Thursday, June 30, 2011

RTC - Day Three

Saturday was shorter, but held the nugget of the entire conference.

First though, I was at a session presented by a couple of architects from Japan highlighting the progression and use of BIM since their disaster they experienced in March of 2011. While what they are having to deal with is tragic beyond belief, they have a good outlook. Believe it or not, BIM use is progressing steadily there as it is here.

The second session is the golden nugget - possibly paid for the cost of the conference in itself. Jason Grant presented: Revit for Presentations: Graphics that "POP". At the end of it, I realized that he just single-handedly gave me exactly what I've been looking to do for our designers. You see, there is this love for Sketchup in the offices I work with due to its "graphical" capabilities. Now I can share with our designers a way to accomplish what they want inside Revit! Jason also blogs over at his site called Adaptive Practice - check it out!

All in all, if you were on the fence this year about attending, don't give next year's event a second thought. You must attend!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

RTC Day Two

Steve Shell (The Rock and Roll Architect) presented tips for better making Revit graphical output look and stand out much better than the out of the box product. He showed areas we can focus on involving Materials, Line styles, Project Location / Sun Settings and Phases. One tip he gave was the use of multiple views on one sheet, overlapped to add depth to the layout of the view. Also, the need to place elements in odd/unusual places for a better 3D presentation view can help dramatically instead of leaving blank areas of the view such as sky or ground.

The next big session for me was by by Doug Williams of Perkins + Will on How to Establish a BIM Execution Plan. This fits right into one of the areas I've been dealing with lately so it held my interest greatly. He provided some great resources as well as direction to take and who to involve in the process. This was definitely my highlight and favorite class of the day.

Michelle Leonard presented her tips and tricks she's picked up along the way doing interior designs in Revit. She has found that libraries for content are key. Design Options have also been helpful for her teams.

Marcello Sgambelluri ran a Lab called a Special Application of the Adaptive Component, which centered around a third use of points using the Shape Handle option to graphically control parameter input. The applications are virtually limitless as it can control dimensional input, material changes and more all by sliding a grip on the screen!

Day two was wrapped up by a lovely dinner event outside over looking the beach. They had these awesome meringue dessert thingies that called for seconds...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Revit 2012 eTransmit

Somehow the word "Finally!!!!" doesn't do this justice! I've longed for an easy way to transmit a Revit project and now Autodesk has finally given that to us.

eTransmit for Revit 2012!!!

Hopefully your project is in 2012 and you can put this to use now!

Extreme BIM 2011

Fresh off the heels of RTC, the Extreme BIM 2011 held at USC should prove to be most insightful as to what some of the most well known names in Architecture are up to. Just browsing through the speaker list is practically a who's who! I'm really looking forward to this event. If you want to go, registration is open until July 6th.

Mario Guttman, AIA, LEED AP | Design Applications Research Leader, Perkins + Will
Application Programming for Computational Design; A Case Study on Driving Revit from Ecotect

Ian Keough, Associate, Buro Happold Consulting Engineers PC
Out of the Box : BIM Tools for Visualization and Documentation

Nathan Miller, NBBJ, Associate
Dataspaces and Uncertainty

Joseph Burns, SE, PE, FAIA, Managing Principal, Thornton Tomasetti
Stretching BIM: Design to Construction

Chandler Ahrens, Morphosis
Progressive Feedback

Michael Kilkelly AIA, Associate - Gehry Partners
Translations from Model to Building

Bradley Hardin, RA, LEED ap, Vice President of Strategic Pursuits, Balfour Beatty Construction
BIM and Extreme Execution – Why Digital Field Work is Everything

TEAM Gensler
Adam Gumowski, Designer
Brian Fraumeni, Designer
Kristen George, Designer
Lorenzo Marasso, Designer
Yasushi Ishida, Designer
Mind the Gap

Brian K. Stewart, Partner and Nicole Davis Tinkham, Associate, Collins Collins Muir + Stewart LLP
A Legal Perspective on BIM

Robert Cull, Executive Project Director, Cedars-Sinai Health System, Facilities Planning, Design and Construction
Document Management/Control in the BIM Process

