BCS / RTC Post Event Review

Whew… Blog PostArchVision was busy in July. Wednesday before last marked the inaugural Building Content Summit (BCS). The BCS was the day before the Revit Technology Conference (RTC) which was held in Washington, DC. I acted as co-chair for the BCS along with Parley Burnett of InView Labs (makers of Unifi). What an event!

The goal was to bring 50-100 manufacturers, arch firm content managers and software/service providers to talk about the ins and outs of “BIM Content”. We ended up with 104 attendees which read like a who’s who in the world of BIM from Anderson Windows, CertainTeed, Victaulic, Haworth, Autodesk, and Bentley to AECOM, HDR Architecture and Perkins + Will. We had a full day of speakers and small-group round-table discussions mapping out the many issues left to resolve in the BIM content world. Follow @rtcbcs for post-event info and plans for the next Building Content Summit. The event website can be found at http://www.rtcevents.com/bcs2015/.

So why was I involved? For those that hung around for the Revit Technology Conference and stopped by the ArchVision | Chaos Group | Cl3ver | IrisVR booth you got a sneak peak of why. Not only does ArchVision’s RPC file format and underlying delivery platform have an important role to play in the BIM ecosystem but we’re on our way to expanding our presence in the BIM world with some important new products.

First will be an exciting new BIM content collection called DETAIL WAREHOUSE. In the coming weeks ArchVision will release a library of ~25,000 (yes, you read that correctly) natively-built Revit Drafting Views of common, light-commercial building details (roofs, windows, doors and foundations). This subscription product will give you access to the industry’s most extensive collection of details. In addition to the details will be approximately 1000 new Revit Components. The combination provides a great way to start your Revit Standards library or augment your existing collection. Watch detailwarehouse.archvision.com for more info.

The big news from last week was the sneak peek at AVAIL, our game-changing content management platform. AVAIL is a content-agnostic, simple way to index the content on your WAN and consume it in new ways. AVAIL can be used to organize your company’s internal Revit Standards Library, inbound manufacturer content, your visualization group’s materials and textures, your marketing departments project photos and PDF cut-sheets and more! If you missed seeing it at RTC stay tuned for more details. All delivered through a modern, easy-to-use desktop application interface that finally makes finding and using your firms “content” a pleasure, not the nightmare you’ve had to endure trying to work with Windows file folders for managing content. Sound interesting? Watch avail.archvision.com for more details.

Summer of Content

U_K5Wi1sI’m pleased to announce that ArchVision is a Silver Sponsor of the 2015 Revit Technology Conference (RTC) in both North America and Europe where we’ll be showcasing some of our newest developments in late July (Washington, DC USA) and October (Budapest, Hungary).

Not content (see what I did there) with resting on our laurels the team at ArchVision has been working feverishly on some exciting new developments.

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On the RPC front we’ll soon have a new update for Entourage Workshop that includes Autodesk Cloud Rendering support, support for RPC Planting families, and a new option for making 2D RPC geometry face the camera in Revit.

2.4 v-ray_for_ants_2 If you were in Atlanta last month for the AIA annual convention and expo I’m sure you were as blown away as I was at Chaos Groups preview of VRay for Revit.  Our teams have been working together closely to make sure your RPCs flow through seamlessly.  They do!  Take a look at these images.  Your RPCs in Revit have never looked better than when they’re rendered with VRay.  If you missed AIA don’t miss RTC so you can see it for yourself!

If you haven’t stopped by the recently relaunched ArchVision Labs site you may have missed the news that we’ve been working on an RPC Plug-in for Sketchup!  Been a long time coming but it was worth the wait.  There are still a few things to get sorted out but we’ll be releasing this to existing customers for beta testing soon.  We’ve also begun working with 3rd party Sketchup rendering partners such as Podium and VRay to ensure smooth workflows.

It’s in the Details…

We’re working to expand our content offering beyond RPC.  First will be a collection of approximately 1,000 Revit Components.  The Component Warehouse will be the first “Channel” of non-RPC content available leveraging a new content platform we’ve been developing (more on this soon).  The components are easily browsed or searched.

Need Revit Drafting Views?  Detail Warehouse is a subscription “Channel” where a small yearly fee gains you access to a library of tens of thousands of Revit Drafting Views ready to customize to your particular needs.  The Detail Warehouse is a great way to get your own standards library off the ground or augment your existing library.

If you’re already registered for RTC be sure to stop by our booth on the exhibit floor to see all of these exciting new developments.  It’s not too late!  You can still register for RTC and be sure to register for our class: “Take Control of Your Assets (including Families and Drafting Views) – an RTC Lab!

Taming The Content Beast

with_the_lions_1Content is an insatiable beast. Demands are ever changing. As with most things, what worked yesterday is replaced by something that provides more value today.

