Export Inventor data directly into Revit

Export Inventor data directly into Revit

The BIM Family Toolkit Technology Preview allows you to easily export Inventor configuration data from iParts and iAssemblies (parameters, file properties and component visibility) directly to Revit families. 

Once the family data has been imported into Revit, you can create a simplified version and leverage the imported parameters and properties to reduce the amount of time it takes you to create BIM-ready models.

Download BIM Family Toolkit via Autodesk Labs

This recent update adds a set of installers for 2012 which won’t expire until November 20th 2011 – as opposed to the 2011 installers which, though still present, will expire on August 1st 2011.

You can interoperate between 2011 and 2012 versions:

Export Inventor To Revit Table

Thanks to It’s Alive in the Lab for the heads up on this one.

If you’d like to discuss any element of your BIM workflow (or set one up), give our CAD consultants a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

Speeding up rendering at the University of Glamorgan

Speeding up rendering at the University of Glamorgan

The University of Glamorgan were looking for a solution to improve render times on their animation courses. We helped them set up a render farm that would allow quick, collaborative rendering and reduce their workstation downtime. We also provided them with all the animation and rendering software they would need to give their students experience using industry-standard applications.

Eliminating downtime

Before coming to us, the university were using localised computers (i.e. not networked to each other) when rendering animation students’ projects. Each render had to be done on these individual workstations and so, while one machine was busy rendering, it was out of action, and any further design work would have to wait until the process was complete. On top of that, Glamorgan were also using external hard drives for backup, as there was no central server to store files on. This made collaboration difficult and working from home virtually impossible.

Glamorgan needed a solution that could render jobs from an entire class at once, and free up workstations so that students could make the most of their time on campus. They were also looking for a truly collaborative environment that would let their students work together on joint projects, sharing files across a network.

Finding a render management solution

Peter Hodges, head of animation at Glamorgan, gave Jigsaw24 a call and arranged a consultation with our 3D specialist, Ben Kitching, and together they looked at options for the university. They decided that Qube! (a render farm management system) would be the best solution for cutting downtime and allowing collaborative working. Qube! is able to handle thousands of student projects at one time, and its multi-threaded Supervisor tool would make management of the system easy. It would also provide support for a wealth of modelling and animation software and came with a number of application pipelines, including Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya.

The university had also invested in a set of render nodes (computer clusters that form the render farm). These were sent to Jigsaw24 HQ for a system preflight, which involved our engineers making a carbon copy of the disk that could be deployed across all of the other render nodes. We then went onsite to check the farm was running as it should by submitting a number of test jobs.

Software and training

Ben suggested an exhaustive arsenal of exceptional modelling and animation software to complement Glamorgan’s new outfit. These included professional 3D tools such as Autodesk 3ds Max and Maya, Maxon’s CINEMA 4D and LightWave, and plug-in rendering tools like V-Ray and iray. Softimage, Boujou, ZBrush, SketchUp Pro, Brazil and Renderman were also included, so students could add greater detail and effects to characters and scenes. We even supplied Adobe Production Premium, Apple Final Cut Studio and Logic Studio for integrating animation into broadcast workflows.

As part of the installation, we went to the university to configure all the software and, while there were a few initial teething problems in arranging licences for the university, Ben soon ironed them out. He then provided training for the staff at a time that was convenient for them, as well as adding onsite and remote support to the package so we would always be on hand to solve any problems with the system.

Efficient, collaborative rendering

The whole solution has allowed for greater collaboration between VFX and animation students. With the help of Qube!, their new render farm can now be managed more easily and run more efficiently – the Integrated Charting feature lets staff create reports on frame times and CPU usage right on the GUI. Qube! has allowed Glamorgan to push through jobs faster, and to save all their work on a single, central server without being tied down to rendering times.

The students’ experience of working on the new farm will set them in good stead for getting a job once they graduate. The Autodesk software we provided is something everyone starting out in animation will benefit from experience using. And a few of the more specific apps, such as Brazil, will really make the students’ CVs stand out to potential employers, as they will have a wider knowledge of different animation techniques.

