Autodesk release mobile DWF viewer for Revit

Autodesk release mobile DWF viewer for Revit

Following on from the success of AutoCAD WS, Autodesk has extended the technology to Revit. The new Design Review Mobile offers users a mobile DWF viewer compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

The release of AutoCAD WS heralded the first mobile cloud technology from Autodesk for true design review collaboration. Revit users have had to wait a little longer for their equivalent, but it’s certainly a very welcome release.

How does it work?

Users will need to publish their documents to an Autodesk Cloud account where they can then be downloaded to an iPad or iPhone via the Autodesk Design Review app. Once they’re on your iOS device, you can review any multi-page DWF and use the basic information panel to view properties, views, control layers and mark-ups. A simple double arrow allows you to navigate through the various DWF sheets and you can also add text mark-ups and callout box mark-ups which will be saved to the DWF file. You can also use the typical pan and zoom functionalities of iOS to navigate 3D DWFs with one or two fingers.

How will it help?

Jigsaw CAD and 3D Business Manager, Sam Tomlinson, thinks Design Review is particularly beneficial for architects and designers who need to visit clients and show their designs in 3D. She said:

“While AutoCAD WS revolutionised the way drawings could be handled within the field, the Design Review app takes it that step further. AutoCAD WS is perfect for 2D mark-up and reviewing, but with Design Review the ability to manipulate the design in 3D as well as 2D makes it much more beneficial, especially if you’re on site and the client is struggling to visualise how an aspect of the design will look. Just get out the trusty iPad, launch the app, open the model and hold it up for the client to see.”


Autodesk Design Review Mobile is now available to download from the App Store for free.

For more information on Revit, give our CAD team a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

First Look: Wacom Cintiq 24HD touch hands-on review

First Look: Wacom Cintiq 24HD touch hands-on review

After Wacom announced the Cintiq 24HD touch, we called them straight away and put in a request for a demo unit that we could put through its paces. Here, we let the Jigsaw24 design deparment loose on it to find out just how good the new multitouch technology really is. They answer questions such as “What’s your favourite multiouch gesture?”, “Could you see yourself using it day-to-day?” and “Does it recognise your cold, bloodless fingers?”

To find out more about Jigsaw24 and our design and publishing services, visit our design and publishing site or call 03332 409 306. For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

A video guide to rendering CINEMA 4D scenes with Qube!

A video guide to rendering CINEMA 4D scenes with Qube!

Want to speed up your rendering in Maxon CINEMA 4D? Here at Jigsaw we like to share our tips and tricks and, as we know 3D modelling and animation professionals like to learn visually, we put together this video guiding you through the process of setting up CINEMA 4D with a third-party render manager.

The latest R13 release of CINEMA 4D has been a big hit with major FX companies and individual designers alike – although the former might be keen to increase their rendering capabilities beyond what the built in NetRender offers. We used Qube! as an example but the process is effectively the same if you wanted to use another such as Royal Render or Deadline. Watch the video at the top or visit our YouTube channel for more tips, tutorials and product reviews.

For more information on CINEMA 4D and external rendering software, call us on 03332 409 306 or email You can also visit to see our full 3D modelling and animation range, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.

New Perspectives On FCP X

New Perspectives On FCP X

Since the Sneak Peek, I’ve read and watched all sorts of commentary and speculation about the newly designed FCPX interface. I’ve also indulged in both the Larry Jordan and Philip Hodgetts’ webinars to hear their ideas about what we’re looking forward to because, as the saying goes, God is in the details (or the devil if you prefer the dark side).

As I’ve traversed these discussions, one of the features that appears to have polarised opinion is Filmstrip View in the Event Library. I understand Larry, for one, is reserving judgement because he doesn’t think it is an effective way to display a large amount of clips. My immediate thought about that is, no matter how large the project becomes, I don’t actually want to see all of my footage at once when I’m editing. That can quickly become overwhelming. What I need is a way to narrow down the content, to sift through my footage, so that I only see whatever’s appropriate for the section I’m working on and the handful of clips I can choose from now. That’s how I’ve been working with Final Cut Server, and the new tools in Final Cut Pro X seem to extend this concept further.

iMovie X?

