and wallet. On the other hand, it is a great place to store all of the swag, business cards, and handouts you’ll collect throughout the day. Be sure to also throw a pen and notepad in there.You’ll learn a lot of awesome new things and meet a lot of new people at AU and a quick way to take notes will certainly help you keep track of everything. While backpacks are popular choice, taking the bag off your back and unzipping it every time you get a handout is irritating with time. Using a tote or messenger bag is far more convenient.  

9) Scissors, packing tape, and return labels:

When the show is over and it’s time to pack up, you’ll feel accomplished yet exhausted from a long week. The last thing you’ll need to do before heading home is break down your booth, pack up your supplies, seal the boxes, and ship them back. Being prepared with scissors, packing tape, and return labels will make this process as quick and easy as it can be.

In conclusion, it’s a good idea to treat AU as if it were a marathon, not a race. Pace and take care of yourself to make the most of your experience. We are confident that being prepared with the small but important items on this list will make your awesome experience even better. Another thing that will make add to your experience is stopping by booth A254 to meet our team. We help AECs deliver healthier, higher quality models faster with our software and services and we’d love to learn how we can help you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out ahead of time if you’d like to schedule a meeting. We look forward to seeing you there!

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