At ArchVision we think of content in terms of flow, not something that’s static. While we continue to add new RPCs to your subscription plan we realize it is never enough. Though we try, it’s an impossible task to satisfy the thousands of unique needs of our customers across the globe.

Make

In order to best service and satisfy those varied needs we began investing in opening up the RPC Platform to encourage others to participate. We’ve always encouraged support for RPC content in the leading applications. The success of RPC begins and ends with broad support in what we call the “host” applications; the software you find critical to your daily workflow. Today you can use RPC content in 3ds Max, Autocad, Revit, Microstation, Rhino, FormZ, Modo, Photoshop and with the leading rendering solutions like V-Ray and Accurender. There’s rumor something might be in the works for SketchUp as well. Check out labs.archvision.com for more info.

Support for RPC in the host apps doesn’t quell the content appetite. We had to open RPC to anyone who wanted to take advantage of the tightly integrated workflow. We started this process several years ago by moving to a subscription business model. This allowed us to truly think of RPC content as a never ending flow available to subscribers and to look for others who may have content that could be delivered most effectively via RPC.

Last year we released a new and improved RPC Creator tool integrated with the ArchVision Dashboard. RPC Creator lets anyone drag and drop a PNG or TIFF formatted image onto Dashboard and instantly create an RPC. That ease of creating RPCs has brought thousands of new RPCs into existence over the past year.

As part of this initiative we were pleased to announce our first RPC Publishing partner, 3dRender, and the availability of their popular Pro-Viz People textures in the RPC format. We’ll be announcing additional partners in the coming months.

So now that we’ve got you making RPCs what’s the next logical step?

Share

Stash!We believe many of you will be willing to share the RPCs you’ve been making with the new RPC Creator tool. If every matted PNG or TIFF image could be converted to RPC it’s more likely you’ll be able to find just the right content to satisfy your needs.

So we’ve started an experiment we call Stash!. Stash! is a repository of RPCs you’ve created and offered to share with the community of RPC users around the world. It’s not fancy (yet) but gets the job done. All you need to do is hit the “Submit to Stash!” button and upload your Custom RPC. We’ll test the RPC and post your submission to Stash! to share with everyone.

If you haven’t visited Stash! you should check out some of the content your colleagues have contributed and add them to your collection. Better yet, if you’ve made something you think others would enjoy make your own contribution to Stash!

Randall

Pro-Viz Texture Collections Now Available in ArchVision RPC Format

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ArchVision (Lexington, Kentucky USA) and 3dRender (Sheffield, UK) are pleased to announce a new partnership.  Effective immediately 3dRender’s Pro-Viz People collections now include RPC versions of the content.   The Pro-Viz People collections make available 500 high quality people textures as PNG, JPEG and now RPC, perfect for enhancing architectural renderings.

As RPC, users will experience a much simplified workflow in Revit, 3ds Max, Autocad, Microstation, FormZ, Rhino, Modo and Photoshop.  RPC enables one-click placement and drag & drop into select applications simplifying the workflow by removing the tedious process of creating native geometry and materials traditionally needed to get PNG & JPEG formatted textures into 3d models.

“We’re excited to partner with 3dRender on this new initiative to make the world’s best architectural entourage available as RPCs” said Randall Stevens, CEO of ArchVision.  “Having Pro-Viz People textures in the RPC file format will be a welcomed addition for thousands of RPC customers around the world.”provizcomplete500

The RPC platform not only enables dramatically simplified workflows for placing and managing architectural entourage in 3d models but also provides search & tagging of content inside ArchVision Dashboard, mass editing and placement tools, cloud rendering support and new non-photorealistic stylization of content inside Autodesk Revit via Entourage Workshop. The Pro-Viz RPCs will appear, pre-tagged, within ArchVision Dashboard for ease of organization and search.

“Publishing our extensive architectural texture collections as RPC makes our customers investment more valuable.  Features such as ArchVision’s new Entourage Workshop for Revit bring an entirely new capability to our collections” said Tim Barrett, Owner at 3dRender Ltd.

Use of the RPC platform requires a separate license available at archvision.com.  The Pro-Viz collections including the new RPC format are available for purchase at 3dRender.co.uk and at archvision.com.


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About ArchVision Inc.

ArchVision’s mission is to improve design modeling and visualization with content and content management software solutions. We do that in several ways. Our RPC (Rich Photorealistic Content) technology provides render-friendly, image-based architectural entourage primarily in the form of people, tree & plant, and automobile content to customers around the world. RPC was selected by Autodesk as the default tree & planting solution that ships with Revit.  ArchVision’s Dashboard content management platform provides content organization and search tools for managing vast amounts of design content as well as plug-in and license management.

