They say a picture is worth a thousand words, which has never been truer than in the building industry. Never before has technology been so powerful such that it allows designers to showcase their work. What was once only available to those who had the amazing skill of producing hand renderings has blossomed with technological advancements to be available to everyone no matter their skill level. Autodesk has made it exceptionally easy to produce high quality images. With their built-in Revit rendering feature, you are set up for success from the start. After modeling a building, with just a few easy adjustments in the settings, Revit rendering allows for great results. Here is a quick overview of that process as well as a few tips, tricks, and best practices.
The key to a quality Revit rendering is materials and lighting. Having high quality materials, many of which are built into Revit, will make or break an image. Having photorealistic materials gives the viewer a real-world look into your design.
Lighting, along with shadows, is also key. Setting up the sun location as well as any artificial lights will greatly enhance the results of a Revit rendering and provide depth as well as realism to your image. As with anything, practice makes perfect with these settings. If one relies on their real-world experience, adjusting materials and lighting will become a breeze.
After modeling your building and setting up the desired view, the rendering process begins. Simply clicking the View tab followed by the Render icon, the dialog box for the render settings will appear.
Many rendering programs can be overwhelming with all of the settings associated with it.
The Revit rendering tool keeps it simple but also provides great results. As the Revit rendering dialog box appears you can see that all the functions are very self-explanatory, providing just the tools you need.
The first setting to take note of is the Quality drop down menu. It is recommended that you start off running the rendering as a draft. This will give you a quick view of materials, lighting, and composition to see what adjustments need to be made. Once you’ve achieved the desired results as a draft, then you can work your way up to High or even Best, to produce a top quality image.
The output settings determine how large and how many pixels the Revit rendering will have. The larger the image the longer a Revit rendering will take. Start small and only render a large image when you are ready for final output.
In the lighting section you are able to pick and choose different lighting schemes. These can be interior or exterior and range from “Sun only” to “Artificial only” to “Sun and Artificial” lights. In the sun settings dialog box you have the option to do a sun study, set the location, date and time, and choose a solstice or equinox. You can also make adjustment to your artificial lights.
The background settings allow you to change the sky appearance of your Revit renderings. These range from no clouds to very cloudy, to a selected color, an image or even a transparent background to place your own image in Photoshop. The background feature allows you to achieve the exact desired results.
The image settings provide a powerful tool to adjust the image exposure in either pre or post-production, saving you the time of having to work in Photoshop. Play with these settings until you achieve your desired results. You can also save to project or export to an image file.
As with anything, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to jump in there and play with different settings to see exactly what they do and to achieve the perfect rendering.
It can feel a little daunting to start out in the world of Revit rendering, but the feature is one that takes the difficulty out of creating beautiful, photo-realistic images. As an architect I have seen the delight of a client as I’ve shown an amazing rendering of their space and how that can change their perspective on the design. Gone are the days where we have to only rely on 2D line drawings to tell the story of a building. With BIM and Revit rendering, no question has to be left unanswered.
Revit 2021 has arrived and there are an abundance of new features and updates that are sure to make everyone happy! Here are a few of our favorite features:
Slanted (or sloped) walls can now be utilized! This much desired feature is sure to add a new dimension of creativity for architects and designers alike. Before Revit 2021, if you wanted to create this effect, your best option was to use the massing tool. You would either have to import a created mass or create an in-place mass and place a wall type over the mass. This pre-2021 process was time consuming and often created other problems for your model.
With this new Revit 2021 feature it is as simple as selecting a wall, then selecting properties, select the slant dialog box and input the angle you wish the wall to slope. Revit is also intuitive enough to adjust the doors and windows living within that wall to follow the same angle. It even works on curved as well as straight walls! Slanted walls, as long as all other family types can be stored and shared in UNIFI.
Generative design is now available! Previously this was only feasible using the Design Options tool or Dynamo scripts, but now a generative design plugin is at hand. This feature works by using pre-built rule sets that determine the criteria and parameters, through computational design, by which elements will be created. With the ease of a button click, these effects can be implemented into a Revit model.