Commercial potential

Glamorgan have even thought about the commercial advantages of their render farm, and aim to get the system turning a profit to put back into the university. Their new setup is powerful enough for outside companies to hire for rendering, even while being used by students. As a Citrix Silver Partner, Jigsaw24 have been looking at virtualisation technology options at Glamorgan to give companies secure, collaborative access to the render farm, while also allowing their students to work from home and have access to their applications, shared storage and render farm.

For more information speeding up render times, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com

How to get Google Earth working with AutoCAD 2012

How to get Google Earth working with AutoCAD 2012

AutoCAD 2011 had the great function of being compatible with the Google Earth Extension, but a problem with the installer means Autodesk’s new AutoCAD 2012 can’t be detected.

To fix this, and get Google Earth Extension compatability, follow these steps from the Autodesk Labs website:

1.   “Download the zip file from Autodesk Labs.

2.   Extract the appropriate MSI file (e.g. the 64-bit one) from the PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip file.

3.   Go to Windows Start > Run then CMD to launch the cmdline.

4.   Enter msiexec /a DwgPublishToGEX64Installer.msi

5.  The /a starts the installer but instead of the standard installer, it runs the network setup and allows you to extract files to a directory.

6.   Copy the these files to your install directory of your desired AutoCAD, e.g. AutoCAD 2012.

7.   Load the cuix file by doing the following:

–   Select “CUI” tool from the ‘Manage’ ribbon. Or, just type ‘cui’ on the command line.

–   Scroll down on the top half of the dialog until you find ‘Partial Customization Files’. Right-click and select ‘Load Partial’ and pick GoogleEarth.cui from the AutoCAD Roamable Root Folder folder.

–   Restart acad and you should have the Google Earth extension in the ribbon.

8.  Load AeccDWGToGE.arx file using APPLOAD command or arx/load or some other way. You might want to select it as one of the apps to load at start up in APPLOAD if you’re going to be using this often.”

Read the article in full and download the Google Earth Extension driver file from the Autodesk Labs website.

Visit Jigsaw24 for more information on Autodesk AutoCAD 2012, call 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

Upgrading your Vectorworks Evaluation Licence to a Professional Licence

Upgrading your Vectorworks Evaluation Licence to a Professional Licence

Vectorworks KnowledgeBase has released this guide to upgrading your Evaluation Licence to a Professional one. Simply follow the instructions:

If you have purchased the full Designer with Renderworks version of Vectorworks and your trial has not expired, go to Part A. If your trial has expired or you purchased a different set of modules (such as Architect, Landmark, Spotlight and/or Renderworks) go to Part B.

A) If your trial has not yet expired…

During the 30-day Evaluation period, you may at any time decide to purchase Vectorworks. Upon doing this, you will be sent a new serial number, which will look similar to this:

E6XUSS-XXXXXX-XXXXXX-G01ABC

To enter this new serial number in your already installed copy of Vectorworks, go to Tools > Options > Vectorworks Preferences (see below).

Under the Session tab, choose Serial Numbers. Click the EVAL serial number and choose Remove, afterwards choose Add and enter your new serial number. Press Add again when complete. You should see your new serial number and activated products listed to the right:

Restart Vectorworks and you’ll find that your copy will now be a professional and will no longer expire.

B) If you purchased a different set of modules than you used during the evaluation…

You will have to uninstall Vectorworks completely and then reinstall with your new serial number:

Guide to uninstalling Vectorworks 2011.

Guide to uninstalling Vectorworks 2010.

Content taken from Vectorworks KnowledgeBase.