Of course for a lot of people the immediate point of reference for the Event Library is iMovie, which includes dynamic filmstrips and skimming processes similar to those demonstrated in FCPX. I think that can nudge people towards feeling it lacks the gravitas required of a serious NLE. While I see that connection too, there’s something else or, more specifically, someone else that comes to mind.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Walter Murch speak on a few occasions and the honour of attending a special Master Class he taught a few years ago in Vancouver. You might argue that his approach is particularly idiosyncratic (whose methods aren’t when judged from the outside?), but I think we must all agree that his contributions to contemporary cinema are profound and there’s no-one more insightful, illuminating or provocative on the subject of editing films today.

Picture boards

You’ve probably already seen documentation of the ‘picture boards’ Walter has mounted around his cutting room. Essentially they consist of vast collections of frames from the film he’s working on. Each image on the boards is intended to represent a significant aspect of the shot it’s taken from. The idea is that the boards facilitate a change in the editor’s viewpoint. From the vantage point afforded by this shift in perspective, the editor has the chance to make different casual connections or observe unexpected patterns in the footage.

In his 2004 book ‘Behind the Seen: How Walter Murch Edited Cold Mountain with Final Cut Pro and What This Means for Cinema’, Charles Koppelman describes the philosophy behind the picture boards in some detail:

“Ironically, the more techno-centric film editing gets, the more powerful Murch’s custom-made innovations become. The organic qualities of the scene cards and photo boards compensate for perspectives that are hidden in the digital world. The efficiency, speed and increased choices of non-linear editing all have their benefits. But systems like Avid or Final Cut Pro obliterate some film editing tasks that contribute to the editor’s creative process. As Murch often points out, the simple act of having to rewind film on a flatbed editing machine gave him the chance to see footage in another context (high-speed, reverse) that could reveal a look, a gesture, or a completely forgotten shot. Likewise, the few moments he had to spend waiting for a reel to rewind injected a blank space into the process during which he could simply let his mind wander into subconscious areas. With random-access, computer-based editing, a mouse click instantly takes the editor right to a desired frame; there is no waiting, no downtime and fewer happy accidents. The photo boards are one way to compensate for this.”

The Verdict

The serious editors among you might baulk at an idea as fluffy or new-age-sounding as “happy accidents” but, when I’m feeling stuck, anything that will help me break through the block is a godsend. What I like about the picture boards – and I like them very much – is that they’re about changing how we view and understand the material we work with. They’re designed to spark our imagination, shift our perspective and, in doing so, inspire new ideas.

As demonstrated at the SuperMeet, the Event Library, through a multitude of features is intended to accelerate the editing process and provide that instant access to which Murch and Koppelman refer. While Filmstrips are clearly part of that re-imagined workflow, I also think that we’ll be able to use them to stimulate our creative process.

Read Jonathan’s original article at

Want more FCP advice? Give us a call on 03332 409 306, email or leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you. In the meantime, head over to to see our full video range.

Using Photoshop in your post-production process

Using Photoshop in your post-production process

Many of us have experience using Photoshop in our post process, but it’s always good to see an example of an extremely experienced 3D artist at work. Step forward Ramy Hanna.

Ramy has written a step-by-step guide to the post process from part of one of his recent projects to design a Media Centre for Klein High School. Whether you’re an expert keeping tabs on the industry or a newer artist looking for ideas and tips: this blog post is well worth a read.

“Many of you have asked for my post production process and here it is.  I typically use AE (Adobe After Effects) for my post work, but for this post I’m demonstrating in PS (Photoshop) because most people use PS over AE for stills. However, the principles apply to all software. Also, I’m trying to keep it ‘out-of-the-box’, rather than show a lot of plug-ins. I always suggest learning the techniques with the software then, once you understand how to create them, go get the plug-ins to make your job faster.

“Some of you already know, but I do most of my modelling in Google SketchUp (SU). Not because it’s better than Max, but I find it super-fast for building design processes. Because we do architecture, SU is apt as it is very good with boxes and simple shapes. If you want to get into character modelling, 3ds Max or Mudbox would be better.