TEAM CCC (some might be virtual)
Lee Belarmino, Vice President of Information Technology and Bond Executive, San Joaquin Delta College
Kimon Onuma, FAIA , President ONUMA Inc. / Founder of BIMStorms
John Roach, Director, Systems Analysis & Research, Foundation for California Community Colleges
BIG BIM BANG: How the California Community College System Connected 71 Million Square feet of BIM, GIS and Facility Management Data in the Cloud

RTC - Day One

Thursday. The day started off with the Keynote address and how RTC has grown. Carl Bass, Autodesk CEO, made a presentation and he was smart enough to not talk about Revit in front of several hundred Revit experts. Instead he talked about how he see's computing changing so many things, specifically infinite computing and how it's changing the way we design and build. Hyper-connectivity has affected the resources we can access at any time (accept while at RTC - boo-hiss). Lastly, he tied in Ubiquitous Access as demonstrated by more people having more tools at their disposal. Placing these three things together is how our future will be affected in how we design and build.

David Conant provided a history on the birth and growth of Revit. Showed some great early design concepts and trade show videos they made.

Dan Stine gave a great session on providing Revit support in a larger office. He made a few points that stood out and resonated nicely with me. Specifically, going to a quite conference room and locking yourself in there until you finish what you need to get done along with walking users through answers to avoid getting repeat questions.

I went to session on Bentley's Generative Components tool and found that, as I thought, Revit can do everything it does. Revit just does it with a much better designed interface.

The highlight for me on Thursday was a support session presented by Harlan Brumm from Autodesk support. As he deals with Revit, he gave some great insights to problems. He even addressed a couple issues I was dealing with and gave some things to go check on that I hadn't thought of. Being an Autodesk employee, he gets to take a 6 week sabbatical every now and then. The crazy thing was, he came here to present, despite being on his 6 week sabbatical. That's how much he loves this stuff. He even stayed for the rest of the days as I saw him popping in and out of classes. Harlan also contributes to the Revit Clinic blog, check it out!

Next, Lonnie Cumpton and Beau Turner presented the Revit Model Review add in available to subscription users. Looks like this tool will get some use to ensure standards are followed in the future. A great first day, capped by some nice refreshment afterwards.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reflections of RTC - USA

Well, live blogging from the event really didn't go as I had hoped/planned. My blasted AT&T reception was non-existent. Wi-Fi? Nope - not really. So, I pretty much ended up disconnecting for 3 days and just enjoying the conference. Overall, I have to say that this conference ROCKED!

If asked, I wouldn't try to compare this with Autodesk University (AU) as I really feel their focus and goal are totally different. I find myself pulled in 20 different directions at AU but at RTC I was able to focus on just Revit related topics (for once). Also, the venue was a nice change from Vegas. If I had to chose between the 2, I would quite possibly pick RTC over AU. Of course I would still prefer to go to both.

For me, the highlights were a couple sessions in particular. I'll be making a few follow up posts in the following days covering what those were! Right now, I've got about a million emails to catch up on...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Revit Technology Conference (RTC), Stateside

Today marks the start of the Revit Technology Conference (RTC) here in Surf City, USA (aka Huntington Beach, CA). I hope to make a few live blog posts from the event featuring a few of the highlights for me while I'm there. I'm really looking forward to my first RTC as previous ones had only been hosted in Gold Coast Australia.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Project Neon and Revit - Finally!

For those who like to create rendered images in Revit or don't have access to a high power workstation (or render farm), Autodesk's Project Neon will be of great interest to you. You see, Revit can only take advantage of the CPU processing power of your local box, unlike other high end rendering applications like 3ds Max which will take all the CPU power you throw at it. Neon, allows you to upload your Revit model to the Autodesk cloud, and their spare CPU processing power is put to use for your rendering. Depending on what you are doing (size of image, quality, time of day, etc.) you will see a boost in render speed anywhere from 32x to 128x faster than your average desktop.

I tried the sample files posted by Autodesk first and it worked as advertised. I then uploaded a project from my company. The Revit model was small on some standards at about 80MB (2 story high school with 2 buildings). The upload with the Revit plugin went great and picking settings for the render were really easy. The rendering on my Dell M6500 (intel core i7, Q740 @1.73GHz or 8 cores with hyper-threading on) took 1 hour, 27 minutes for an image size of 1904x634. The same file uploaded to Neon, rendered with slightly larger pixel dimensions (2000x1125), took 29 minutes to render.

