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Revizto: Effortless 3D Collaboration in Revit

Revizto: Effortless 3D Collaboration in Revit
A product review by Michael Anonuevo

By this time, most of you must have come across or heard about Revizto. It is a revolutionary 3D collaboration program developed by Vizerra, a software company based in Moscow, Russia. Using the technology used in video games, it turns Revit models into interactive, navigable 3D environment.

I’ve never heard of Revizto until I got their promotional email late last year. After a quick search, I found out that there has been a buzzword on Revizto for quite some time now from popular Revit websites. Later on, I chanced upon a blog posted by my esteemed colleague, Jeff Pinheiro (therevitkid.com fame), where he posted an article entitled “Ultimate Guide to Revizto”.  Not to be left behind, I downloaded the free trial, read the Help files, and then tried Revizto. The first word that came out of my mouth as I was navigating a sample project from my iPad Air was “awesome”!

This article expounds on Jeff Pinheiro’s Ultimate Guide and digs into a few details on how to use some of the software’s great features. Although Revizto was designed for Revit and Sketchup, the focus of this article is how Revit users can use Revizto to their advantage.

 

Introduction

In a nutshell, Revizto is an add-in program that converts Revit and Sketchup models into interactive 3D environments _which can be viewed and navigated from PCs, Macs, Web browsers, and iOS/Android tablets. Revizto uses game engine technology and therefore, moving around a building model is similar to navigating inside the virtual world of an interactive 3D video game (see fig. 1). Any user can interactively walk inside or outside a building model, or look up and down in real time like being inside a first person* game environment.

* First person refers to a graphical perspective rendered from the viewpoint of the player in the game.

 
Figure 1

Just imagine looking around the scenes inside a 3D game. Then picture your building project instead of the game scenes (see fig. 2).

 
Figure 2

Walk around, look up or down, and move in any direction. Then invite your team members (engineers, consultants, contractor, owner, etc.) to view the same project from their iPads or Android tablets. This is 3D collaboration, the latest way of collaborating and coordinating a building project! Instead of printing hard copies, taking snapshots, or creating Revit renderings of a BIM model for presentation or distribution, the team members can explore the Revizto project themselves interactively on their PCs, iPads or Android tablets. They can also view screenshots and walkthrough movies generated from Revizto. Hence, everyone will have a better understanding of the project and catch potential problems in the early stages of design.

The beauty of this technology is that it allows any user to explore a BIM model without having the original software that created it. The project can be shared with anyone. It is fast and does not require special skills to navigate and view the project. From a user standpoint, you have full control on the project’s appearance to your team members after it has been exported from Revit. Depending on the size and complexity of the project, conversion only takes a few seconds to a few minutes. Project owners and stakeholders can now see a project come to fruition from the beginning to its completion.

Before you proceed with this article, please go to the Revizto YouTube channel and watch the videos to see for yourself what Revizto is capable of doing:

http://www.youtube.com/user/REVIZTO

Testing Revizto

With nothing to lose, I downloaded the 30-day free trial and played around with Revizto for the next few weeks. During that period, I was in constant touch with their tech support and they have responded quickly to my question, inquiries and feedbacks. These are the tablets (see fig. 3) I used to test Revizto:

  • iPad Air
  • Samsung Galaxy Not 10.1 (2014 Edition)
  • Nexus 7 (2013)
  • Galaxy Note 8

 
Figure 3

And these are the computers I used:

  • i7 processor based Desktop Workstation
  • i7 processor based Laptop

I am not a gamer* and since Revizto uses game technology and its navigation method, it took me a while to get the hang of navigating a project from my iPad and Samsung Galaxy. I’m sure those with gaming experience will find it easy to use Revizto. However, in order to find out how Revizto navigation compares to the methods used in games, I did purchased a few first person games namely:

  • Rage HD (iOS)
  • Infinity Blade (iOS)
  • Mortal Combat 4 (Android)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (Android)

Sure enough, Revizto navigation is similar to game navigation! In tablets, touching the bottom left of the screen moves the player while touching the bottom right enables the player to look around the game scene _plus do additional functions such as shoot, jump, or glide. It is so mind-boggling to see the realism of these games compared to how they were a few years back. What is amazing is that they are comparable to console-type games. Scenes are fully rendered with realistic effects. You would think they require high end PCs to work, but no _they run on tablets! That’s how fast the technology has been the last few years. Revizto has taken the right path in using game technology in BIM collaboration. Although still in its infancy, the company is listening to users and adding new features rapidly. In the next topic, I’ll show you how easy it is to use Revizto.

*Gamer: Wikipedia defines the word “gamer” as someone who plays video games. The term is used to identify those who spend at least some of their leisure time playing games.

How to Use Revizto

Here are the steps to create a virtual environment and send a Revizto model to a team member:

1.     After Revizto is installed, two shortcut icons are created on the Windows desktop (see figs. 4 & 5):

Revizto 2: This is the Revizto desktop application where a VIM model, generated from Revit through the Revizto add-in, can be fine-tuned. VIM stands for Visual Information Model. It is the 3D data format that can be read by the Revizto Viewer. All the editing of materials, lighting, scene enhancements, etc. is done here.

 
Figure 4

Revizto Viewer 2: This is a desktop Viewer that you use to check and review what team members will see when they get a VIM file from you. A similar viewer application (free app) can be downloaded by team members to view the VIM model from their tablets or PCs.

 
Figure 5

Note: the number 2 denotes the current version of the software.

Revizto is automatically installed as a plugin in Revit. If you didn’t have any extensions previously installed, a new Add-Ins tab is added where the Export to Revizto2 button can be found in the Revizto2014/Revizto2 Tools panels (see figs. 6 & 7)).

 
Figure 6: Revit 2014

 
Figure 7: Revit 2013

2.    Open a Revit project or Family

3.    Setup a 3D view to be exported into Revizto

Note: If the view is not supported, the Export to Revizto2 icon is dimmed. A list of supported views is included at the end of this topic.

4.    Export the view by clicking on the Export to Revizto2 button. This opens the Export Options window (see fig. 8).

    
Figure 8

Type the name of the project in the Project Name field then click the OK button.

Revizto then converts the BIM model into the Visual Information Modeling format (VIM) and automatically opens
the project in the Revizto Editor.

5.    Edit the exported view: In the Revizto Editor, edit the materials, lights, object visibility, the default 3D view, and 3D environment. Save the file.

6.    Review the file: Before sending the file to team members, review the scene by clicking the Review button from the toolbar (see fig. 9).

 
Figure 9

This opens the Revizto Viewer. What is displayed here is what team members will see when they view the project from their devices. When satisfied, close the Revizto Viewer.

7.    Upload the VIM model to the cloud by clicking the Synch button from the toolbar (see fig. 10).

 
Figure 10

8.     Share the project: After the project is uploaded to the cloud, send the VIM model to team members by clicking the Share button (see fig. 11).


Figure 11

This automatically opens the web browser and creates a Workspace · Revizto tab containing the Project settings (see fig. 12).

 
Figure 12

Enter the email address of any member of your team, specify the Visibility options then click the Send Invite button. You can add more than one recipient by typing another email address in the text field and clicking the Send Invite button. Finally, click the Save Changes button. Emails are then sent out to the team members.

When a team member receives the email notification and clicks the Accept and View button (see fig. 13), Revizto opens the web browser and adds an Invite project · Revizto tab (see fig. 14).

 
Figure 13

 
Figure 14

A new recipient must create an account with Revizto in order to view the model. After the account is created, Revizto acknowledges the account by replacing the current web page with a Congratulations note and a link to download the free Revizto Viewer app (from Google Play or Apple’s App Store). The team member can now open the shared file and explore the project from their PCs or tablets. If the team member already has an account with Revizto, the web page notifies the user to open the Revizto Viewer to explore the project or view it in the web browser. From here on, when changes are made on a shared project, the team members will see it when they view the project from their devices. There is no need to share it again.

Note: After the Accept and View button is clicked by a team member, an email is also automatically sent to the sender of the file (see fig. 15).

 
Figure 15

Supported Views for Export to Revizto: 

View Type

Export to Revizto

Floor Plans

Model elements within the extents of the view range.

Ceiling Plans

Model elements within the extents of the view range.

