Autodesk Moves Avatar Visualization Technology to the AEC Industries

Autodesk Meets Avatar Podcast

The world of movie making is really not too distant from the world of building. Chris Ruffo, the senior industry marketing manager for design visualization at Autodesk’s Media and Entertainment Division draws the analogy by saying they are both really about story telling.

You’re telling a story and the people who are able to communicate that story more effectively are the ones who typically win more business and have better relationships with the client, and the public.

Autodesk played a starring role in the recent movie “Avatar” by making it possible for the director, James Cameron, to direct the movie as if it were a live action picture, even though large portions were dependent upon computer generated (CG) content.

He was able to look through the viewfinder of any camera he was using, walk around with it and actually see a low lit proxy of what that final scene was going to look like, with the characters in it and with the CG backgrounds. So he could really make creative decisions on the spot about how he was directing that picture.

Now, the same technologies that Autodesk is bringing to the movies are also crossing the line into its AEC products. Users are now using these tools to create highly realistic visualizations of not only the buildings and infrastructure being built, but also of the human interaction going on within, and around them. The real-time technology that is moving into the design tools of AEC is going to speed up the design process and help designers to more quickly assess the effects of design changes and adjustments.

There is much more in the interview above with Chris Ruffo. You can find more information about Autodesk’s involvement with Avatar here. Plus, if you’d like to check out Autodesk’s many activities in the field of visualization you can find much more about that here.

The Upside to the Construction Depression May Carry Seeds of Creativity

Roger K. Lewis draws some interesting conclusions about the future of architecture (and it’s hard to deny the future of architecture has a direct impact on the future of construction and engineering) in his recent article in the Washington Post.

He contrasts the excesses of the Burj Dubai, and MGM Grand’s City Center in Las Vegas, with the realities of reconciling the built environment’s environmental impact in the years to come. He no doubt peers into what can be described as a prophetically accurate crystal ball that reveals perhaps only a small amount of what the world faces in trying to undue humanity’s burden on the planet. But for wise builders, (those most interested in creative building), his predictions about reclaiming the existing built environment should be music to the ears.

Despite current use and physical condition, an existing building embodies an enormous amount of previously invested energy and economic resources. That energy and those resources went into producing, transporting, finishing and installing the building’s many materials, as well as acquiring and preparing the building site, including off-site infrastructure.

And while he admits that many aging buildings may be beyond saving he sees many of them offering new creative design and construction opportunities for all of those in the AEC industries.

Indeed, transformation of existing buildings probably will account for a growing share of construction in coming years, if not decades. And transforming an existing building frequently can be an opportunity for artful creativity and invention, as aesthetically stimulating as constructing something totally new, grandiose and unconventional.

Perhaps there are the seeds of a new paradigm in building here. After all, wouldn’t it be glorious to build creatively in synch with the natural environment, instead of insanely out-of-synch with it?

Marvin’s John Kirchner Opens a View to the 2010 International Builders’ Show

International Builders Show Podcast

From the 19th and well into Friday, the International Builders’ Show is drawing strong crowds. Billed as the “housing industry’s largest annual trade show and exhibition,” the event is sponsored by the National Association of Homebuilders and is being held in Las Vegas. Last year’s show attracted more than 60,000 people. Of course the product line up is a bit mind boggling. Some of the products being showcased include:

  • Lennox Industries (Booth C3130), a leading provider of customized home heating, cooling and indoor air quality systems will unveil a new, revolutionary heating and cooling system powered by renewable energy. The state-of-the-art system, which will hit the market this summer, will help homeowners significantly reduce their energy consumption.
  • U.S. Timberworks (Booth N1276) releases its new product line of timber-frame architectural components, including decorative brackets, corbels, gable trusses and hearth mantles. These offerings will make it easy and affordable to add the timeless beauty of timber framing and increase perceived value of your next project in today’s competitive and demanding marketplace.
  • Tiger Claw Inc. (Booth N3103) will debut the Tiger Claw Semi-Automatic Hidden Deck Fastener Installation Gun for Trex. It will also showcase the new Tiger Jaw tool designed to eliminate the need for a sledge hammer and muscle power when installing hidden deck fasteners and surface boards.
  • Salient Software Inc. (Booth C949) offers builder intelligence software that comprises state-of-the-art dashboards and scorecards built with IBM Cognos software specifically for home builders for faster, informed, coordinated decisions. This web-based software lets the decision makers receive instant up-to-the-minute information anywhere, anytime in areas like sales, field operations, finance and purchasing.

John Kirchner, public relations manager for Marvin Windows and Doors spoke with me on the phone from the show floor and confirmed that even though economic times are still challenging there is a lot of positive energy around homebuilding and the products being shown. He also mentioned his picks for a couple of the coolest products he’s seen, and then told me about one huge sliding glass door that Marvin is exhibiting on the floor. Listen in to the podcast above.

Brave New World of Equipment Management Opens on Two Fronts

Construction Informer Podcast with Brad Mathews of Dexter Chaney

There are companies that are not in the business of equipment manufacturing and sales that sell products focused on increasing the productivity and profitability of the equipment. Using these products it’s now possible to know not only where a machine is at all times, but to also know in real time its fuel use, most recent maintenance service, and a wealth of other vital statistics. This information is increasingly valuable because it is fed into an enterprise accounting system as it is gathered.

Equipment Telematics

An effort that has been underway by equipment manufacturers for several years, called telematics, is another form of data aggregation that is more specifically designed for the information needs of the manufacturers and dealers. There are similarities in the kinds of data being gathered using telematics, and that being gathered by third parties. I explore some of the differences between the two in this podcast with Brad Mathews, vice president of marketing for Dexter + Chaney, developers of the Spectrum Equipment Service System. Listen in above.