29 minutes!!!!

Ok, so that's not quite real time but far faster than my laptop will ever crank an image of that size out. Plus, my laptop isn't tied up trying to render for an hour and a half, using all my CPU power and not letting me get anything else done. If I had chosen a lower image quality and smaller image size the time for rendering on Neon would have been far less.

As a side note, custom materials don't come across to Neon (the link to the help explains this more in depth). There was a material with perforations in it that didn't render correctly on Neon in my test file. Therefore I can only recommend this tool for test renders, or for checking how your design is going to look. There is little advanced control in the render settings so don't expect to be able to generate Vray images. 

So give it a try and see if it can give your rendering speed a boost!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Revit 2012 Subscription Extensions are out...

Just wanted to help spread the word that the 2012 Subscription Extensions are out now for all 3 Revit 2012 flavors. You can see from Kathryn's post what is included in each version here: Revit Clinic

Monday, June 13, 2011

Kelar Pacific 2012 Product Launch Event

On Thursday of last week I attended the Kelar Pacific 2012 Product Launch Event. This event was great and very informative showing what the Autodesk 2012 products have to offer. One of the things that made it great was that it felt like it was a one on one session with the presenter and me. It was very interactive which allowed for a more free flow of info.

Derek Renn presented what's new in a few different platforms and started with AutoCAD 2012. He pointed out an interesting use for the new Content Browser in that it could potentially be used to index a master standards file and allow you to easily populate a working file with content from the standard. Since it will index all objects inside and outside of a dwg file, the search potential is huge! I made a note to double check on my deployment image to see if we can configure in advance the folders to watch for indexing and to enable indexing for both private/public locations which allows searching across the drives on the server.

Derek next presented what's new in Revit Architecture 2012. He started off with Part & Assemblies and made a few points on applying these features to Architectural workflows. One way was to break floors into parts using grid lines which would ease in creation of the floors. Also, walls can be broken into parts for interacting with structural model or for QTO purposes. Even more exciting is now that we can break elements into parts, we can 4D sequence elements in Navisworks much more easily now. Lots to explore and play with there. One last thing he pointed out is that you can now apply view templates to 3d graphic display options. Yeah!

Lastly, Behzad covered Navisworks Manage 2012 in depth on its new features after wrapping up Revit Structure 2012. One feature I really appreciated is the ability to "Group" clashes. Say you have a steel beam with multiple ductwork cutting through it. In past versions, you would have to deal with multiple items, now you can place them in one group (think: folder) and find every related issue. Of note was the ability to use Switchback with Revit now. YES! Also, you can now assign people to clashes and have this show in the report to help with tracking who's fixing what. Then, when exporting be sure to choose HTML Tabular as this will make a clean export (instead of creating and export folder to place everything in), as well as allow you to open it in Excel. Lastly, Navisworks can now open 2d/3d DWF files. If its a 3d DWF, it should allow clash detection with other model objects.

I didn't stay for the whole event as I got what I needed out of the sessions I mentioned above. They were ready to present Revit MEP, AutoCAD MEP and Civil 3D whats new as well, but not sure if they were covered or not. Kelar provided a great lunch, nice informal atmosphere and some great insights to the 2012 products from Autodesk. More goodies to stick in the hat and make use of here at work.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Review of 3D Connexion Space Explorers

The results are in. Last April, we started a trial of 3D Connexion devices in several of our offices - specifically the Space Explorer model. It seems as if the feedback is split down the middle. It seems people either love 'em or hate 'em. We found in our testing that changing the factory defaults for the different axes was absolutely critical. Specifically, disabling the roll axis seemed to be of benefit to a number of designers. We used it in Sketchup, Bonzai, Rhino, 3ds Max Design and of course Revit.

