Design to Visualization Collaboration

Been a super fun year diving deeper into the world of Visualization, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality! Here’s a quick video montage of some fun project highlights I’ve been a part of in 2019! Let’s Collaborate and Find Solutions Together!

Ultimate Rendered Reality Visualization Package

Contact me to Implement this Technology on your next Project: stevewalz@hotmail.com

First look at the Ultimate Rendered Reality Visualization Package! Simple, yet effective way to immerse yourself in design models! Scan the QR Codes with the Camera on your Mobile Device and Enjoy!

Fully Immersive Designs (CAD, BIM, CIM)

Jumping into your Design Models has never been made easier! Allow me to assist your company in providing a Fully Immersive Experience for you and your Clients!

Embedding QR Codes into your Rendered Videos allows your Audience to dive into the design with a quick scan of their phone, giving them an opportunity to truly visualize, from multiple viewpoints, what the end product will look like before it’s even constructed!
Just for fun…I call it “Unrealistic Panorama Rendering in the Shire”
2 Viewpoints sharing the same QR Code of our design model with different lighting effects applied. As long as you have Viewpoints Enabled when you pull it up on your tablet or phone, you can click on the Eye Icon and jump to the other location in your view!

QC Checklist for Civil 3D Modeling

QC Checklist for Civil 3D Modeling

Give you and your company peace of mind with this Civil 3D QC Modeling Checklist. With embedded formulas and dynamically linked cells, filling out this form, all while ensuring your design model has been thoroughly checked, has never been easier to Manage and Review. This QC Modeling Checklist covers all modeling aspects available within Civil 3D, including Corridors, Gravity and Pressure Pipe Networks, Surfaces, and more!

$50.00

Export Civil 3D Components to be Imported into InfraWorks

           There’s obviously many ways to export your Civil 3D components and bring them into your InfraWorks model. As a personal preference, I like to extract my site components individually. Although a little more time is spent up front exporting these components, it can, and will, save you time down the road as you further develop your design. This process keeps it simple, making it much easier to manage and update specific components, as needed, at a later date.

Here’s a view of the Civil 3D Model

Export to Autodesk SDF

           Land Coverage Areas are best to be exported from Civil 3D as Autodesk SDF files. Note that all areas will need to be closed polylines to ensure that they’re represented accurately in the InfraWorks Model. In Civil 3D, export these site features to Autodesk SDF files using the MapExport command. During the export process, make sure you manually select the features in the Selection tab and Check the ‘Treat closed polylines as polygons’ box under the Options tab.

MapExport Dialog Box

MapExport Dialog Box

Export to LandXML

           Surfaces and Gravity Pipe Networks are best to be exported from Civil 3D as LandXML files. If the site has multiple surfaces and gravity pipe networks within the design, it would be best to export each surface and/or network individually, rather than all at once such that all components reside in 1 LandXML file. A quick tip here is to combine your existing and proposed surfaces into 1 complete surface model and then export this new combined surface to LandXML. If any excavation is required for buildings/structures on your site, be sure to account for this as well. The last thing you want to see in your InfraWorks models are surfaces running through your buildings.

Civil 3D Combined Surface

Export to Civil 3D

           Pressure Pipe Networks are not supported in InfraWorks at this time. To bring these components into InfraWorks, best practice is to WBlock these networks out to a separate file. Once exported, open up the file, select all objects within, and explode them to the point that they are 3D Solids.

Civil 3D Pressure Pipe Network

Leveraging InfraWorks and Stingray for Interdisciplinary Checks and Reviews

  If you’re like me, it seems like all the cool new design and review programs that have been released over the past several years have been more focused on the building/structure side of the business. Sure, Autodesk had released InfraWorks for us Civil folks, and have put in a lot of effort into further developing it and making it a practical application for us to use during the design process. But it still has its limitations.

