Autodesk Screencast

Implementing BIM software across a company implies to communicate in-house procedures or best-practices to a potentially large audience. We also have to keep it mind than our public is generally not as proficient as we are with all this BIM stuff.

Replacing text by pictures or even better, videos, can help deliver our message. This is where Autodesk Screencast can be really useful.

Screencast

Autodesk Screencast, formerly known as Autodesk Project Chronicle in the Autodesk Labs, is a screencast application specifically design for Autodesk products. It can support any application, but has an additional feature for Fusion 360, AutoCAD, Revit and Inventor. On these products, it can record not only the screen, but also every commands used during the session. These commands are displayed in a very convenient timeline, allowing the viewer to understand the process behind what is displayed on the screen.

Timeline

To record these command, Screencast install a plug-in in every selected Autodesk Application.

Installation

Screencast comes as a stand-alone application, and can be launch from within your Autodesk product, directly in the Add-Ins ribbon. Once started, you can choose which application to record, fit its window to a correct aspect ratio and select if you also want to log keyboard events. You can even add to your video the sound coming from your microphone.

Interface

After hitting the Record button, you can start your demonstration. Screencast will log every command you launch along with the screen cast, and show keyboard actions. This last part is especially useful for describing functions with specific keys, like rotating the view with the Shift key in Revit or Navisworks.

At the end of your demonstration, you can edit your video, cutting out irrelevant parts or loading times to shorten our screencast.

Once recorded and edited, the screencast is automatically uploaded to the Autodesk Screencast website. By default, the screencast is public, but you can restrain to on who have the link, or to a specific group of user with an Autodesk account.

MyScreencasts

And the last but not the least, the video can be downloaded from the website. An URL is also provided to embed your screencast in a website.

I’m usually not very fond of video tutorial, but I must admit than the Screencast application made the creation of such video too easy to miss. I will probably use it more to present my solutions.

My version of the Living Cube

Designed by Till Ewert Koenneker, The Living Cube is an assembly of shelves, storage space and a bed. Tightly integrated in an ergonomic cube, its timeless design allows it to be used in any space and situation.
After encountering the work of Till Koenneker, I decided to use it as an inspiration to draw the same one for myself.
The main idea is to design a piece of furniture, producing drawings with a software usually used for steel detailing. My goal is to automatically produce shop drawings of every parts of the finished product, directly from the model. These drawings are then to be send to a joiner’s workshop for the production of parts that I can assemble myself, just like any ready-to-assemble Ikea-like funiture.
I’m not using Tekla Structure on a regular basis, but I know its power for producing shop drawing for timber or steel structure, and its caracteristics fit my needs for this project. It will be a good occasion to hone my Tekla skills.
I started with a first sketch on Tekla Structure, trying to find the best proportion for my needs. I came up with a first version, and used 3D Max to render it.

RenderingI then used the Tekla model to produce general drawings of my project, and submitted this first version to someone who is used to design and build pieces of wooden furniture to get some feedback. His very precious advice helped me to draw a second, more constructible version of my loft bed. These drawings are also available here.

VersionI was then able to create a detailed shop drawing for each part of my assembly.

PartSadly, this project is still in its development phase, mostly due to my lack of knowledge in furniture design and joinery work. I hope to be able to restart it someday, when I will have time to draw some new version.

Dreaming of a new drawing table

As BIM software has greatly improved over the last few years, there is not much change  on the interface side. Since the beginning of the concept of BIM, we have not much improve  the way we are designing on our favorite CAD application. The development of powerful touch-screens has totally changed our personal devices (mobile phones and personal computers), but I haven’t seen any professional design application using them successfully.

Anyway, some new devices seem to be interesting as new way of interacting with a 3D model.

The SMART Board presents itself as a flat screen, and uses a camera on top of it to change it into a giant touch screen. Some demonstration using Navisworks shown a very impressive way for reviewing and annotating a 3D model.

Some pretty cool videos make me think I am not the only one to believe in cameras and other Kinect to change our way of designing 3D models. As an example, you can have a look on the Scott Penman’s page on the Grasshopper forum. He presents how he uses a webcam to create and control a Rhino model through Grasshopper.

One of my biggest hope in this field is the Leap Motion, a new device including some VGA camera sensors and a “little” piece of software to create a $70 gesture control system that will make the Kinect look like an outdated piece of technology.

The presentation video features an incredibly precise motion detector, which can “see” the individual position of each of your fingers in a three cubic feet workspace.

Possibilities for this kind of devices are almost endless, especially in any 3D models related domain. I already imagine myself casually sculpting a whole building with just a few intuitive hand movements.

These kind of devices may be the next step for integrating BIM in the AEC industry, when modeling a building will become as easy and intuitive as a few pen strokes on a drawing table. And make me dream of a new desktop.

Virtual Environments

Virtual environments are a trending topic among our clients these days. Owners don’t want only pretty pictures of their future building anymore, but also videos, and lately, whole 3D environments.

They want to be able to walk through their future building and see everything just like the expected end user. This kind of easily accessible 3D model has endless applications: You can validate architectural and interior design choices, check the accessibility and the ergonomic of the building, present a show apartment on a web-based application accessible by anyone, and many more…

For the one who were fond of videos games in their youth, it’s pretty much like creating a level of an average first person shooter game. You create the geometry (in our case, an already existing aggregated design model), you add some textures to make it pretty and you run the whole thing in an engine for interactive 3D content, a professional name for a game engine.

I have tried two of these engines, with different results.

3dVia Studio is the solution develop by Dassault System. It’s really powerful, with a lot of features and possibilities, and can run really large models. But on the other hand, its price reserves it for visualization professionals, and finding some support and examples on the web can be dreadful.

The other solution is a broadly used game engine named Unity 3D. Its basic version is free, and you can pay for a professional version and specific features, like publication on portable devices (IOS and Android), or work in a collaborative environment.

After some trials with 3DVia Studio, we finally put all our effort to Unity. I will try to post one of my models, so in the meantime, you can have an really good example here.