February 18, 2008
Autodesk World Press Day 2008 Coverage
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Bay Bridge retrofit
Using 3D modeling and design software, the resulting images and animation spurred the media to run several stories, and as a result, audiences understood the message better. The bridge was handed over to the construction team 40 minutes earlier. Bay area freeways were almost empty on that day. CALTRANS can now consider closing critical arteries because of this success.

NavisWorks was used to create a 4D time model that allowed contractors to communicate complex and simultaneous building activities of the bridge. Three major contractors are building three megaprojects associated with the bridge within a small space on Yerba Buena Island.

The company that has brought us Spiderman, Surf’s Up, Polar Express and Beowulf, to name a few, holds the top box office position with all ten of their 2007 films. George Joblove of Sony Pictures Imageworks said all their top movies were animated or assisted with special effects. Global gross revenues for 2007 topped US$6,737,900,000.

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Bay Bridge retrofit
With this much said, they use Maya and Flame for their visual effects, animation and compositing.

Joblove said that the line between animation and reality is becoming “increasingly blurred.”

What are driving forces for the entertainment industry?

-audience sophistication

-movie going experience

-new generation of filmmakers

-artistic and technology advancement

Each year, more animation and visual effects are added to existing topics. Techniques employed include live action filmmaking, which involves a hand held camera tracking system, an image motion capture system that captures live action which combines real actors and animation to make animated characters appear realistic. This technique was used in Polar Express and Beowulf. It can capture 20 actors, simultaneously including all their expressions and physical movements. Joblove said the film industry is influenced by “a new generation of film directors who are digitally oriented, influenced by music videos and playing video games.”

Visualization and animation have played an important role in selling architectural projects to the public. Sheena Duggal, special effects supervisor for Imageworks, Lightstream Pictures, created the Chicago Spire film, “Imagined by Calatrava,” featuring a 2,000 foot tall spire scheduled for completion in 2011. Architect Calatrava spoke as though the spire was a living thing, a building “built for man by man.” The movie is a story without words.

Duggal said that the film made use of the same techniques used for blockbuster movies, and she felt it was important to include elements of nature as a backdrop for Spire, along with layered music to create tone.

Jeff Kowalski, CTO, brought up the point that the digital model’s role and value has changed and grown: now there is information in the model that we didn’t put in it originally. As a result of some of the features of that model, such as clash detection, information is mediated and refined to a point of accuracy that was not possible in the past.

Another interesting observation is that now the digital model can move beyond visualization to impart an emotional component of an experience, much like what you would find in a movie. The HumanIK solution from Autodesk gives characters intelligent reactions and interact realistically with their environment.

According to Kowalski, architects and designers are becoming directors as well. “As graphics technology goes mainstream, more people are using 3D technology to communicate their ideas. You can understand a building better by placing it in its environment.”

3ds Max Design is being launched specifically for architects and designers. The customer Smooth has created animations using humorous characters to populate their architectural models to tell a story about a building that has yet to built, giving planners a more interactive, immersive experience.

BIM/AEC Industry Workshop

Autodesk has a number of favorite themes, and one of their favorites, “visualize, simulate and analyze” projects before they’re real, was showcased during the BIM/AEC Industry Workshop.

All the announcements of 2009 product releases were saved until Wednesday’s workshops. In the BIM/AEC Industry Workshop senior vice president of AEC Solutions, Jay Bhatt listed the product lineup for that group:

Revit Architecture

Revit Structure

Revit MEP

AutoCAD Civil 3D

Autodesk Buzzsaw

Autodesk Constructware

Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk 3ds Max

Autodesk Maya

Autodesk has acquired NavisWorks, Intelisolve, Carmel Software, Green Building Studio, and Robobat.

Inventor and Maya were touted by Autodesk as tools to help you explore conceptual design before going into production. Inventor, a parametric 3D modeler, offers control over finite elements so it can be used to do some form rationalization, break the building down into smaller parts to produce some area calculations.

Maya offers a freeform approach to conceptual design. With Maya, a freeform surface is created, finalizing design; you can select all surfaces or space frames and apply a surface on top of it. The push and pull environment demonstrated could be very useful to architects, as Maya eliminates all geometric barriers.

An “integrated workflow demo” of a library project in Rio de Janiero was shown, built using BIM. The model was taken virtually through construction into fabrication.

Technically, the architect started out in Revit Architecture 2009, using the improved user interface and mental ray rendering capabilities from 3ds Max which are in the new release.

The civil engineer laid out the preliminary design in Civil 3D. Additional analysis tools were needed to make the design better, so he used the new tool, Hydroflow, to automatically update Civil 3D objects.

Using Revit Structural, the structural engineer needed a lot of open space for this project. By using BIM they can create one model to visualize these spaces and design the required substantial truss on either side of building that is cantilevered.

It’s common for the structural engineer to create more than one analysis model for any structure. Revit includes the material properties, supports and actual sizes of parts, and can be linked with Robot Millennium. The structure can be analyzed based on loads.

The MEP can leverage room information provided by the architect. New to Revit MEP is a feature that allows you to automatically convert those rooms to MEP spaces. Can then by leveraged by Carmel Software, which does load calculations, such as calculating peak heating and cooling loads so you can accurately size HVAC ductwork. Using worst case scenarios for winter and summer months combined with real world weather data tables, you can identify components that affect the energy performance of the building.

You can save energy by reducing overall electrical needs of the building.

The MEP can go back into Revit to decide what type of systems to design.

MEP and structural design is often contracted out, but by using NavisWorks you can combine structural, MEP, civil and all different formats from different sources into a single model environment. This model can then be shared with all project stakeholders.

Clash results can issue change orders back to subs or the design team. The clash report can be uploaded to Constructware, and NavisWorks will load the latest revisions.

Constructware will route that report to the proper recipient on the project team, and will include the steps to take to resolve the clash. Then the design team will reroute the ducting to resolve the clash. The cost to complete report is in Constructware, which has come from the BIM.

Design data can be extended to fabrication using AutoCAD Structural Detail, which can export an entire structure from Revit. You can then start creating detail information that you need to erect steel.

To work on a particular part of the building such as a louver system, you can bring part of the assembly back into Inventor to simulate fabrication of the one part, simulating the milling process. This takes place while design continues.

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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.


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