We've come to the conclusion that while for some it can be of benefit, it would be hard to justify placing one on everyone's desk. We also felt it would be of particular benefit while doing live presentations of models in Sketchup/Revit to interested parties as it provides a much smoother navigation as opposed to the usual keyboard/mouse method. One thing a few designers liked was the beta driver software found on their dev site (version 3DX10). Its nice to be able to control pan/zoom in Photoshop and scroll in other documents. Lastly, we tested on both PC and Mac platforms and things seemed stable. One thing we didn't get into though, was assigning macro's to buttons since we didn't have the "Pro" mouse. I can see some potential for that, however it will have to wait.

I'd like to give a big thank you to 3D Connexion for allowing us to demo these devices to prove their worth. We will definitely be investing in these in the near future.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


It's geek out time kids! Mail order arrived Tuesday containing 2 USB flash drives each with a capacity of 32GB's containing the Autodesk Building Design Suite Premium. If that doesn't make one smile, perhaps the fact that they are solidly built with a wonderful metal casing that's well designed with a finish that is pretty close to my dell laptop case will perk your inner geek. Or maybe the sexy red flashing light will get you going or the fact that it will install over 10 products with a single click will light your fire!

Out of the box!

In Action!

I was a bit suspicious on a previous blog post about how "one-click" this might actually be. Well, it turns out, if you don't count the clicks to get to the actual install button or configuring the product install settings, it really is ONE-CLICK install for all products. The other thing I really appreciated is it detected that I already had some 2012 products installed and deselected them from the list of products to install.

Now that I think about it, I might start a collection of these on one of those janitor key chains. I think that would lend some status to my geek score...

Anyways, time to go play with some new products...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

U.S. CAD Solution Tour for Autodesk 2012 Products

This morning I attended the U.S. CAD Solution Tour for Autodesk 2012 Products (aka Make Your Ideas a Reality per Autodesk speak). Overall it was a very well put together event showcasing live what the 2012 building products from Autodesk have to offer.

The first session highlighted KaDe King, their resident AutoCAD expert who deftly showed some of the great new features in AutoCAD 2012. Items she covered were the new Content Browser, Auto-Complete for commands, new functions for Grips, being able to select/manipulate the UCS icon (my personal fav), the drastic increase in the ability to import more file formats, the parametric Array command and adding dynamic views to sheets. 

The expert panel from the U.S. CAD building team brain trust went in action (photo below) with a couple guest speakers - Scott Davis from Autodesk and Lonnie Cumpton from BIM9. William Troeak presented some of the general Revit Arch 2012 new features. William showed some of the great new presentation features for 2012 with the surface ghosting and new paint tools along with tagging/annotating in 3d. One great little tip he pointed out was that if you place regular text in your 3d view, if it is ever unlocked, the text will not hide with the other annotation objects (such as tags).


William was followed by Lonnie presenting new features centered around the new worksharing capabilities. Lonnie has unique qualifications to talk about the impact of worksharing enhancements after having worked on the Cosmopoliton in Las Vegas. After completing the project in Revit at about 7.5 Million Sq Ft and 47,000 sheets in the completed CD set, he's gained a little experience from it. In addition to covering worksharing enhancements such as the ability to remove worksets when detaching from central, he also showed a few ways for color coding them. You can color elements based on who has an items checked out or per the workset they belong to (great for seeing who has item checked out or ensuring all objects are in the correct workset). It was pointed out that the refresh rate can be set to update as frequently as every 5 seconds.

Up next was Dawn Hata covering Revit Structure and Michael Shinn covering Revit MEP. Dawn pointed out that we can now set VG to control and easily turn off the Revit Structure Analytical model with greater ease. Repeat after me: "I will go update my view templates now". Once all the Revit flavors were covered, Joel wrapped up by presenting Navisworks Manage 2012 and I owuld say the highlight was the ability to place objects into a shaded view with wireframe active, greatly enhancing the ability to view collisions in 3D. Lastly, I would like to say that it was refreshing to see the entire team utilize ONE building model design in each of the different software packages.

After the first session, everyone broke out into separate rooms, one for a presentation on Siteworks for Revit and the other on BIM9. Siteworks for Revit shows great promise in easily modifying site features and related info directly in Revit. BIM9 essentially allows you to setup your own private BIM cloud for accessing Revit projects remotely. Trust me, it works wonderfully!

All in all it was a great event and it was great to see some industry friends. Now to go get some of these tips in the hands of users throughout the company!