Because the Generative Design tool operates on its own separate license, it should be noted that users will need to have an Autodesk Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection subscription to utilize this feature.
Any electrical engineers or designers out there should be thrilled with this new feature. Revit’s worksharing performance for MEP model sharing has been vastly improved over previous versions and allows for users to only borrow directly modified elements. In past years direct as well as indirect modified elements were borrowed, thus limiting the ability of all users. Other improvements include fixing issues with circular syncing requests and elements borrowed upon opening of files have been overcome.
PDF AND RASTER IMAGES LINKING
In past versions, importing images was the only way to have those file types in your Revit model, thus making the file size much larger. Revit 2020 allowed for PDF import but not linking. Now in Revit 2021, this feature is available! The LINK PDF and LINK Image tools are found by clicking the Insert Tab.
Now by linking files rather than importing them, model size can be much more manageable. This tool certainly encourages the best practice of linking files instead of importing them.
With UNIFI’s Project Analytics, you can view the number of imported images within a Revit model. Improving this workflow ensures images are always linked. You can manage PDF or image versions as needed within UNIFI for easy download to project directories and proper linking.
IMPROVED BIM 360 INTEGRATION
Here at UNIFI we are big fans of the cloud. In Revit 2021, Autodesk has made great strides with BIM360, making it much easier to use and the cloud integration improves with each release. Users now have the ability to access the BIM360 page with your cloud projects right from within Revit.
We hope you enjoy all that Revit 2021 has to offer including the slanted walls, generative design, PDF/Rasted Image linking, worksharing enhancements and improved BIM 360 integration. UNIFI is working hard to support Revit 2021 and it will be available in the near future. To be notified directly when UNIFI support for Revit 2021 is officially live, click here. Until then, please let us know in the comments below, what’s your favorite Revit 2021 feature?
You’re invited to join our 15 Minutes to BIM webinar, “Content Library Optimization .” Join us to get back to the basics and explore how to build a library adaptable to change.
It’s been over a month since COVID-19 transformed the world around us. To help AEC firms quickly adapt, we released tips for working from home, shared how AEC Firms tvsdesign and Steinberg Hart are maintaining culture and reevaluating their tech stack, and provided tactics on securing software budget amidst these uncertain times.
We certainly aren’t alone in trying to support a seamless remote transition for the industry. For example, publications like Architect Magazine offered additional insight into how Architecture Firms across the country are responding to COVID-19. In addition, Nik Karalis, CEO of Woods Bagot, generously shared their lessons learned from Covid-19 and advised,
“Technology alone does not make a global studio. More important is culture and behavior. Nearly every aspect of our belief system and business systems—management styles, communication approaches, customized work schedules, knowledge platforms, mobility plans, a matrix organizational structure, bonus structures, and financial structures—ensures that we support each other.”
Among the many tools, advice, resources, and examples of how AEC firms have successfully transitioned to a remote work setting, looming questions around what the future holds remain. You may be asking yourself, when will we be back in the office? When we do return, what it will look like? What we can apply from the lessons we’ve learned during this time to improve when things are back to normal? We’ll cover the answers to these questions and what we anticipate the future holds for AEC firms in this post.
While many employees certainly prefer the office due to cramped apartments, young children at home, or a multitude of other reasons, we should not expect business as usual once offices reopen. Through a remote work setting, firms have found that perhaps we don’t have to travel as often for client meetings that can be efficiently run via Zoom or GoToMeeting. We have also developed new management technique and virtual communication strategies. While it is truly difficult for drawing collaboration to be completed remotely, higher-level employees don’t tend to draw anyway. Therefore, once COVID-19 passes, management positions in AEC firms may shift to remote permanently or partially. This transition will allow companies to both expand their work force and downsize their office spaces to save money.
A recent Gartner survey supports our prediction that some AEC firm positions will remain semi or fully remote post Covid-19. On March 30, they surveyed 317 CFOs and published their findings wherein they found that nearly 74% of CFOs surveyed plan to shift some employees to remote work permanently. We can expect this to significantly transform commercial real estate as we know it indefinitely.