           I’ve been trying to find ways to incorporate InfraWorks into my design process since its first release, and have found it to be great at many things. I can do my preliminary existing site analysis by quickly obtaining topography, waterways, drainage features, buildings, etc. in a matter of minutes; whereas this process would have taken several hours, sometimes days, trying to track down all this information online and through various agencies. It also increases speed and decision-making during your project’s conceptual design phase as you can run through different design scenarios on the fly.

           Probably the most important use I’ve found InfraWorks to provide, is it’s ability to improve your Civil 3D Models from a visualization standpoint as well as it’s improved interoperability with other BIM applications. Yes, Civil 3D can bring in Revit models via ADSK and DWG exports, but trying to view your Revit and Civil 3D models in a rendered state in Civil 3D can be quite painful, time consuming and will cause file corruption in your design models at some point.

           As Clients and Owners discover the true value of properly developing an accurate BIM | CIM design, and adapt to this new technology wave, it’s becoming more common for them to make it a requirement for AEC firms to include their 3D models along with hard copy plan sets at each design deliverable. Over the past few years, I’ve seen many design review meetings take place where BIM models are brought into Navisworks, where firms are able to navigate through the model with their clients. Clients are typically left feeling impressed by the new technology and much more comfortable with the design itself, as they can really visualize how everything is coming together. Trying to get design models from Civil 3D into Navisworks has been a whole other process that isn’t as seamless as Revit into Navisworks. Another downside to this concept is that Clients are required to download software to view these models on their own.

           The more I have incorporated InfraWorks into my design process, the more I see it as just an extension to Civil 3D. It really has brought some of my company’s designs to life. I’ve produced some really cool renderings and videos of site fly-overs and walk-throughs of the entire design model. I’ve been able to incorporate our design models from both Civil 3D and Revit, thus providing another program that gives us the ability to review these models for interdisciplinary checks. It also provides a much improved visualization from a Civil standpoint as other disciplines aren’t just looking at lines on a drawing anymore. They can really visualize how their building/structure models are being integrated into the surrounding land, and the rest of the site design.

           A couple years ago, I came across a webcast that demonstrated how to bring your Civil 3D models into Stingray. Stingray, as far as I knew, was more of a gaming platform. That being said, I assumed that if you ever just wanted to be that person turning your Civil 3D models into Stingray Games, and if you have that kind of time on your hands, more power to you. To be honest, although it seemed pretty neat, I didn’t see it as very practical in any sense. Plus, the demonstration had you go from Civil 3D, to InfraWorks, to 3ds Max and then, finally, into Stingray. To me, this just seemed like a whole big workaround just to produce a game.

           With all the recent advancements in technology, it just seems like there should be an easier process. The more I get into relying on InfraWorks as an extension to Civil 3D, the more I see both programs as 1. I have also since found out that I can ultimately bypass using 3ds Max altogether. I can actually export my InfraWorks model to an FBX file, which can then be brought directly into Stingray.

           Once you import your FBX model into Stingray, and get everything positioned in your scene the way you want it to appear, you can then deploy your scene to an executable (EXE) file that can be launched on any computer without having the need to install any additional software. This is extremely important to note, as clients and owners will feel much more at ease with the overall concept and final output, and not feel overwhelmed by having to acquire, install and actually learn a new software, or tool.

           Another concept that might take some getting used to during this process (I know I had some trouble getting used to it at least), was not to consider this EXE file as a “Game”. I’m sure you can imagine what the response would be if you discuss turning your models into a “Game” to upper management. Instead of considering it a “Game, you’re going to want to consider it a “Virtual Reality Simulation”. This phrasing of the concept will get you increased buy-in from upper management, as well as Clients and Owners.

           Although this Virtual Reality Simulation is actually an EXE file that can be launched directly on your laptop, Stingray also provides the real deal VR experience where you can hook up Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and some other VR headset devices for your simulations, thus allowing you, clients, etc. to be fully immersed into your design models.       

Can CIM Be Done in Civil 3D?