For more information on purchasing Professional Vectorworks Licences give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

Importing 3rd-party file formats into Vectorworks – Google SketchUp

Importing 3rd-party file formats into Vectorworks – Google SketchUp

Vectorworks KnowledgeBase offers the following great tip that allows you to import architectural drawings from Google SketchUp to Vectorworks:

“The Import SketchUp command allows architectural drawings created in Google SketchUp (versions 4 through 7) to be imported into Vectorworks. SketchUp component instances are imported as 3D symbols, and geometry can be designated as walls, roof faces, and floors. After importing, refine the design using Vectorworks editing tools, or replace imported 3D symbols with Vectorworks 3D symbols. Flexible import options allow either automatic conversion of architectural elements based on their orientation, or allow geometry conversion to be mapped to specific SketchUp materials or layers.

Vectorworks 2011 and 2010 can import files from SketchUp 7 and earlier. Vectorworks 2009 can import files from SketchUp version 6 and earlier.

All versions of Vectorworks (except Fundamentals) can import Sketchup files directly from the File > Import > Import Sketchup menu.

When importing asketchup document, by default it will attempt to import the file as if it were an architectural design document, it will try to determine which objects are floors, roofs and walls. You can assign their default settings in the Default Styles tab. Most of the time you should leave the Geometry Mapping to the Automatic setting for architectural documents.

Vectorworks - Importing From Google Sketch Up 1

If the file you are trying to import is actually just 3D geometry and not related to architecture, choose the None option under Geometry Mapping. However, SketchUp import is intended for architectural geometry. Using the Import DXF/DWG command rather than the Import SketchUp command to import polygonal geometry is recommended.

Vectorworks - Importing From Google Sketch Up 2

After importing a Sketchup file into a new blank document, you may see nothing but a blank page. Go to Edit > Select All, then View > Zoom > Fit to Objects. This will focus on the imported Sketchup objects.

If after doing these steps you end up with a blank file containing no objects, make sure you were not attempting to import a Sketchup 8 document. To import such a file, you would have to open it in Sketchup 8 and File > Save As, then choose to save it as a Sketchup 7 or earlier file before importing it into Vectorworks.”

To see the original article, and other similar articles, visit Vectorworks KnowledgeBase

If you would like more information on any aspect of Vectorworks, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

How to use Google Earth with AutoCAD

How to use Google Earth with AutoCAD

On one of our browses through Autodesk blogs and forums, we came across this little gem of a tip that enables you to use the mighty Google Earth Extension right in your AutoCAD project, and vice-versa.

The advice comes from Scott Sheppard, who has worked for Autodesk for 17 years, so really knows his way around AutoCAD-based products. On the Autodesk Labs blog, he gives a few simple steps on how publish your 3D models from AutoCAD-based products directly into the Google Earth application, import a Google Earth image into AutoCAD, drape a Google Earth image onto a 3D mesh in AutoCAD and attach time span information to your model.

1. Make sure you have a compatible version of AutoCAD

When I say compatible version of AutoCAD, I specifically mean:
AutoCAD 2011 Family
* AutoCAD 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Architecture 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)
* AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 (32-bit and 64-bit)

AutoCAD 2007-2010 Family
* AutoCAD 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Architecture 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Civil 3D 2007-2010 (32-bit only)
* AutoCAD Map 3D 2008-2010 (32-bit only)

One of the key points here is that the 2011 family is the first one where 64-bit is supported.

2. Make sure you have the compatible version of Google Earth

The Google Earth Extension is compatible with Google Earth 5.x. It is not compatible with Google Earth 6.

3. Get the installers from the Labs web site

1. Navigate to http://labs.autodesk.com.
2. Click on Sign-In to login with your Autodesk Single Sign-on user name and password.
3. Navigate to http://labs.autodesk.com/utilities/google_earth_extension_beta/.
4. Click on Download Now.
5. Understand that installing the technology preview means that you will need to accept an end user license agreement and click on DOWNLOAD.
6. Save PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip to your computer.

You now have all of the installers for the various versions of AutoCAD.

4. Run the installer that matches your version of AutoCAD
1. I happen to have AutoCAD 2011 on a 64-bit machine running Windows 7.
2. As such, I select the C:\Users\sheppas\Documents\PublishDWGtoGE_32_64.zip\PublishDWGtoGE\2011\64-bit folder.
3. I drag and drop DwgPublishToGEX64Installer.msi to my My Documents folder.
4. In My Documents folder, I double click on the msi file to run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions. Even though I am the only one who uses my laptop, I install the technology preview so that it is available to all users of this computer.

