Tag Archives: AU

Numeric Parameter And Camera Position With Fixed Target

Dynanimator released: Animating Data Changes in Revit with Dynamo

You know that feeling? When you have an idea? And you know that if you succeed, you’ll love the outcome? I have that now.

Numeric Parameter

The first time I saw someone animate data changes in a building design environment, I was blown away. I think the people responsible for the slightly embarrassing incident were Stephen Melville and he’s team’s work at Ramboll Computational Design in London. Around the same time I saw Zach Kron’s flying bird wings – a GIF animation made in Revit with Harry Mathison’s Image-O-Matic. That led me to produce a number of similar movie clips, based on Revit’s Conceptual Modeling Environment and Harry’s tool. Later, when I read Michael Kirchner’s research on creating iterative daylighting analysis workflows using Dynamo and Cloud Rendering (Part 1:Changing a Family Instance and Saving an Image), I realized that I could build my own animation workflow with Dynamo.

During Autodesk University 2014 I collaborated with Andreas Dieckmann, Julien Benoit and Ian Siegel on a Dynamo Hackathon project called Dynanimator; a set of technologies in Dynamo that creates image exports per parameter change iteration. Today we have published it. The Package is based on Dynamo version 0.7.5, but should work perfectly on 0.8.

The outcome will be a set of images. I normally create GIF’s in GIMP 2 or MP4 in Windows Movie Maker. Sometimes, when I’m in the mood, I combine multiple MP4’s with selected audio in Camtasia Studio, like I did in my post Animate design iterations in Revit with Dynamo from late in 2014.

p_completeSection 1deflection top

Check out our GitHub repository for additional information about usage, collaboration, samples, etc.: Dynanimator

Last, here’s a short video tutorial showing how I use these nodes:

In the future we want to start combining this technology with both analysis and optimization techniques. Try to visualize an animation that shows how a room gets optimized for daylighting. I think that’s a very interesting way to communicate visually what you are doing as a designer.

Now bring your models alive, and share your animations with the rest of the world!

Smithsonian collage

Dynamo Video Tutorials

How do you learn to play the piano?

You learn the basics, find a YouTube instructor, and practice a melody that you like. That’s how I do it anyway. How do you learn computer software? You learn the basics, and find a problem that you love solving. That’s how my son learnt how to ski. It has to be fun. And now I play Bach. Because I think its awesome.

I recently hosted a whole day Dynamo lab for engineering students at Bergen University College. The curriculum that I used was a developed version of material I presented in 2014 with Julien Benoit at RTCEUR, and solo at Autodesk University (AU) 2014; Computational Logic in Structural Design. The math and script was developed last summer, with much help from Zach Kron.

The structure was inspired by a question I got from a colleague during a Computational Design workshop at Dark: “Dude, have you seen the Smithsonian”? Voilà; I had a problem that I loved to solve. Now, 64 students in Bergen have learnt how to mathematically model the roof of the Smithsonian American Art Museum atrium roof in Washington DC.

After AU I expanded the example with more Structural Framing diagonals, analytical model information and Robot integration. Instead of writing new or revising documents to supplement the live labs, I decided to record short and fast video tutorials and post the on YouTube.

The students are now using these tutorials to learn Dynamo with my Smithsonian roof problem, and so can you:

Here’s the handout I wrote for AU: Computational Logic in Structural Design

In the future I hope to expand the curriculum further by applying more analytical data (Loads, Load Combinations, Boundary Conditions, Calculations, Results Management, Analytical Visualization, and so on) and perhaps genetic algorithm optimization techniques (Galapagos, Optimo). I’d be very interested to hear if you have ideas to ways this problem, and it’s solutions, could be enhanced.

Last, I gave my students an assignment. Go ahead if you want, and see if your skills and imagination can challenge theirs:

Create a Dynamo script that generates a roof of steel beams based on a trigonometric function. The example below is based on a sine curve between 0 and 180 degrees. The structure must be parametric in length, width, height and grid. Present the results in an inventive way.


Animate design iterations in Revit with Dynamo

I want to animate design iterations in Revit with Dynamo.

Now I can. Thanks to the first ever Annual Dynamo Hackathon, which took place in Las Vegas during this year’s Autodesk University, I am now able to create animations of a whole set of various parameter calculations and variations. Eventually I want to include analytical data, quantities and optimization techniques in this workflow, but for now I have more than enough to learn about the current set of tools.