Now for the silver lining… those who adapt are those who will come out stronger post COVID-19. As we’ve seen with other disruptive periods of time throughout history, the effect of COVID-19 will be (for better or for worse) for decades to come. For example, during World War II, California saw two brothers open a drive-in restaurant to meet a need to serve the working families’ desire for cheap meals to be served faster than the carhop could manage – their name was McDonald. Something more recent in memory? The 2008 economic crisis. This crisis pathed the way for reinvention. Current multi-billion dollar businesses like Airbnb and Slack were founded by highly qualified young people unemployed due to the recession.
As we move forward, we have another opportunity to reinvent ourselves in the AEC industry, namely in the area of prefabrication. In 1974, Adam Szymski talked about programming criteria for modular layouts. Obviously, the concept of prefabrication isn’t new and in recent years, prefabrication techniques and programs have gained significant momentum. Since at least 2013, there’s been numerous classes to the topic at Autodesk University and software companies like eVolveMEP have pushed the capabilities to the bleeding edge. No longer believed to be bleeding edge however, as COVID-19 has rampaged society over the last two months, we’ve seen China build hospitals from scratch.
Prefabrication plays a big role in getting these lifesaving, makeshift hospitals up and running. A recent article from fast company covers HKS retrofitting the Michigan Expo Center to accommodate a crisis surge. Their prefabrication efforts displayed with the modified ductwork and medical gas shown in Michigan Expo Center will make a significant impact on AEC designs moving forward. Engineering News-Record also highlighted the importance of the prefabrication completed at McCormick Place and how it makes the building so versatile.
In conclusion, reports show there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our efforts to flatten the Covid-19 curve are starting to pay off and we will be collaborating in person soon enough. When that time comes, we anticipate that for the AEC industry, commercial real estate, how we use prefabrication in design, and the office work setting will be different. We are optimistic that the lessons learned amidst Covid-19 will change the future for the AEC industry for the better.
Let us know in the comments below, what do you think the future holds for the building industry as a result of Covid-19?
To combat the time consuming process of right-clicking or holding Ctrl + other key to see an outcome in Revit, Brian has developed several tips and tricks as well as keyboard shortcuts that will make every Revit user more productive.
Join our webinar to get the scoop on these time saving tricks that will make you more Revit savvy.
When’s the last time you had a day of work without a discussion that included Covid-19? If you can’t remember, you’re certainly not alone. These unprecedented times are unsettling for everyone – both personally and professionally. While by now most AEC firms have transitioned to remote work, the full impact Covid-19 will have on the economy is looming in many our minds. It’s almost as if we were driving along on a warm summer day, windows down, with a cool breeze running through our hair, and then all of a sudden, we encounter a fog so thick that we can no longer see what’s on the road ahead.
Do these uncertain times mean that it’s time for businesses to hit the brakes on spending? Absolutely not. In fact, now is a better time than ever to invest in tools that:
•Give your business a competitive advantage
•Make your team more efficient
•Support collaboration in a remote work setting
•Save your company time and money
Unfortunately, there can be a disconnect between those who need a solution and the decision maker who controls budget. You may be thinking, in the best of times it’s difficult to justify spending to solve a problem the decision maker will never experience firsthand… how can I possible secure budget during these uncertain ones?
We understand the struggle and have provided a list of tactics to help you secure budget for the tools you need amidst these uncertain times, below:
1.Focus on ROI (Return on Investment):
There is an endless number of amazing tools out there that make your job easier, more fun, or are just downright nice to have. However in these times, you’re most likely to get approval for tools that have a quantifiable ROI. For example, many of our customers tell us that they secured budget for UNIFI by quantifying the amount of time it would save for their organization. UNIFI saves designers over 200 hours a year (or more than an entire working month), which means it doesn’t only pay for itself, it will also ultimately save your firm money.
Be sure to highlight that while initial budget is required for tools that have a quantifiable ROI, over time they save the firm time and money, which ultimately means your business comes out ahead. Additionally, keep in mind that some of the vendors you’re evaluating may have actually done most of the legwork for you and have ROI calculators handy where they can plug in your firm’s unique numbers to show the value of their product in dollars. Don’t hesitate to ask them to help you calculate the ROI you’ll get from their product, which you can pass on to your higher ups. Click here to download UNIFI’s ROI calculator now.
