2016 in Review – 2017 Preview

I try to spend some time at the end of each year reflecting on what we’ve accomplished but more importantly thinking about what we should be working on moving forward. 2016 was an eventful year for ArchVision. We celebrated our 25th year in business in August. No small feat as those of you that run your own businesses can attest. It was probably equal doses of foresight, naivety, stubbornness and love of the industry that carried us this far.

If you followed ArchVision over the years you probably witnessed us going through numerous transition periods with our products. 2015 and ’16 were years where you may not have perceived a lot of activity with our existing products but behind the scenes it was just the opposite. We introduced a new product in September called AVAIL, a new approach to enterprise content management that is sweeping across the AEC industry. Released commercially in late August, AVAIL has been in development for more than 3 years and has it’s origins in the ArchVision Dashboard product. In late 2015 we introduced a new content product called Detail Warehouse that is destined to change the way the AEC industry thinks about BIM content. Throughout the past year we augmented the RPC subscription content collection with hundreds of new RPC Automobiles and we have been laying some groundwork to dramatically increase the volume, quality and variety of RPC formatted content, ready to drag & drop into your next project.

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I’m not sure if AVAIL is a result of that foresight or naivety I mentioned but we seem to have struck a chord. Thanks to everyone who helped during the beta period as we couldn’t have done it without you. AVAIL is solving what we now refer to as that 40 year old Windows file folder problem we’ve all become numb to. If you haven’t seen AVAIL in action check out the AVAIL YouTube channel. There are a couple of overview videos for managing visualization assets or specifically how AVAIL can be used to manage Revit content. You can try AVAIL for yourself (I suggest watching the video(s) first so you have an idea of what it is designed to do) by visiting getavail.com and downloading a fully functioning install. The only limit is how many Channels you can create and how much content you can index. It’s designed to let you get your feet wet with your own content. AVAIL comes alive once you see and start organizing your own assets.

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Detail Warehouse is the world’s largest commercial repository of native-built Revit drafting views encompassing 50 sub-categories of door, roof, window and foundation details. Designed to be a starting point for building your own internal detail library, what you currently see in Detail Warehouse is just the beginning. In 2016 we continued to augment the subscription with additional detail components such as Wood Screws and Sleeve Anchors as well as new AISC Steel Shapes. 2017 promises to bring new categories of not only details but oft-used families and components. We’re also working to more tightly integrate the delivery and management of Detail Warehouse with AVAIL so watch for updates early in 2017.

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Last but certainly not least is the RPC platform. We introduced a new partnership with AXYZ Design for photorealistic people content delivered as 3D+ RPCs. If you haven’t previewed and sampled these collections you owe it to yourself to take a look as they’re a spectacular way to liven up your renderings. In the past couple of months we were also pleased to announce the addition of 3 new rendering and visualization applications to the RPC family. It has been the year-of-Revit as Enscape, Revizto and V-Ray for Revit all have released RPC support in their latest releases.

While we’re continuing to augment and deliver the world’s most comprehensive collection of architectural entourage we’ve also been busy laying the groundwork for some exciting new ways you’ll be able to leverage the RPC platform. The current RPC Creator tool in Dashboard lets you convert any 2D TIFF or PNG image into an RPC, ready to use in your preferred modeling and and visualization applications. Get ready, we’re about to open up the ability to create your own 3D+ RPCs! We’re working to broaden your ability to create your own RPCs from existing models. Without getting into too much detail you’ll be able to convert most any 3d model into an RPC.

As an example consider the airplane in the image below. It started as a SketchUp model on 3D Warehouse, textures were “baked” in 3dsMax, exported along with the geometry and converted to RPC. The resulting RPC was then placed in Revit and rendered using Enscape. All within minutes! We’ll be launching the new RPC Creator capability as a web service accessible at labs.archvision.com soon so watch your inbox for details.

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Thanks to everyone for your continued support. We couldn’t work on such fun projects without you! Looking forward to helping each of you in 2017.

Randall

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!

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!

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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Presentation Styles of Corbin Savopoulos [MVE & Partners]

This month we’re profiling the work of Corbin Savopoulos of MVE & Partners (Irvine, California).  We came across Corbin’s work after seeing a post on the Autodesk Revit Forum regarding non-realistic effects with RPCs.  Corbin was looking for ways to affect the geometry and take advantage of the various line/shading modes available in Revit.  We shared some insights into a new project we have underway (project named Ghost) that will provide some great new non-photorealistic workflows with RPCs within Revit.  More on this next month!  You can get a little preview of the direction in our response here.

