Thursday, January 29, 2015

Scan-to-BIM

A portion of the laser scan point cloud loaded into Revit

A number of people have asked "What is Scan-to-BIM?" and so I take the opportunity here to showcase an exciting project as an example. 

In short, Scan-to-BIM is where we take a highly-accurate laser-scan of a space or building and build an existing conditions Revit model for use, reference, or archive. Why do this? Anyone who has had the experience of using a laser scan will likely tell you that they would never do it any other way going forward for several reasons.
  1. Accuracy - laser scanners such as the Faro Focus3D X 330 which I prefer are accurate to the fraction of a millimeter and can scan as close as 0.6m to as far as 330m. From experience I can tell you that people (of which I include myself) make mistakes, especially on surveys.
  2. Accessibility - sometimes it is difficult to measure high ceilings such as the Academy of Music. Laser scanning makes this a snap, including this information in the scan, as it not only scans great distances 360 degrees around, it also scans above.
  3. Speed - Scan duration, with standard scan resolution in b/w is approximately 2 minutes, and in color approximately 5 minutes, per scan "drop". A "drop" means each time the scanner is set down to scan. There were 4 scan drops for the main room seen below in Carpenter's Hall. Each took about 5 minutes which means in a span of 20 minutes we had a detailed measurable account of the entire space. If this were surveyed by hand, it would most likely mean going back to the project site to verify, and sometimes more than once, racking up hours and hours. Instead, it was short work. With a laser scan, if any measurement needed verification or a moulding profile like below is required, the information is available on demand with no need to revisit the site. 

Photo of the main hall in Carpenter's Hall

With the scans complete, the Revit model could start and the process is fairly straight-forward. The raw scans are "Registered" (tied together accurately based on markers within the scan) using the Faro Scene software or Autodesk's Recap Pro, then linked into the Revit file using the "point cloud" button on the Insert tab.
Detail of the point cloud in Revit showing dimensioning of the interior wall

Note that if you are working with a team in an office, you will want to place the scans in a network folder before inserting into Revit, otherwise, the other team members will not load the files correctly.

Note also that point clouds can be rather large files, often in the Gigabytes, so check with your IT group before clogging up your servers.
Detail of the door frame moulding and column fluting.

Building the Revit model is then fairly straight forward as well. You see the point cloud in the model space and then begin drawing walls, creating and placing elements until you have the level of detail required. One thing worth noting is that with exisitng buildings, you will find the walls and other building elements are not always plumb and often you'll find yourself questioning which point to select to begin drawing. My rule of thumb is to start with the middle-most or average point within the extremes, and to make your model plumb. This will result in some inconsistent overlap of the point cloud and your model but at the end of the day, if the project needs to be rebuilt, the plans will not want to have odd angles and measurements. On the other hand if the project is a renovation or retro-fit, then you might reconsider this. Regardless, you will have the point cloud which can be placed on the sheet as it is with any new construction modeled as a hybrid drawing.

Screen capture of  the Revit working model
There are many other uses for laser scanning, Scan-to-BIM, and modeling, including construction monitoring, real estate transactions, building damage recording, monument protection, facilities management, accident re-creation, and much more. 

For more information on BIM Consulting, Scan-to-BIM and related services, contact Craig Barbieri at the following email: Craig@iRevit.com 

Autodesk Account To Replace Autodesk Subscription Centre

I thought this information was worth reposting as I've been impressed by the growing number of cloud services through Revit and other tools and have been playing around with it for a bit:
From Redstack.Com.Au

Autodesk is in the process of replacing Autodesk Subscription Center with the new and improved Autodesk Account to provide a greater level or online service to their clients.

Subscription Center is an online portal where Autodesk users can manage their product licenses, subscriptions and services.  From Subscription Center, users can manage their Autodesk license and subscription accounts and services, download files, access support and more.  This service is scheduled to close on March 13, 2015.  a web portal where users can go to manage their Autodesk product licenses, subscriptions and services. This site provides access to download files, tech support, and other services. Autodesk is closing that service on March 13th, 2015.

Autodesk will replace this service with the new Autodesk Account.  From here you will be able to setup your personal profile, manage and access your licenses, subscriptions, software, services and a range of support services.  This new service will be suitable for both maintenance subscription and desktop subscription clients.  The interface is greatly improved for ease of use.

You will be able to login using the same subscription ID and Password you currently use at the screen show below:


From this screen you will be able to access your products and services including updates and trials. Also available is reporting on the licenses you have and the ability to add mobile devices.
If you are trying to download the products you have on Subscription like Product Design Suite, you will need to select the Products link and Download other Autodesk software product(s). This will open a new window so you can access your downloads.
Login to your new Autodesk Account and start using it now.  See the video below which further explains the coming changes.