Default 3D View

Model elements within the extents of the view range.

3D Views – axon w/Section Box

Model elements within the extents of the section box.

Elevations - Building

Model elements within the extents of the view range.

Elevations - Interior

Model elements within the extents of the view range.

Sections – Building

Model elements within the extents of the view range.

Area Plan

Model elements within the extents of the view range.

Views from the Family Editor

Floor Plans, Ceiling Plans, Sections, Sections, Elevations, Default 3D view and other axons: Model elements within the extents of the view range.


How a Project is Coordinated

Revizto contains a set of collaboration tools integrated in the editor and viewer (see figs. 16 & 17):

                
Figure 16: Markers from the Revizto Editor

               
Figure 17: Markers, Tracks, and Screenshots from the Revizto Viewer

  • Markers (Revizto Editor and Revizto Viewer): This feature allows a user to communicate with the team by sending them text comments. The marker symbol can be placed at any specific location in the project. When it is sent, the rest of the team gets a notification similar to email notifications. Basically, markers are like instant messages*. They don’t have to be synched to the cloud. The moment a user hits the send button, the recipient is instantly notified and a marker is added to the project. Each member can add their comments on a marker, thereby serving as a sort of discussion forum.
*Access to the internet is required.
  • Tracks (Revizto Viewer): The Tracks button functions as a video recorder (with voiceover on the PC) which is used for creating walkthrough presentations. When clicked, a Record button is displayed at the bottom center of the screen (see fig. 18). When this button is clicked, it turns into a bright blinking red button, signifying that all movements of the mouse (on a PC) or finger (on tablets) are being recorded. On a PC, a right click stops the recording. On a tablet, touching the blinking red button stops the recording. Thumbnails of recordings appear on the left side of the recording panel beside the microphone button. Clicking/touching a thumbnail opens the Tracks gallery where thumbnails of all video recordings are displayed. On this window, tracks can be viewed or deleted.

 
 Figure 18
 
Note: Only recordings made on cloud projects can be synched and shared
  • Screenshots: This tool functions as a screen capture tool. Clicking the button takes a picture of the current screen and saves it in the Screenshots gallery.

    • Here is a link to a video tutorial explaining all of the above collaboration tools (scroll all the way down the page to the Video Tutorials section): http://revizto.com/editor

Rendering from Revizto

Although Revizto is primarily a collaboration software, you can also render from the software (Tools>Render). After all the editing is done and a good view has been determined, select the Render command (Ctrl + R). This opens the Render dialog box (see fig. 19).

 
Figure 19

Unlike Revit where you can choose from preset quality settings (e.g. Draft, Low, High, Best, etc.) or create a custom quality setting, Revizto’s rendering method is based on the number entered in the Quality text box. According to Revizto technical support, this number corresponds to how many iterations of the algorithm is performed. There is no maximum value. The higher the number entered, the higher the rendering quality will be. The default value is 10, which in my tests, closely resembles a Medium quality setting in Revit. A 100 value, on the other hand, looks like the High quality setting in Revit. The first image (see fig. 20) is from the Revizto viewer. The second one below it (see fig. 21) is the finished rendering based on a Quality value of 100.

 
Figure 20

 
Figure 21

Revizto includes different images of skies that you can use as a scene background. This great feature is accessed by clicking the Environment button from the toolbar. In the Environment dialog box, click the Texture thumbnail under the Sky pane (see fig. 22).

 
Figure 22

This opens the Sky Browser dialog box containing an assortment of skies and panorama scenes (see fig. 23). When a thumbnail is double-clicked, it replaces the current sky background.

Note: For better viewing, the thumbnails can be resized through the slider located at the bottom of the dialog box.

 
Figure 23

How to Clean Up a Revit File Before Exporting it to Revizto

In one of the projects I was testing Revizto with, I noticed some artifacts that are displaying in the Revizto Editor which I wasn’t seeing in Revit. Later on, I found out that it was coming from a Revit MEP link. To get rid of them, I opened the link and deleted the misplaced objects. Anyway, my point is to prepare a Revit project before exporting it to Revizto. This does two things: it reduces the file size and eliminates unwanted objects from displaying in the Revizto Editor. Here are a few things you can do to make Revit work better with Revizto:

  • Do a Save As and save the current project under a different name (optional).  This may not be necessary for simple projects, but for complex ones, it prevents the original project from being affected when the file is trimmed and cleaned up prior to exporting to Revizto. Also, by saving the project with a different name, the file size is reduced right away.

  • Do a Purge to get rid of unused materials, families, etc. This also reduces the file size significantly.

  • Only include Revit components and links that will be seen on the scene in the Viewer app. For example, you need not show any structural members (e.g. foundation, footings, trusses above the ceiling, etc.) unless they are part of the view such as exposed trusses. Do the same with the MEP link. To show only certain components of a link in a project, select it then isolate the view. Next, bind the link then delete the unnecessary components.

    • Revizto is optimized for Revit 2014. In Revit 2012/2013, an exported file has to be optimized in Revizto by clicking the Get Materials button (see fig. 24). This converts the materials to the Revizto format.

 
Figure 24

Note: When a Revit 2014 is exported to Revizto, the Get Materials button is dimmed.


Preparing a Revit Project to Make it Look Good in Revizto

How realistic the scenes appear depends on how detailed you model your project. Revizto will display the project based on the materials and lightings placed. To make the virtual world come alive, you have to prepare the project just like you would when you render a 3D view from Revit’s built-in renderer or export and render from 3ds Max. That means assigning finishes to the floors, walls, and ceilings; properly placing lights; using the studio lights to highlight specific areas; using families that look realistic; and throwing in a few entourage such as people and plants.

Navigation Tips When Using a Tablet

Unless you’re a gamer, navigation is your first hurdle the first time you use Revizto. This is more apparent when you view a project from a tablet. Similar to how it’s done in video games, you will be engaging your left thumb to walk and your right thumb (or index finger, depending on how you hold the tablet) to look at any direction. I find it best to sit down, place the iPad on my lap, use my left thumb to walk, and then use my right index finger to look around. When you’re showing your project to your client, you’ll have more control if the tablet is placed on an adjustable stand or foldable cover on top of the table then use your fingers to navigate (see fig. 25).

 
Figure 25

In a jobsite, you would probably be standing up when you’re showing the project to the contractor. In this case, hold the tablet with both your hands while you use your left and right thumbs to navigate.

The cluster of arrows on the bottom left is the equivalent of a video game joystick (see fig. 26).

 
Figure 26

The middle area (surrounded by the four arrows) is where you would place your left thumb. The motion is distance sensitive, meaning the farther you move the thumb from the center, the faster the movement is. For beginners, my advice is to click the Settings button (wrench icon) then set the Motion Sensitivity to zero. This will enable movement at the slowest settings so that you get the feel on how to navigate. Then when you’re confident enough, slowly increase the sensitivity. When you touch an arrow directly, the motion is fixed and the only way to slow or speed up the movement is to adjust the Motion Sensitivity. As far as the right thumb or index finger is concerned, there is a tendency for a view to look distorted after looking around in different directions. To prevent this from happening, make sure that the view is placed in an upright position (edges should be vertical) before resuming walking.

Three words to be proficient with Revizto navigation: Practice! Practice! Practice!


Conclusion

Revizto has only scratched the surface of what it can do. As of this writing, it has only been 15 months since it was released for Revit at the 2012 AU convention. Already, the software is now on its 2.1 version, incorporating a lot of improvements based on user feedbacks. When I was testing it, I’m like wishing for a lot more features _ignoring the fact that being able to immerse myself quickly in a virtual world is in itself, a tremendous capability already that seemed improbable and hard to achieve a few years back. Nevertheless, I’ve sent them my suggestions and wish list. I’m sure a lot of cool features are in the works for future versions.

I could go on and explain all the wonderful features of this software but it will fill up a book. In my opinion, Autodesk should just partner up with Revizto and integrate this 3D functionality to all Revit flavors. For all Revit users out there, I highly recommend this great program. You don’t have anything to lose by downloading the 30-day free trial at: http://revizto.com/editor. Take it from me_you’re going to like it! Test it on one of your projects then watch the magic happens. It’s also very affordable. Take a look at the prices:

  • Stand-alone License: $399
  • Network License: $599
  • Student License: $120

Thanks for taking the time to read this review.

