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.

airplane

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

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.

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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

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!

LHB Minneapolis Office Renderings Submitted for LEED® CI Platinum

Gathering Space,  LHB, Inc, Minneapolis

Gathering Space, LHB, Inc, Minneapolis

LHB is dedicated to being environmentally responsible, reducing long term operating costs, and improving the quality of life for their clients. This is true even when they are their own clients. LHB is pursuing LEED® CI Platinum certification for their Minneapolis office.

In this project, RPC Content helps communicate the size and the new collaborative environment the Minneapolis LHB offices offer. The design features of the space, such as overhead fabric ductwork and LED lighting, are part of an effort to gain Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Platinum designation for commercial interiors from the U.S. Green Building Council.

We always enjoy seeing customer projects and how they utilize RPC Content. In this project, renderings were completed in Revit. ArchVision RPC Content was ‘ghosted’ in Photoshop and then merged into the Revit scene for final output. Project design by Bruce Cornwall, models by Nick Vreeland, and renderings by Daniel Stine.

For tutorials on RPC lighting and techniques, please visit our help site. To see how to place RPC Content into Revit scenes, view our video tutorials. Get started using RPC Content, download ArchVision Dashboard here.

Meeting Spaces Final 03

Meeting Space, LHB, Inc, Minneapolis

LHB ranked as one of the top engineering and architectural firms in the nation by Engineering News-Record (ENR), Architectural Record, and as a 2013 Hot Firm by ZweigWhite.

LHB ranked No. 381, up from No. 463 two years ago, in the ENR Top 500 Design Firms List. In addition, LHB placed No. 249 on Architectural Record’s Top 300 Architecture Firms List, and No. 45 on The Zweig Letter Hot Firm List.

Phone Booth Final 01

Phone Booth, LHB, Inc, Minneapolis

Want to see your firm featured?

Share your project with us. Contact us at dfife@archvision.com

Two Simple Fixes for Revit Drag & Drop Issues (Recently Discovered)

Last week there were three separate support incidents where users experienced difficulty with Drag & Drop. These were caused by something my team had not encountered before. In each case the users were dragging and dropping RPCs from Dashboard into Revit 2014 but nothing was appearing in the project. Upon troubleshooting we could not find any incorrect configurations that would account for this inability to Drag & Drop.

After hours of trying to reproduce and determine the cause of this, I called in the aid of ArchVision’s Development Team (the code wizards). They quickly analyzed thousands of lines of code to discover explanations for these issues. It turns out that there were actually two separate issues that have very simple fixes. First I will explain the causes and then the simple solution.

Cause # 1: Missing RPC Family Template file.

When Revit is installed a special family template folder is created in C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\RAC 2014\Family Templates\English_I (location varies slightly by Language pack). RPC Family.rft must be present inside this folder or Drag & Drop cannot be performed. The problem occurs when non-default install locations are used. Inside Revit the location of the Revit Family File path is shown by clicking on Revit–>Options–>File Locations.

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This can be resolved by downloading the following file and putting it into the directory specified in “Default path for family templates file”

Download the necessary file here: RPC_Family.zip
It will need to be unzipped for Revit to recognize it. Once in place simply restart Revit and Drag & Drop will work.

Cause # 2: Language Pack Issue.
The second Drag and Drop issue was caused by an issue with non-English language packs. The Development team has resolved this with 2 special patch files contained in a zip. Please download these here:
AVRevitPlugin.zip

Unzip these files and extract them to C:\Program Files (x86)\ArchVision\Revit Plug-in\2014 replacing existing files of the same name. Restart Revit and Drag & Drop will work.

As always, if you experience any issues at all, please contact ArchVision Customer Service at support.archvision.com.

Add a License Promotion to Celebrate the New Year

ArchVision

Thanks for helping make 2013 a great year! It has certainly been a busy one. We’re excited about all of the new projects in the works for 2014. We couldn’t have done it without you. To say thank you and help boost your license pool ArchVision is offering a special promotion to add additional licenses and save.

Use the following promotion codes at archvision.com checkout to add an ArchVision Software License.

ADDAUSER to add a user license for $149

ADDAFLOAT to add a floating license for $299

Limited time offer valid through January 10th. License renews at regular price.

The (near) Future of RPC – Custom Content

Several members of our team traveled to Las Vegas week before last for Autodesk University 2013. In conjunction with the developer meetings and user events we held our own private gathering with a couple dozen ArchVision customers. During that event we gave everyone an update of the latest commercially available products as well as a preview of some things we’ve been working on. We brought a little bit of Kentucky with us hosting a bourbon tasting event at the Emeril Lagasse restaurant Table 10. Everyone seemed to enjoy the bourbon and the company. The official story is everyone behaved themselves. But not everything that happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!

RPC_creatorWe’re weeks away from beginning to release a new RPC creation tool. I say “beginning to release” because we plan to slow-roll this out to select alpha/beta testers in January. As those in attendance at the “Bourbon Club” event in Vegas witnessed first hand, it’s really cool! RPC Creator will be integrated tightly with Dashboard. You can drag and drop any 32-bit PNG or TIF image onto the RPC Creator tool within Dashboard and we’ll automagically create an RPC of that image for you, complete with a custom icon and preview. All you need to do is give it a Name and a Height so it will scale properly in your scene. A few seconds later you can begin dragging and dropping that RPC into Revit, 3ds Max or Autocad!

If you’re like most you have quite a collection of both commercially available imagery as well as your own custom images painstakingly matted out in Photoshop or some other image editing tool. With the new RPC Creator tool you’ll be able to convert each of those images into a fully functioning RPC in seconds. We think one of the most valuable aspects of the RPC platform is the ability to get image-based data into an application like Revit or 3ds Max with the least amount of effort. As a native image/texture you’d have to create geometry in your scene, add the image as a texture to a material, assign the material, figure out how to get that geometry to always face your camera, etc. Many, many steps and depending on the application, maybe impossible to do (does Revit even have a “look at” feature???). As an RPC, drag and drop it into your scene with no additional steps.

Another feature of Dashboard that will be rolling out in conjunction with the RPC Creator will be the ability to add Tags to any RPC. These tags are then search-able making it easy to find the content you’re looking for. We’re also making those tags “universal” meaning if you’ve added a tag to an RPC, everyone else in the world using that RPC benefits by being able to search on that tag. We think this will have an incredibly powerful network effect on the way content is searched and managed within Dashboard. The beauty of this universal tagging approach to content is that you didn’t have to share the content itself for the tags to be inherited. Without getting into too much detail, imagine that you purchased a commercially available library of image-based content that you want to convert to RPC. There are likely thousands of others around the world who did the same thing. If you add a tag to a piece of content that tag will automatically associate itself with an instance of that content anywhere it is seen by Dashboard! Think of it as crowd-sourcing of tags. Small, incrementally valuable pieces of information aggregate with the content. The community builds value around their assets. We think it will be a win-win for everyone.

We’re excited about getting this in your hands and working feverishly to finish up some of the final details. If you have a lot of 32-bit imagery and you’d like to be one of our RPC Creator betas, let us know. Talk to you soon.

Randall

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