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

BIM Perspectives - NY May 29th

Join me in NY at the BIM Perspectives event, where I and a number of Industry professionals will be speaking on BIM in the Practice of Architecture and Engineering:


Building Information Modeling (BIM) Perspectives is a series of events that we hold in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. In this event, you will hear from various members of multi-disciplinary project teams about their best practices for using BIM as a basis for a collaborative design and construction process. You will learn about the challenges and benefits of implementing BIM technology from the perspective of leading local and national AEC practitioners.
This year's theme for BIM Perspectives New York is "Collaboration," focusing on the entire project team. From the property owners and facilities professionals, to the architects, engineers, construction, and specialty contractors, we will investigate new ways to accelerate innovationon. We will examine how cloud based and mobile collaboration are empowering extended team members and enabling flexible and dynamic project workflow.

>

When:
Thursday, May 29, 2014
8:00 am – 1:00 pm EST

Where:
McGraw Hill Auditorium
1221 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10020

Credit:
Microsol Resources is an Approved Provider through the AIA/CES and will provide a Certificate of Completion for 3.5 AIA LUs and PDH for this seminar.

Cost:
There is no cost but you need to register to participate

FEATURED PRESENTERS

Safiy Abdur-Rahman, Director, Integrated Building Solutions | BIM, NYC DDC
Ian Atkins, Associate Principal, Firmwide BIM Application Manager, KPF
Craig Barbieri, Design Technology Manager, Pennoni
Luciana Burdi, Deputy Director for Capital Programs, Massachusetts Port Authority
John Cannistraro, President, Cannistraro
Erik Churchill, Project Manager, SHoP Construction
Jon David, Regional Manager | Virtual Design and Construction, Turner Construction
Laura Handler, Director of Service Design & Strategy, Tocci Building Companies
Stephen Jones, Senior Director, McGraw Hill Construction
Jan Leenknegt, BIM Manager, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
Robert Mencarini, Principal, Array Architects
Ken Murphy, BIM Director, Thornton Tomasetti
Joe Romano, Principal, Vice President, Langan
Shawnita Sterett, Director of Infrastructure, Autodesk
James Vandezande, Principal, HOK

They will be discussing the following topics and more:

>

Microsol Resources has been delivering integrated solutions to the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries for 25 years. It is a recognized leader in building information modeling (BIM) technology solutions, as well as an Autodesk Platinum Partner with offices in New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA, with a professional staff of BIM/CAD Applications Experts focused on supporting the AEC community.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Design Technology Summit (DTS)

You may know that I'm involved in the RTC DTS Organizing committee and I'm excited to say that the 2nd DTS is almost here. If you don't know about the DTS, info can be found here.


Reposted from the Design Technology Summit blog:

It’s less than a week away now, here’s a little update. If you are already registered to attend you should have received an email recently too. If you haven’t please let the Secretary know as soon as you can.
If you are still interested in attending registration is full, with 27 companies being represented. We may have an open slot however. Keep in mind that the focus is biased toward firms with 100+ staff and/or multiple sites. If you’d like to make it even though it is last minute please contact the RTC Secretary.
We’ll kick off the event on Wednesday evening with some networking. We’re going to be doing a little Design Technology speed dating, yes it will be as geeky as that sounds, but it should be a good ice-breaker to help get conversations going.
Thursday we will focus on establishing our small groups, something new that we will start this time around. Each small working group will address these topics: Innovation, Collaboration and Management.
The small group leaders will be:
  • Collaboration – Lee Miller – HOK
  • Innovation – Josh Emig – Perkins & Will
  • Management – Robert Yori – SOM
On Friday our small groups will report back to the full group on their topics. Going forward they’ll be focused on them for the next 6-9 months and they’ll set the expectation for what kind of deliverable the full group should expect to see at future sessions. Each group will prepare draft reports for their Bucket and make them available 1 month prior to the Summer DTS (June) meeting which is co-located with RTC NA in Schaumburg, IL (near Chicago).

We will also strive to solicit and include input from people that were not able to join us this time.
We’re very excited to have the HP/Nvidia team as a sponsor, for DTS as well as a Platinum Global Sponsor for RTC overall. A special treat, they’re taking us up to Fort Collins on Friday afternoon for a behind the scenes tour (NDA required) of the HP R&D Facility located there. This should be very interesting and I’m sure we are all looking forward to it.
In June we’ll get back together just before RTC begins. It will be an opportunity for the full group to hear back from each of the small groups and then discuss each major topic in a large group format. Going forward we envision our Winter meetings as our Small Group meeting and then the Summer meetings being our Large Group meeting. We’re also hoping to find a way to present what DTS has been working on to RTC attendees during each RTC event.

