Thursday, June 30, 2011

Days 2 & 3 – Inaugural RTCUSA


Day 2

So Day 2 of RTC started with a thought provoking class by Alexjandro Ogata of HNTB on BIM Beyond the Documentation. This was a great class & it seems that HNTB are using similar techniques we are trying to implement at HOK. What was very apparent is that team structures & leadership skills fundamentally need to change when implementing a BIM process. The typical roles are changing & the knowledge required to fully implement BIM are not being fully understood by many firms.

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After meeting with Newforma & discussing how it could potentially be used for FM, I caught the tail end of Doug Williams of Perkins & Wills class on “How to Establish a BIM Execution Plan to Assist Your IPD projects”. After lunch I sat in on Lee Millers class on using Revit for Urban Design. Even though I know most of what Lee showed as I have seen it many times before, it always amazes me how impressive this is. I hear it again & again that Revit really isn’t the right tool for this type of work. However, if you set things up correctly & utilise some of the scheduling capabilities of Revit, this is “so” the right tool. Towards the end of the day I drifted into Marcelio Sgambelluri class on adaptive families. I just wanted to see the parametric elephant & cow for my own eyes! Marcelio is an insane genius! It was then onto the RTC BBQ. Steve Staffords son DJ’d & my kids had a blast.

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Day 3

I joined Lee Miller & Matt Jezyk in Stephen Taskin class on Conceptual Massing. A superb class to start the day. Stephen showed some incredible panelling concepts, both Matt & I where equalled excited about what we saw. To quote Matt “holy shit, this stuff is insane”! After a short coffee break I joined Jason Grant class where he showed how he has developed presentation techniques to improve the quality of output from Revit. Everything you see in the screen grab below was undertaken in Revit; no Photoshop work here!

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During lunch Matt J then showed some secret squirrel stuff he & his team are working on. More details to follow on this in the next month or so.

It was then onto the closing speeches by Alan Preger of Newforma & then Paul Doherty of Screampoint to close RTC USA. Paul highlighted some great development technologies he & his teams are working on. Some of it was rather scary stuff, but as Paul emphasized, Architects need to realise that they will be the masters of this new digital world. This will provide Architects with greater business opportunities over & above just designing buildings. His most thought provoking comment, was in the very near future “architects will be in a far greater demand” which certainly got a laugh from the audience. Whilst I am not an architect, just a humble technician at heart, I hope Architects do realise that this is genuine opportunity & they need to think beyond just good design & traditional ways of working.

Jim Baldings ANT group finished off proceedings with “glorious gadgets”. Doug from P+W showed how they had developed Ipad apps to showcase projects, Eon Reality showed 3d glasses & we where also exposed to some amazing VR stuff.

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Wesley Benn wound up the formal side event with the assistance of Phil Read before the Gala Dinner.

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Steve Shells band Shell Shock rocked the night away, with a drum appearance from Steve Stafford. Is there no end to this guy’s talent? A good drummer & a sound Revit aficionado.

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My children then ripped up the dance floor with the likes of Jim Balding, , Wesley Benn, Dave Conant & others!


So my opinion of RTC USA? It was beyond excellent. It had a totally different feel to AU. The quality of speakers was brilliant, I didn’t attend one duff class. The venue was extremely good & the connectivity with others within the Revit community made this event invaluable. RTC plan to move the event around, so maybe it will be on the East Coast next year. Running an new event in this continued challenging economic climate is always risky, but the RTC team certainly pulled it off. I would guess the biggest challenge for the RTC event organisers will to maintain the events sense of community social feel without growing too large.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Day 1 – Inaugural RTCUSA

So after 8 years, RTC has finally made it to the USA. The first RTC conference was held in the Auz in 2005 & was the brainchild of Wesley Benn. It has grown in size year on year & it seemed timely to bring RTC back (in terms of country) to the birthplace of Revit. I remember speaking with Steve Stafford at AU in 2009 & their where plans back then to try & bring RTC to the USA. However, the economic downturn put pay to that. A year on & a slow improvement in the globally economy; 2011 suddenly looked a good bet for RTC in the USA.

So why RTC you may ask? I have attended AU for the last 5 years, it’s a great event, I have even been involved in co-presenting, but its big, to some extent its too big. Also, in my humble opinion, it’s the wrong time of the year. The Autodesk portfolio is released mid April each year, AU is at the end of the year. For a firm who is utilising Revit & BIM, this is not a lot of good to you. You want to know about the current release, what’s new, how it’s going to affect your business & what steps you need to take to implement the new release. Come the end of the year you have gone through that pain & are thinking about the next release! So to have RTC so close to the annual release date of Revit is actually a smart thing.

I managed to tie my RTC attendance in with a family vacation. Holding it at beach resort is sheer genius as the family can do the beach & pool thing whilst I geek at Revit “stuff”. It also gives the event a total different feel to the dry air condition environment of Las Vegas.

Wesley Benn opened the inaugural event with some history & background about RTC. Wesley also mentioned that they are looking to move the event around the country, so maybe next year it will be on the east coast. Lets hope they also consider Europe.