2. Don’t just say, SHOW the problem (preferably in numbers):
It’s true… your CFO will probably never understand firsthand the frustration of spending 5-10 minutes to find the Revit content you’re looking for (and only to find out it’s outdated at that!). While they might care about your feelings, this alone is not enough to motivate them to sign on the dotted line. Communicate the problem in the language that speaks to them, numbers. Collect data to estimate how frequently the problem you’re facing occurs, how many employees it’s negatively effecting, and the time it takes to solve it in your current workflow. Then, show them how the tool you’re looking to implement will solve your problem and save your firm time and money. We have created a template of a deck that does just that you can download free at the link below.
Concrete examples help as well. When a Senior Design Technologist at a leading architectural firm was presenting the business case for investing in UNIFI to his firm’s partners, he asked them to imagine how much time is being wasted when three designers are at risk of creating the same family because they have no visibility into what content already exists in the firm’s library. That mental image immediately hit home with the executives!
3. Highlight how the tool works with and enhances remote work:
Given the current times, even the best tool out there with a sizable ROI won’t be approved unless it can easily be used in a remote setting. Cloud–based solutions, or other tools that can be used anywhere, are ideal. In addition, since the current day to day is already more turbulent than usual given the uncertain times, ensure that the training process is straight forward, so that you can highlight to the higher ups the simple implementation of the tool you’re interested in. Emphasize that it won’t disrupt, but instead enhance, your team’s current workflows.
4. Put yourself in the CFOS/decision maker/budget managers shoes:
Those in control of the budget are in a tough bind with the current times. Keep this in mind and approach the conversation around obtaining budget with the utmost empathy. Reiterate that you’re on the same team and focus on how the tool you’re looking to implement won’t only help you, but your entire organization.
Even though you can’t have an in–person meeting right now, be sure to approach this conversation in the most personal setting as possible. While email is great, a lot of communication including tone, body language, etc. is lost. We recommend scheduling a call, using your webcam, and preparing a presentation. For those of you looking to secure budget for a content management system or UNIFI, we’ve created a template slide deck that you can use to prepare a presentation that will help demonstrate the thought you’ve put into the evaluation to your leaders.
In addition to these tips, always remember that the sales rep you’re working with is a human too and you never know what’s possible when you transparently explain your circumstances to them. There’s an extensive list of companies offering help at this time and at UNIFI we’ve offered free additional licenses for our current customers and flexible licenses for any AEC firm to help them in the transition to remote work for the first time in company history.
We hope these tips help and you’re able to get the tools you need to succeed. Please let us know in the comments below, what are some tactics you’ve used to successfully secure budget with a decision maker in tough economic times?
How are you? No really… how are you? It’s been a few weeks since the world as we know it began to turn upside down and many, if not all, AEC Firms have now transitioned to remote work. While some AEC firms already had a remote work structure in place, IT studios struggled keeping up with support tickets as newly remote employees found themselves not only trying to figure out where to set up their desk, but also how to stay best connected both in terms of technology and culture.
We posted tips for working from home for an AEC firm last week and highlighted how leveraging cloud based platforms (such as BIM360 and UNIFI), open collaboration tools like Bluebeam Studio, and establishing a solid routine will help AEC firms through the rapid changes that come with remote work. As we all work through this transition, Gautam Ramchandra Shenoy DBIA, BIM Director at Steinberg Hart, published an excellent blog post walking through their tech stack.
One may ask, is it even worthwhile to spend the time to get a great remote work set up or should we just wait for the COVID-19 threat to pass? Exactly how long can we expect the remote work atmosphere to continue? Just last week, Technology Review published an article talking about the timeframe we’re looking at for practicing ‘social distancing’. While the article acknowledges that while we all want things to go back to normal and quickly, they likely won’t. Therefore, optimizing your remote work policy is critical.