If you repeat these steps as appropriate for your system, you now have the technology preview installed.

5. If you are having problems, check that your install went well

The following commands should work from the command line.
* IMPORTGEIMAGE
* IMPORTGEMESH
* GETIME
* PUBLISHKML

The following files should be in your AutoCAD folder:

One of the wish list items was to make the technology preview compatible with the ribbon interface.

If you’ve got any AutoCAD 2011 architecture tips to share, let us know in the comments box below. Call us for more information on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com.

AutoCAD: Mac or PC?

AutoCAD: Mac or PC?

If you’ve managed to avoid the news that AutoCAD for Mac was released this month, then where have you been hiding? This new release from Autodesk is an important step towards giving people a choice of platform in their CAD workflow, but what should you choose to run AutoCAD, Mac vs PC?

It’s difficult to ignore the fact that over the past few years, Apple have managed to take the computer market by storm. Their Mac-based platform has become the computer of choice for creative professionals and it’s increasingly showing its face in businesses up and down the country. With more and more PC users opting to switch to Apple computers (take a look at Apple’s yearly sales figures to see how significant this is), you have to ask yourself why.

Apple design both their hardware and operating system, which means you don’t suffer from system conflicts. Macs benefit from better protection against viruses than PCs. Macs are notorious for being hardwearing, and come with a lower total cost of ownership than their PC equivalents.

What do you do if you want the benefits of a Mac but still need to work in AutoCAD?

Until now, Autodesk users in the construction industry have not been able to choose the platform they work on unless they opted to run Parallels, Boot Camp or similar virtualisation applications. These let you run Windows (and a Windows version of AutoCAD) on your Mac system. The problem, though, is that by running software through a virtualised desktop, you can suffer from reduced system performance when compared to running it natively on a Windows-based PC.

But apart from a slightly more sluggish machine, this is also an expensive option if everyone in your office needs their own copy of the virtualisation software in order to get on with their work. So unless there is a compelling business argument for running those Macs, then it’s likely that the PC option will always win.

That’s exactly why the release of this new AutoCAD is such big news. Not only is it going to benefit the end user, it’s also a sign that Autodesk have started to think outside the box in their approach to the entire CAD market.

If you take a look at AutoCAD for Mac, you will still see the majority of the functionality that comes in previous versions. The result is a typically AutoCAD setup that makes use of a lot of the functions that are native to the Mac.

One noticeable difference is the user interface – the ribbons are out, and in is a cleaner, streamlined screen. This lets users hide additional icons at the sides of the screen, providing a larger working space.

 

The new interface also comes with the ability to dock the side bars.

 

A big addition to the Mac-based AutoCAD is the ability to use the trackpad for editing designs more intuitively. If you’re working on a MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, AutoCAD will use the Multi-Touch functionality to pan and zoom around the drawing. If you’re using a desktop-based Mac, the new Magic Trackpad will give you the same freedom.

The Mac’s Spotlight search function is also utilised. It provides a very intuitive search function from within the AutoCAD application which lets you search for commands, and highlights their location in the menus.

 

Obviously, that doesn’t even begin to over the functionality in this new release (you can find out more by clicking here), but one final thing that’s worth pointing out is that you don’t need to download the relevant plug-in to upload drawings to AutoCAD WS. As the new application is already built into AutoCAD for Mac, all you need to do is select the upload option in the File menu.

Should you change to AutoCAD for Mac?

Well, AutoCAD for Mac certainly appears to be a sleeker version of AutoCAD, adopting the style of the Mac perfectly, and if you’re onboard with the Mac platform (ie improved user interface, more security against viruses etc.) then I’d certainly recommend that you start to take a look at AutoCAD for Mac. But if you’re happy with the PC software and the way it functions on your computer, then in truth, you should probably stick at it.