We expect that the Summer meeting will be either 2 or perhaps just 1-1/2 days. We’re still working on scheduling it around some of the RTC related activities currently being planned for the Wednesday prior to the official conference start on Thursday. RTC is hoping to have something special sorted out and naturally we want DTS attendees to be able to take part too. More news on that when it becomes available.

RTC’s Design Technology Summit is proudly sponsored by our Platinum Global Sponsor -  HP|NVIDIA

HPNVIDIA
We are also very pleased that Global eTraining has joined RTCDTS as a Bronze Sponsor
Global eTraining

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Revit rendering vs. Autodesk cloud rendering - Fight!


Recently I had the pleasure of designing a few options for a potential remodel of our lobby here at HQ. During this time I also trialed Autodesk 360's rendering service and I must say, I am impressed. What I liked most about it was the speed with which it rendered. The quality of the images was fair/good and the way it handled material textures was good, in fact in some cases better than Revit. But then the cloud handled some things a little oddly.
Looming deadlines are the modus operendi for Architects. Unfortunately for us, renderings usually take time and unless you have workstations set aside for rendering, you've got to juggle your time in Revit and your time rendering such that you can accomplish what you need in the nick of time. Well at least you used to have to juggle your time. With Autodesk's 360 cloud rendering, juggling time has become less of an issue. The cloud is FAST. And it's easy. Take the two draft images below for example. Both were set to roughly equivalent quality and size settings, though the model was at a different level of completeness in each which should explain the subtle differences. Revit took 1 day, 9 hours and 24 minutes to render. The Autodesk cloud took roughly 10 minutes.

Draft image rendered in Cloud (Final, Large, Advanced setting)
Draft image rendered in Revit (Best setting)
There are some noticeable differences though. It seems as though the cloud uses a different rendering engine. In fact if you check the Help, you'll find this statement:
"The rendering service relies on a new, highly optimized rendering engine. Minor differences in the appearance of materials should be expected."
In general the Revit rendering has a softer look to it which I like.

Materials: 

Note that some of the materials are not showing up in the cloud rendered version for the bar, and the chrome of the coffee table. These use stock, out-of-the box materials (Cherry and Chrome) so I sent off a note to the nice support folks about it. Apparently there's an issue using the "Tint" feature in the Revit material editor, though this was not used in these materials. They're looking at the file at the time of this writing and I'll try and update this post if I get a response/solution. I changed the materials for these elements to Wood - Cherry and Metal - Chrome and it rendered fine. 
The wall paint is also very different in appearance in the two different renderings. Some of this has to do with the exposure settings but the mottling of the material is typical Revit rendering effect. If you adjust your rendering settings in the Custom options, you can eliminate the mottling but I find it comes with a time cost.
The textured wall behind the receptionist turned out to be incorrectly rendered in Revit but correctly rendered in the cloud. As far as I can tell the texture and the bump are not aligning correctly even though they were locked and use the same image:

Rendered in Cloud
Good

Rendered in Revit
Not so good
   

Lighting

The lighting in the above draft has not been adjusted in terms of color. To make the fixtures glow, I created a new material called "light glow" and set the Self Illumination to create the fixture glow:

I later adjusted the color to match that of the fixtures photometrics. 

The lighting in both looks fairly good but in both the Cloud and Revit I had to adjust the exposure and white point to get the right brightness and tone. 
The odd thing about the lighting is that in the cloud rendered image, there's a black plane showing up in the fixture, perpendicular to the direction of the luminance, that is not in the family and isn't rendered by Revit. I ended up switching out the fixture for a different one as I couldn't find a way to eliminate it. 

Rendered in Revit
Looks correct
Rendered in Cloud
Ummm, wtf?


At the end of the day, I ended up finalizing the design and rendering 6 or so images via the cloud, blowing through the 25 free "cloud credits" and generating some good images for the presentation. I recommend you use the free "standard" setting until you are completely satisfied with the output materials, textures, lighting and so forth, before you spend your credits on rendering a "final"  Large image.  The dialog will let you know how many credits are required and this website has a breakdown of cost and the different settings. All in all the convenience is well worth the cost. You get 100 Cloud credits allocated annually for each software license on Subscription. According to the Revit Kid, Autodesk Cloud credits cost a buck each.

Rendered in Cloud

Rendered in Cloud

Rendered in Cloud