Guatam’s post highlights how we can not only make a remote setting work, but how we can also use it as an opportunity to improve. He said, “…at no point in time, have we been able to step back, connect the dots and review the resources at hand.” While a set of deliverables or construction drawings may be part of the consumer product within AEC Firms, at this point other toolsets and how we fine-tune collaboration is key. While once COVID-19 passes it’s likely that AEC firms will go back to an office work setting, the enhanced connectivity and skills developed during this time will remain and benefit workflows.
Architecture firm, tvsdesign, is another great example of an AEC firm transitioning to a remote work setting seamlessly. Prior to the latest updates of the COVID-19 pandemic, tvsdesign scheduled a mandatory work from home day in order to test their remote work capabilities firm-wide. The COVID-19 pandemic shook up their plans however and tvsdesign went fully remote prior to their scheduled mandatory work from home day. Quickly rising to the challenge, their IT Studio quickly compiled numerous resources that were clean, concise and well detailed to make things as easy as possible. They’re also managing to keep culture a top priority by having employees’ webcams on to collaborate during their team meetings. In addition, they have continued to have breakfast together on Fridays, just as they did in the office prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Keeping such traditions and allowing for social interactions beyond typical meetings is a great way to improve morale and keep team members feeling connected.
In addition to Gautam’s article, our AEC work from home tips, and the real life example of how tvsdesign is spearheading the transition, AIA California has published a web page with some fantastic resources for employees and employers alike that you may also find useful. Here, you won’t only find remote workplace policies but also legal concerns and support resources for small businesses. While this particular page is tailored specifically to California, there are resources here that you can take advantage of regardless of where you are located.
Finally, Autodesk has also set up a resource center to help you with their software in a remote setting. We highly recommend reviewing their best practices for accessing Autodesk software if you’re having any difficulties. In case you haven’t heard, they’ve also extended the ability to purchase new multi-user subscription plans to August 7, 2020. Previously, they were going to begin transitioning customers to named users starting May 7, 2020 but this has been extended which is a sigh of relief for users as they are still in the process of getting comfortable conducting business as usual.
We hope these resources help as you continue to establish your “new normal” remote work routine. Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll cover what the future may hold for remote work and AEC firms. In the meantime, we want to hear from you! Please comment below with any resources that have helped you in the transition to remote work and the greatest challenge you’ve encountered so far.
We’re excited to announce our latest software update is available now! Pro 3.5 and Portal 2.12 updates include performance enhancements, saved search updates and several bug fixes.
At UNIFI, our main focus is to journey with our customers in their BIM data management strategies and deliver a best-in-class platform. Thanks to the feedback from our customers and Executive Advisory Board members, we’ve worked hard to address your valuable input with this release. We are thrilled to report you can now expect your UNIFI experience to be significantly enhanced across the board.
Keep reading for the low down and please note you need to update your platform to access these enhancements now.
We’ve focused on improving the overall infrastructure of the UNIFI platform which ultimately means you’ll enjoy an enhanced experience. You will notice a better general performance across UNIFI, including when you’re navigating and performing tasks, such as search and browse.
We’ve updated Saved Searches to include options for selecting search fields as well as filtering by Revit parameters. We also updated the UI for creating/editing saved searches to improve user experience.
We’ve made several improvements to Pro. Namely, Revit materials will now simply load into an active project (rather than initiate paint mode) and your shared parameters will be checked for updates more frequently to ensure the latest version is in use. In addition, content request comments can be saved with CTRL + Enter and time can be specified as part of the due date.
As previewed in our last release, the event stream has been removed from portal and is no longer supported.
• Project Analytics
Upon syncing a Revit model that has analytics turned on, you will now receive an alert letting you know UNIFI is collecting data for Project Analytics along with a progress bar.
•Autodesk 2021 Support
We’re just as excited as you are for Autodesk 2021 software! To prepare, we’re already working on 2021 support. You can expect that UNIFI will be ready to support Autodesk 2021 software shortly after it’s released. We’ll notify you directly when it’s officially live. Until then, check out the Autodesk software versions we’re currently compatible with here.
