Picture Perfect: How to create optimized issue viewpoints
In the AEC industry we tend to rely on visual communication to share our ideas, concepts and designs. And the tools which are available to do this give us often stunning results from picture perfect renderings to highly realistic virtual reality experiences. People strive to create that perfect image which will say a thousand words.
Far less effort is often put into the visuals used to communicate the issues found while evaluating our BIM models. Snapshots and viewpoints are often created as quickly as possible and often without taking the architects and engineers, who need to fix the issues, into account. And this is a shame because the time invested in trying to create the perfect viewpoint pays major dividends further down the line in the form of time savings and increased quality.
Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution for creating the perfect viewpoint, there are some tips we can share which should help you get close.
The first thing often overlooked is that modeling tools are not optimized as BIM model viewers. Where in validation packages like Navisworks, Solibri and BIMcollab ZOOM we can quickly go from one issue to the next, it can take a significant amount of time to build and display that same view in a modeling application. Our benchmark test using 17 relatively simple reference models can take between 10 – 20 seconds to draw as is with no further manipulation.
Tip: For a quick review of issues in 3D context make use of a dedicated model viewer such as BIMcollab ZOOM.
In a perfect world it would be “what you see is what you get”. Just double click on an issue and it will appear in your 3D view. But as we are all aware, things are not always perfect and some application have their limitations:
Revit users can only open a single model and therefore make use of linked files to load their reference models. However the components in these linked files cannot be manipulated as if they were part of the main model. So recreating a clash will often leave you with only one component in your view; the one in the main model.
In Tekla, all components can be found including those in the reference models. However the mechanism provided to search through these has a major impact on performance. Recreating views can therefore sometimes take a long time.
AutoCAD and Civil 3D
As these are not by definition BIM applications, it is not possible to identify and manipulate any 3D components.
Assemblies can be difficult to deal with when adding them to a viewpoint. Some validation packages do not maintain the parent-child relationship when importing a model (e.g. curtain wall vs mullions and panels). In other cases the assembly is exported as two components with no parent at all (e.g. stacked walls in Revit).
Working in 3D every day, we sometimes forget that 2D images with annotations, markups and dimensions can be a valuable asset to any architect or engineer who needs to resolve an issue. So it’s worth while to add these to our view before creating the viewpoint.
Orthographic vs Perspective
Depending on which BIM modeling tool is being used, your recipient may be working in perspective view or in an orthographic view. The problem is that when converting from one camera type to the other the camera position may not end up where you intended it to be. So it is best to decide with your team which camera type you wish to use. Or you could always add one of each.
Creating the viewpoint
With these points now in the back of our heads, we can now go through the recommended steps to create an optimized viewpoint.
- Navigate to the location of the issue.
- Add any annotations needed to clarify the issue.
- Select the relative components.
- Place a section box around the selected components.
- Manipulate the section planes and camera until your issue is well in view.
- Make sure the relative components are still selected.
- Create the issue using the following settings:
a. Components in viewpoint = None
b. Save selection as selected components = Enabled
- Save the issue and sync with BIMcollab Cloud.
Utilizing the viewpoints
Architects and engineers can use these optimized viewpoints to zoom to the issue in their model with the new view being almost identical to the original.
To speed up the process they can enable the quick zoom option in the BIMcollab BCF managers and receive the same results with the exception of the selected components not being selected in the view. This is especially beneficial in Tekla Structures as it will not require looking for components in the reference files.
Creating viewpoints automatically
When we use automated issue detection (e.g. clash detection, point cloud compare), the viewpoints are often very simple: display the two “conflicting” components. Unfortunately when we take the limitations of our modeling tools into account these viewpoints will either only show half of the components or it could take a long time to load them. The solution is fairly simple; after creating the issues, edit each viewpoint using the same steps followed when creating a manual viewpoint.
This may seem like a daunting task as you may be looking at hundreds of clashes but remember: any issue being assigned should be evaluated and reviewed anyway. And again the time you spend now is saved later.
What can save you time and effort is effectively grouping your clashes together which can greatly reduce the number of issues. BIMcollab ZOOM, Navisworks and Solibri all have tools to help you do this.
Of course this workflow may not work for every BIM manager and with every tool. But what it does hopefully demonstrate is that by making effective use of the available BIM tools, as well as understanding the limitations of the tools used by your team, you can improve your current workflow. So give it a shot and start making your issues picture perfect.