“I also start materials and texturing in SU.  I find SU super easy and fast for texture layout. If I texture most things correctly in SU, I can almost avoid the UVW layout process in Max entirely. The materials in SU are nothing special, just place holders really for the maps I want to use in 3ds Max.

“Using 3ds Max has been great, because I can import SU files straight from Max without needing to export models from SU. The new importer in Max is incredibly powerful. It respects instanced components from SU, remembers UV texture position from SU, and converts SU materials to A&D materials automatically – an amazing tool.

“During import I opt not to import the SU cameras. I prefer navigating in 3ds Max to get my actual camera angles. This is where I add any entourage from my library of 3ds Max models. Furniture, cars, plants, trees, etc all get added here. Then I begin texturing. I swap out SU textures for better texture maps. Or sometimes I replace a texture map with Max procedural maps like tiles and gradients.

“Some of the general settings for my A&D materials: If I can keep glossy samples to 8 then I do. Under Special Effects, I usually turn on Ambient Occlusion, and set the distance to 3′. Under Advanced Rendering Options, I make sure that backface culling is un-checked so I can render both sides of a mesh. If I have a single plane of glass then I check Thin walls.  If my glass is a box or has thickness, then I leave it as solid/thick. I find the real magic behind getting realistic renders lies in the material reflections. I usually have a reflection map that drives how much reflection takes place. In this tile material, the grout lines are black meaning no reflection, and the tile is more white meaning a lot of reflection. I use the same map for a bump effect. I almost always have my glossy reflections lower than 1.0. For this example I have it set to 0.4 – meaning the reflection is scattered at 60%, in this case with eight samples.

“Next I go to lighting.  In this scene I have one Daylight System, 309 photometric lights, and five MR Sky portals, for a total of 315 lights in my scene. This many lights in a scene would typically be brutal. However, for my photometric lights, I opted to use Point for my Shadow type. It doesn’t look as good as the other options (Line, Rectangle, Disc, Sphere), but renders much faster than the others at their default setting. For every shadow that Point renders, the other options render 32 samples per shadow. So this is a big render saver. For my photometric lights, I usually use the default light levels, and switch to photometric web using an IES file for the distribution. As for the MR Sky portals, I try to limit their use to where the large windows are.  Render times take a big hit from MR Sky portal shadows as well.

“This image is what the render straight out of Max looks like, known sometimes as the beauty pass. I render inside models with GI & FG. Surprising to me, I rendered this scene with the default settings for both GI & FG. I was reasonably happy with the results. I did get noise near some of the clerestory windows, but I was willing to live with it. I left all of my lights on, then calculated GI, saved it to a file, then rendered FG from each camera adding onto the previous FG map. Before rendering the final renders, I had one GI map and one FG map for the entire scene. This made it easier for me to switch cameras and not have to worry about changing light maps. The GI map ended up being 154 MB. The FG map was rendered at 50% from the final renders at 800 x 400 pixels, and ended up being 34 MB for all 11 camera angles.

“This is the Ambient Occlusion Pass. If you want to know how to do this, check this post out.

“This is a flare pass for the lights. This can be created in 3ds max, or in post. I usually create this image in Photoshop – it’s faster and gives me greater control on what the flares look like.

“This image is a dummy people pass. I rendered this one out to give me correct scale for adding people in Photoshop later. This way my people won’t look like giants or elves when I scale them.

“These are the people that replace the dummy people. To each person I add motion blur, reflections, shadows etc. Then I save this as a .png file and add it to my beauty pass.

“This is a volume pass that I render in 3ds Max. It is created using the Parti Volume Shader. I then add it in PS and tweak it to the right look.

“Lastly, I render a Z depth pass. Depending on the rendering I sometimes use this. If there really isn’t an object in the foreground then often I don’t use this at all, and rather just manually blur the edges of my image.

“With all of these passes combined in PS, AE or other compositing photo/video editing software, you can take your original image and turn it into something much stronger visually. This quick video should give you an idea of how I add all of these elements together using colour correcting, layers, levels, to transform a raw rendering into a finished rendering.”

All of Ramy’s renderings from the KHS project can be found here.

Source: Ramy’s Renderings on 3ds Max Rendering.

