Presenting an Integrated Project Model using Navisworks

Presenting an Integrated Project Model using Navisworks


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.

{slider Using Model Images to Enhance Communication |closed}

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.

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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. {/sliders}

Learning Objectives

After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Explore the application of materials, rich photorealistic content, and backgrounds to create different and more realistic visual effects.
  • Understand how to add external lighting to create more natural-looking rendering results.
  • Appreciate the value of creating viewpoints that highlight the objects of interest and diminish or even hide the appearance of other objects.
  • Explore scene and object animations to create project visualizations and real-time walk-throughs.


Using Model Images to Enhance Communication

In this exercise, students will learn how to:

  • Manipulate viewpoints to highlight and better communicate problems that require resolution.
  • Increase the realism of an image by adding material textures, lights, content, and backgrounds.

Figure 5.4.1 - Enhancing a viewpoint to better communicate a conflict requiring resolution

Video Tutorial
Student Exercise
  • Open the downloaded .NWF file in Navisworks Manage.
  • Create a viewpoint that highlights the conflicts between the concrete beams and the exposed oval duct HVAC system in the ceiling space of Level 1. Try making the lighting fixtures transparent to reduce clutter in the view.
  • Duplicate a viewpoint from that same camera angle and fine-tune the appearance to highlight the clearance problems that existing between the lighting fixtures and the exposed oval duct HVAC system. Try making the beams transparent and hiding any elements that obstruct the view.
  • Create an exterior rendering of the composite model testing different material finishes on the architectural shell of the building. Use a natural sky as the background for the image.

Figure 5.4.2 - Rendered preview of the interior of retail space on Level 1

Creating Animations

In this exercise, you will learn how to:

  • Record a real-time walk-through of the project using different effects and perspectives.
  • Program simple object animations to heighten the model interactivity.
  • Associate object animations with events that can be triggered by the user navigation.
  • Create scripts that play animations during the course of a real-time walk-through.


Figure 5.4.3 - Animating door objects to open and close

Video Tutorial
Student Exercise
  • Create a real-time walk-through that starts at the exterior of the building; walks around and passes through the front entry doors; looks around the lobby; and stops in front of the elevator shaft.
  • End the animation on a viewpoint with redline tags and comments regarding the design.
  • Create an object animation that opens and closes the front door of the building.
  • Script the animation to be triggered when a reviewer navigates through a hotspot with a 3-foot (0.91 m) radius from the center of the door, then rerecord the walk-through, triggering the door animation as you pass through the front door.
  • Export the animation to an AVI file, being careful to choose a resolution so that it is easily uploaded to the web.

Figure 5.4.4 -  Real-time walk-through animation with object animation incorporated


Using Model Images to Enhance Communication

  • Are there ways to define rules that map materials from a predefined palette to search sets to create quick renderings?

Use a predefined palette of materials that have been taken from the default library and renamed to correspond with the search sets added earlier.

You can create a predefined list of generic search sets and corresponding textures. Then you can reuse these on similar projects, which will save an enormous amount of time.

  • What file formats retain their material rendering properties from their source software when they are imported into Autodesk Navisworks software?

NWC files exported from Autodesk®Revit®products.

Creating Animations

  • What types of motions can be illustrated using object animations?

The list is open-ended. Popular examples include: opening and closing doors; raising or lowering elevator cars or crane loads; rotating crane booms; moving heavy equipment around on site; moving vehicles, boats, and mechanical equipment.

  • How does including animation enhance the effectiveness of a walk-through movie?

Adding motion to the objects that appear in a walk-through movie increases the realism and believability of the process being illustrated. Static objects create a barrier that makes the movie less believable and, thus, less effective at communicating your point. Motion helps to create a truly immersive experience that reinforces the apparent validity of the movie.

  • What methods can be used to trigger an animation?

Animations can be triggered by specific frames in a walk-through movie or by passing through hotspots as a user navigates in a model.

Key Terms

Key Term
The ratio of the total amount of radiation or light reflected by a surface to the total amount of radiation incident on the surface.
A measure of the ability of a material to transmit light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material.
Rich Photorealistic Content (RPC)
A content format that uses photo image data to create realistic images of objects (for example, people, furniture, plants, and vehicles) that can be added to models to enhance renderings.
Walk Mode
A navigation mode that enables you to walk through the model on a horizontal plane, always maintaining the up direction.
Fly Mode
A navigation model that enables you to fly around the model like in a flight simulator, without respecting the up direction.
Frame per Second
A measurement of how many animation frames are played during each second of a finished movie. This measurement determines the smoothness of the animation in the video.