We’ve all heard the term Building Information Modeling (BIM) being thrown around for quite some time now. In general, BIM is the process typically applied to and associated with intelligently and dynamically designing an actual building or structure, where architects/engineers and designers can visualize and anticipate the true constructability of a project.

On the civil engineering side, we’ve been designing and modeling everything outside buildings/structures in a 3D environment for just as long, if not longer, than the term BIM has been around. However, for one reason or another, these designs have not typically been viewed as BIM by the vast majority. During this time, we’ve been able to generate and link surfaces, create corridor models and pipe networks. We’ve been able to produce dynamic profiles and cross sections, perform clash detections and earthwork quantities, and even generate reports and cost estimates.  Although civil engineers and designers have been producing some form of a 3D model within their design over the years, the final product has almost always been a hybrid of 2D and 3D design components.

As we ride a new wave of AEC design and collaboration concepts, the industry as a whole is shifting its focus to a fully integrated ‘Design to Construction’ workflow, introducing the ability to streamline designs, reviews, cost estimates, constructions, and as-builts.  To get us there, we are required to throw the 2D mentality out and fully embrace the concept of 3D.

By incorporating similar processes used for BIM, we understand that the full Civil Information Modeling (CIM) process doesn’t end with generating a 3D model.  Once a true 3D model, or site representation, has been developed, we can move into additional dimensions that will allow us to extract and analyze the intelligent components put into our design.

As clients and owners discover the value and adapt to this new technology wave, it’s becoming more common for them to make it a requirement for AEC firms to include their 3D models along with hard copy plan sets at each design deliverable. Contractors are also getting involved and collaborating at much earlier phases of the project design.

Since the introduction of BIM, contractors have been shifting toward this environment where they can update design models with additional construction intelligence while making in-field modifications/adjustments to the model during construction phases. This process, currently known as Virtual Design & Construction (VDC), allows for a more seamless collaboration, resulting in a much improved as-built final product.

CIM Procedures

With a growing demand for expanding our design capabilities to incorporate the ever-evolving enhancements and improved functionality with the various design programs, we are expected to continuously improve our skill sets and help guide each other during the transition from 2D to 3D CIM principles and concepts.

Implementing a true CIM design, especially the first one, isn’t accomplished easily. There will most definitely be some hiccups and growing pains along the way. You may even find yourself reaching the breaking point of frustration where you think that the only viable option is to go into survival mode and let old habits kick in. Rest assured, we’ve all been there and it has only made us better for it. As dim as it may seem at the time, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Traditionally, design costs and efforts typically take the biggest hits during the intermediate and final design phases of a project, whereas a CIM design will be front-loaded and taper off as the project design development progresses. Additionally, working in a 3D model-based environment drives individuals to really think about what they’re designing and how it impacts the rest of the project. More time is spent up front detailing a 3D model dynamically and intelligently in preparation of drawing generation and detailed analysis.  As a result, any changes/revisions you encounter during the latter phases of a project will take significantly less time to update and adjust. It’s at this point that you will begin to see the major benefits behind generating a CIM design.

During project initiation/startup, project managers and engineers now need to look at the overall picture of the project and document what they want the final product to represent, and then determine how best to get there. BIM/CIM execution plans are becoming more commonplace, where design teams collaborate early on to put together a document outlining all of the BIM/CIM Workflows and Uses to be applied throughout the project life-cycle that will be most beneficial to reach that final product. Here are some example CIM Workflows and Uses:

Sample CIM Workflow
Logistics

Network Resources

  • Setup
  • Verification
  • License & Privileges

Hardware Resources

  • Acquisition
  • Setup
  • Verification

Software Resources

  • Acquisition
  • Deployment
  • Licensing

Personnel Resources

  • Staffing
  • Training

Initialization

Project Planning

  • CIM Team
  • BIM Team
  • Mobilization
  • Modeling Strategy
  • Integration Strategy
  • New Project Setup
  • Scheduling