RPC has become the defacto-standard solution for managing architectural entourage with support for the leading modeling and visualization platforms and solutions including Autodesk Autocad, Autodesk Revit, Autodesk 3ds Max, Bentley Microstation, Robert McNeel & Associates Rhino 3D, The Foundry Modo, Autodessys FormZ, Chaos Group V-Ray, Accurender nXT and Adobe Photoshop.

For additional company or product information or to inquire about the RPC SDK, contact ArchVision at +1 859.252.3118 or email support@archvision.com.

About 3dRender Ltd

3dRender Ltd is the creator and distributor of Pro-Viz(TM) 3D texture and image entourage products, designed specifically for use in high-end architectural visualization.

Our Pro-Viz(TM) products are used by thousands of CG artists worldwide, along with many of the industry’s leading architects and visualization studios, including Foster+Partners, Red-Vertex, Atkins Global, WZMH Architects, VisualWorks, LAUBlab KG (the creators of VRAYforC4D) & many others.

Why Architects Hate Entourage

Most arch visualization folks hate entourage. They hate seeing people in their renderings. They hate that they have to try to reproduce the world “around” their structures. They hate anything that breaks the realm of photorealism. They hate having to painstakingly place individual people in their scenes. They hate that the model of car they personally drive isn’t readily available to drop into their model. Haters gonna hate.

But you know who loves entourage? Clients! They love seeing their mall parking lot full of cars (customers!). They love seeing rows of semi trucks docked behind their warehouse (customers!). They love seeing life brimming in their restaurants, concert halls, sports venues and retail shops (customers!). We can talk about how entourage helps communicate scale; blah, blah, blah. In the end, customers want to feel great about their new project. Anything you can do to convey warm, happy thoughts about how well the project is going to be received transmits those happy thoughts. Architectural entourage can help.

In late 2013 I wrote a post titled Rendering vs Presentation that outlined our view of the changing visualization workflow in the design industry. The democratization of visualization is changing who is creating the communication work-product, what tools they’re using, and the usefulness in various parts of the design/customer-interaction process. No longer is visualization relegated to “that guy in the corner” who is the only one with the tenacity (read crazy enough) to master the tools used to create photorealistic renderings. Rather, visuals generated from 3D models are being used to convey design intent in presentations at key points throughout the design process.  A new generation or two of new hires joining the workforce with 3D skills combined with less costly software solutions translates into  value understood by practitioner and client alike.

Entourage WorkshopOne of our goals in 2014 was to increase the usefulness of RPCs within Revit by providing users with the tools they need to customize the look and feel of the RPCs in their scenes. Entourage Workshop was born. Entourage Workshop is a Revit add-in that lets you create and apply Styles to RPC people and trees in your model. These Styles control the type of geometry and appearance (color, transparency and brightness) of the RPCs in your model allowing you to achieve photorealistic and non-photorealistic presentation results.

Entourage Workshop lets you create reusable Styles for achieving silhouettes of people or trees, control the model-view geometry of the RPCs in your scene including removal of the “base” and fine-tune the brightness of the RPCs to better match your scene in the various rendering modes.

There’s a love/hate relationship with entourage. We’ve heard thousands of stories over the years. The goal of RPC and Entourage Workshop is to help you learn to love entourage. Give your clients visuals, chocked-full of entourage, with your own personal Style. What’s not to love!

The Power of Universal Tags

We’ve been hard at work on the ability to easily convert 2D textures into RPC and now have a new Dashboard-integrated RPC Creator tool in widespread use. Converting your PNG and TIFF cutouts into RPC is as easy as dragging and dropping those alpha-masked images onto the Drop Zone within the RPC Creator. Add a Name and Height and an RPC is generated complete with a custom icon and preview. As an RPC you’ll find many advantages over the original PNG or TIFF format including automatic Sketchup-style “Face Me” capabilities within applications like 3ds Max, Revit and Autocad. For those of you who have gone through the process of trying to get your 2D cutouts to play nicely in those apps you know how many steps it takes to accomplish what should be a simple task. RPC makes that pain go away.

We’re also introducing the first of a series of organizational tools designed to make finding the right content easy. Accompanying the RPC Creator is a new Tag Editor. The Tag Editor lets you add Tags (metadata) to the RPCs you create. These Tags make content searchable within Dashboard. We’re also introducing a visual tag-cloud feature called Filters that presents the Tags that have been added to content in an easy-to-navigate visual interface. Click on a Tag or Tags and quickly filter to the content you need.

Filters

As we began working on these new features we thought about how best to help you organize and make use of your content. We made several observations:

Observation #1: Everyone knows tagging can be a powerful organizing tool but there’s one big problem… nobody wants to spend time tagging things.