Michael Anonuevo
Revit Architecture Certified Professional


About Revizto

The Revizto team consists of professionals in the game development, 3D visualization and simulation technologies. Revizto is the brainchild of the company's dynamic leader and CEO, Arman Gukasyan. With Peter Saal, Revizto’s Business Development Manager, Arman guides the development process in the company. Their development team consists of well-known specialists in game development, including Oleg Maddox and Dmitry Soldatenkov, famous for their work on the popular aircraft simulators series called IL-2: Sturmovik. They also employ young and talented graduates from leading universities. 

Arman Gukasyan, Chief Executive Officer

Arman is an entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer of Vizerra. Prior to founding Vizerra in 2008, he was CEO of 3D GIS and was responsible for building systems over 5 countries including Russia, Singapore, China, India, and UK.

 

In an article published on December 4, 2012 (When Virtual Reality Sheds the Virtual, published by The Kernel eZine), Arman talks about Google Earth and how it forever changed the way we saw the world. He mentioned how Google Earth’s virtual world is now mirroring our existing natural and built environments. Although the visualizations of the buildings are mostly skin deep, he says this is all about to change. His mission is to unify the collaboration process in the AEC industry through his company. Here are a couple of excerpts from the article:

 

“Explorable virtual environments are about to take this intricate detail to the next level, at which users will be able to explore and interact with the internal three dimensional environments and components that the buildings are made of. That’s what I’m trying to build with my company: our product, Revizto, allows architects and planners to convert their detailed 3D building models into virtual 3D buildings that can be shared to the cloud and explored by anyone.”

 

“By using 3D gaming and cloud technologies, it will soon be possible for design professionals to share detailed 3D buildings in a secure virtual environment, much like Google Earth. Anyone will be able to interactively explore a building to understand how it is made, and how will look and feel on the inside and outside, without expensive software or special skills to view it.”

 

Peter Saal, Business Development Manager

Peter is a serial entrepreneur and systems thinker who has been involved with various 3D software and manufacturing technology over the last 20 years. In 2006, he co-founded metaWorks, a Web-based design and configuration systems company geared for manufacturers. After Google acquired metaWorks in 2007, Peter joined the SketchUp and 3D Warehouse teams as a Product Manager.

Oleg Maddox
, Chief Technical Officer

Oleg joined the Vizerra team in 2010. He is well-known in the computer games world and one of Russia’s most famous game developers. He worked as an aircraft engineer up to 1991. In late 1992, he created his own company which developed and launched over 40 large and small multimedia and gaming projects. Almost all the projects were successful and some have become global best sellers. The most well-known is a series of flight simulators called IL-2 Sturmovik.

 

In 2001, Il-2 Sturmovik became an instant classic. The game has since become a benchmark that redefined the genre. Unarguably, it is the most successful combat flight simulation franchise for the PC.

 

 

 

IL-2 Sturmovik is a 2001 World War II combat flight simulator video game. It is the first installment in the IL-2 Sturmovik series. The game takes a user to the war-torn skies over Germany and Russia during World War II. It lets the game participant fly accurately inside an accurately and realistically designed aircraft in stunning 3D environments.

 

Dmitry Soldatenkov, Head of Software Development

Since 1984, Dmitry has taken part in the creation of over 60 computer games and other applications. He has also written over 20 scientific articles on programming technology. Before Vizerra, he was a co-founder and lead programmer for Maddox Games.

Alexey Zuev
, Programmer, Head of Premium Support Team

Alex is the lead software developer of Revizto, being a key member of the team from the software’s earliest versions. In addition to his programming duties, he heads the technical support team, which keeps him in front of users to improve Revizto's design, quality assurance and usability.

 

During the weeks I tested Revizto, Alexey has responded to all my questions and feedbacks concerning Revizto. It was a pleasure communicating with him because of his prompt responses and professionalism. Revizto’s technical support is probably one of the best I have ever encountered.

 

 

 
BIM. After Dark

A product review by Michael Anonuevo

Introduction

As the New Year is fast approaching, I want to add this final 2013 product review for Revit users. You may have seen or receive a notification from revitkid.com regarding a new website called BIM. After Dark. (www.bimafterdark.com).



Apparently, it is a separate website created by the owner of revitkid.com where users can purchase how-to videos pertaining to Revit presentation techniques. BIM. After Dark. (B.A.D.) is the brainchild of Mr. Jeff Pinheiro, the Revit guru who owns and runs revitkid.com. Like most of you who had followed and subscribed to revitkid.com, I got an email notification with a preview of a BIM. After Dark. video. On December 10 last week, B.A.D. went live. Having viewed and learned a lot of tips and tricks from revitkid.com, I visited the site during the launch date and ended up purchasing one of the 3 video packages on sale. This article is a review of that video purchase.

About revitkid.com

Before I get on with the subject of this review, let me share some information about revitkid.com.



Many of you who have stumbled on this site are probably wondering who this Revit kid is. I’ve always pictured an eccentric, cap-wearing, college-beer-guzzling genius who is the go to person in his architecture classes. Just who is this kid anyway? Well, in the process of writing this review, I’ve gotten some information from Mr. Pinheiro himself last week. At B.A.D., he posted a photo of himself. And I was right _he does look like an eccentric, cap-wearing, college-beer-guzzling genius and go to Revit person (minus the cap in the photo)! Anyway, here are some relevant facts you should know:

Jeff established revitkid.com in 2009 to help his peers. He remembers only a very few online resources to help him learn Revit during that period. He bought books but they didn’t impart the kind of information he wanted to learn and absorb. Back then, there were only a limited amount of video-style tutorials. This is what motivated him to establish revitkid.com, which unarguably, is one of the best Revit websites out there right now. To date, he has posted over 1000 blogs, 700 of which are a collection of tips and tricks which he and other users have created. He has also written several product reviews and numerous articles pertaining to Revit, Autodesk, and BIM in general. BIM. After Dark. is a culmination of his efforts _putting together unique, relevant and useful Revit presentation techniques in a video-style tutorial format.

On the education and professional side, Jeff holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Engineering and Master of Architecture from University of Hartford. He has worked with REM Architectural Services during his college days and currently working for Fletcher Thompson.

BIM. After Dark. Products

At B.A.D. website (www.bimafterdark.com), you have three buying options:

The Complete Package ($179)

• Videos: Over 2.5 hrs. of tips, tricks, and tutorials
• 1GB worth of sample files consisting of:

o Full Revit projects and families
o Photoshop projects and layers
o Rendering texture library

• Revit to Max to V-Ray video series and sample files

• Prezi for Architects video series and templates

The Videos Plus ($79)

• Videos: Over 2.5 hrs. of tips, tricks, and tutorials
• 1GB worth of sample files consisting of:

o Full Revit projects and families
o Photoshop projects and layers
o Rendering texture library

The Videos ($39)

• Over 2.5 hrs. of tips, tricks, and tutorials
• Videos

Note: Although the website shows images of DVDs, the products are digital downloads, as stated underneath the DVD image (see below):


The Buying Experience

Jeff has done his homework in building the website. I like the sleek design and simple page navigation. Purchasing his products is just a two-step process. After you select a package, a window pops up where you enter your email address and credit card information. The second screen displays a Download button and an option to enter a password, which stores your credit card information for future purchases. You also get an email notification of your purchase.

The Video Plus package

I chose this package because I am not a Max user and have relied solely on Revit’s built-in renderer over the years. In addition, I wanted the Revit and Photoshop files which I can always refer to.
The Video Plus package was contained in a 2.53 GB Zip file. It took just a few minutes to download the file on my PC. Obviously, I cannot divulge the details of any of the tips and techniques contained in the videos. But here are the contents of my purchase to give you an idea of what the Video Plus package consists of:

1. BIM After Dark – Video Outline.pdf
_A 3-page PDF consisting of the cover, introduction, and a third page with an outline of the eight chapters on: Sketches, Site Plan, Floor Plans, Elevations, Sections, Rendering, Post Render, Present

2. First Person BIM eBook.pdf
_A 23-page PDF entitled: First Person BIM, Revit and CryEngine 3.
Basically, CryEngine 3 is a gaming technology application where a Revit file, exported and prepared in 3Ds Max, can be interactively viewed from. The converted Revit file can then be accessed by a client through an X-Box or Playstation controller. This allows the client to view and interact with the 3D model, just like navigating inside a 3D game.