RTC was fortunate enough to get Autodesk CEO Carl Bass to give a keynote address. Carl has always been passionate about Revit & was one of the key decision makers in the purchase of the Revit product. Carl avoided getting involved in Revit technicalities, as he openly acknowledged it was like being in the Revit lions den, realizing the room was full of Revit experts! Instead he wisely focused on new technologies, in particularly the concept of infinite computing. It was a great speech & you realize how much things have changed in the last 10 years. Its kind of scary & exciting to think what will be possible in the next 10 years!

After a short break, it was onto classes. I attended Dave Conants class on Design a Revolution. Dave gave us a history lesson on the humble beginnings of Revit to where it is now. If you are a Revit geek like me, it was one cool class. To see prototypes of the original Revit concept as well as interface designs made you realise that you have been involved with something which is very, very special. Did you realise the original mockup for the Revit concept was drafted up in AutoCAD? ironic? Maybe? Much like many others, when I first encounter Revit I was fixed, I realised there was no going back.

Next up was Kelly Cones class on conceptual massing where he gave a case study of a project he has been involved with in South Korea. Be sure to check out his chapter in MARA 2012, where he showcases this particular project. 

After lunch I attended Jeffery McGrew & his wife Jillian Northrup’s class on Five Common Pitfalls of Digital Fabrication from BIM. Jeff & Jillian are doing some amazing work; Jeff made some very interesting comments. Whilst Autodesk highlight that Inventor is ideally the tool of choice for digital fabrication, the Becausewecan team buck that trend & instead choose Revit. They have worked hard to establish their tool workflows. To be honest, if you see their work & understand that Revit is indeed a solid modeller with a parametric design pedigree, you will release why they choose Revit over Inventor. Just because it says BIM on the box, doesn’t necessarily mean it should be confined to designing buildings only!

After a tea break it was onto Harlan Brumm class on how to find solve common Autodesk Revit Architecture problems, or as I liked to call it, how to fix things when users screw up! Some great tips here. The finally class of the day for me was Jay Zallans session on Revit for planning & programming projects. I kind of knew a fair amount of this stuff, but it was always good to get a different perspective on how others utilise Revit for this type of work in their practice. After classes it was onto the welcome function, sponsored by Kelar Pacific. I meet up with my family, got pizza before going back to the welcome function. It was strange seeing my two young children, Elliot & Bethan & my wife Becky mingling with so many Revit geeks. In the hallway the children both bumped into Phil Read. Uncle Phil then sat with them for a good half an hour keeping them entertained on his ipad! Or maybe he was explaining the merits of thinking different?? :-)

Overall a great first day. The calibre of classes were excellent, the social aspect & connectivity could only be achieved at an event of this scale & this looks set to continue for days two & three. The RTC committee should be congratulated for pulling off what looked the impossible. Finally, be sure to follow me on twitter where I will giving an hour by hour update of RTCUSA 2011.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Legless AT-AT


The HOK London office have recently purchased a 3d printer. To be honest I am not the most practical of people, just ask my wife! But the 3d printing thing is good fun. I have put a few models from Revit & Vasari through the system with varying results. I was keen to see if I could print the now legendary Revit AT-AT but although the whole thing printed just fine, the legs where obviously too flimsy for the main body. You live & learn.

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The AT-AT appearing for the depths of the dust.

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At this stage he was still in one piece!

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Oh dear me…..… :-)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

More Project Neon – Revit 2012

I quickly threw a few more files at Neon today, nothing particularly spectacular, but I was keen to see how far I could push it. Overall very positive results, although I did get one file which went a little screwy…be sure to read the online help as there are some useful tips to guide your through the rendering process.






Project Neon – Revit 2012


Be sure to check out Project Neon for Revit 2012.

Project Neon has recently been updated to allow you to do cloud based rendering from Revit 2012. Just sign up, download & install the Revit 2012 plugin & you are good to go! I threw a couple of render at the system today & I am very impressed. It will even notify you once you render is complete!


Once the plugin is installed, you will find another tab which allows you to publish your render online or to view your render gallery.


The images can be rendered using all the normal settings with Revit. You simply click the “render online” button, pick your 3d view you want, set the image quality, then the image size, followed by the File format. You have three file formats to choose from PNG, JPG & TIF ; then just hit the “Start Rendering” button.


Your file is the published to the cloud where a host of super computers rip through the render in no time at all. Once the render is complete, you are alerted via email. Login to Project Neon & you can view & download your completed render from there. You will need to set up the exposure settings on your host workstation before hand but that's a small price to pay for the speed of rendering. Be sure to give it a go! This is genuinely an exciting development for the Revit user & harness the essence of cloud based computing.


Thursday, June 02, 2011

Social Media @ HOK

Ken Young, Senior Vice President and the Chief Information Officer for HOK shares HOK’s experience on social media.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Image composition – Revit & Vasari



final composition

I’m not even going to attempt to take credit for this, but at the recent Excitech Revit forum, Paul Grimston, one of Excitech technical consultants, showed how to use rendering in Revit & Photoshop to create some incredibly compelling renderings. Its nothing I hadn’t seen in the past, but the using of ambient occlusion was very interesting. Be sure to checkout the download pdf for the Revit Architecture forum which explains a bit more.