Only Autodesk hold the answer whether this Mac release is a hint at where they are taking their CAD applications, but given how Apple and the Mac platform are positioned in the market, Autodesk would be pretty foolish not to expand on their Mac portfolio.

Want to find out more about the Mac and PC CAD divide or got a question about which platform is right for you? Get in touch with us on 03332 409 204 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com or take a look at our full range of AutoCAD for Mac products.

Epson Stylus Pro 7700 and 9700 review

Epson Stylus Pro 7700 and 9700 review

With the help of our CAD expert, Sam Tomlinson, we put the new Epson Stylus Pro 7700 and 9700 printers to the test.

Epson says: The Epson Stylus Pro 7700 and 9700 are packed with the latest Epson technologies that add precision, reliability and productivity to a wide range of professional printing needs. Together they give you the finest quality output without compromising speed.

Sam says: Each time a new printer is launched onto the market it always promises the latest and most advanced technology, so your cynicism is understandable. But from the print samples I have seen, these printers do exactly what they say on the tin! The Epson Ultra Chrome Ink (which now includes vivid magenta) makes the prints clear and they precisely match the colours on screen. Epson have also assured us that prints should last around 75 years, (though we clearly didn’t have time to test this) and that is perfect for archiving. The Micro Piezo TFP printhead is probably to blame for the bulkiness of these printers which seems to be an issue with a lot of Epson printers. However, a look under the magnifying glass revealed perfectly accurate little dots that didn’t mist or have any satellites. Even after long periods of inactivity, it still produced perfect prints immediately, with no nozzle issues.

Epson says: These printers are designed to give you faster output without compromising print quality. They do this by using advanced compression and decompression technologies that speed up data throughput during printing.

Sam says: When it comes to printers, the faster they are the better, but that is only if they can maintain the quality. Of course the level of precision is reduced when you print at faster speeds, but even at the highest speed, these are perfect for drafts and sketches. The slower, higher quality prints are outstanding and would probably give you that competitive edge when pitching for new business. Whilst the highest quality prints do take considerably longer, these models are conveniently equipped to deal with overnight printing.

Epson says: A range of features make the printing process as easy as possible, and gives you the flexibility to match your printer to the way you print. Fast network connection, clear, simple control and straightforward operation and maintenance are built-in.

Sam says: With new ways of monitoring and controlling print jobs, you don’t have to hit print and hope for the best. The control panel screen isn’t your usual multifaceted gadget that scares even the most technical of minds; it is simple, easy to use, straightforward to understand and it genuinely makes a difference to the level of control you have over printing. If anything does go wrong – for example, if you run out of media half way through a job – barcode printing allows you to back-track just as far as the problem, without having to start over (saving both time and money). Different departments can track their printing too.

Buy it if: you do a lot of professional printing. An on-site, high performance professional printer is a worthwhile investment, especially given the cost of external printing. In terms of price, both of these models compare quite favourably to similar printers on the market. These have been crammed with all the latest Epson print technology but, despite all of its technological glory, the 7700 model only takes print sizes up to 24″ and that could be quite restrictive. If you’re not going to exceed this size, great but, if larger prints are what you are after, I would recommend the 9700, which takes paper sizes up to 44″ wide.

Get in touch with our CAD experts on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com for more on our printing solutions.

The benefits of QuarkXPress 8 for teachers and students

The benefits of QuarkXPress 8 for teachers and students

When it comes to desktop publishing, Keith Martin really knows his linking tool from his Bezier picture box. Senior lecturer in publishing at the London College of Communication, Keith has extensive experience under his belt, with a degree in graphic design and numerous books published about digital media. He also juggles the role of technical editor at MacUser magazine at the same time as teaching!

Keith has been using QuarkXPress for desktop publishing since he was at university and now teaches his own students how to use the latest version. He explains the way its logical design makes it easy to produce quality layout for anything from leaflets and posters to full-blown magazines and newspapers: “You make a box, you put a picture in it. It’s as if you are working with pieces of cut paper on a big poster-size page on a desk.”