3. Four Videos: These are four videos in mp4 format where the 8 chapters can be viewed from and consists of the following:

BIM After Dark - Volume 1 – Video 1.mp4

1. Sketches: importing scanned sketches drawn from a canary tracing paper into Photoshop; removing the yellow background from the scanned image; enhancing the sketch with colors, drop shadows, backgrounds, etc.
2. Site Plans: creating Revit topos from jpeg images of site plans with limited topo information; scaling the image; using a free program that automatically places points on a preset time (down to milliseconds) while the mouse is being moved on top of the topo lines; enhancing the look of trees; changing the default plan view symbol of trees (putting fills, changing line weights, assigning radius a parameter, etc.); a unique way of showing existing versus new conditions on a site 3D model (see fig. 1).


Figure 1

3. Floor plans: enhancing floor plans by adding shadows, changing the wall cuts, and changing the look of elements beyond the floor plan level; making room tags stand out; adding custom colors to rooms; using a view template to apply custom display settings to numerous sheets.

BIM After Dark - Volume 2.mp4

4. Elevations: adding depth to elevations (see fig. 2):


Figure 2

making glazing stand out; adding topography to elevations.
5. Sections: creating section perspective (see fig. 3)


Figure 3

changing the look of sections; creating a rendered section (see fig. 4);


Figure 4

BIM After Dark - Volume 3.mp4

6. Rendering: creating custom materials; downloading free texture images from a provided link; editing texture images in Photoshop; how to render using the cloud (Autodesk 360); making the interiors in a building perspective look realistic without having to model the interior components (see fig. 5);


Figure 5

creating a realistic nighttime rendering (see fig. 6); making glass material look realistic.


Figure 6

BIM After Dark - Volume 4.mp4

7. Post Render: creating a high definition rendering using Photoshop HDR toning; adding an illusion of sunrays going through an interior scene (see fig. 7): 


Figure 7

using Photoshop Blur & Color tools to add realism to a render scene; adding entourage to a scene; making entourage look realistic by scaling it and adding shadows (see couple on fig. 8); downloading free entourage from a provided link. 


Figure 8

8. Present: exporting a rendering as a jpg image and enhancing it in Photoshop; creating a Photoshop presentation board using imported renderings from Revit (see fig. 9):


Figure 9

• Prezi for Architects.mp4: In this video, Jeff explains how to use Prezi for architectural presentations.
Prezi is a cloud-based presentation software developed by a Hungarian software company. It allows users to create canvas-like presentations instead of sequential slide presentations as employed in Powerpoint. In Prezi, text and photos can be supplemented with videos and other presentation media. Although presentations are prepared online, the final product can be downloaded and used without internet connection. 

My Impression After Watching the Videos

These videos are high quality and well produced. When opened with Windows Media player or Quicktime player, the video opens in normal size (100%) that filled my 24” monitor. Of course, you can change the size of the video window. It is Jeff speaking, unrehearsed, while demonstrating his presentation techniques. The unique thing about how he explained certain topics is that he left his mistakes (admittedly) such as clicking the wrong menu or inadvertently choosing a wrong option. Thereafter, he explains how to get out of the mistakes. His explanations are detailed and to the point. When you go through the videos, it’s as if you’re sitting right beside him while he is teaching you some cool stuff. The beauty of his video-style format is that you can pause, rewind or go to a specific video timeline anytime. What did I get out this purchase? Please read my conclusion below:

Conclusion

After using Revit for seven years, I still discover techniques from other users that I am not aware of. Learning how to use Revit is a continuous process and I always believe that there is always something new to learn from other users. It is obvious that Jeff has discovered, honed and used his techniques at school and work. I’ve just added a lot of useful techniques to my Revit knowledge after watching the videos. If you want an Architectural Record-style of presenting architectural images, this is the video to get. This first volume was a result of feedbacks and answers to surveys Jeff conducted at revitkid.com. He plans to do the same for future volumes.

I definitely recommend these videos. It is a must have for beginners and a welcome addition to professional users. Thanks for taking the time to read this product review and have a happy and safe Holiday!

Michael Anonuevo

 
2014 eBook Announcement

Hi everybody! You may be wondering when I will release the 2014 version of Creating Custom Revit Architecture Families. Unfortunately, I’ve had some personal setbacks which forced me to skip this version.

Early this year (2013), my youngest brother unexpectedly passed away. This was followed by the passing away of my oldest brother one month later. Coincidently, two of my close relatives also passed away. I needed some time to absorb these tragic incidents and that is why I stayed away from writing. The good news is I was offered a job as a Revit contractor in April, which I accepted. That helped tremendously in my grieving period as it made me extremely busy.

I am now fine and started writing blogs again. As soon as the Holiday season is over, I will definitely start writing the 2015 version of my eBook and will keep you posted. Thank you for your patience.

 
BOXX Revit Workstation
A Product Review by Michael Anonuevo

Introduction

In preparing to writing an instructional eBook on how to produce Autodesk Revit renderings and 
walkthroughs, one of the things I did a few months back was conduct a research on computer systems optimized for these types of Revit tasks. It is a subject matter that I know will occupy a chapter on its own in the eBook. I’ve looked at brand names such as HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Asus. However, I could not find any computer system specifically targeted for Revit modeling. By chance, I ran into a colleague who suggested that I look into BOXX computer workstations (www.boxxtech.com). I had never heard of the company, although I found out later that they had been around for the last 15 years! As a full time Revit modeler who is always busy creating complex families or writing about them, I never really got into the details of a good Revit computer workstation. And so with this new eBook project, I had a chance to look at a workstation made for Revit. After emailing my credentials and review proposal to a BOXX specialist, I was connected to the right channels and eventually was sent a unit for evaluation.
 


This article is about the 3DBOXX 4920 XTREME workstation. At the BOXX website, this model is
referred to as The World’s Fastest Workstation for Autodesk Revit. On the internet, you’ll find great reviews about this workstation, including its technical details and specifications. To avoid being redundant, the main focus of this review is how effective this workstation is for Revit Architecture users. I will, however, highlight certain features worth taking a look at.

Is this really the fastest workstation for Revit? How can we users benefit from this system? What
makes this workstation special from the rest of the pack? How does this computer compare to yours or other workstations? These questions (and many more) are tackled in this review. If you are in the process of upgrading your Revit workstations or want to add a dedicated power workstation for generating renderings and walkthroughs, this article will help you decide which system to purchase.
 
The 3DBOXX 4920 XTREME Workstation

Before the computer was delivered, a representative from BOXX contacted me to find out what
programs and tests I’ll be running. Based on my input, they sent me a customized 3D BOXX 4920 XTREME workstation with the following specifications:
  • Intel Core i7 Six Core Enhanced Performance Processor (4.5 GHz)
  • 32GB DDR3 1600 (8 DIMMS)
  • NVIDIA Quadro 4000 2GB
  • 180GB & SSD SATA 6Gb/s; second 240 SSD
  • 20X Dual Layer DVD±RW Writer
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Edition 64−Bit
  • Logitech USB Keyboard & M500 Laser Corded Mouse
  • BOXX Premium Support 1 Year (Years 2 and 3 Standard) − US and Canada Only
  • BOXX 3 Year Limited Warranty
  • Price as tested: $6,499.00 (basic configuration price: $2,980.00)
Note: This computer is going to be referred to in this article as the 4920.

For Comparison…

To give you an idea of how this system stacks up on a fairly decent workstation, I’ve used my
brand name computer with the following specifications:
  • Intel Core i7-930 Four Core 2.8 GHz (up to 3.0 GHz turbo)
  • 24GB DDR3 (6 DIMMS)
  • ATI Radeon HD 5770 1 GB
  • 1 TB SATA
  • SuperMulti Blue-ray Player with Lightscribe Technology drive
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Professional Edition 64−Bit
  • USB Keyboard & Wireless Mouse
Note: This computer is going to be referred to in this article as the i7-930.