If you’re keen on using Photoshop in your post-production process or would like more information about the software, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email

Top 5 tips and tricks for Revit 2012

Top 5 tips and tricks for Revit 2012

Revit Clinic’s Ryan Duell recently published his five best features in the new Revit 2012 release. We couldn’t let these time-saving innovations go unappreciated, so put on your best Tony Blackburn voice as we begin the top five countdown…

5. Editing Requests
You can now view editing requests directly inside Revit on the status bar.  This makes it easier to see if you have any pending requests, and allows you to automatically grant a request directly from the dialogue.

4.  Saving all Families / Export Family Types
You can now easily save all families from a project under Save-as > Library > Family > <All Families> .
You can get here even quicker using the process in #1. And speaking of families, for anyone who has ever created a Type Catalogue, you can now export or import your Revit family types in this format.  It’ll help streamline the initial type catalogue creation and formatting.

3.  3D Connexion Support

If you have a 3D Connexion device, you can now utilise it to navigate in Revit 2012. For many users this may be one of the best new features for 2012, which opens up some great shortcuts for navigating the model.

2.  Semi-transparent Selection
The Semi-transparent element is the default selection (although you can disable or change the colour under Options > Graphics).  This creates a dynamic approach to select an element and automatically view it transparently.  It’s a quick method for looking through an exterior wall into the project, without overriding any element settings (see image).
1.  Project Browser Right-Click Shortcuts
In the Project Browser you can now right-click on Legends, Schedules/Quantities and Families as a shortcut to the corresponding tool.  This is similar to the previous right-click Sheets > New Sheet functionality.”

Ryan Duell writes for Revit Clinic.

For more information on the new features of Revit 2012, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email Do you agree with Ryan’s top five? Post us your favourite 2012 features below.

A Mac-based music department at Rugby School

A Mac-based music department at Rugby School

Michael Martin, music teacher at Rugby School, Warwickshire, introduced the school’s first suite of Macs in 1994 to expand the horizons of the school’s already outstanding music department. They now have 22 iMacs housed in two music suites. Here Michael tells us about how the school uses the equipment and the impact it has had on student work.

“Since first establishing a music studio at Rugby School in 1994, we have been using Macs for sequencing and, as the technology developed, for multi-track recording. However, in our main music classroom we initially used a suite of PCs to run Sibelius and Logic. This enabled pupils to do sequencing and notate their compositions. The PCs worked fine for what we then needed, but at that time we were not doing much in the way of multimedia projects or recording audio.

“With an ever-increasing number of pupils taking a keen interest in Music Technology, and with Logic (our sequencer of choice) being no longer available for the PC platform, we decided to replace the PCs with Macs. We also set up a Mac Server within the department and we’ve now been successfully running 22 iMacs (spread over two IT suites) for the last few years.

“This system has worked very well and all pupils and music staff have their own login name, home folder and individual password. The server is backed up daily (using Retrospect) with an additional copy kept off-site for extra security. We also have internet access available from the main school network via a proxy server. This has the advantage that all monitoring of internet usage is done by the school IT department.

Professional-looking results

“For our curriculum, the first years in the school usually start by using GarageBand, which then leads naturally into Logic Express and, for those doing more ambitious projects, Logic Pro. 
More recently, in a move to introduce Sibelius earlier (and to establish the use of notation for composition), pupils have completed a project where they have first used Sibelius to compose 
a ternary composition using drones and the pentatonic scale. They have then exported this 
into an audio file and used it as a soundtrack to a slideshow that they’ve created in iMovie. This is where the Macs are particularly strong, because audio files imported into iTunes and photographs (or screen grabs from the internet) imported into iPhoto are all instantly available in iMovie (together with a startling array of sound effects!). The pupils enjoy this sort of project and come up with very professional-looking results.

“It’s an added bonus that they can very easily export the finished product into a cross-platform movie format and, of course, the iMacs are ideal for displaying [students’ work] at parents’ meetings. For those taking GCSE music, nearly all of the compositions are done using Sibelius, though a small minority sometimes use Logic. These compositions can then be exported to audio files and also sent through the Mac Server to the Dropbox of the teacher responsible for assessing them. In the sixth form, A-level composition and AS Music Technology students continue to make extensive use of the equipment and they are able to use either of the IT suites, or the studio, during and outside lesson times.

