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.

Video: The Jigsaw24 2012 wireless mic switchover guide

Video: The Jigsaw24 2012 wireless mic switchover guide

Back in January, our audio consultant Rob penned a useful guide on what you need to know about the 2012 wireless mic switchover. Now, we’ve turned his advice into an animated film to help you remember the main points.

Click on the video to watch it, or head over to our  YouTube channel.

For more information, call 03332 409 306 or email audio@Jigsaw24.com. We’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave us a comment below and we’ll get back to you.

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:


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.

iRig and iRig mic for GarageBand iOS

iRig and iRig mic for GarageBand iOS

There’s been news-aplenty coming from IK Multimedia’s camp recently, what with the iRig Mic and AmpliTube Fender app. Now they tell us their iRig adapter range is compatible with GarageBand for the iPad…

Apple’s easy-to-use musicmaking app GarageBand has only just been released for iPad, but already IK have put it through its paces with the iRig guitar interface and the iRig Mic controller.

That means you can hook up your guitar or iRig Mic directly to GarageBand to make tracks that take advantage of its range of vocal effects or classic guitar rigs – including nine amps and ten stompboxes.

You can then:

–   Arrange and mix your song with up to eight tracks using Touch Instruments, audio recordings and loops.

–   Trim and place musical regions exactly where you want them to play.

–   Use the Mixer to fine-tune each track’s volume – solo or mute any track or adjust pan, reverb and echo.

–   Use over 250 professionally pre-recorded loops as a backing band to your song.

Once you’re happy with your track, you can email it directly as an AAC file on your iPad or export it to iTunes or GarageBand on your Mac to carry on working.

To find out more about the IK Multimedia iRig or the iRig Mic, give us a call on 03332 409 306, email audio@Jigsaw24.com or leave us a comment in the box below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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.

Creating single-click PDFs in AutoCAD

Creating single-click PDFs in AutoCAD

If you’ve been plotting or printing Adobe PDF files from your AutoCAD drawings, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a simple alternative using just one click of your mouse – AutoCAD’s Export to PDF tool. Paul Munford runs us through how to use it over at Autodesk’s Between the Lines blog.

“The ability to ‘Plot’ PDF files directly from AutoCAD has been on the AUGI wish list for many years. PDF remains the standard ‘Electronic’ file format for drawing exchange in the AEC Industries. PDF support was finally added to AutoCAD in 2009.

If you have worked with previous versions of AutoCAD before release 2009, then you may have added a ‘Virtual’ PDF plotter to your computer. To create a PDF you would have had to send your Plot file to this Virtual Plotter, which would create a PDF instead of a paper plot.

This feature has now been built directly into AutoCAD. You can send your plots straight to AutoCAD’s DWG to PDF.pc3 Plot configuration file to create your PDFs.

But there is a faster and easier way…

How to export PDF files from AutoCAD Drawings in two simple steps.


Exporting PDF files from an AutoCAD drawing is a simple two step process:

  1. Click the Export button
  2. Type in a file name (optional) and hit the Save button.

It’s as easy as that!”

Read the full post at Autodesk’s Between the Lines blog.

For more information on any aspect of your AutoCAD workflow, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email CAD@Jigsaw24.com. If you’ve got your own tips on PDF-ing in AutoCAD, let us know in the comments and we’ll be in touch.

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.

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.

Installing audio recording and editing facilities at St Bernard’s Catholic

Installing audio recording and editing facilities at St Bernard’s Catholic

Awarded Specialist School Status for the Arts in September 2004 and for Applied Learning in June 2009, St Bernard’s Catholic School in Rotherham is a hotbed of musical talent. When they decided to build a new recording studio and audio editing suite, a teacher from a nearby school suggested they give Jigsaw24 a call.

Having recently decided to up their music education game, the school wanted a modern studio facility to record students’ live performances, but to be able to produce and edit the results in a separate classroom. Our consultant, Rob Williams, visited the school to see exactly what it was that St Bernard’s needed. With them, he came up with a solution that covered both the soon-to-be-built recording studio and the existing music classroom.

The studio…

St Bernard’s wanted a tactile solution with plenty of inputs for recording bands and choirs. Rob suggested the Tascam DM3200 digital mixing desk, which would allow the school to produce professional quality recordings and still stay well within budget. One of the main benefits of the Tascam is that, with the addition of an IF-FW/DM FireWire expansion card (which we also provided), it becomes a 24-channel computer audio interface. This, along with a powerful 8-core Mac Pro tower, lets students mix live tracks digitally and would give St Bernard’s a complete studio solution.

The school was already in the process of building a dedicated recording space, but they quickly realised that they would need to use the existing classroom for recording larger groups of students. After visiting the school’s site and looking at their needs, we provided a range of microphones that would suit a number of different recording setups, and installed cabling
and wall boxes that would enable recording and monitoring from both the live room and
the classroom. With up to 16 feeds, they can now record whole bands or the full school choir, without students having to crowd into a single live room.

It was important the new music studio looked impressive so that it would wow prospective students and parents. We worked with AKA Designs to build a custom desk specifically for
the edit suite, including space specifically for the Mac Pro and rack mounts. We then gave the studio and the classroom full acoustic treatment using RPG acoustic panels. These would get rid of any sound interference and help teachers and students control the aural environment.

Not every installation goes according to plan, and there are some things you just can’t anticipate. St Bernard’s proved to be one of those cases. When we attached the foam panels to the walls of the classroom and recording space, some of them didn’t attach correctly. We realised straight away the issue was with a defective batch of adhesive, and paid them a visit the next morning to secure the wayward panels.

The music classroom…

In the music classroom, we installed 18 new iMacs and connected them to the school’s network. These would be more than powerful enough for the whole range of planned activities, yet would also give them the chance to get more experimental. The department was already using Cubase audio software on a number of PCs, but wanted to integrate a Mac solution into their existing setup to give students the widest range of options. Rob suggested they try Apple’s Logic. This would run alongside Cubase and provide students with the chance to get valuable experience on two industry- standard applications. Keen to add extra skills to the mix, we also supplied a pair of M-Audio Torq Xponent DJ software and hardware controller systems that let students fine tune their DJ skills.

To finish off the setup, we provided an Apple Xserve. This lets IT staff lock down certain features or programs machine by machine, or year group by year group – for example, while KS4 students can be given access to all the software and shared network areas, younger students are restricted to features only to do with their modules. It also gives students and teachers the ability to access data on Macs and PCs easily, using a single login and password, no matter what machine they are using. They were even looking for a laser printer, so we threw one of those in too, and configured it to run on the network.

The finishing touch…

From providing all the music equipment and computers, installing the wiring and acoustic treatments, configuring everything to make sure it was running efficiently, then integrating it on to the school’s network, we worked with St Bernard’s at every point to make sure they had everything they needed and that teachers felt comfortable with the new setup. And because we installed the solution during the school’s summer holidays, there was no disruption to teaching. This also gave the staff time to get familiar with the Tascam, Macs and accessories before the new term started.

For more information on audio recording and editing facilities for education, get in touch with us on 03332 409 306 or email sales@Jigsaw24.com