Observation #2: A lot of the content you use is also being used by other people around the world.

So why not take advantage of the fact that the same content is in use across the globe and let Tags automatically follow the same content? With Dashboard we have the ability to do just that! We’re excited to introduce a concept we call Universal Tags. Here’s how it works. We don’t share your content. In fact, your content never has to leave your local environment for Universal Tags to work. We create a unique identifier for each piece of content and use that to track the Tags associated with the content. The effect is that when you introduce a piece of content into your own environment that has been viewed in Dashboard by someone else, we essentially get an up-vote  for common Tags that have been associated with that content. After a specified number of up-votes the Tags can be converted to public tags.  If no one has added tags or you’re the first to introduce the content to Dashboard you’ll have to add your own tags. It’s a powerful network effect, as tags are added by one person everyone benefits!

As you know, information is only as useful as it is accurate. So it’s up to you to add meaningful tags. The Tag Editor will let you remove Tags that you don’t find useful and we use those as votes as to the value of that Tag to others.  We also use this concept to automatically provide a Name and Height to RPCs during the RPC Creation process so assigning a descriptive name and accurate height helps everyone.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts on these new features.

Presentation Styles of Christopher Dutton [Ocean Designs]

This month we’re profiling the work of Christopher Dutton of Ocean Designs in San Diego, California.  Christopher contacted us after he saw the new Presentation Styles section of our blog and offered to pass along some tips for creating better work in Revit.  Following are some of Christopher’s Revit renderings as well as some tips, tricks and techniques he’s learned along the way:

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Materials: “Materials, materials, materials! If you’re using the out-of-the-box materials that come with Revit, find ones that are as close as possible to what you want, then take the time to customize them in the Material Editor to get them even more accurate. Pay special attention to the scale of material and bump images to make sure they are properly sized (for example, roofing, tiles and siding are critical).”

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“Also, use the tint setting to customize the color of your materials. This usually takes some trial and error to get right, so you’ll need to do some low-quality renderings to test your colors. Another alternative that’s worth the time is finding custom material images. These can be found doing a web search, through third-parties and are slowly starting to be provided by manufacturers. Lastly, be sure to fine-tune the settings for glazing to optimize reflectivity and translucency. Getting the right effect from your glass can make a huge difference.”

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Content: “Start building a robust content library. There are many great resources online for downloading custom families, either from other users, third parties or manufacturers. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, take the time to create a custom family. Most of the time you’ll find another project to use it in later, so it’ll be worth it. Custom families will help add another level of detail and realism to your renderings so they don’t look so generic.”

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Lighting: “Lighting is key. For exterior shots, take into consideration your camera angles and prominent architectural elements when setting the sun angle so that you get nice shadow lines that accentuate depth and details of your building. Mid-morning and late-afternoon sun settings will usually give you a softer light and create shallower shadow casts that won’t engulf the faces of the structure, especially at eaves and overhangs.”

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Interiors: “For interior shots, proper selection and placement of light fixtures will really make your renderings pop. Also, mid-day sun will provide indirect exterior lighting and help eliminate long, distracting shadow lines at exterior openings. Make sure to set up light groups and turn off the groups that don’t affect the area you’re rendering to eliminate unwanted light casting and reduce the amount of processing.”

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Plantings: “Planting. Revit’s RPC plant library isn’t always perfect [… Christophers choice of words, not ours ;)  Perfect.. no, but pretty darn good!], but find plants and trees that you like and locate them to help accentuate and add texture and context to the composition of your rendering. I’ve found that locating a tree in the foreground just outside of the field of view so that some of the outer leaves and branches are at the edge of your view can help frame in your image and add a level of realism.”

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Backgrounds:  “Don’t use Revit’s sky and clouds for your background. It increases your rendering time and the quality is usually not that great. Build a library of images that you can use as backgrounds (the higher-res the better). I’ve created a library with categories such as sky, neighborhoods, landscapes, hills and valleys, cityscapes, etc.  Find images that relate to the context, scale and camera angle of your renderings. Render with the background style set to “Color” and “White (255-255-255)”. When the rendering is complete, select “Export” and save the image as a PNG. This will save your image with a blank background. Then you can open the PNG file in a photo editing program such as Photoshop and drop the background image you’ve selected behind your rendering. Scale and move the background image as needed to fit with the rendering and then adjust the layer’s brightness, contrast and exposure to get it to blend properly.”

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“Lastly, get creative with your camera angles. Use overhead views, think about perspective and focal point as well as overall context.  Hope everyone can find something useful to take from this!”

Thanks for the tips Christopher!

If you’d like to show off your work send an email to rstevens@archvision.com and we’ll work to feature you on the blog and in an upcoming newsletter!

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