Corbin shared some of his work which we’re profiling here.  Corbin says his intent is to create a “soft/light watercolor style efficiently & effectively”.  That’s exactly what caught our eye.  As you can see from these renderings, mission accomplished!

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How does Corbin accomplish this look?  Revit, Layers & Photoshop!  Here’s some tips Corbin shared…

“One alternative I have setup before was to export three versions of the same elevation by temporarily using view templates and overlay them together in photoshop (as smart objects so I can automatically reload changes).

  • Export 1 (Optional)  – (Consistent Color) – No Shadows. No Entourage/Planting. This will be used as your first layer (temporary) in photoshop set as normal. Used purely as a temporary color selector/wand tool for setting up your masks for any additional effects such as storefront images. Therefore, once you are done with masking (mask applied to groups, not layer) turn off this layer/smart object.
  • Export 2 – (Realistic) Override all lines/surface patterns under ‘Projection/Surface’ in Visibility/Graphics to solid white except Entourage/Planting. No Shadows. This will be second layer (overlay) in photoshop set as multiply. White surfaces of building will not effect main colors.
  • Export 3 – (Consistent Color) Turn on shadows to your liking. No Entourage/Planting. This will be used as your third layer (main) in photoshop set as normal.

*Note: Folder structure in photoshop is very important in order for advanced PSD to operate efficiently.”

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Thanks for the tips Corbin!

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!

Presentation Styles of Dan Nevin [Alisco Designs]

When we come across great work we like to celebrate and share it with all of you.  Welcome to the new Presentation Styles section of our blog!

We’re kicking things off with the great work of Dan Nevin who works with Alisco Designs in Australia (http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au/).

Cannon St 4(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

We asked Dan if he had any tips or tricks for getting great results from renderings in Revit and here’s what he had to say:

“As for tips and tricks mate here are a few things that hopefully can help a few people:

  • Materials are very important when rendering. You want to get your materials as close to what you want as you can, colour wise and bump wise. I find that rendering by region is a good way to check this, you can render at a higher quality without it taking anywhere near as long.

262 James 3(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

  • Re-render and re-render. You can never do enough draft renders. This saves a lot of time picking up things you may have missed before tying up your computer for long periods of time. The closer you think you are to having it right the higher you make your quality. The region tool is great for this if you want to render an area in the highest quality before doing your final render.

67(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

  • Once you have your final render, you may want to up the saturation and contrast to your image. This is done best using a program like Photoshop. But if you can’t get your hands on Photoshop there are other photo editing programs out there that will do the basics that you need (I am currently using paint.net). play around with your editing tools a lot, go from over saturated to under saturated just to get a feel for what the image colours are doing, then adjust it until you are happy. Do the same with the contrast. I find that adjusting the contrast of an image can have a negative effect on the colours so you may want to do this before the saturation or just remember to double check your saturation afterwards.

106 Bridge St(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

These are just my steps when working on my renderings, different things work for different people so don’t expect great results immediately. Find something that works for you. In the end all good renders come down to one thing, time. The more you spend the better your result.”

Lionel Drive 2(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

Awesome work Dan and thanks for sharing!

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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kitchen(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

Lionel Drive(Dan Nevin | Alisco Designs | http://www.aliscodesigns.com.au)

 

 

ArchVision Heads to the Revit Technology Conference 2014 in Chicago, IL

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One of the best conferences for BIM and Revit users, the Revit Technology Conference offers users and managers the opportunity to explore new and emerging technologies in the industry.

Industry leading speakers, consultants and trainers will be on hand to work with attendees to share best practices, teach new methodologies, and share tips and tricks. Stay current with the latest happenings at the conference, follow #rtcna2014 on Twitter.

Some of our favorite speakers and users will be on hand to share their firm’s BIM and Revit success stories:

Marcello Sgambelluri, one of last year’s top rated speaker will dig into Dynamo for Revit.

Paul Aubin, the well known author will be presenting topics that served partly as inspiration for his recent Renaissance Revit book.

Aaron Maller. @Twiceroadsfool. Revitforum.org. One the industry’s most well respected bloggers.

Jeffery Pinheiro (aka “The Revit Kid” Blog) is going to walk us through going from Revit to Max to Vray.

What about ArchVision?
ArchVision’s team will demonstrate some new features while there, including the latest version of Viewport. This version of Viewport offers real time previews for RPCs and the ability to drag & drop rendered views directly into any application that supports alpha masked images. No RPC Plug-in is needed. We’re excited to show it off!

It’s a great line up!

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