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!

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