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What 3D program to use?

Sep 24 '13 25 Last Comment
Steve GarrisonSteve Garrison
Sep 24, 13 8:15 pm

We've been a 2D Autocad office but are getting more questions about doing 3D because clients have seen things on TV.  I've done some work in Sketch Up, but it seems that Revit may be a more productive way to go.  We need to make the most productive use of our time and designing in Revit seems to make more sense in that we can then turn those drawings into construction documents, whereas with SketchUp it seems like we would just be creating presentation documents and then have to create CD's in autocad or Revit anyway.

When I look at the job descriptions posted here, I see a variety of 3D programs and rendering programs that firms are requiring job applicants to have proficiency in.  So I  would like to hear opinions about the various programs and perhaps how different firms are using them.

 

Veuxx
Sep 24, 13 8:22 pm

I would recommended Rhinoceros since your firm is already familiar and comfortable with Autocad as a quick and easy way to get powerful results.

I would recommend Revit as a 3-5 year goal to transition to slowly when your ready but it is an entirely different work flow and can be daunting to shift an entire small firm too.

My two cents, good luck!

curtkram
Sep 24, 13 8:25 pm

the idea that revit can take you from schematic design, to renderings, to CDs, is mostly marketing from what i've seen.  i think the transition towards making that possible is difficult.

sketchup is fairly easy to model in.  i'm not really sure how materials work, but to get a good looking render, i'm pretty sure you need a third party rendering plug in.  i use 3d max for modelling and rendering because that's what we used back in my day.

natematt
Sep 24, 13 9:56 pm

If you are already in autocad you can easily just use that for 3d. But similar to curtkram's comment about sketchup, you would want to go outside of the program to make it presentable. Autocad goes really easy into 3ds Max or most other rendering programs.

Also, as was already said, you can also rhino and be fairly comfortable.

Steve GarrisonSteve Garrison
Sep 25, 13 9:52 am

It sounds like most of the 3D programs require an additional plug-in or another rendering program to make them more presentable.  What we're hoping to do is not design or build something twice.  If we can design in one program that can also get us CD's and then import that into a rendering program that's one thing, but creating the design in one program for CD's and also in another 3D program and then importing that into a rendering program is going to kill us on time and resources.

curtkram
Sep 25, 13 10:15 am

3dmax has the renderer as part of the initial software (if you use mental ray or one of the renderers that come with the package).  essentially, these are plug-ins that are part of the package when you buy 3dmax.

with skethcup, i'm pretty sure the renderer will be a plug-in.  you don't actually leave sketchup, you just install a third party program that becomes a part of the program.

from my cynical perspective, designing a digital model, then rendering it for presentations, then turning that model into CDs is not a thing that happens.  the model and materials for presentation graphics is just too different from a model that might be useful for CDs.  what you're communicating and how you're communicating it is just too different.  i'm sure there will be someone in here who would say they do this very thing in revit, but i'm still skeptical.

wurdan freo
Sep 25, 13 10:19 am

Sounds like you are already leaning towards revit. I like it as the most complete one stop solution. If you have to pick one, I would pick revit. Hard to believe that your clients are seeing this on TV. Maybe I don't watch enough tv...

I never understood the group that trends towards sketchup. I've never liked it very much.

Steve GarrisonSteve Garrison
Sep 25, 13 11:32 am

We've heard people mention the show "Property Brothers" a number of times. We looked it up and they use an outside firm to produce their 3D photo realistic designs and animations.  Our criticism of these type shows is that many people are expecting to be wowed but don't realize the work and money that went into the presentation that they've seen in a 30 minute program.

gruen
Sep 25, 13 7:17 pm

Look at sketch up. Easy to learn and cheap. You are not really going to find one program that does both 3d, rendering, animation and construction docs. But if you are already on ACAD, then sketch up v7 will talk to DWG format so it's kinda easier. Of course getting v7 is becoming difficult. Good thing I have a copy ;)

vado retro
Sep 25, 13 7:36 pm

doesn't sketch up pro give the ability to do 2d plans, sections, elevation drawings and schedules etc?

vado retro
Sep 25, 13 7:37 pm

p.s. go Hoosiers!

jmanganelli
Sep 25, 13 7:52 pm

archicad? aecosim?

