Thursday, February 14, 2008

More Revit 2009 News

Yesterday I reported on what I learned about the next release of Revit Architecture at Day 1 of Autodesk's second annual World Press Days in San Francisco. Today, I'll unveil a bit more information—this time focusing on Revit MEP and some other exciting announcements made during Day 2.

[Disclaimer: Again, please remember that anything Autodesk showed at this event is still subject to change, so please don't assume that everything I describe will actually be included in the next release.]

In Revit MEP 2009, spaces will populate automatically from architectural spaces, and slivers (unoccupied spaces) can more easily be dealt with. Revit MEP will also now be able to deal with mechanical zones. The heating and cooling dialog has been updated to show spaces and zones, and the resulting report enhanced to include check sum values. Users will also be able to export light fixture data to IES to do lighting calculations.

For plumbing, flow values are now converted from fixture units and a slope tool shows which way pipe is sloping. According to the product specialist I spoke with, the new release includes much more 3D content, although I did not get a chance to see how extensive this new collection of components really is. Users can also bring 3D AutoCAD blocks into the Family Editor.

Users will now be able to model in elevation and section views. There's also a tag on placement option and the ability to add MEP detail lines as separate objects from architectural detail lines. And of course, all three versions of Revit 2009 will use Autodesk's mental ray rendering engine.

At the AEC breakout session, product specialists showed how all of Autodesk's products help deliver on the promise of BIM. The demonstration began with preliminary design of a building using a rules-based approach in Autodesk Inventor (yes, Autodesk is now promoting Inventor as a tool for use in building design) and a free-form modeling approach using Maya. We then watched team members use Hydraflow Storm Sewer Extension for AutoCAD Civil 3D and HVAC load calculations performed using the HVAC Load Calculation Extension from newly acquired Carmel Software. Steel detailing can now be done by exporting the Revit Structure analytical model to AutoCAD Structural Detailer from Robobat, a company Autodesk acquired last fall. The Revit Structure 2009 Suite will include the AutoCAD Structural Detailing application.

But perhaps most exciting were two announcements made during a Media & Entertainment industry workshop. Autodesk announced that it would release two different versions of 3ds Max: 3ds Max 2009 and 3ds Max Design 2009. 3ds Max Design is a customized version of the software, optimized for use by architects, designers, and engineers. It will have the same functionality as 3ds Max with the addition of new exposure lighting analysis technology to assist with LEED 8.1 certification and the elimination of the Software Development Kit (SDK).

Autodesk also showed off a new technology under development, codenamed "Newport." Autodesk representatives prefaced the demonstration by asking "What if visualization could be easy? What if it could be learned over lunch?" Newport was initially talked about at Autodesk University, but today we got a chance to actually see Newport in action.

Running on a system with multiple quad-core CPUs, Newport is a "sandbox" for visualization that eliminates many existing limitations. This R&D application was able to render a Revit-based model placed into its real-world environment, with photorealistic materials and lighting and interactive motion and animation in real-time. It understands the Revit model. Users can dial in a stylistic scheme and then replace it later with a more realistic scheme. It can handle real-time presentations and HD-quality output.

I'll finish off this posting with a video of the Newport technology demonstration.

[Disclaimer: Remember that this is a technology demonstration only. This is not a product and may never actually be available as a product. Also please note that this video was shot from an LCD display using a handheld camera.]

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