Quark’s flexibility makes it really user-friendly according to Keith, and he says it is really easy to make Flash content without having to get involved with coding. “Today we are in a situation where, if designers want to actually work in digital output, they have to learn programming. But with QuarkXPress 8, you can actually get Flash done quickly and you don’t have to look at code, so I think it’s a great option for designers,” Keith added.

Now in its eighth version, Keith believes that QuarkXPress’s “pedigree” means it has a longevity that will see it carry on developing. He said: “Tools change, but design never does. I think the future is going to be that the software does the difficult stuff for you behind the scenes while you get on with the creative work.”

Find out more on QuarkXPress for teachersand students by calling our education team on 03332 409 333 or emailing learning@Jigsaw24.comFor more news on technology in Education, follow @Jigsaw24Edu on Twitter and ‘Like’ Jigsaw Education’s Facebook page.

NVIDIA’s 3D Vision glasses

NVIDIA’s 3D Vision glasses

We recently managed to get our hands on a couple of pairs of these glasses and the associated hardware to use in our demonstrations at BVE. Having wanted to see them for quite some time, I was excited about seeing them in action.

Seeing an image in 3D on the screen requires each one of your eyes to see a slightly different image, there are several different ways to achieve this. Most systems use passive glasses; these take the form of either the coloured anaglyph glasses (which require no special display technology) or clear polarised glasses (requiring a matching polarised display).

Regardless of the technology used, the theory is the same: the glasses and display work together to ensure that your left eye only sees the left image and your right eye only sees the right image. Your brain does the rest, fusing these two separate images into a 3D picture.

The NVIDIA glasses work on the same theory but achieve it in a slightly different way. They are based on active technology and are powered by a small battery. The glasses work wirelessly, although they are charged over USB. Each lens of the glasses contains a liquid crystal display similar to those used in old calculators and this display changes the lens from black to clear at a rate of 60 HZ (60 times a second). While this is happening, the display flicks from the left image to the right image at a rate of 120 HZ. This is synced with the glasses via an infra red emitter to ensure that when the left image is being shown the right eye is blanked out and vice versa.

To make all of this work, you will need the following equipment:

  • The NVIDIA 3D Vision starter kit, containing a pair of glasses and the infra red sync emitter.
  • A compatible NVIDIA graphics card with a DIN connector for the sync emitter. A Quadro is needed for pro applications such as Maya. A Geforce is needed for Games.
  • A display that is capable of displaying an image at 120HZ – the Samsung SyncMaster range is a good place to start.
  • Software that is capable of using active stereo. In games, this is taken care of by the Nvidia driver. With regard to pro apps, any app that supports Quad Buffered OpenGL will work.

So, enough of the technical stuff – what are these glasses like to use? I was lucky enough to test them extensively, using them both for gaming and within Autodesk’s Maya. I was very impressed with them, I had expected to see some flickering of the picture as it switched from the left to right images but, with each eye being displayed at nearly 3 times the frame rate required for smooth viewing, the picture was extremely smooth. The glasses do make the screen appear a little dimmer but this can be fixed easily by turning up the brightness a little.

The experience of getting the glasses to work with my professional applications was a smooth one also, and just required enabling stereoscopic support in the NVIDIA control panel. It is even possible to display 3D output from two different programs at the same time.

In summary, these glasses are ideal if you want to preview and edit stereoscopic content in programs like Maya, or view stereoscopic movies. Imagine being able to show your 3D film or game in full colour progressive 3D, or showing off your product or building designs to clients in full 3D. With most major modelling packages including 3ds Max Design, Maya, CINEMA 4D and others at least able to create stereoscopic content even if you can’t directly edit in 3D, these glasses offer a great way to show your work in an immersive way. Content can be exported from this software and played back using Nvidias stereoscopic player and you can even use them for a bit of gaming after work!

If you’re not sure about the best way to create or view stereoscopic content, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com.