Steve GarrisonSteve Garrison
Sep 25, 13 9:59 pm

I think this has gotta be a dilemma more small firms will face.  Clients are expecting to be wowed with something in 3D, but we don't have the time and resources to create a project multiple times in different programs.  More importantly, many clients won't want to pay for it.

 I think I'm leaning more toward Revit.  Maybe V-Ray will come out with a Revit version that we can get something a little more photo-realistic.  Yes Sketchup Pro will import dwg files and there is a V-ray for Sketchup , but I don't know you'd want to do CD's from it.

backbay
Sep 25, 13 10:20 pm

hire an intern and give them sketchup and some drawings...  they'll know what to do.

legopiece
Sep 25, 13 10:42 pm

there's no such thing as one program that will produce all your desired results, I recommend you get going with Revit because it is the future quite simple.  There are other programs out there no disrespect, but Revit is able to take you from SD to CA phases.  The only missing ingredient is you need to find a guy like me, we are highly underpaid, and overworked.  The other thing is that Revit is actually quite intuitive and fun, only time it's not fun is when someone wants you to do things their way not the way you know works best, its not autocadd, so dont go into it with that mentality that it is just another autocadd it will really hurt production and kill the fun.

good luck

legopiece
Sep 25, 13 10:52 pm

ps. guys like me, meant that ladies and gents who know the old technologies, and have a passion for inovative tools that help us all out in producing, some folks like me have been using revit since before it was popular to use.  So we know its drawbacks, but on top of that we know most of the other tools like 3dmax, sketchup, rhino, of course cadd.  Were out here hard to find though.  and did i mention underpaid?

jsyj
Sep 26, 13 1:53 am

How important is it to you that you are the one doing these 3D animations and renderings? Are you charging extra for them? If you are quite confident in the level of detail already present in your 2D files and you are a small firm, I would recommending outsourcing the 3D rendering and animation tasks to any number of people who specialize in this type of thing.  It can often be quite cost effective when compared to hiring or training someone new and then getting more software.  I would especially recommend this if you are passing on the cost of this to the client as a value added.  

If it is important that this happen in your firm and you will be occupying someone almost full time in this type of work, then it you might want to consider something like revit, although I would agree with prior comments that one program that does it all at a high standard can be a challenge.  

nomad_arch
Sep 26, 13 4:16 am

Before just going Revit, make some research, download and try other possibilities. Vectorworks is good option for the money, but I would recommend to try ArchiCAD. It's a full BIM authoring tool, easy to use, exports great to artlantis (one of the easiest rendering programs), Cinema4D, 3D studio, sketchup... It comes with BIMx... you can send the model to your clients and they can go inside the model in a PC or tablet and move around as in a shooter game. In the next BIMx version (probably october) you would be able to embed 2D drawings to the model.

ArchiCAD and Vectorworks work on PC and Mac.

You have to know that either program you choose (Archicad, Revit, Vectorworks)  you are going to have to change the way you work... but you're going to be faster and more accurate.

If you just do residential work... maybe Chief Architect is the right tool for you.