The idea came to me during breakfast the day after Matt Jezyck announced the Hackathon. I asked my friends Andreas Dieckmann and Julien Benoit what they thought about it, and they immediately got on board. When Andreas and I arrived in Vegas, we hooked up with Ian Siegel, and got to work. In short, we have produced 5 Dynamo Custom Nodes that can animate;

  • Number and Length Parameter iterations
  • Element Transparency
  • Camera movement
  • Element Color Ranges

Check out the very cool showcase video Andreas put together between AU sessions:

There are some limitations to what you can animate currently. Depending on our progress on these limitations, and more specifically Dynamo development, the plan is to release these nodes in the Package Manager early in 2015.

Check out the Dynamo 2014 Hackathon site for more information on the various projects at Autodesk University 2014 Dynamo Hackathon, and the Dynamo Blog Post for final results and voting at 1st Annual Dynamo Hackathon.

Above and below are some use cases that I have tested after AU. Both models are Dark Architects projects, with the above using Ian’s facade alternative on Origo, and the example below changing Adaptive Component parameters on the facade of Lørenfaret Grønn Portal.

LGP_take1(It may take a while for these GIF’s to load. They are rather large.)

BIM Conferences in 2014: A Summary of Published Content

Yesterday morning I woke up in Istanbul. By noon I was back at the office in Oslo having lunch with my friends at Dark. That flight marked my final appearance as a speaker at international BIM conferences in 2014. I’ve been in Melbourne, Chicago, Dublin, Las Vegas and now Istanbul. At all these events I have contributed with multiple presentations and labs, totaling almost 14 hours on stage. Most of the material has been presented multiple times, but the total number of handouts and datasets that had to be produced, revised and quality assured is overwhelming, especially due to Dynamo versions but also new Revit featuers.

In the menu Workshops above you can now download most of the material I have used in these training sessions. It’s all a collection of company training, conference labs or online presentations. Here’s a quick capture of 2014 additions, in reverse chronological order:

Autodesk University 2014

At AU 2014 I did one Dynamo lab and one Rebar presentation. The Dynamo lab was jam packed, and we created a pretty awesome mathematically defined roof structure of Adaptive Components that reported each panel’s deflection. The exercise was similar to that used in the double lab Julien Benoit and I hosted at RTC EUR 2014. A fun fact from this lab was that I had the company of two Lab Assistants; Marius Jablonskis from Norconsult, who had never seen Dynamo before but is in other ways a fine person, and Andreas Dieckmann, the Dynamo Grand Master. (He dislikes me calling him that, which makes me want to do it more.)

Smithsonian collage

The Rebar presentation was a repeat/continuum of the presentations I did on similar topics at AU 2012, 2013, RTC NA 2013 and RTC AUS 2014 previously. The only difference this time was that it was live streamed across the world, with a couple of thousand people watching. It’s still being watched in fact, as the recording continues to reside at au.autodesk.com/au-online/live-stream/revit-concrete-reinforcement.


Common for both sessions was the great feedback I received both verbally and digitally (as class rating), and that I had a great time with my friends in the audience.

Revit Technology Conference Europe 2014

At RTC EUR 2014 I did one Dynamo presentation and the double lab mentioned above. The double lab differed from the one I did at AU in that it excluded Julien’s second part on using Dynamo for working effectively with analytical information on the basis of a simple Adaptive Component structure. Basically, I did the easy part of creating a structure, and my friend did all the complex analytical hacks with Python. We got great feedback for the session, but next time I think we will try to keep it a bit more simple. The maths in Dynamo that created the roof structure for us was developed in collaboration with the coolest dude in Computational BIM; Zach Kron.

Photo by Srecko Sljivic

Photo by Srecko Sljivic

The Dynamo presentation I did alone also got great reviews, even though I struggled a bit with some normals midway. I love doing live demos, and this time I built a space frame with variable thickness based on a double curved surface. Here I was luck to have all other Dynamo presenters at the conference lined up on the back row, commenting everything I did wrong in their eyes. Actually I wish they had, as that might have saved me from n00bing with normals.


Beautiful 3-dimensional math, developed with Zach Kron

Check out Julien’s blog; AEC, you and me for news and updates on his presentations.

Revit Technology Conference North America 2014

I wasn’t scheduled to attend RTC NA this year, but Steve Stafford contacted me two weeks before to inquire if I could cover for a cancellation. I can never say no to the man and booked my flights instantly.

I did a double lab on computational logic in structural design; the first part with Masses and Adaptive Components in the conceptual modeling environment; and the second part on Dynamo. The exercises I used was the same space frames I lectured on in Melbourne at RTC AUS a month before. My inexperience with labs at the time was saved by Brian Mackey and Bruce McCallum, who were both present and helped out the participants who ran into trouble. Thanks again guys!


