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.


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

Rendered in Revit
Not so good


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

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Classical Architecture with Revit

Checkout this post and book on classical architecture... Great stuff and some super tips for aspiring Revit Masters.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What to Expect When Your Client Is Expecting BIM - Five BIM Trends You Need to Know

This is a cross-post with Digital-Tutors. To view the post on their blog, visit DT Labs.

In a recent interview with Digital-Tutors I was asked what market and software trends I saw involving BIM and Revit. They were only able to include one trend in the release but what follows are my insights in full.

Clients Want Revit
What we see at our firm, and what I know others are seeing as well, is that savvy clients are saying their project is a BIM project and you’re going to use Revit. I think it’s what’s forcing a lot of firms to make the transition. Those firms that have already or are in the midst of making the transition are in a good spot. Design firms don’t want to end up like Kodak, B.Dalton or the music industry, where they falter in adapting to a major disruptive change in the way things are done. Revit is enabling designers to deliver a better product, a coordinated set of design docs that reduces construction costs and improves overall project outcomes. Who wouldn't want that?

Analysis Isn’t Just for the Big Dogs
In terms of a multi-disciple firm, like we are, we're seeing the incorporation of the types of analysis we do become far more accessible. As such, it's perfectly reasonable that a small firm can now do very expensive computation fluid dynamics analysis with tools they have on their desktop, or even laptop, through the cloud without having a very heavy-duty computer at all. That's a huge change. Five to ten years ago, you had to have a fairly expensive piece of hardware and even more expensive software to run analyses.

Budgeting Woes
BIM is a major change in more than just process. Before BIM, a firm could plan out the number of sheets they were going to create and budget off of that. Now with BIM, the number of sheets does not matter, because you can do 1,000 sheets for a small house with little effort - hopefully you don’t have to do 1,000 sheets though! Budgeting is a difficult challenge because many firms don't have any sort of experience in budgeting for a BIM project. It’s the Level of Development (LOD) that needs to be used as a baseline now, in place of the number of sheets.

Isometric Cake Walk
Back in the day, we used to do isometric drawings, or hand draw 3D details/cutaways of a very complex part of a building, and we moved away from that in CAD because it was fairly difficult. Now, in Revit, it's a piece of cake and firms are bringing them back. Those kinds of drawings are so much more useful for a contractor, showing how things are joining up in three dimensions.

Contractors Don’t Want Your Model
What's also very fascinating is looking on the engineering side. You’ve got MEP engineers using Revit MEP to create these systems and drawings like they always have. On the other hand, contractors have gotten far savvier with BIM lately, so much so that they're requiring their trade contractors, like sheet metal fabricators, to produce fabrication models. It's come to the point where the trade contractors say to the design engineers, "We don't want your model. Draw a single line where you want these ducts to go, and we'll create the model." It leaves MEP engineers in an odd position. How do you adjust to that sort of change in the industry? I don't have an answer for that.

Learn more about me in my Digital-Tutors Featured Tutor interview. See more from watching my Revit tutorial on Designing and Documenting a Building in Revit.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Announcing new Revit training category at Digital-Tutors

This past summer I was honored to be invited to be a Guest Tutor at Digital-Tutors. Digital-tutors has a wide variety of professionally crafted tutorials on topics like modeling, lighting, texturing, dynamics and more with tools like 3DMax, Maya, Inventor, Sketchbook Pro,  Mudbox, Photoshop, Rhino and most recently, Revit!

Digital-tutors is a seasoned provider of eLearning targeted towards Professional CG, VFX & Digital Arts for the Movie and Gaming industries. This month they released their new Architecture-focused Computer Aided Design tutorial category and a few of the best pros in the industry including Kelvin Tam, and Pierre Derenoncourt, have joined me on Digital-tutors to kick-off the first release! 
Sign-up for a free trial at Digital-tutors and learn how I created the Philadelphia Rowhouse in the picture above!
Craig Barbieri

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Finally - A tablet large enough to mark-up drawings in a somewhat practical manner

Reposted from http://technology4architects.blogspot.com/
Recently Dell introduced the largest tablet available to the consumer market, the XPS18. This tablet has a screen size of about 1'-6" diagonally [note that the iPad is a mere 9.7"]
It makes for a great markup tablet because it runs full-blown windows, which means you can install Bluebeam, or Design Review or any other Windows-based software for that matter. It's a "capacitive touch" display which means you can use your fingers or a capacitive pen (one of those squishy-ended numbers) and of course the on-screen keyboard. Not all applications support multi-touch yet but I know that the latest release of Bluebeam does.
Click here to see it at Dell
Here's a pic showing hands as scale reference

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tell them what you think

Craig Barbieri here with another opportunity for you to win cold hard cash by being opinionated. Autodesk wants to know what you think of the energy analysis output from Revit.
Does it give you valuable information you can use to make early design decisions? Click here:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BIM contracts updated by AIA

Lots of good info here on Level of Development Specification for BIM Processes

Thursday, June 27, 2013

CASE Interoperability: Structural Framing

The guys over at Case have not ceased to amaze me yet. Watch this...

