BIM is the process of generating and managing a buildings’ data during its life cycle. As a 3D visualisation professional, I want to talk about the relationship between BIM and 3D visualisation.
Let’s begin by saying that at CADS 3D we’re big fans of Autodesk. We use their AutoCAD software as well as their 3DS Max piece of kit. It has therefore made sense for us to explore Autodesk’s BIM offering first. The product is called Revit, or more precisely ‘The Revit Platform’.
According to the clever people at Autodesk: “It (The Revit Platform) is a purpose-built solution for BIM. Applications such as Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, and Revit MEP built on the Revit platform are complete, discipline-specific building design and documentation systems supporting all phases of design and construction documentation”. 
So how will BIM, and Revit, affect the 3D Visualisation industry? To understand this, it will help to understand the process of creating a 3D visual or video. Here it is in a nutshell:
- Take the 2D CAD plans/elevations, import them into 3DS Max, then create the 3D model
- Apply the necessary textures
- Set up the lighting rig
- Line up the necessary cameras and do the renders
We’re always trying to streamline this process, and BIM achieves exactly that by removing the need to create a 3D model. Revit does that for you. This not only saves time and enables us to keep our pricing competitive, but it also enables us to spend more time improving the realism of the 3D visualisation.
I believe that as BIM becomes more commonplace amongst architects and other industry stakeholders, 3D visualisation will become an even more specialist field. It will focus even more on the interaction between material and light.
In addition, where 3D visualisation has previously been kept for final, high-quality marketing images, it will now infiltrate its way right through the building management process. Design will well and truly be revolutionised as the impact of design decisions on lighting, and materials can quickly and easily be tested.
I’m excited about BIM and am looking forward to really getting to grips with the process and the various tools such as Revit.
C A Design Services 3D Team Leader
 BIM and Visualisation white paper 2008