Revit Technology Conference Australasia 2014

My first BIM conference of 2014 wasn’t until late in May, but the distance I had to travel made up for the lack of activity prior. I did two presentations; one my regular rebar show, and my first ever international lecture on Masses, Adaptive Components, Maths and Dynamo. Being the first time, I naturally ran out of time with Dynamo in the end. The rebar presentation, however, was really good, and it was later ranked sixth best session of the entire conference at the RTC Blog: www.rtcevents.com/blog/?p=1091

Space Frame based on Massing, Adaptive Components and The Pythagorean Theorem

Space Frame based on Massing, Adaptive Components and The Pythagorean Theorem

Next year I will focus more on Computational BIM and Dynamo in architecture, as that’s what I’ve actually been working on the last year.

Now it’s time to relax and bring the stress down for Christmas with the family. All my friends abroad, see you next year and thanks for an epic 2014!

Autodesk University 2014

In exactly one week I leave for Las Vegas and Autodesk University Conference and Exhibition 2014. This will be the fifth time I attend this conference, and the third time in a row. This event will be far more intense than the four previous conferences combined. Here’s a summary of what I will do, and where you can find me, listed according to expected level of stress induced.

Revit as a Tool for Modeling Concrete Reinforcement, Wednesday December 3, 4:30 PM (PST)

Once again I take the stage with my rebar show in Las Vegas. I did the same presentation in 2012 and 2013, in addition to RTCNA 2013 and RTCAUS 2014. I’m very familiar with the content of this curriculum, but this time the circumstances have changed slightly. In short, Autodesk are streaming 13 out of approximately 800 classes and presentations live world wide, and have decided that my little rebar rant is worthy. And it’s totally free. That’s right. Carl Bass, Jeff Kowalski, Amar Hanspal and yours truly, free of charge.

AU Live Stream Schedule

AU Live Stream Schedule

I find this both terrifying, humbling and very, very exiting. Obviously, I don’t know how many people will be watching. Most my friends in the Nordic countries will probably be sleeping, except my mom (I hope!). But the thought of how many design professionals are online in Asia, Oceania and America at that time makes me think this will be the biggest rebar fest of all times.

If you are going to Vegas, you can sign up to attend in person here:

SE6926 – Revit as a Tool for Modeling Concrete Reinforcement

If you want to lie on your couch in Islamabad or Reykjavik, wearing boxers and a stained t-shirt, you can join me here:


Computational Logic in Structural Design hands-on lab, Tuesday December 2, 1:15 PM (PST)

This is perhaps the session that I’m looking mostly forward to! For one hour and fifteen minutes my friends and I will have a blast with some really beautiful computation in Dynamo. This is part of a lab that I developed with Julien Benoit for RTCEUR in Dublin earlier this year. Sadly Julien won’t be (physically) present in Vegas, but I have convinced Dynamo Grand Master Andreas Dieckmann to cover his absence by helping me out in this lab. It’s like bringing on Messi to cover for Ronaldo.


Expect to refresh trigonometry in SE6925-L

There are right now 6 available seats left, and in case you book one of them, be prepared to automate some really nice structures based on periodic functions and parameter manipulation in Dynamo!

SE6925-L – Computational Logic in Structural Design

Learn visual programming to make awesome

Learn visual programming to make awesome

Dynamo Hackathon, Monday December 1 to 3.

From Monday to Wednesday evening Matt Jezyck and Zach Kron from Autodesk are hosting a Dynamo Hackathon for everyone who wants to hack at Dynamo with others while at AU. Together with Julien and Andreas I have submitted a project that I have been wanting to work on for some time. Ever since I first laid eyes on Harry Mathison’s Image-O-Matic – an addin that produces a set of images based on parameter iterations – I’ve had a dream of building something similar, based on Dynamo.

The ultimate outcome of this work is a set of technologies that can animate anything in Revit; movement, analysis, schedules, analytical data, in addition to parametric iterations. Imagine how you can present your building design if you have, say, 200 different visualized daylight analysis results, based on 200 facade alternatives, all collectively animated in a video or gif loop? You know what I’m thinking? AEC porn. That’s what I’m thinking.

You are more than welcome to join! As far as I know anyone can sign up. In case animation doesn’t quite do it for you, there are a number of other awesome projects to join. Oh did I forget to mention you’ll be doing this together with some of the smartest people in international design technology? Well, you are.

BIM Workshop, Monday December 1, 8:30 am PST.

The same Mr’s Kron and Jezyck are hosting a whole-day BIM Workshop event about visual programming before the Hackathon starts. This is an addition and prelude to the regular conference that starts on Tuesday. It will be a good opportunity to refresh some basics and explore more advanced analytical problems. It will also be a fine way to meet up with the other people who suffer from need of automation at the cost of manual labor. The lazy smart people.

In addition to all this, and all the regular classes, I’m helping out as a lab assistant for Marcello Sgambelluri’s Dynamo for Dummies, participating in the Design Computation Symposium and meeting up with fellow Expert Elites at various social events. I’ll be consuming beer with my good friend John Fout at the CASE Party on Wednesday, where I also look forward to catching up with a host of smart and entertaining people that I have the privilege to know.

