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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Going Live with Autodesk LIVE Visualization Service for AEC

 
July 22nd, 2016 by Susan Smith

Amar Hanspal, senior vice president and Nicolas Fonta, senior product manager of Autodesk, spoke about yesterday’s launch of Autodesk LIVE, a new interactive visualization service which offers Revit AEC users the ability to transform their designs into fully-interactive 3D models, and draws viewers into the story of an architectural design much like a video game.

Autodesk LIVE Viewer, Villa Martini

A look into the Autodesk LIVE viewer on Windows showing a model that has been edited in Stingray and then loaded back into LIVE. (Graphic: Business Wire)

Autodesk LIVE takes the worlds of visual effects, gaming software and BIM and take them to the next level of visualization. Hanspal spoke about how cloud and mobile computing as well as additive and subtractive manufacturing make things easier to manufacture and blur the boundaries of the physical and digital worlds.

“We want to make it a lot easier for people to understand and experience what they’re going to build before they actually build it,” said Hanspal. “When you look at renderings and visualization, while the pictures or walkthroughs are beautiful, they’re predefined, they’re stories told from the point of view of the maker as opposed to being interactive and experienced through the point of view of the user. In other words, the user can see the BIM model in full 3D and watch it and watch a walkthrough through the space, but they can’t really experience or explore the model from their point of view in a live and interactive way as if they were in that space themselves.”

“We are bringing walkthroughs to truly dynamic visualization and democratizing that experience so that anyone and everyone can create those experiences and share them,” said Hanspal. “Live Design is a service – a one button seamless experience that transforms a Revit model into an interactive and immersive experience. Speed and ease of use are big because a Revit model can get transformed into a real time experience through the power of the cloud. Our service takes crucial BIM data and automatically maps everything out and enables a stakeholder to step inside the model, much like one would step inside a video game. And this service is not designed for someone with lots of content creation experience, but for everyday architects, engineers, and construction professionals who need to share their models with clients in an immersive experience to make important decisions.”

Autodesk LIVE  is available today on Windows and IOS devices but the technology will start appearing on VR devices in the future. “This is really a new chapter for us, to take a BIM model and bring it to life so people can experience things before they’re real.”

Fonta demonstrated LIVE Design and spoke about how the product began as Project Expo two years ago. In architecture firms it’s customary to meet with the client every two weeks to go over early design phase. He or she has a visualization specialist in the firm agree on images to be produced so he can tell his story. If he wants something different like seeing the building at night, he has to go back to the visualization specialist and wait for results.

The architect is looking for something with quick turnaround time, so he/she can use visuals very quickly. The architect is looking for something he can use himself, not being an expert in visualization.

Last year Stingray, Autodesk’s full game engine used for producing interactive immersive experiences, was released. It is used by visualization experts today. Autodesk also has 3ds Max, their suite of solutions in the design and more specifically the AEC space that has been around for 30 years.

The new addition to the family is LIVE service, that is key in providing access to this technology to non–experts.

“This is an offering for Revit users,” said Fonta. “The key one is the cloud service, where the translation is happening. The result of that can be consumed right away on the architect’s desktop which is a LIVE editor tweet and can be published with the LIVE editor, an app anyone can download for iOS and Windows.”

With the Revit software running a user can hit a button to go live with the service. Everything that is required in the Revit models loaded to the cloud for the service depiction. The Revit project, any dependent Revit link files, any textures, custom materials, anything that Revit needs to fully understand what that model needs will be loaded.

In the preparation step, the BIM model is made ready for an interactive experience. You optimize geometry so it can run in real time. The user will translate all the materials whether they’re standard or custom, make sure all the RPC models are converted so they are place holder models translated into 3D animated real time models. The last but most important thing is reading in all the BIM data, this is the metadata, the “smarts” that basically tells what is in this environment, everything in the environment we know about.

The processing, including upload and download and the connection, takes about six minutes. Once this is done, press the open button and that launches second part of the solution. You see now the model with animated trees. You can look around using the map, click where you want to go and the engine takes you there automatically. Movement on screen is being generated by the user, the walkthrough process is defined by the person who created the walkthrough, and person who created it is free to go through it and examine it as they want.

“Because we read the geolocation from the Revit model, you can change the time of day dynamically from any time, turn lights on and off,” said Fonta.  “I’m clicking on different objects, what you see on the left (of the screen) is information architects are preparing. It’s key to be able to treat that environment in an intimate fashion. this is how we know how to open doors, because of hinges, etc. this is why we don’t let you walk in the pool, because it’s water.”

The same capabilities can work on the iPad on a native application, i.e., the walkthrough, change time of day or year, and you can start going around in that environment and ask any questions.

LIVE supports full motion video and Stingray supports HDC and Oculus. Autodesk is hoping to leverage Gear VR and Google Cardboard. Fonta said it is easy to upgrade because LIVE is a service. “We do use Stingray under the hood for LIVE, and the output of cloud service can be used in LIVE, but the shorter path can lead to Stingray as well.”

According to Hanspal, “LIVE is a perfect example of how film and game development is influencing client expectations in the AEC world. Imagine the ability to step inside a building and experience everything well before it is real. With such simplicity, clients can do more than just see what a space looks like, they can better know what it feels like. Autodesk LIVE may forever change the way AEC professionals communicate with their clients.”

According to company materials, with Autodesk LIVE, architects, engineering and construction design professionals can:

  • Prepare Autodesk Revit models for real-time exploration in just a few minutes;
  • Integrate Revit models with an environment terrain template to more quickly add scale and context around any building;
  • Convert rich photorealistic content (RPC), people models and vegetation models to real-time 3D models so the world looks alive; and
  • Understand better how BIM objects should behave, as BIM data is brought over to the Autodesk LIVE environment. For example, LIVE knows a door is a door, and as such it will open and close as the user moves to and through the door. Another example includes the ability to show the time of day and year, which may be adjusted at any point to see representative sun and shadow patterns.

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Categories: AEC, AECCafe, Autodesk, Autodesk LIVE, BIM, building information modeling, collaboration, mobile, point clouds, sustainable design, virtual reality, visualization

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