Award-winning compositions

“Last term, one of our senior pupils won the Classical/Contemporary class in the Sibelius Student Composer of the Year competition and, not one to rest on his laurels, has now created a musical (using Sibelius), which will be performed by other pupils in the School
 Arts Festival at the end of the summer term. Also in the same Arts Festival, there will be the annual Music Technology Concert. This is a showcase for the Music Technology pupils, plus an opportunity for others in the school to join in with various performances highlighting the use of technology. Items in the past have included straightforward rock band performances (mixed live) to mini recitals using sequenced effects and voices being processed live through the Logic Pro native effects.

“Because watching performers manipulate computers on stage can be a bit boring, we also add lighting effects and use a big screen to display what’s happening on the computer. For instance, we have programmed sequenced backing tracks to switch automatically to various screensets in Logic, and then have musicians play the solo parts live. The projector screen also gives us a chance to show some of the slideshows with soundtracks made by the younger pupils. We are now experimenting with ways of using MIDI controllers in a live situation, including a Yamaha Wind Controller, a MIDI foot controller pedal, Wii games controllers and even iPhones!”

For more information about Macs for your music classroom, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email

V-Ray 2.0: New features and new pricing

V-Ray 2.0: New features and new pricing

If you haven’t already heard, the new version of V-Ray (quite aptly called V-Ray 2.0) is on its way, boasting a ton of new features, including improved stereoscopic rendering functionality and the ability to create more realistic reflections. The big news is that version 2.0 also comes with special upgrade prices for anyone already using the rendering tool.

This new version of V-Ray will also include both V-Ray RT and V-Ray RT GPU, both of which were released earlier this year and are designed to speed up a 3D artist’s workflow and improve render times. So what’s new in 2.0? Well, if you saw the demonstration at Siggraph earlier this year, you’ll know what to expect but, in case you missed it, here’s a quick summary of the key features:

Stereoscopic – Two eyes are better than one. At least, that’s the case when it comes to rendering stereoscopic imagery. In previous versions of V-Ray (and most other rendering packages), two images needed to be rendered – a left and a right eye. V-Ray 2.0 can render out a single image that combines both sets of data, reducing render times by half. The feature can also handle motion blur and depth of field.

Reflections – Who’s the fairest of them all? Well, it seems V-Ray is. A new dispersion function has been added to the material editor which lets you specify a number of colours to disperse out of a reflective material.

V-Ray Exposure – This new release makes it possible to use the V-Ray exposure settings on a standard 3ds Max camera.

V-Ray Lens Effect – A new effects library has been added to the Environments/Effects window. Effects like glare and bloom are now possible.

Distance Texture Map – This was specifically created in order to replicate the way that snow forms around an object. Snow will often get thinner the closer to a surface it is. The distance texture map can control the level of displacement in relation to the proximity to an object. This can also be used to control the distribution of fur.

Want to upgrade?

If you’re looking to add V-Ray 2.0 to your arsenal, price details have now been released. Anyone who is already using a previous version of V-Ray for 3ds Max and V-Ray can benefit the most with special upgrade prices (see details in the below). But, if you’re looking to purchase the tool outright, there’s also a pre-order offer.

Upgrade or Purchase?




When did you purchase V-Ray for 3ds Max or V-Ray RT for 3ds Max?

Before August 1st 2010

Between August 1st and November 1st 2010

Between November 1 and December 6 2010

After Dec 6, 2010

330 GBP

125 GBP

700 GBP

810 GBP

If you purchase or have purchased the Three in One bundle Your V-Ray for 3ds Max 2.0 Upgrade is FREE

Pre-order V-Ray for 3ds Max 2.0 and get V-Ray for 3ds Max 1.5 + V-Ray RT for 3ds Max CPU + V-Ray RT for 3ds Max GPU + free upgrade to V-Ray for 3ds Max 2.0 on Dec 6th

V-Ray 2.0

Got a question about V-Ray? Get in touch with us on 03332 409 306, email, or leave a comment below. To receive the latest 3D news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or ‘Like’ our Facebook page.