Miscellaneous equipment used for both systems:
  • 3Dconnexion Space Mouse Pro
  • 3Dconnexion SpacePilot Pro
  • 32 GB Flash Drive
  • 500 GB Western Digital Passport HD
  • Two-BENQ EW2420 24″ monitors
  • 1-LG Flatron W2486L 24″ monitor
  • Alesis 6-track mixer
  • 2-KRK Rokit 5 powered speakers
  • 1-KRK Rokit 10 powered subwoofer
  • 1-name brand laptop w/ Intel Core 2 Duo processor
How the 4920 was Evaluated

On the day the 4920 workstation arrived, I configured it to be almost identical to my i7-930.
That meant installing all the programs and utilities I use on a daily basis. The workstation came at a time when I was finishing the Metric versions of my family modeling eBooks (Creating Custom Revit Architecture 2012/2013 Families). By doing so, I was able to observe and record how the 4920 fared in multi-tasking. On any given day, depending on the topic I’m writing about, I could have as much as four to fifteen applications open at the same time.

To find out the Revit capabilities of the 4920, I did some renderings and walkthroughs and timed the results. I then generated the same renderings and walkthroughs on the i7-930 for comparison. I also recorded the time it took to load, save, manipulate and navigate huge Revit files.

To test the 4920 in terms of real-world performance, I used PCMark 7 and Cinebench 11.5 benchmark programs. These are two free benchmarking tools designed to test a computer’s performance (CPU, OpenGL, video, disk access, internet speed, etc). You’ll be able to compare your computer system to the 4920 by running these programs, which you can download from links provided at the end of this review.

Unpacking the Box

The computer was packaged in a 22″ x 24″ x 14″ corrugated box, protected with high density foam. It came with an accessories box containing the following:
  • Manuals & DVD pertaining to the motherboard and power supply
  • Windows 7 Ultimate DVD and a 4 GB bootable thumb drive containing various drivers
  • Spare parts (screws, various cable connectors, extra front grille filter, & a display port adapter)
  • Hardware warranty papers
  • Black promo T-shirt

Turning the Computer On

The first time the 4920 was turned on, a series of Windows 7 screens flashed on the monitor that configured the computer’s operating system. After shutting it down and turning it back on again, it only took a total 41.84 seconds for the desktop to appear! The i7-930 took 85:36 seconds.

Note: The 4920 has additional startup programs. Passwords were temporarily disabled on both machines.

Windows Experience Index

A good gauge that measures the capability of a computer’s hardware and software configuration is the Windows Experience Index. This is accessed from the Performance Information and Tools window by clicking the Start button>Control Panel. Depending on how your Windows view is setup, you then click System or System and Security where you click the Performance Information and Tools link. The tool assesses the computer’s key components on a scale of 1.0 to 7.9. The score is based on the lowest Subscore. Here are the comparison of the two computers:

4920:



i7-930:



Taking a Closer Look at the 4920

Overall Appearance

From an aesthetic point of view, the 4920 XTREME differentiates itself from other computers with a simple, yet elegant, design. The computer looks and feels solid. The chassis is made mostly of brushed aluminum with a black and gray color theme.



The front panel consists of easily accessible ports, including four USB ports (2-USB 2.0 & 2-USB 3.0), a microphone jack, a speaker/headphone jack, a Firewire port and a power button. On top of these ports are a 5 1/4″ bay and a DVD writer.
 


1. Plextor 20X Dual Layer DVD ± RW Writer with Lightscribe Technology
  • Lightscribe technology enables users to create direct-to-disc labels as opposed to stick-on labels using its optical disc writer (special discs and a compatible disc writer are required).
2. 5 1/4″ bay

3. 2-USB 2.0 ports (distinguished by its black plastic tab)

4. 2-USB 3.0 ports (distinguished by its blue plastic tab)
  • Released in 2008, USB 3.0 is ten times faster than USB 2.0 in terms of connectivity bandwidth. It is backwards compatible with USB 2.0.
5. Microphone jack

6. Speaker/ Headphone jack

7. 1394A port (Firewire)

8. Power button

9. Power LED

10. Hard drive LED

11. Reset button

Below the ports is a detachable grille with an air filter attached behind it. The filter is part of the liquid cooling system. It filters the air being sucked in by the two cooling fans behind another grille attached to the computer’s body. The Microsoft Windows product key number can be found at the bottom left of this grille.



The rear panel consists of an array of usable ports including a pair of PS/2 ports, 10 more USB ports (8-USB 2.0 & 2- USB 3.0), audio ports, 2-ethernet ports, monitor ports, another Firewire port and an eSATA port.



1. Power socket

2. Power switch

3. PS/2 ports (keyboard, mouse)

4. USB 2.0 ports (total of eight)

5. USB Bios Flashback button
  • This is a button that allows an external update of the firmware from a flash drive. The flash drive is plugged into the USB 2.0 port (with the white plastic tab) above it then this button is pressed. A light flashes during the process and stops when the update is completed.
6. S/PDIF port.
  • S/PDIF stands for Sony-Phillips Digital Interface. This is a sound port that enables the 4920 to be connected to an external home theater audio system with the use of a TOSLINK (Toshiba Link) cable. It provides a digital output with the best signal quality.
7. 2-Gigabit Ethernet ports (10/100/1000 Mbits/sec)

8. 1394A port (Firewire)

9. 2-USB 3.0 ports

10. 6-Audio input and output jacks

11. DVI-I connector*

12. 2-DisplayPort connectors*

13. 3-pin mini DIN (stereo 3D connector)

14. eSATA port

*Two out of any of these three connectors can only be used at a time

The chassis that houses the processor is accessed through a detachable metal door secured by permanently attached captive screws.



Inside the chassis is a neatly organized and roomy space that contains the processor, memory sockets, power supply, liquid cooling system, video card, expansion slots, and cooling fans. The graphic card is an NVDIA Quadro 4000, one of the high end professional products at NVIDIA.



1. Seasonic X-series (80 plus Gold) 1050 watts power supply
  • 80 plus Gold is a certification that allows consumers to know which power supplies are the most efficient. The certificate guarantees that the power supply is able to present efficiency of 80%, thereby allowing users to save money on electricity bills.
2. Intel Core i7 3960X Extreme Edition processor with Intel X79 Express chipset; six cores and twelve threads; over-clocked at 4.5 GHz
  • Over-clocked means the processor was made to run at a faster speed than it was intended for. The advantage of overclocking is higher performance in CPU intensive tasks.
3. 8-DIMM sockets

4. Liquid cooling system
  • When a processor is over-clocked, it generates more heat. Liquid cooling is a highly effective way of removing excess heat. The principle used in this system is similar to that used in cars. Liquid is circulated through a block mounted on the CPU and out to the radiator.
5. NVIDIA Quadro 4000 with 2GB GDDR5 frame buffer memory
  • This GPU falls under the High-End category of NVIDIA’s line of Professional 3D graphics processors for workstations. It is 8 times faster than previous generations and delivers performance gains in intensive tasks such as ray tracing, video processing, and animation.
  • Note: Just recently, I discovered that this product comes with NVIDIA nView Desktop Manager, a neat program that organizes desktops across multiple displays. Had I known about it at the time I received the BOXX workstation, I would have used it to my advantage. For example, it allows the taskbar to span multiple monitors. Therefore, when an application that is open on a second monitor is minimized, it can be restored at the extended taskbar below it without having to go to the first monitor. Watch this YouTube video clip to see the other features of the software demonstrated for AutoCAD (also applicable to Revit): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqswLrXxgBE
6. 6-Expansion slots (x16) consisting of:
  • 2-PCIe x 16 slots (at x16) Blue (one occupied by the NVIDIA card)
  • 2-PCIe x 16 slots (at x8) Black
  • 2-PCIe x 16 slots (at x4) Gray
A BOXX trademark on its line of high end workstation is a separate compartment housing the hard drive and solid state drive (SSD) bays. It is located behind the chassis and accessed through a detachable metal door similar to the chassis’s door.



1. 6-3.5″ Hard Drive or SSD bays

2. 180 GB SSD
  • Solid state drive uses flash memory that delivers superior performance. There are no moving parts, hence they are faster and more efficient and durable. SSDs requires less power to operate. They weigh less and very easy to install.
3. 240 GB SSD provided by BOXX for extra storage during the computer’s evaluation period

4. 1-Terabyte hard disk
  • This the i7-930′s second hard drive which I installed to compare its performance against the SSDs.
BOXX does not spare any expense in building a high quality workstation. This is evident in the enclosure’s 1/8″ thick metal top and pair of solid metal feet.