Data Management

  • File Transfer Protocols
  • Dataset/Worksets
  • Data Shortcuts

Model Management

Network Resources

  • Linking Method
  • Worksharing Method
  • Holistic Approach

Designing/Modeling

  • Design Phases
  • Change Orders
  • RFIs
  • As-Builts

Quality Assurance and Controls

  • Clash Detection

Deliverables

Soft Copies (Digital Files)

  • Designs/Drawings
    • Source
    • Universal
    • Reproducible
  • Data/Dataset/Resource Files

Hard Copies (Printed)

Life Cycle

  • Archiving Data (Digital Files)
  • Enterprise Data
  • Library/Catalog Updates
  • Commissioning/Operations and Maintenance
  • Lessons Learned

Sample CIM Uses
Planning

  • 3D Modeling (Model Production)
  • Bridge Modeling & Structural Analysis
  • Cost Estimating (QTO)
  • Design Options (Concept Study)
  • Design Reviews
  • Storm Drainage Design and Analysis
  • Utility Design and Analysis
  • Existing Conditions
  • Geotechnical Analysis
  • GIS Tools (Environmental Analysis)
  • Phase Planning (4D)
  • Roadway Design and Analysis
  • Sustainability Analysis
  • Traffic Analysis
  • Visualization

Design

  • 3D Coordination (Clash Detection)
  • 3D Modeling (Model Production)
  • Bridge Modeling & Structural Analysis
  • Cost Estimating (QTO)
  • Design Reviews
  • Digital Fabrication
  • Storm Drainage Design and Analysis
  • Utility Design and Analysis
  • Drawing Generation (Production)
  • Existing Conditions
  • Field Automation (Machine Guidance)
  • Geotechnical Analysis
  • GIS Tools (Environmental Analysis)
  • Phase Planning (4D)
  • Roadway Design and Analysis
  • Sustainability Analysis
  • Traffic Analysis
  • Visualization

Construction

  • 3D Coordination (Clash Detection)
  • Bridge Modeling & Structural Analysis
  • Cost Estimating (QTO)
  • Digital Fabrication
  • Storm Drainage Design and Analysis
  • Utility Design and Analysis
  • Existing Conditions
  • Field Automation (Machine Guidance)
  • Geotechnical Analysis
  • Phase Planning (4D)
  • Record Modeling (As-Built Modeling)
  • Roadway Design and Analysis
  • Site Utilization Planning
  • Traffic Analysis
  • Visualization

Operations

  • Asset Management
  • Cost Estimating (QTO)
  • Existing Conditions
  • Phase Planning (4D)
  • Preventative Maintenance
  • Record Modeling (As-Built Modeling)
  • Visualization

It’s also necessary to investigate which design programs are available that will enable us to achieve full success on the CIM implementation. Both Autodesk and Bentley have an array of design programs and tools available that give us the ability to achieve full success on our CIM implementation.

On the Autodesk side, AutoCAD® Civil 3D was introduced more 10 years ago and has allowed us to dynamically design our models. This design process has become more seamless as Autodesk further developed the program through the years since. Civil 3D gives us the ability to produce 3D, 4D, 5D, and 6D models, but with limitations. Many will say there is still a need to revert to the 2D drafting mentality to lay out certain site features (i.e., fencing, erosion control BMPs, landscaping, etc.). Although somewhat time consuming and a little unorthodox, we can now generate a lot of these features dynamically with the use of feature lines, Subassembly Composer, Part and Content Builder, and various add-on design programs, tools and apps.

Furthermore, with the introduction of Infraworks a few years ago, we now have a program that will enable us to take our full Civil 3D CIM design and bring it into a real world setting where we can more accurately visualize how our design will be integrated with its surrounding site features/developments. We can further customize this visualization with graphics/textures, landscaping, animations, analysis, etc.—all while gaining an even better perspective of the true constructability of the design.