Tips for teachers: Demystifying 3D software

Tips for teachers: Demystifying 3D software

When it comes to CAD and 3D modelling there seem to be a never-ending supply of different applications out there, each trying to make teachers’ and students’ lives that much easier. While they all have their benefits, Elliott Smith (friendly 3D consultant) decided to put together a simple guide to help you choose between them.

First thing’s first, if you’re going to give students one piece of advice this September, I recommend telling them to visit Autodesk’s student portal. That’s because Autodesk (arguably the market leader in 3D right now) have decided to offer their software to students for free.

The process is simple: students just need to enter their student email address (one ending in or have a faculty member sign them up, and can then download their choice of software. As well as a way to access the applications, it’s also a great place to post work, learn new tricks and make contact with peers. Of course, there are other helpful resources that you can direct students to, such as 3D forums, which all provide industry professionals with advice on aspects of a 3D workflow.

Once they have the free software, students will need to know how to get started. A good place to learn the basic interface is the Services and Support section of the Autodesk website. This lets you select an application and then navigate through video tutorials, relevant documents, receive updates and much more.

Ultimately, the type of software students will need is going to be prescribed by the course they are studying, with many of those applications falling into one of five categories (Engineering, Product Design, Built Environment, Multimedia (inc. Animation) and Games Design). But to give students a better idea of what software is out there and what each one can be used for, here’s a brief summary of the major contenders.


Application Summary Platform
Autodesk Maya


Games Design

Maya is one of the easier pieces of software to understand and learn, and provides comprehensive tools for animation, modelling, visual effects, simulation and rendering. It is a great all-rounder that can be used for just about anything. A lot of film visual effects are done in Maya. Windows


Mac OS X

Autodesk 3ds Max


Product Design


Games Design

3ds Max is perhaps the most difficult application to master. It has been around in different guises for years and has many features that make it incredibly versatile and powerful but also very complicated. Because of this versatility, it is used in a diverse range of industries, from games design to architectural visualisation. Windows
Autodesk 3ds Max Design

Built Environment

There are two versions of 3ds Max: Max and Max Design. Max Design is used primarily for architectural modelling and designing, and has additional features that do not come with the other version. These include daylight analysis and BIM (Building Information Modelling), which allow architects to model a building and then analyse how it will function under certain circumstances. Windows


Games Design

Product Design

Built Environment


CINEMA 4D has engineering, architecture and broadcast editions that are tailored to each specific need. Where it really excels is in animation. Using the built-in MoGraph toolset (made for creating motion graphics) is easy and delivers amazing results very quickly. The BodyPaint module also sets it apart from other applications as it gives you the ability to paint a texture directly onto a model. Without the need to arrange textures over specific co-ordinates, texturing your models becomes fast and more intuitive. CINEMA 4D is used heavily in both film and TV for these reasons and is a great option for most 3D needs. Windows

Mac OS X

Mental Ray

Rendering Plug-in

Mental Ray is a rendering plug-in that comes free with most Autodesk 3D applications. The plug-in is used to design and apply materials to your models, add lights to a scene and much more. Mental Ray is not used to make models, only to give them the material that you want, such as a wood texture for the floor and paint finish to a wall. It’s a fairly complicated plug-in to learn but does yield fantastic results when you get a bit of experience. Windows

Rendering Plug-in

V-Ray is a separate render plug-in for 3ds Max, Maya, CINEMA 4D and a few other leading 3d applications. Like Mental Ray, it is used to apply materials and lights to a scene. In many industries, V-Ray is the standard choice of renderer as it is considered the best at generating photorealistic renders. V-Ray is packed with features that make it more than just a renderer and is highly respected within the industry. Depends on application it is being used on.
Autodesk Mudbox

Games Design



Mudbox is a digital sculpting and texture painting application that is used primarily in the game, film, television and design industries. Think of a lump of clay that you gradually sculpt into the final model: Mudbox works in a similar way but, instead of using a scalpel, you use a graphics tablet or mouse. It is very intuitive and is great for creating odd shapes or characters. Windows users have the option of a 32-bit or 64-bit version where as OS X users need to be working in 64-bit. Windows

