Call Today: 01493 440444
You might have read Mark’s post about the accuracy of surveys, at CADS we address this issue by using the Faro Focus 3D laser scanner. An incredible piece of survey kit, that “creates a precise, virtual copy of reality in millimeter-accuracy at a blazing speed of up to 976,000 measurement points per second” – according to their website!
It’s this virtual copy of reality, rather than the survey data, that gets our customers really excited!
It allows the customer to visualise the detail that the scanner captures, they don’t just see a marked-up plan, they see the building in its’ natural state, giving a real snapshot of its’ day-to-day use. This puts the detail into context.
So how do we make the most of this information?
Creating an animation from a point-cloud – the recording process.
The first thing our survey team members do following a scan is create a point cloud model of the site, allowing us to manoeuvre around it in 3D space.
I will then set a ‘clip’ around the model, this ensures that all stray points around the site are eliminated thus focusing on the actual building model.
The next thing to do is to set a starting point where the animation will begin, this is generally a point in the cloud where you can see the entire building. To keep things neat and logical I prefer to start from a point looking directly at the front door, assuming the site has one that is!
From this point the viewport could be set at eye-level, but I prefer a birds-eye-view of the site to show a larger field of view.
The animation then moves towards the main building / area of interest. This could be the front door of a building or a specific area of interest to the client.
Personally, I like to explore the model first to determine the scope of the building, then set a sequence of cameras that I can use to generate the animation. These viewpoints are saved as camera locations, allowing me to go back to specific sections of the model. Once I have my cameras set, I use a timeline to set the key frames for the animation.
I find that the more levels there are to the building the more interesting the animation can be. For example, I can move through ceilings with ease, showing areas that viewers would not normally be able to see first hand. The captured images also have a kind-of ghostly effect, which gives the viewer a different perspective on the environment.
During the animation, the viewer is taken on a rollercoaster-esque ride around the building, stopping at sections of interest along the way. The style of animation follows that of a bird swooping around in a graceful manner, this is mainly down to the inertia feeling of a rollercoaster if the movement is too fast, which on occasions can make the fly-through feel more exciting, but really is unnecessary.
Animating and rendering the point-cloud
Once I have the basic storyboard I set up the animation for exporting; to do this I place my camera locations on the timeline at a higher frame rate than I will export at, the animation is thus smoother when completed. It also enables a bit of scope when using the animation later on.
Rendering out all of the frames is the most time consuming part of the whole process. The application takes a snap-shot of every single frame. I also apply filters to the exported images, these filters are not stylistic but practical effects that give the animation a more refined feel.
The final step is to compile the sequence images into a container format for distribution to the client, this can be done in all of the industry standard formats and will be greatly affected by the clients viewing platform. For example, we issue most of our files in a format that is optimised for tablets, so that the file can be shared amongst people with ease.
Artefacts of the process
As part of the process the laser scanner picks up a lot of detail from its surroundings, some of which will include fragments of people who move past the scanner mid scan, these people appear on the final scan as an outline or just a few white dashes!
Even the laser scanner operator is subject to repetition of character around the site and can be seen checking scanner locations on a pre-planned map of the site in various locations.
Getting the best results
The laser scanner captures 1 million points per scan, is accurate to with 0.3mm and images are in full colour, but if the initial scan could not capture the entire scene you will end up with an incomplete picture, which shows up in the model as transparent points.
Some times this is unavoidable due to constraints of the environment itself. A double-backed shelving unit will be missing the internal elements, in the same way, under-counter areas are hard to get to due to the height and scope of the laser scanner itself.
To deal with this there is a wide range of software available allowing you to clean up the scene. For example, you could draw-in blank planes to represent walls so that the model appears complete.
You may also add colour certain areas to highlight important features of the scan, these additional processes are not necessary for viewing the model, or for that matter, getting the best animation from the model; their usefulness will always come down to a question of how they improve the model for the client. If the answer is that they won’t add value, then time, thus cost-saving is more important than a spruced-up point cloud, however stunning it looks!
My final piece of advice… Spend your time getting the model created in Revit, this is where your BIM journey really begins.
1. Who else is using it? Sainsbury’s, ASDA, M&S, Comet to name a few.
2. How much is it? This depends on the individual customer requirements, the number of users, and the level of customisation.
3. What about our existing CAD plans? We can sort out your existing store plans, making sure that they work with StoreSpace, as part of an implementation plan.
4. Will it work with Revit in the future? Yes.
5. What are the benefits to me? Storespace enables faster planning, centralised reporting, better space compliance and more profitability.
For more information on StoreSpace and how it could help with your store planning visit StoreSpace in the products section of our website.
With all the current excitement and talk of BIM and Revit, I have been thinking recently about the future of AutoCAD.
At CADS we’re pretty representative of the market, and our current mix of licenses is around 15% Revit / 85% 2D CAD (AutoCAD and MicroStation). It will remain this way for some time yet, largely because this is where our customers are in the cycle.
If we examine the manufacturing marketplace, Autodesk took the (at the time) brave decision to remove AutoCAD Mechanical Desktop and migrate everyone to Inventor. My personal opinion is that this won’t work in the AEC market due to the construction supply chain being quite different. The approach Autodesk are taking of nudging customers to 3D via product suites is the right way to go.
A recent survey of Architects showed 55% market share in AutoCAD with no other product (including Revit) being in double figures. Perhaps more telling was that in the National BIM Report conducted by NBS, 35% of the 1,000 respondents had no CAD at all!!!
So AutoCAD is here to stay for a few years to come.
Should CADS make a full transition to Revit?
You’ll probably have gathered from previous posts that CADS is very keen to keep up-to-date with the newest technology. CADS Space Planning team are no exception. As a department we have recently been taking steps into investigating the use of Revit to deliver our projects. I’ve been challenged with investigating what benefits the use of the Revit programme would bring to the office and ultimately to our clients.
Having worked in-situ with a client recently it appeared that they had made a complete transition to Revit and that although the cross-over period had been a slow one, other programmes had eventually been completely phased out.
The question is should CADS make this full transition too? Or should we remain multi-software users, adding Revit to our arsenal to stay flexible in our market?
Given the nature of what we do, I think we’d be wrong to phase out our other planning tools completely, in favour of Revit. Our projects are led from the top through Architects and/or Trusts. They specify how the project is run and dictate what programmes and methods they require. As suppliers, CADS has to adhere to the requirements.
So there are a number of benefits of our working knowledge of multiple programmes, and on live projects this has meant that we are adaptable, able to understand the clients sometimes difficult requests, and can put a strategy into action using the full toolkit of AutoCAD, Micro station and Codebook in conjunction with each other.
In trying to meet a clients’ requests recently it actually proved useful in discovering that we could use a greater amount of codebook tools than previously thought on other projects, such as creating link code schedules and room labelling.
So, how should we be responding to the changing market place and the introduction of Revit? My recommendation is to carry on with what we’re doing – up-skilling team members to become advanced Revit users, without losing our existing expertise in the other tools. But will these tools eventually become redundant? What do you think?
C A Design Services
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:
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