Friday, June 27, 2008

CGSociety Arch Viz Course

In May of this year I started an Architectural Visualization course with CGSociety ( This beginner / intermediate course is delivered online to students interested in learning architectural visualization with 3ds Max and mental ray. The class closes this July 13th, and is has been a long ride, what with preparing all my classes and keeping up with student work. It has been interesting to me to see this type of format of online course, as I have had several experiences with delivering online (or distance) learning before.

There are so many forms of online learning, that the mind does truly boggle. when you include distance learning and what is referred to as blended learning the methods of creating a course increase exponentially. Used to be, get a classroom, get an instructor, bring in students, conduct class. Simple, but often extremely expensive.

I've always contended that the best form of learning happens, when you have that problem while you work. You lean back in your chair and ask your buddy sitting next to you, "hey, Amer, how do you do that thingy with the gizmo?" and get a quick explanation. You try it, maybe show it to your bud again, get a thumbs up, maybe a few tweaks etc. What happened there? Just-in-time learning? A teachable moment? Direct knowledge transfer from master to apprentice? Coaching? People teaching each other? Answer: probably all of the above...

I figure the more learning online can approach the above ideal learning scenarios the better. One of the things I really like about the CGSociety course has been the ability of students to ask me questions directly, they occasionally send me files which they are having problems with and I'll try to deconstruct and fix them, letting them know how I did it.

By far the best thing about the class has been the interaction between the students. Each student gets a work thread every week, where they post images of things they are doing. Everyone else can see their work, my responses, and post comments as well. These threads are so active that sometimes there are 5-6 posts before I even get to see the original student's post. Students at intermediate levels are brings a vast amount of knowledge to the course. Many are expert in other software, and want to learn 3ds Max. It humbles me to see all the knowledge in my class. All the better for the students though, it is like there are 10 teachers instead of just one.

I heard it once said tht the best university is one which has a library and a coffee shop. Well I guess CGSociety has accomplished just that. Cheers to them.

When the course wraps up I'll see if I can get some of my students work posted


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Revit 2009 to 3ds Max 2009 Curriculum

One of the projects which I had the pleasure to work on recently, was for the Autodesk Media and Entertainment division's education department. The project entailed writing a short tutorial on the process involved in rendering a Revit 3D model in 3ds Max.

Now it's been several releases since you have been able to take a Revit Model, export it to DWG, and then Link / Import it into 3ds Max. In 2009, a new method of exporting and importing has been introduced using an FBX file.

The greatest advantage in using FBX is the amount of information which is now transfered from Revit to 3ds Max. Revit 2009 now has the mental ray rendering engine incorporated within it, and when you start the rendering procss in Revit, by assigning lights and materials, this information then gets transfered to 3ds Max....!!! ............SWEET............!!!

Through FBX, Revit metadata also gets transfered. Like the Revit Family, Category and Level. which you can use in 3ds Max to organize your models.

Through this improvement in Revit rendering technology, Autodesk appears to be recommending to designers to take their models and renderings as far as possible in Revit, and when ready transfer to 3ds Max for final renderings. Unfortunately, one of the things which is lacking at the moment is a complete resource of Revit components and families. Rendering elements like furniture and speciality Revit families like windows and doors typically are built from scratch by companies adopting Revit. This makes for a long and expensive implementation of the software.

Some help is available, as in the Revit content site,

Much more is needed.

Allways looking foward to better tools.

Catching up on the Blog

Well folks it has been a while since I wrote, so catchup time. What have I been up to I'll get into a few posts in the next few days. As allways there are some really cool developments in Architecture, 3D Visualization, and the BIM industry. I'll separate these posts so they all don't merge into one massive post.

Well I'm ready to write so here we go...