I’ve come to realize that there are three reasons why I put myself through all this several times each year. I love finding, learning and developing knowledge of new technologies. I have a passion for teaching what i learn to others. And I’m absolutely addicted to hanging out with people who make me laugh. That’s Autodesk University in a nutshell. That, and much more.

See you there!

Revit and Reinforcement


Structural rebars in beam

I had the great pleasure of presenting Revit Reinforcement problems, solutions, features and workflows at the Revit Technology Conference Australasia 2014 in Melbourne Australia last week. As always on these conferences I get to meet so many interesting and smart people who share my passion for 3D digital building design, but this time something was slightly different. This time I met surprisingly many who was already familiar with parts of my work on Reinforcement and Adaptive Components. That was a bit new to me, and something that makes me immensely proud. To realize that people on the other side of the planet use your research is indescribably motivating.


Changes since previous Rebar presentations

The presentation I did was basically the same brain dump curriculum that I did at AU 2012, RTCNA 2013 and AU 2013, although this time modified with updates for Revit 2015 (there are a few important ones) and removal of the sections on complex modeling (double-curved concrete walls and post-tension reinforcement). I decided to remove the last parts mainly because I’ve done little progress on the Adaptive Component research lately, and also feel these families have some performance issues when used on multiple and large repeaters.


Rebar Set Symbolic Representation

To me, there are two big new features in Revit 2015 when it comes to reinforcement: Symbolic Representation of Rebar Sets and Rebar Number. As I said during my presentation, these features seem to work really well, and especially the representation tools look good with last year’s Multi-Rebar Annotation families. Hat tips there to Pawel Piechnik and his team at Autodesk for implementing important features that are easy to use, fast and well implemented.

Rebar Number

Rebar Number

The presentation I did at AU 2013 received amazing reviews, something I naturally was rather pleased with. Here is a selection, with ratings from 1 to 10:

  • Quality of the class materials: 9.44
  • Overall Class Satisfaction: 9.24
  • Speaker’s level of preparation: 9.56
  • Quality of the technical content: 9.38
  • Speaker’s knowledge of the subject: 9.47
  • Speaker’s ability to present and communicate: 9.41

The RTCAUS 2014 presentation was also well received, but feedback forms are not yet complete.

Download and read the updated Rebar bible and RTCAUS handout from Content.

Why am I doing what I’m doing: A rant about challenges for a professional technologist and visions for the future

Double-curved wall reinforcementIn my handout material for the already mentioned class at Autodesk University I wrote an introduction discussing my motivation for doing what I’m doing. This is only a part of my motivations, and written with concrete reinforcement in mind. However, I believe in all possible humbleness that the words are too good to reside in a pdf attachment. Perhaps someone else reading this can relate to it? Is that the case with you? Then I’d very much like to hear from you! And if you think this is crap? Well, let me know that as well 🙂

When I first started working as a structural engineer back in 2003, I was introduced to the concepts of reinforcement drawings and bending schedules for the first time. This was of course something we never saw at the university, where static, dynamic and finite element analysis covered the curriculum. Little was I to know that these drawings and schedules were to be my main occupation the first years. And now, looking back, not always did I feel like Michelangelo drawing away.

Today, most of my fellow engineers and I are modeling almost all reinforcement in our projects in 3D. Some structures are harder to master, but most are quite easy. We are planning for our skills and knowledge to append a future where all fabrication detailing is done in a 3D database, and what better 3D database than Revit?

Our two biggest challenges in doing this are efficiently modeling reinforcement in non-rectangular, curved and double-curved concrete forms, and the shouting valley of a gap between new BIM and old CAD. The first problem is something I will discuss shortly.

The last problem is one we share with our software vendors. They are given an impossible task by us; “Please make the most sophisticated modeling software in the history of humankind, and make it how I want it in 5 years. At the same time, make it compatible with 50 year old symbolic drawing standards.” How do you solve a problem like that? As I said, and in particular this is true for reinforcement, we are faced with the same challenge when we need to model all reinforcement in a 3D building information model, and simultaneously represent and communicate it in the same way as we did 20 years ago. It is the ever present gap between future and past. In the end we are dealing with humans. And many humans love the past.

The future, however, is way more exciting. The future is a place where everything that is to be built is represented in an intuitive 3D model, just the way it is going to be built. The future is a place where the materials ordered and delivered on site, is done so from the same high-detail 3D model. The future is a world where engineers and contractors communicate design using the most intuitive way possible yet; the visual 3-dimensional representation of future.

Then, perhaps, we can feel more like Michelangelo.