Testing & Evaluating the 4920

Multitasking

After a weekend of setting up the 4920, installing programs and transferring files, I continued writing the metric versions of my eBook in the following two weeks. This gave me the opportunity 
to find out how the computer fared in multitasking. The main program I use for writing and laying out the eBook pages is Indesign CS5. This workflow requires that Revit 2012 and 2013 are open as I am documenting and capturing images of Revit tasks. Here is the list of all open programs in my eBook writing process:
  • Adobe InDesign CS5
  • Autodesk Revit Architecture 2012
  • Autodesk Revit Architecture 2013
  • Adobe PhotoShop
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Snagit
  • Screen Ruler
  • Google Chrome
  • Notepad
On a typical eBook writing day, I would also occasionally have the following applications open:
  • Skype
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Internet Explorer
  • Windows Media Player
  • Pandora
  • itunes
It was no surprise that any task I did with the 4920 was faster than my i7-930. However, with the i7-930, I would have to occasionally restart the computer to regain memory for InDesign and PhotoShop. Like a CAD program, InDesign starts to load and save longer as the file size increases. When I reached over 700 pages filled with tons of graphics, switching back and forth with InDesign and other programs became painfully slow with the i7-930. For example, when I was capturing any Revit modeling tasks with Snagit and switching back to InDesign, I had to wait about 7 seconds or more before InDesign became the active application. With the 4920, it only takes two seconds or less. Switching between the two Revit versions or other programs were almost instantaneous with the 4920. I probably could have finished producing my eBook projects in half the time (or less) it took to finish them in my i7-930.

In the following 2:48 minutes video clip, I put together a montage of screen video captures (in split screen) comparing the 4920 with the i7-930 in terms of:
  • Copying files from an external hard disk
  • Opening applications such as Word, Excel, Acrobat, PhotoShop, Revit Architecture 2012, and Revit Architecture 2013

Revit and the 4920

In Revit’s family editor, I model very fast. By that, I mean sketching fast in sketch mode, switching views, loading groups or nested families, typing values, etc. The 4920 is one computer that can keep up with the speed at which I model complex families. With the i7-930, there was a lot of time wasted in screen redrawing, loading projects and families, saving, opening files and doing common computer tasks.

 
It only takes 10.2 seconds for Revit 2012 Recent Files Window to appear (10.3 for Revit 2013) after its icon is clicked from the taskbar. The i7-930 takes 22.9 seconds. One thing I noticed with Revit 2013 is that it takes a few fractions of a second more to do the same tasks done in Revit 2012 on both computers. This is a software issue and while the difference is relatively insignificant, I expect new Revit releases to be more efficient and faster. This is not apparent in the 2013 release.

Where the 4920 excels is in rendering. Depending on the render settings, render times are two to three times faster than on the i7-930. I was actually content with the i7-930′s performance, based on the fact that I was using a slower and older Intel Duo Core processor before I jumped on to the i7 bandwagon. After using the 4920 for almost 1 1/2 months, the i7-930 feels like an old, sluggish computer.

In ray trace mode, the rendering passes as the model is being maneuvered are very fast. All views in any visual style redraw fast and smoothly_even when the Anti-Aliasing is enabled. The 4920′s enhanced processor plus the NVIDIA graphics card makes this possible. Rendering times are now reduced to minutes compared to hours. To test its graphics capability, I created a simple residential interior project and populated it with highly detailed and complex families. This resulted in a fairly large 254 MB file. I made sure that the materials assigned to these families contained properties that slow down renderings. These are glossiness, reflections, transparencies, interior lights, etc., as shown in the final rendering below.



This is the rendering setting:



The following video is a split screen showing both computers rendering the same scene shown above. It is a time lapse presentation showing the render results at different times during the entire rendering process. As expected, the 4920 rendered the scene significantly faster than the i7-930 (almost 2.5 times faster).
 

 
To test the graphics capability of the 4920 in rendering a large size project (519 MB), I put together several projects with linked Revit files as well as DWG files. I also loaded it with numerous highly detailed families as well as complex families such as curtain walls and landscaping, as shown in the following video clip. The view is an aerial view and the render quality was set to Medium, with the lighting scheme set to Sun only.
 


It wasn’t a surprise that the 4920 outperformed the i7-930. This time, however, it rendered the complex project almost four times faster than the i7-930!

To put the 4920 to a final test, I created a simple walkthrough of a highly detailed saxophone family containing numerous nested families. The method I used to generate the walkthrough is to render each of the frames as jpeg files. They were then assembled as a movie file using Quicktime Pro. I specified 600 frames and set the render frame at 30 frames per second as shown below:



The result is highly impressive. The 4920 rendered the 600 jpeg frames in five hours. The i7-930 took eleven hours to finish. Similar detailed families I created in 2009 took more than one day to render from my Intel Core Duo-based laptop. Computer processors are exponentially becoming faster and catching up with the demands of animation, renderings and video production. This is evident in the 4920 workstation. The final movie output from both machines are the same in quality as shown in the following 20 second movie clip generated from Quicktime Pro. The difference is that the 4920 rendered the frames more than two times faster than the i7-930.
 


The 4920 as a Music Workstation

Being a musician, I’ve dabbled with digital sound editing and MIDI on the i7-930 for adding background music to my walkthrough movies. And so I’ve used the 4920 as a music workstation for this purpose too. I’ve also used it for practicing with my saxophone two to three times a week. My practice setup allows me to read the music from a PDF file on one monitor while I have two programs that generate the background music on a second monitor. A mixer is connected to the 4920′s sound port which is hooked up to Rokit powered subwoofer and speakers. A USB MIDI keyboard is also connected, which I use for transcribing notes through a music notation program called Finale. The following are the music and sound editing programs I used with the 4920:
  • Mixcraft 6
  • Audacity
  • Itunes
  • Finale
  • Acrobat
  • Amazing Slow Downer
  • WAV to MP3 and MP3 to WAV converters
  • Windows Media Player
The sound output on both machines produces high quality digital sound. I did not notice any perceptible difference. The Realtek HD Audio Manager that came with the 4920, however, is very user friendly and easy to configure for customized sound output.



So while both machine function as excellent music workstations, the 4920 excels in common computer task such as copying, opening files and saving, which are almost instantaneous. Converting sound formats and other music software functions are much faster.

How the 4920 and the i7-930 Stacks up with Other Computers

The 4920 has been tested by experienced techies using sophisticated software to test the computer’s CPU and GPU performance. Although the focus of this review is to gauge the 4920′s performance in Revit, I also tested both computers for comparison with other systems using two popular free benchmark programs: PCMark 7 and CINEBENCH 11.5.

PCMark 7 measures the overall performance of a computer in its three passes of seven separate tests. Here are the results:

4920:


 
i7-930:



Note: At the PCMark website, a machine that scores higher than 5000 is considered to be a fast system.

CINEBENCH 11.5 is a benchmark program that evaluates a computer’s performance capabilities. The software is based on the award winning CINEMA 4D animation software. It is an ideal tool for comparing CPU and graphics performance across various systems and platforms. Here are the results on its CPU and OpenGL tests for both machines. The highlighted items below the results are similar computer systems used for comparison.

4920:


 

 
i7-930:



 
The OpenGL test scores for both computers are fairly high, with the 4920 edging the i7-930. In the CPU test, the 4920 scores high among the top systems, which also include the Intel Xeon processors. The i7-930, on the other hand, is at the bottom of comparable systems.

