Presenting the Project Model

BIM for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Curriculum


Computer visualization in project development has been proven in studies to be an effective method for developing projects and to improve cost/benefit outcomes. According to researchers, it is beneficial for two reasons:

  • Better representation of future improvements resulting in enhanced public and political support.
  • Early identification of adverse environmental and land impacts as well as detail design requirements resulting in fewer scope changes.

Experiencing designs before they are real ensures better decisions are made and enables participation by a wider audience of stakeholders or decision makers. Using visualization in conjunction with BIM on a project engages more people sooner, leading to broader-reaching feedback and more predictable outcomes.

This lesson demonstrates how viewpoints and animations can be used as compelling vehicles for transmitting design intent and facilitating conceptual buy in. Adding more visual information to our model viewpoints and animations can greatly improve the effectiveness of the interactive experience by allowing users to navigate through and experience fully textured and more realistic models.


Using Model Images to Enhance Communication

We can enhance the viewpoints that have been created to frame particular problems and isolate issues of interest by improving the clarity of the visual information presented.  Refining them to create virtual 3D schematicsenables us to effectively communicate the technical or design issue at hand, leaving little room for error in interpretation.

In addition to saving camera positions, viewpoints also allow manipulation of the visibility of objects, color and transparency overrides, and section planes. Applying the right combination of these view settings and filters can transform an image from being one of simple shapes into one conveying a very clear and targeted message for the design or engineering team members responsible for addressing the design changes or technical problems.

We can also create near realistic renderings of the viewpoints to create images with evocative stylistic effects or photorealism for use in print or digital media. The Autodesk® Navisworks® Manage Presenter module offers many choices in adding materials, textures, lighting, effects, and content to enhance scene images for many purposes—both technical and communicative in nature. These rendered scenes can be exported as images, shown in presentations, displayed on websites, used in print, and so on.

We can also export animated AVI presentations and instructional movies, in which the animated objects move in photorealistically rendered scenes.

The Navisworks® Manage Presenter module helps make it easy to enhance viewpoints and improve the effectiveness of images by applying the following effects:

  • Materials—using existing materials in the library or creating new ones as needed.
  • Lighting—using a wide array of lighting source and shadow options.
  • Rich photorealistic content (RPC)—incorporating photorealistic images of people, trees, cars, and so on to establish context.
  • Rendering styles—using a variety of rendering styles, from photorealistic to sketchy to wireframe, to determine the way a scene is rendered.
  • Texture spaces—defining the way in which a texture is rendered on an object to create more natural effects.

Creating Animations

We can also transform a few key viewpoints into a simple animation to show a viewer the experience of moving through the project. Once we have set up and rendered viewpoints, we can easily create animations from these scenes. The rendering settings are applied to each frame of the animation.

Animations can be used to:

  • Move from high-level overviews of the entire project, and to focus on specific points and particular locations. This technique helps to establish context and enables the target audience to better understand how a particular piece of a project fits into the big picture.
  • Record the path followed by a model reviewer to uncover a problem. The animation can be replayed as the issue is reviewed, streamlining the issue-resolution process.
  • Create 3D walk-through tours of the project.
  • Produce virtual experiences of the design that can be distributed and reproduced for various project team members, public officials, owners, and the general public.

In addition to creating walk-throughs and tours, we can also animate and interact with 3D geometry in the model to:

  • Open doors as you pass through them.
  • Raise or lowering elevator cars.
  • Move cranes or vehicles around a construction site.
  • Animate the mechanical equipment in an industrial facility.
  • And more.

In an age of increasing multimedia use, animations have become powerful communication tools for effectively and compellingly transmitting dense information visually without being limited by language.