Steve GarrisonSteve Garrison
Sep 26, 13 8:19 am

Thanks for the input guys.

gruen
Sep 26, 13 10:02 am

I wouldn't try to do CDs from sketch up. But it is fairly fast to do study models w sketch up and you can wow the clients by modeling in real time. Sketch up v7 and older-free versions-import and export DWG

homme_du_jura
Sep 26, 13 10:42 am

If ever I were to start my own firm, paying for a Revit license would be one of my first expenditures.  It puts me on the same plane in terms of productivity and level of detail to much bigger firms.  The mental-ray renderer within Revit is good enough for most presentation purposes, and the interactive Ray-trace feature on more recent versions give you a reasonably good preview of your final rendering in just a few seconds. The main thing to keep in mind is that it requires you to make important decisions on a project's construction relatively early in the process, something that 2d CAD programs don't force you to do.  Therefore you put in the bulk of the work for project during is SD and DD phase,  while CDs become a breeze. I've been using Revit more and more during concepts, in particular for its massing tools as well as for colored area plans, which work well with Revit's scheduling functions (I can get gross floor area tabulations in real-time as I change the massing).

Sketchup is pretty much what it's name suggests--sketching  in 3d. It's not meant as a drafting program that allows precise dimensioning (though it's possible), but it's very useful in exploring 3 dimensional concepts quickly.  And for most regular clients, its visualization quality is passable,  What Sketchup has basically done is killed the art of crafting  physical cardboard models. Even though I'm a power Revit user, I still use sketchup when I need to some flexibility to explore forms, materials and shadows (and it's free).

What I've been seeing in the industry lately is that many of the design/boutique oriented firms have been transitioning from Sketchup to Rhino. The latter is basically like Autocad with 3d tools on steroids. It has the precision of your typical drafting program with the countless 3d sculpting tools found in 3d Max (it's also quick to learn- it took me a couple of days). Rhino, however, is not parametric like Revit-- you need the Grasshopper plugin to do that.

vado retro
Sep 26, 13 2:41 pm

You can link to a webinar here by going to the BIM section of the banner drop downs. http://www.businessofarchitecture.com/

Steve GarrisonSteve Garrison
Sep 26, 13 2:56 pm

homme_du_jura,

 

Thanks for the insight.  My questions are both for the benefit of my current firm, but also a little self-serving as I would like to relocate at some point to the west coast and want to improve my skill set and future job potential.  I see a lot of firms that are posting jobs on here looking for AutoCAD, Revit, and Sketchup experience along with Adobe CS and sometimes Rhino or V-Ray.

homme_du_jura
Sep 27, 13 11:03 am

Steve,

What kind of software you choose to learn has a lot to do with what  you plan to do in practice. Remember that when you learn a certain software suite, it will communicate however unjustly to firms what kind of tasks they are willing give you.  If you promote yourself as good at Revit, you will likely be hired with producing lots of CDs in mind. If you highlight your Rhino/Sketchup experience, then you'll likely be brought in to do design support and modeling for one of the firm's lead designers. It's one thing getting a job based on your variety of skillsets, and it's another challenge just to do the kind of tasks that you really want to do once you've got the job.  Do you want to do concept design on a highly abstract level, or do prefer to be the project architect who relishes technical details and creating drawing sets?  The kind of software you choose serve as markers as to what "type" of architect you intend to become.

accesskb
Sep 28, 13 12:20 am

get FormZ ... or Processing

jamess86607
Sep 28, 13 8:02 am

What kind of software you choose to learn has a lot to do with what  you plan to do in practice. Remember that when you learn a certain software suite, it will communicate however unjustly to firms what kind of tasks they are willing give you.  If you promote yourself as good at Revit, you will likely be hired with producing lots of CDs in mind. If you highlight your Rhino/Sketchup experience,Sketchup is pretty much what it's name suggests--sketching  in 3d. It's not meant as a drafting program that allows precise dimensioning (though it's possible), but it's very useful in exploring 3 dimensional concepts quickly.  And for most regular clients, its visualization quality is passable,  What Sketchup has basically done is killed the art of crafting  physical cardboard models. Even though I'm a power Revit user, I still use sketchup when I need to some flexibility to explore forms, materials and shadows (and it's free).If it is important that this happen in your firm and you will be occupying someone almost full time in this type of work, then it you might want to consider something like revit, although I would agree with prior comments that one program that does it all at a high standard can be a challenge.

 

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