Mac OS X

Pixologic Zbrush

Games Design


Zbrush is much like Mudbox and is used to create digital sculptures of unique characters for the games or broadcast industries. Zbrush has many powerful features and has a very elegant and intuitive interface that allows greater freedom and control. Windows

Mac OS X

E-on Vue


Games Design

Built Environment

E-on Vue is one of the lesser known applications on the list but is actually great at generating organic scenes such as mountains, terrains, skies, trees, grass and anything else you might find in nature. It is very simple to learn and was used extensively in Avatar to populate their scenes with organic matter. Windows

Mac OS X

Google SketchUp

Built Environment

Product Design

SketchUp is great because it is free. There is a pro version thats adds more features for professional use but, for students, the standard version is a great place to start. SketchUp is probably the easiest of the 3D programs to learn. Architects love it because they can sketch out ideas for buildings very quickly and accurately. Windows

Mac OS X

Nemetschek Vectorworks

Built Environment

Vectorworks is a CAD (Computer Aided Design) application that is used by architects to design and analyse their buildings, but is considered to be one of the programs that is easiest to learn. One advantage over other CAD/BIM applications that Vectorworks has is that it is very customisable. If you are trying to re-design or renovate an old building, you can adapt Vectorworks to suit the specific requirement of the building and your workflow. Windows

Mac OS X

Autodesk AutoCAD


Built Environment

AutoCAD is probably the oldest application on the list and has been the benchmark for accuracy and precision. It is primarily used by engineers and architects for this very reason. Historically, it has been 2D but is increasingly integrating 3D elements into its features. Windows
Autodesk Revit

Built Environment

Revit is another application made for CAD and BIM. Revit helps architects and designers to capture and analyse early concepts and can then be used to design all aspects of the design process, right through to construction and handover. It is suited more to new builds rather than renovations and retrofitting. Windows-only. Windows
Informatix Piranesi

Rendering plug-in

Piranesi is a rendering plug-in that architects use to produce initial concepts. It doesn’t try to be a photo-realistic renderer but instead excels at producing traditional sketch-like renders that both the building and architect trades still love. Windows and OS X. Windows

Mac OS X

It is worth mentioning that most, if not all the non-Autodesk applications, have free trials available from their respective websites and generally provide plenty of support to get started.

If you want to find out more, give the team a call on 03332 409 306 or email To receive the latest 3D news, follow @Jigsaw24Video on Twitter or Like’ our Facebook page.

Adobe Connect Pro at University of Glasgow

Adobe Connect Pro at University of Glasgow

The Medical School at the University of Glasgow needed an online web
conferencing solution to be used as part of a 3-year postgraduate programme. After consulting with them, we suggested Adobe Connect Pro, arranged the licensing of the application, and trained them in the best ways to use it.

Facilitating online teaching

Phillip Evans, the university’s Director for the Centre of Educational Scholarship, needed a web conferencing solution. As part of a course he was running, he wanted to be able to hold meetings online and communicate with up to 30 students at a time. The solution needed to allow multimedia sharing (both audio and video), and include presentation screens and chat boxes.

Finding a user-friendly solution

After consulting with the university, our consultant Anthony Hammond suggested Adobe Connect Pro. Connect Pro includes all of the features needed to set up a virtual conference. It also comes with easy user management and the ability for everyone attending meetings to be both seen and heard. For Phillip and his students, one of the key benefits of the solution is that Connect Pro only requires Flash Player; users with this installed on their computer are already able to access all of Connect Pro’s features.

The solution also provided Phillip with the opportunity to record meetings and archive them. Students would be able to access these for revision purposes or, if they were unable to attend at the time, play them back offline. Connect Pro would run on Adobe’s servers, but we were able to license the product for the university and get everything up and running. With a little training from us, Phillip was able to comfortably use the application and was ready to start using it as part of the course.

Communicating with students wherever they are

The Adobe Connect Pro solution is now being used as part of a 3-year postgraduate degree programme run by the Medical School at the university. It has proved very successful, and students (both inside and outside the UK) are now able to communicate with each other and the course leaders.

The University of Glasgow has now decided to run a further two courses that use Connect Pro. After seeing the success of the original course, Phillip Evans also plans on using the application again for future programmes.

For more information about Adobe Connect Pro, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email