We’ve fixed several issues affecting your experience with UNIFI including:
•Fixed an issue where companies that had non-alphanumeric characters in their company name could not download their shared parameters stored in UNIFI
•Increased the number of users that can be saved in a user group
•Fixed an issue where non-Revit file revisions fulfilled through content requests would fail to download and subsequent revisions would fail to upload
•Fixed an issue where some channel selections were not being maintained when creating a saved search by saving
• Fixed an issue where users could not view family types for content in a shared library
•Previewing saved search results will now display the proper results
•Using the Sort By search filters now sorts the results correctly
• Using F5 to refresh UNIFI Pro while browsing will no longer navigate the user to Search
•Revit materials and fill patterns can now be inserted into 2D RFA files
•Usernames can now contain single quotes
•Fixed an issue where batch inserting multiple sheets would fail to insert all selected sheets
•Fixed an issue where base files of Revit families that contain an en dash in the name could not be downloaded
•User groups are now listed in alphabetical order when creating/editing users
•UNIFI will now connect to BIM360 project files that have tabs in the name
•Inserting content from UNIFI that already exists in the project, but the name differs in case will now insert and trigger the overwrite dialogue
•Navigating to a file or content request using a UNIFI URL will now work while the UNIFI application is both running and not running
•Fixed an issue where the material class filter would stick after selecting a material class in browse
•Material class names that contain a dash will now display results in search/browse
•An error message is now displayed when attempting to insert a Revit family that already exists in the project, but the types have all been deleted/purged from the project
•Inserting drafting views and schedules into a project that has the “Open workset default” setting set to “Specify” will no longer prompt the user with the specify worksets dialogue
•On the Dashboard page in the UNIFI Web Portal, the Licenses graph has been updated to properly calculate the values using the UTC time zone
•Fixed an issue where the family category would not update in UNIFI after uploading a revision where the family category was changed
•We have updated all dates and times to be displayed in local time, unless specifically stated otherwise
•File names in the batch editor now match the same formatting as displayed in UNIFI Pro
•Fixed an issue where the Administrators table would not list new admins when viewing library details in the UNIFI Web Portal
•Project Analytics data will no longer be collected when locally saving a workshared model
•In Project Analytics, when exporting Family data to Excel the number of instances is now per type instead of per family
•Fixed an issue in project analytics where data for large projects and models would not display in the project and model level dashboards
One final note, for customers using Project Analytics: Please ensure all users have the Revit TLS update applied to all Revit versions, otherwise Project Analytics data collection may not occur.
Thanks for being a valued UNIFI customer and taking the time to get the scoop on our latest update. We hope you find the updates and fixes in this release useful.
While we have you, we want to mention that in the wake of the COVID-19 news, we’d like to reinforce our commitment to journey with our customers and offer you additional licenses on us. If this is something you would find useful, please contact us here. We’ve also shared some tips for working from home specifically for the AEC industry that you may find useful here.
The health and safety or our customers and employees is our top priority and we hope these tips will be helpful to your team. We’ve implemented these tips at UNIFI to ensure we’re fully prepared, don’t miss a beat, and continue to provide top notch products and support to our customers.
Please stay tuned for updates on Autodesk 2021 support! In the meantime, please remember that your feedback is very important to us and we use it to continually improve our platform. If you have suggestions for future updates, please click here to learn how to submit your recommendations directly in the UNIFI platform.
As of April 20, 2020, the following bugs reported by users who updated to Pro 3.5 have been fixed:
•Receiving a “Could Not Insert” message when inserting an object with a name that already exists in the Revit project
•System family types that have been renamed in UNIFI inserting incorrectly
•The UNIFI desktop application crashing while performing operations that involve user interaction
•The UNIFI desktop application becoming unresponsive when uploading files while maximized at certain display resolution and zoom combinations
•The “External Tool Failure” message appearing for some users when launching Revit
For Project Analytics users, as a temporary measure in reducing data collection times, parameter data collection has been disabled in order to bring collection time to an acceptable level:
•This will not have any impact on the prebuilt dashboards in the web portal. If you are accessing the data via our API, you will notice that syncs performed with UNIFI 3.5.1 will not contain parameter data.
•We are developing a permanent solution that will allow you to choose what data is collected, including parameter data, that will be available in an upcoming release.