Nathan, from CASE is taking his Rhino/grasshopper formulaic/programmable structure and porting it to Revit using their plugin, that then builds the structure using Revit Structural components, including the Revit structural model.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A work-around: Revit Renders smooth curves with facets, and other revelations.

I've been consulting recently and in doing so I came across two things that I find bothersome with Revit, one which I have a work-around for and the other just sucks.
First let's talk about the one I have a work-around for, and that is the lack of smoothing of curves in renderings. Here is my example:

In the render, you can clearly see that what should be a smooth circle, is rendered as faceted.

Here you can see it in Realistic view in Revit to the left and being edited to the right and the circle appears as it should.
This isn't a new issue. It's been around for quite a while, per this AUGI post from 2008. So the work-around I came up with was to use the split tool:
and split the circle in their sketches in the family editor so there are more divisions to the curve. This forces Revit to render more accurately, although still faceted.

Here I have split the linework in the sketches for the circles and re-rendered with a better but not perfect result. The reflections on the default Brushed Stainless material suck. I mean, not even close.
The second bothersome issue has to do with a certain material used often in Interior projects. This is Brushed Stainless Steel. There is no work-around for this other than Photoshopping it. Autodesk provides a wide array of materials for use in typical construction and they have been working over the years to make them better and then they moved to conform them across platforms and I'm sure have spent a great deal of effort trying to provide a useable library for rendering and that's all well and good except when it comes to this material type... The issue with Brushed Stainless Steel has to do with the inability of Revit to handle Anisotropic reflection rotation -that is the brushed groove alignment's effect on light reflections based on a viewer's relative position. You see, according to my research Anisotropic reflections on typical materials are horizontal, which is how Revit renders every material. Brushed stainless on the other hand reflects anisotropic light vertically. Here's how it's done in Maya with great realism. So the message is, if you need to render your project's Kitchen with it's Stainless steel appliances, use Maya, or fudge it in Photoshop.
Here's my draft with Photoshop:
So, lesson is, Revit is not so much a product design application and I should use Maya or Max or Inventor :P

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Product Design Suite Test Drive -- Revit - Inventor BIM Exchange

This is a short demonstration from Autodesk of the BIM exchange from Inventor to native Revit family file. Manufacturers take note! Architects and Engineers don't need intricately detailed virtual products as Revit families. We need simplified generalizations of the products extents and clearances. The Inventor BIM exchange looks like it's made your work much simpler.
Craig Barbieri

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

BIM infographic

I came across this infographic the other day on the Line/Shape/Space blog. I always find new metrics/statistics on BIM interesting and you may find this interesting too.

Friday, February 8, 2013

IDEA studio

There's a great opportunity here if you are a student. IDEA Studio is calling for proposals for Student in residence at Autodesk. Act fast ....you only have until the 15th to get it in.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Revit Hatch patterns revisited

A long time ago I talked about the in's and out's of hatch patterns in Revit and how they are made from scratch. I'm not sure why the universally used functionality hasn't been addressed in any shape or form by the Factory but thanks to some talent out there in the world, there are easier ways to address patterns. I recently came across Hatch22, a fairly easy-to-use Revit Add-in that addresses the missing functionality. It's Pay as you Please and worth a look if you find yourself in need of non-standard patterns. I found the instructions fairly concise and thorough except for a few things: The View type (Dratfting/Detail/Model) in which you draw your pattern was vaguely referenced, and the wording describing how drawing Scale relates to the pattern and it's output was unclear. The plugin dialog looks like so:

You essentially draw your pattern and pattern boundary in a Revit drafting view, and use the four line styles Hatch22 loads into the file to help the lines do what you want them to do.
The Add-in and a new pattern for a Perforated Ceiling tile
I found that it did not recognize circles, spitting out a blank boundary file and that it had some issue with some of the hexagon linework, to where it had to be "corrected". All in all it's a good tool and Gregory Mertens deserves some patronage for his work.