Conclusion

As Revit users, we should also be knowledgeable on the computer systems we use. Revit modeling can be tedious and time consuming, but having the right system allows us to be more productive. Aside from the operating system, what matters to us are:
  • CPU
  • RAM
  • Graphics processor
There are other faster computer systems in the market, however, these are geared for gaming. The thing to keep in mind is the importance of having the right combination of processor and Autodesk certified graphics card. RAM is cheaper these days, so we can potentially max it out to our advantage. If that doesn’t do it and you’re in the market for a high end Revit workstation, I suggest you do the following:

1. Run a benchmark test on your computer and compare it with the results I got from the 4920 and i7-930. You’ll be surprised to find out how your system compares. Here are links to download these free programs:
2. BOXX offers a 30-day risk free trial. Take them up on it. You don’t have anything to lose (except maybe your computer…because once you experience their workstation, you will want to keep it!). Click on this link for more information:http://www.boxxtech.com/solutions/revit_solution.asp
 
I highly recommend the 4920. The price is high, but the computer will pay for itself in the long run. You will become more productive, accomplishing more in less time. For now, it is the fastest workstation tailored for Revit. Any model that can outperform this workstation can only come from BOXX…when they come up with a new model based on a newer processor!
About BOXX

Founded in 1996, BOXX Technologies has been around for over 15 years. They have produced workstations for media and entertainment industries as well as design, engineering, architectural, visualization, and more. BOXX sales consultants and engineers have intimate knowledge of the professional software applications used in the AEC industry. Unlike top brand name companies that sell one-size fits all models, BOXX configures workstations based on specific workflows.
 
Metric Editions of Revit Family Modeling eBooks
In response to Revit users from Australia, UK, Europe and other countries, I'm happy to announce the release of the Metric Editions of my eBooks:
 
Creating Custom Revit Architecture 2012 Families
Metric Edition
Creating Custom Revit Architecture 2013 Families
 
Metric Edition
 
They are free with the purchase of the 2012/2013 US Imperial editions. Please click this link to get a PDF sampler containing sample images and Forewords written by Jeff Pinheiro (therevitkid.com) and Jay Zallan (Perkowitz+Ruth Architects):

For registered users, please log in to your account to get the free metric editions. In the Download section, download the Revit Family Bundle-11 file. This zip file contains the following:
 
1. The Metric editions:
 
CCRA2012F_Metric (Creating Custom Revit Architecture 2012 Families, Metric Edition)
CCRA2013F_Metric (Creating Custom Revit Architecture 2013 Families, Metric Edition)
 
2. The latest versions of your current 2012/2013 (US Edition) eBooks:
 
CCRA2012F_Imperial (previously named CCRA2012 v090612)
CCRA2013F_Imperial (previously named CCRA2013 v090412)
 
For consistency, I've updated them to reflect the following which were implemented in the 2012 & 2013 metric editions:
 
A. References to Figure numbers (where applicable) e.g.:
(see fig. XX, next page) or (see fig. XX, previous page)
B. Corrections to a few minor typos
C. Updated cover pages
 
3. The Tutorial files (2012 & 2013) in US and Metric formats
 
4. The free Revit families
 
Note: A few email notifications I've sent out are being returned to me. Please be sure to unblock my email address so you can get the latest eBook updates. They are:
 
michael_anonuevo@cox.net
michael@littledetailscount.com
 
If that's not possible, then please check this website from time to time then login to get the updates. Thanks.
 
Revit 2013 eBook Update
Join Revit users nationwide and all over the world who have discovered the valuable information in this eBook. There is nothing like this in the market right now. The eBook teaches the efficient ways to create families. It also explains the subtle little details that go with family creation that no other books explain.
 
For those who are wondering how I created the families in my website, it's all explained in Chapter 16 of the eBook. Everything from modeling simple to complex components, adding parameters, tracing images, parameters, etc. are explained in-depth with over 2000 images. You'll find tips and techniques I've learned and gathered from my years of working for prestigious firms using Revit.
 
Download my PDF sampler (163 pages) containing the full Table of Contents (2012 & 2013), Forewords by Steve Stafford and Lonnie Cumpton, and sample images here.
 
Revit Family eBook
This is the Revit family eBook you've been waiting for!
 
In March of 2011, I started writing an eBook where I can explain the Revit family editor modeling process based on my experience. The result is the first edition of:
 
Creating Custom Revit Architecture 2012 Families
A Practical Guide for Beginners and Intermediate users
 
 
It took me longer than expected to finish it but here it is. Since Revit 2013 is already out, I am offering a free update of the eBook to the new version. It will be out by October 2012 and will be emailed directly to users who purchase this 2012 eBook. The price also includes four free Revit families from this website.
 
You cannot find a better deal. For those who are wondering how I created the families in my website, it's all explained in Chapter 16 of the eBook. Everything from modeling simple to complex components, adding parameters, tracing images, etc. are explained in-depth with over 2000 images. You'll find tips and techniques I've learned and gathered from my years of working for prestigious firms using Revit.
 
Download the full Table of Contents, Foreword by Steve Stafford, and sample images here.
 
Alto Revit!
Alto: Although the word Alto is associated with music, it is Spanish for Tall. The Latin word Altus means high or deep.
 
 
 
 
This is the article I originally posted at ClubRevit.com. in Sept. 19, 2011.
 
After the two 3Dconnexion reviews I wrote a while back, I decided to put the SpacePilot PRO (SPP) to another test in my latest ambitious project, the Alto Saxophone. This time, I wanted to find out how it would fare in a family with multitudes of complex shapes. So for the benefit of Revit 2012 users, here is my latest update on this amazing 3D device...and the alto saxophone!
 
Please note that Autodesk just recently supported 3Ddevices from 3Dconnexion with the 2012 release of their products. They will not work in the older versions of Revit.
 
This project took me three weekends to complete. This translates to five working days if I had to do it in a regular office environment. Before I got started, I researched everything there is to know about the alto saxophone, including its construction and the famous musicians who used it. I’ve always been intrigued by its breathtaking complex shape. And so for my birthday last month, I bought myself an alto saxophone! My intentions were to learn how to play it and create a Revit saxophone family. After several practice sessions, I took the neck attachment piece and began to model it. This part is called the Crook and it is the bent piece of metal where the mouthpiece is attached to. The crook alone is a fairly complex shape because of the Octave assembly. It took me about a couple of hours to finish the general shape. Later on, I went back to it after finding out a solution on how to model the swooping metal piece around the base. Figure 1 shows the final modeled part in Realistic visual style.
 
Figure 1


more...
 
3Dconnexion Products
This is the article I posted at clubrevit.com entitled: "3Dconnexion Invasion of Planet Revit"

It has been two months now since I started using 3Dconnexion's SpacePilot PRO. Without a doubt, 3D navigation devices are definitely here to stay.

The way I use Revit has completely changed. I've incorporated the SpacePilot PRO and its powerful programmable buttons in my daily work. I am now automatically reaching for it with my left hand. I've also learned how to configure the buttons to my advantage. You'll find out all about this at the end of this article with my follow-up review of the SpacePilot PRO.

I'm happy to tell you that I've gotten a tremendous amount of good feedback from readers saying how helpful my article was. And just as I had anticipated, I've gotten inquiries about 3Dconnexion's other models. Well, after communicating with 3Dconnexion, they sent me the rest of their product line. And so guys, here's the lowdown on the SpaceExplorer, SpaceNavigator and SpaceNavigator for Notebooks...

Before I start, let me make a few things clear:

1. A 3D navigation device is not replacement for a regular mouse
2. All 3Dconnexion devices are supported in the current 2012 Revit release (Architecture, Structure, and MEP). They will not work in the old versions of Revit.
3. A 3D navigation device is also referred to as 3D mouse (plural: mice), 3D device or 3D controller
4. I am not connected with 3Dconnexion. I wasn't asked to write this review nor was I compensated for it.
 
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Revit 2012 and the SpacePilot PRO
For two weeks, I tested this device in all possible Revit scenarios and I'd like to share with you my experience with it. I originally posted this article at clubrevit.com.
 
(Disclaimer: I am in no way connected to 3Dconnexion. I wasn't asked to write this review nor was I compensated for it.)
 
Will Revit users fly with this device?
 
The SpacePilot™ PRO _ a product review by Michael Anonuevo
 
One of the new features of Revit Architecture 2012 is its support for 3Dconnexion devices. As a Revit beta tester, I was aware of this feature before this version was released. However, prior commitments prevented me from taking a look into it until last month. Anyway, here are my findings:

The first thing I did was visit 3Dconnexion's website to learn about their products. In the internet, I read a lot of articles and reviews concerning their product line. Apparently, they have been around since 2001. Their products are popular in the manufacturing industry as navigation tools in CAD/CAM modeling and simulation applications. In the film industry, they are used for navigation and visualization with popular animation software such as Maya, Alias, Blender, etc. Although Autodesk is officially supporting 3Dconnexion's products, I couldn't find any information on how they are being used in Revit. A lot of product reviews by design engineers have affirmed their usefulness though. Nonetheless, I was a little bit skeptical. The regular mouse, after all, does a good job as a navigation tool in Revit. My thought then was to get hold of a unit and test it.

