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Monday, 21 May 2018

Preview Revit files in Windows Explorer???

For those in the media, entertainment and visualisation spaces, this might be old news. However, as I have not been working with .FBX files a lot, I found something which might be super useful to quickly check how the geometry of a project or families look like; in Windows Explorer!

For both Revit projects and families, simply export the .RVT or .RFA file to a .FBX file format. Enable the Preview Panel option in Windows explorer, and voila:

One can zoom into and orbit around the preview just like you do in the software; The exception is that you do not have to open the software to do it.

Have a good week, folks!

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Creating a Custom Enscape Skybox

I have looked into creating custom skybox files a while ago, but did not have much success. If memory serves me, the closest I got to creating something viable, was through the use of the Unity engine. That has changed for the best however: Enter iStreetView and Street View Download 360!

The process of creating a custom skybox is really easy. 

Step 1: Visit to install the Street View Download 360 program.

Step 2: Visit and search for your project's location. Copy the Panorama ID code on the right hand pane. 

Step 3: Open the Street View Download 360 App, choose a Save-As location, a Panorama name, and paste the ID copied in Step 2 into the required field. Download the Panorama file. 

Step 4: Through Enscape, add the downloaded Panorama image as a skybox file. Note that the panorama image must have an aspect ration of 2:1, 4:3, etc. 

The result could look similar to the image below:

Note however that one cannot move the skybox up or down. One can only rotate it on the X-axis. I believe this is due to the height the panorama was captured at, coupled with the skybox being inserted to the center of the project's geometry.

I'm still satisfied with the results!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Enscape: Stereo Panorama QR Code

Even by using Enscape on a daily basis, I seemed to have missed this extremely useful function; Released in the latest update, Version 2.1: Save Panorama as QR Code. 

QR Codes are not a new thing. The first QR Code reportedly created took place in 1994 by a Toyota subsidiary called Denso Wave. Fast forward to today and we can envision a myriad of new possibilities using 24-year old technology. One of these possibilities is to send a simple image to a client, a manager, a director, or even a contractor to immerse themselves in your design. 

Queue Enscape Version 2.1:

Once a Panorama has been created from Enscape, and uploaded to the cloud,

That Panorama can be saved as a PNG Image file. 

Try it yourself! Download a free QR Code reader for iOS or Android, open the app on your cellphone and aim for the picture below. Immerse yourself in a panoramic scene which could be part of your next design.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Design Sharing and Viewing Options

Technology is not for everyone. Similarly, technology might not form the core of a person's daily lives, thus they do not intuitively know how it works or what to do with it. 

Scenario: You need to share a design with a client who has little to no experience with our design technologies, nor does he/she care to learn how it works.

From the typical Autodesk spectrum we have 5 design sharing and viewing techologies:

1. Autodesk Viewer
2. DWG TrueView
3. Design Review
4. AutoCAD Mobile App
5. BIM 360 Team

I am pretty sure that Revit Recess readers have already tested, or are even using at least 2 of the above programs. I use the Autodesk Viewer, Design Review and BIM 360 Team on a near daily basis. 

Keeping in mind that we need to share files with non-technologically inclined clients, lets look at a quick comparison of the Autodesk Viewer to BIM 360 Team.

For simply viewing over 50 different file formats in the browser, Autodesk Viewer is the answer. From the professional's side, simply upload the required files to the Viewer, and share the link with the client.

From the client's side, simply open the sharing email and click on the link in the email content.

The result? Quick, easy, simple to understand and even simpler to use.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Sketchup + FormIt = Revit?

Many of my students have incredible Sketchup skills, mostly due to the fact that they were taught Computer Aided Design through Sketchup from their varsity days. I am sure that many of the Revit Recess readers themselves have completed an amazing design or two. For those with no Sketchup experience, do a quick internet search for something along the lines of "Amazing Sketchup Designs" to see for yourself.

However, if you want to, need to, or are "forced" to be at the forefront of technology (Let's be brutally honest, working in and through cloud is the future whether we like it or not) the likelihood of being exposed to the market leaders in design software in the workspace is inevitable. Now, before this post turns into a "Revit is best", "Microstation is better", or "Nothing beats paper impregnated with Potassium Ferricyanide", it is not the aim of this entry.

The aim is to discover how we can use Sketchup in conjunction with other software, such as Autodesk FormIt and Autodesk Revit.

Quite a while ago, Autodesk introduced FormIt as, in my opinion, a competitor to Sketchup. A number of advancements were made to the software since its release under the Autodesk brand, one of which is an add-in for Revit called FormIt Converter. Is it perfect? No. Is it getting close to perfect? Maybe. Is it usable? Definitely!

A quick search on Sketchup's 3D Warehouse site got me a simple-ish model of a Velociraptor skeleton.

This Sketchup Skeleton will go through 3 steps in order for it to be useable in Revit. First of all, the FormIt Converter add-in can be found in the Add-Ins tab, FormIt Converter panel. When selecting the Convert RFA to FormIt icon, you will find four options: Convert RFA to FormIt, Convert SKP to FormIt, Import FormIt to RVT and Reload Families.

In order to use a Sketchup object in Revit, we need to Convert it to a Formit file first (.AXM file format)

You will be prompted to specify a path to the Sketchup file, as well as a folder path to where the FormIt file will be saved.

Depending on the complexity of the Sketchup object, the converter will provide either a Succeeded or Failed result. More about the failures will be discussed at the end of this post.

There are a few similarities between Sketchup and FormIt, one of those being that one works in layers. All of the Skecthup layers will be brought into FormIt.

Once the above process has run its course, it is time to Import the Formit family into Revit. This is where a negative comes into play. When downloading Sketchup objects, rather stick to a Sketchup 2016 format. I have only experienced conversion failures with Skecthup 2017 and 2018 objects. The second negative is that, due to a Sketchup 2016 file being used, all of those individual layers will be seen as nested families. In other words, go and make yourselves a couple of coffees while the upgrade process for each layer takes place.

The end result could look similar to the image below.
 "Depending on the complexity of the Sketchup object" has been raised earlier. The more complex the object is, the more triangulations and quads existing in the geometry, the more likely it is that the conversion will fail. Another consideration is the overall file size: 2MB Sketchup file converted to a 4.4MB Formit file, which blows up to a 29.4MB Revit project file size (Fully purged)  

I guess that the message I want to convey is that one can use Sketchup objects in Revit, but it should be used very sparingly. Even better, rather design those Sketchup objects in FormIt from the start. Not only will you feel familiar with FormIt's user interface, commands and geometry manipulation, but you will also drastically decrease your overall project file size.

Have a great new year folks!