Mr. Miller, Regarding your process for creating Enscape 360 views or walk throughs, would you mind please sharing some technical information about the process? I understand that some workflows may come earlier in SD and perhaps utilize sketchup with plug-ins vs perhaps Revit further into DD and CD’s. Can you speak to steps you may have taken or give some insights on building/organizing a company wide library of materials taking into account Enscape, Sketchup, Revit, Grasshopper etc. In addition, do you have guidelines to processes or have you had to build leaner custom Revit families/virtual modeling components to keep computer and rendering time resources reasonable, especially for larger projects? Examples may be best practices you may have found for breaking models into chunks, using groups vs families for repetitive objects, rules of thumb or plug-ins for texture size/resolution vs output size and technical settings for Enscape output? Are you going to make the app you developed available in the app store? I think there is a desire for this kind of technical webinar or workshop for those of us in smaller firms that want to use these tools but are already stretching our personnel thin and may be lacking time or resources to devote to research. Also would not mind paying for webinar education, white papers, or apps, as well as contributing to discussion groups devoted to these tools as Payette seems to be a leader in R&D.Joshua Siddle, October 20, 2020
Thank you so much for your comment on my blog post! I’m glad others are interested in this topic, because I believe it is an extremely important one (especially in this COVID-19 environment). I’m going to tackle your comments/questions in sections to hopefully organize some of my rambling.
Which software to use?
As you mentioned, the software we use (SketchUp, Rhino, Revit, 3ds max, etc…) certainly depends on the phase, the project size, the project teams’ knowledge of the software (i.e. who’s comfortable using what), and of course any contractual obligations we might have for digital deliverables to the client or working with the contractor and our consultants. For the project I was discussing in my blog post, we actually used Revit from the very beginning. This was a fast-paced project which required a lot of planning studies. Because it was more of a renovation of an existing shelled space, we weren’t having to do a ton of massing design studies – which is when we’d typically focus some of that SD energy using Sketchup or Rhino. I will also say that we received the Revit shell model from the client, so we were able to start in Revit pretty strong right away.
For the VR Walkthroughs and all the 360 Views, we exported those using the Enscape plug-in for Revit. This is pretty simple since it’s just a button you press in the plugin. The hard part is getting everything modeled and showing up correctly. My settings for Enscape seem to always be changing as I’m never really satisfied with them, but I do have a separate setting work me working than for me showing to the client (ex. Walking speed, interior lighting output, bloom, etc..)
We chose to save out a separate Revit model that was dedicated to rendering. This was because we didn’t want the CD model bogged down with all the extra modeled elements we were including in the rendering. We were also sharing our model with our consultants, and we didn’t want our rendering assets to get in the way of their work. Honestly, I’m not sure this was the right way to go for this small a project. As the client made changes, we were having to coordinate the two models. Even when linking the CD Revit model to the Render model, we’d be designing in the Render model, then going back and making changes to the CD model, and it was just more work than it needed to be. I’m now experimenting with just putting all of the rendering assets on a Revit Workset (like we do for FFE a lot of the times) and that seems to be working better for this other small project I’m working on – and you can just turn that workset off for consultants.
For larger projects we often will split a model into multiple models that are linked together. We’ve had separate models for the core/shell, interior, FFE, landscape, MEP, Structural, etc. This can help with making a model more manageable; however, coordination between the models becomes very very important. I think as long as there is either someone managing all the model coordination, or at least having frequent team meetings/having a chunk of the meeting be about model coordination, then it can be very successful.
I hear you on building leaner custom families. Some of the families you can download from vendors are overly detailed for sure, and I would definitely recommend recreating families that are simply modeled and have just enough detail for people to understand what it is. My typical example here is a keyboard. You can have a standalone keyboard that is very simply modeled and, next to a monitor, gets the idea across. You could even ‘paint’ the face of the simple family to have the keys show up the keyboard in the rendering. However, modeling every key on the keyboard is completely unnecessary and definitely bogs down the model (especially if you’ve copied that family over and over throughout the model.) I’ve also seen groups work well for repetitive spaces such as patient rooms.
For Materials, we used the Revit Materials Manager (under the manage tab). We would sometimes create light emitting materials and shades/paint using the Material properties stock to Revit; other times, we would stitch together material image swatches from the vendor websites in photoshop and load them into the Revit Materials Manager or assign it within the properties window. We kept these materials organized within our project folder. This is important because if they aren’t appropriately linked, the program gets a little glitchy with assigning the correct material. Resolution is tough sometimes when you’re working with real material textures, because you’re at the mercy of what is available online. We will sometimes take high res photos ourselves, but we tend to be able to work with the real materials enough in photoshop to get them to the resolution we need them to be. An example of this is getting a seamless texture that you tile over and over in photoshop, at the scale you downloaded it, and then save it as a higher res image. Of course, this takes time, so finding a larger scale image is better
Working Mobile Application
Unfortunately, I do not believe we will be putting this on the app store. It definitely would need a lot more refinement before it was put on the app store, and if we did, I’d definitely want it to have the ability for anyone to load any model into the application. Right now the application is made more around each specific Payette project rather than being universal to all projects. This is something we’re working on. Also because we’re not a software company, Payette likes to develop software on a project need basis to solve design challenges, if the project can afford it. However, if I can get enough positive feedback and beneficial case studies, I am personally considering making a pitch that we should go after a grant to continue developing this software for the larger architectural community. Stay tuned.
Research & Development @ Payette
Every new Payette employee is required to take a Revit training course that the firm pays for. This is to get the basics of modeling in Revit since it is how we produce all of our CD sets. For more advanced Revit training, Payette is fortunate to have a consultant called MyCADD who helps us with our modeling issues, and helps us to understand the best way to split up our models into links if it’s an extremely large and/or complex project. This is a service our firm pays for, and they have open office hours within our firm twice a week. We also have two Revit Family committees within our office (one for our science and educations projects, and one for our healthcare projects). These committees meet regularly and are always pumping out surveys to the firm on what families people are needing for their projects. I believe these committees also meet with MyCADD when they are modeling families to make sure that everything is being cleanly modeled. This is extremely helpful with building up our firm Revit Family Library.
Ultimately, I think that education on modeling in Revit (specifically modeling Revit families) is worth the investment. I’m finding that I’m using Enscape walkthroughs more and more as my main presentation driver with the client and consultants. Some of my clients can struggle sometimes with reading a standard set of drawings, and I find that they just respond so much better to the 3D renderings. With that being said, the renderings need to be accurate to what it’s going to be. Just yesterday we were trying to explain something with cabinetry to the contractor using the drawings, and it was obvious they weren’t following what we were saying with the questions they were asking – so I pulled up the Enscape walkthrough and showed them what I was talking about, and it immediately clicked for them.
I know several Payette employees, including myself, have spoken at conferences on the various tools we have created for our project work. Perhaps I’ll do a more in depth blog post series on my process/thoughts on this topic to act as a resource for others. I certainly think this blog post only scratched the surface on all of the work that was done for this project/is being done around our office. Stay tuned!
JustinJustin Miller, December 4, 2020