Not knowing anything about 3Dconnexion's navigation devices, I contacted them. I sent an email with my credentials and asked if I could evaluate and review their SpaceNavigator. Within a few days, I was contacted and informed that the company was sending me the SpacePilot PRO. This is 3Dconnexion's top of the line model.

For Revit Architecture 2012 users, this article is about my experience with the SpacePilot PRO in the two weeks that I put it to various tests. Aside from Revit, I also tested the device with Autodesk Inventor 2011, Photoshop CS5, and Google Earth. I've included a few photos and video clips to help you make a decision if you're contemplating on buying one. I will probably write a follow-up article after I use the device extensively for a few months.

Unpacking the Box

I was surprised when I received the SpacePilot PRO. The package was contained in a 15" x 13" x 7" carton mailing box! I'm like, how big could this mouse be? Well, after taking it out of its box, it was bigger than what I thought it would be! Take a look (see fig. 1):
 

Figure 1
 
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Revit Architecture 2012 Enhanced Visualization
In the April 2011 issue of AUGIWorld, I wrote a two-page article on one of the several enhancements added to the new Revit Architecture 2012 release (pages 32-33). In the article, I summarized the new visual enhancements introduced by Autodesk. There is also a Youtube link where you can view the possible combination of views that can be derived from the new visual styles. You can downlaod a PDF copy of the issue at:
 
 
 
Autodesk® Revit® Architecture 2012 is here!
I got my official copy of Revit 2012 last Monday (April 11, 2011)!
 
As a beta tester, I've been using this latest release for quite some time now. But it's still nice to get a new serial number and all the goodies at the subscription site. Well, I didn't waste any time and immediately put this new version to a test by creating this complex family!
 

Please check out the video on youtube.com:
 
 
 
 
 
Paul Aubin's Comments on my Families

Paul Aubin is the well known Revit guru and author who has written several bestselling books on Revit Architecture, AutoCAD MEP and AutoCAD Architecture. In 2006, his book (Mastering Autodesk Revit Building) is what got me started on Revit.  This is what he has to say regarding the Revit families on my website:


“There are many ways to approach the task of building Revit content. And sometimes, the little details count! I cannot think of a more aptly named website for the excellent content produced by its founder Mr. Anonuevo. Great care is taken in crafting the three-dimensional details and applying very realistic and believable materials. Furthermore, Mr. Anonuevo clearly understands that good Revit content is not just about 3D. He includes 2D symbolic line representations for the plan views to simplify and help with performance.

I got a direct look at his drum set. Now I grant you, this is a big Family file weighing in at 12M. But doing a quick test with about 25 copies, the file only grew to 18M. This is because there are few parameters and formulas in the file. So in 2D views, it performs quite well. And really, when would you need 25 drum sets in a single file anyhow… Now your results might vary if using his casino furniture. There it would be more likely to have many copies, but again Mr. Anonuevo takes advantage of symbolic lines in 2D views and keeps parameters to a minimum. What I like most about his efforts is the amazingly high quality renderings he has been able to achieve. There is a degree of realism here that I have not seen in other Revit content and projects. Well done! Overall I would say that you are in the market for casino gaming content or musical instruments, begin your search with www.littledetailscount.com. 
 
AUGI AEC EDGE Downloads Fall Issue
In this issue, I wrote a 12-page article entitled "In Revit, Little Details Count Too" (page 27). In the article, you'll find some Tips and Tricks pertaining to the creation of complex family shapes in Revit.
 
 
The PDF downloads for the current fall issue of AUGI AEC EDGE ezine are available at the  AUGI site.
 
You can also download them from here:
 
 
Links to my article's Video Clips:
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Little Details Count is now on YouTube.com

I've started uploading simple walkthroughs of my products to give you an idea how they look like. Here are the links:

If you want to see all my videos, please visit my YouTube channel at:

However, if you want to get to the individual videos, here are the links:
 

New videos (June 2011):

Revit 2012_Navigating a Project using the SpacePilot PRO:

Revit 2012_Editing a Family in 3D View using the SpacePilot PRO:

Revit 2012_Navigating a Family Using the SpacePilot PRO:

Revit 2012_Walking Inside & Outside a Project Using the SpacePilot PRO:

The SpacePilot PRO Placed Inside a Slide-Out Keyboard Shelf:

Google Earth and the SpacePilot PRO:

Autodesk Inventor and the SpacePilot PRO:

Photoshop and the SpacePilot PRO:
 
Sneak Preview: Kitchen-Dining Accessories Part-2
Here's a sneak preview of some Kitchen and Dining accessories that will be released soon.
These are some of the products that will be available at the end of May 2010.
 
Soon to be Released Casino Furniture and Equipment !
These casino products will be out in a few days!

They are currently being tested. Thanks for your patience.
 
Autodesk Revit Teapot Render Button
Have you guys ever wondered what that little Revit teapot render button signifies? I’m talking about the small icon down below the View Controls (where you set the scale and set view options) that appears in 3D views.
 

 
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About our First Release
I had been asked why I chose Casino furniture and Kitchen-Dining accessories for Little Details Count’s first release. Here is the story:

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Sneak Preview of Upcoming Revit Family Releases
For our second release of Revit families of kitchen and dining accessories, we are adding more commonly used appliances such as the following : food mixer (shown below), coffee maker, colander, plastic containers, place mats, assorted ingredient bottles, etc.
 
 
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Testimonials
"I have heard several Revit content developers talk about level of detail in the past, but clearly Little Details Count has raised the bar. I manage thousands of Revit families and have talked with hundreds of Revit family developers. Never have I seen such detailed and complete families as the ones found here. It is great that we have finally found content that we know is 100% accurate to the specs provided".

Lonnie Cumpton
BIM9.com


"As with most things these days, there is an abundance of information that can be found on the internet. Revit has fallen into that category these days also. So finding quality Revit info and content is important. There are some excellent Revit content providers out there and clearly Little Details Count is one of them, if not the best. Though the quality of the content is fantastic, what sets this site above is their willingness to share quality info on family content construction methods as with this example titled: Carrel Family.
 
You'll want to bookmark this site, for new content purchases and learning."

Coreed
RevitCity Moderator
 
Our Revit Families and Formats
The intent of our products is to quickly “accessorize” Revit renderings, views and walkthroughs in the final stages of a project. All families can be edited and their materials and colors changed. We had chosen to create them as face-based families so they can easily be placed in any view without specifying levels. They attach easily to any surface and can be re-hosted. Here are a few products scheduled for future releases:
  • Part-2 of Kitchen and Dining Accessories
  • Part-2 of Casino Furniture and Equipment
  • Music Instruments
  • Office Accessories
  • Bar Accessories
  • Health Facilities Equipment & Accessories 

File Formats:
 
Since there is no backwards compatibility, we created our Revit families with Revit Architecture 2009. They are also available in the current version of Revit Architecture 2010. After the release of version 2011 slated by the March 2010, we are no longer going to support version 2009. 
 
Holman's of Nevada Welcome Message
Little Details Count is fortunate to have Mr. Joe Schmidt of Holman's of Nevada, Inc. give a welcome message to this website. Holman's of Nevada is the number one Autodesk® reseller and training center in the State of Nevada. Joe is the Vice President of the CAD Services Business Unit at Holman's.
 

From Joe Schmidt:
 
"Michael is a leader in 3D modeling and design technology. He has a love and ambition for creating impressive, detailed 3D models along with a personality that makes him a delight to do business with. Michael has the ability to adopt to new processes and technology quickly so he can stay on the leading edge. The line of Revit families he has created are top notch in terms of quality and functionality. We are truly fortunate to have access to the best casino families on the market!"
 
Joe Schmidt
Vice President
Holman’s of Nevada, Inc.
 
(702) 777-2050
www.holmansnv.com