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Markup revit drawings in real-time for live presentations?

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    Markup revit drawings in real-time for live presentations?

    In our conference room, on the big screen, we pull up Revit models to work in real-time in front of the clients. There's a natural tendency to want to "diagram" over the model with a marker in real-time. To my horror, a colleague recently took some trace paper and a marker and started drawing on top of the display! Immediate action is needed!

    Anything that involves "exporting" the model to some other format, and then "importing" it into another application isn't going to work. (too clunky a work-flow for live presentations). It pretty much needs to be a nearly instantaneous one-step process.

    I tried Design Review - it has a "Snapshot" feature that lets you take a snapshot of your screen and then mark it up. That sounds pretty workable, except it doesn't work very well in Revit. I can't drag the capture window effectively (in Revit) to make it larger, and typing in a size is limited to 999 pixels x 999 pixels, which is woefully inadequate on today's hi-res displays.

    But something like that might be perfect - a very simple screen capture utility with built in "marker" tools. The simpler, the better... something even a client could grab the mouse (or wacom tablet!) and use.

    What are the options?

    there is a "whiteboard" technology that does what you want. Teachers in schools use it. Jim Balding at the Ant Group could give you the name of it, we had one piece of the equipment at WATG. I can't remember its name. You clip a little thing to the corner of your display, then you can draw over it and it records the images into a file you can later use/send out, etc.
    Scott D. Brown, AIA | Senior Project Manager | Beck Group


      SmartBoard is one of the companies doing this kind of thing. It can be very useful in a conference room or the like, but being pricey you are likely to have only one, and they are not really very portable, at least the whiteboards.

      And personally I like a somewhat more low tech approach. Project your image on an old fashioned white board, draw on the image with old fashioned white board markers, and record the image with an iPhone. You can use the iPhone to record the discussions as well. I like this approach because we tend to meet with clients at their location, and you can throw an old fashioned white board into the car with the laptop and projector pretty easily. And the folks doing the markup are often not tech users, so familiar tools are appreciated, but the 3D revit model to "draw on top of" is really effective.
      In the office you can roll this setup around and have interactive meetings wherever you want, not just in the main conference room that gets all the cool tech. Very important when the meeting is only a few people and using a main conference room is overkill, or it isn't available.

      I should note, I like a laptop for this as it provides a second screen for Project Browser and Properties, so the projector can be nothing but the "working image". I have also seen people spread Revit across both screens, so the Revit Driver can be setting up another view, or doing actual model manipulation in a view the "audience" doesn't see. No ref planes and crazy colors and whatever else makes the Revit work easier. Just a nice, clean, large image.

      Last edited by Gordon Price; February 14, 2011, 07:46 PM.
      Pragmatic Praxis


        Smart Board was the one I was thinking of.
        Scott D. Brown, AIA | Senior Project Manager | Beck Group


          This is something that I have been intrested in for a while, and I think it requires different approaches depending on who you are talking to, and what the purpose of the discussion is

          For a design meeting with other consultants, actually having Revit open may be the best option, probably a read only dettached version, but this will allow you to make quick changes to the model and see immeadiate results

          For meetings with a client or non-technical people something like Design Review or Navisworks is a better option

          We have purchased a mini projector in our office, which is only about the size of an mobile phone, it can run off batteries and a iPhone, or you can plug it into a laptop and/or a power source. The resolution is only really suitable for 4 or 5 people to view, but it can be pretty handy

          The markup side of things is still an area missing something, for bigger projects I am even thinking you could use a conference software which records activity on the screen along with sound. We have a software package called team viewer which allows that sort of recording. It may make boring playback (you may even be able to flag certain times, or even just have someone note down key design decisions times) but it could be a good way of recording what was discussed for each area of the design

          Ideally I would like to see an addition to Design Review which allows you to attach comments to elements in 3D view, then once overlaid into Revit you would ideally be able to see the comments which can then be actioned
          Revit BLOGGAGE


            Why not use a screen capture software (Snagit) which has markups build in? Take a screen capture, it automatically pops up and you can go and talk, write, place arrows, etc. Use it with a projector and a Wacom tablet and you're off...
            Martijn de Riet
            Professional Revit Consultant | Revit API Developer
            MdR Advies
            Planta1 Revit Online Consulting


              the main issue I have with both DesignReview and NavisWorks is that the images look like crapola. If the "client" is a facilities manager at a factory, then maybe. But if the client is the director of a museum then no way in Hades. Even for a simple residential remodel, I can't see showing the client something that looks as bad as DR or NW does. Revit and SketchUp offer an attractive image that doesn't require any real effort to understand or accept. DR is passable for red marking construction documents, if you can find a PM or PA comfortable in the tool. And NW of course is great for very technical coordination issues. But neither is even close to passable on the aesthetics front in my book, nor has Autodesk shown any inclination to make them so. A Revit viewer (i.e. Vasari) that can handle the model on weaker hardware would be great, but a live Revit model does the trick too, as long as you have a desktop replacement laptop to open it on.

              For the moment, I think Revit remains our "presentation" tool of choice, at least when we aren't doing old school presentation boards or (gack!!!) PowerPoint.

              Martijn, I have played with using SnagIt like this, and it works for simple markups. But the great thing about the white board approach, either digital or traditional, is that you can change the image behind the notes. Half way through talking about a view and sketching on top you can have someone ask "What do the shadows look like in the summer" and presto, shadows, right under your sketch and notes. The fact that SnagIt would require capturing a new image that wouldn't have the initial notes made this a problem. "Sketching on Revit" and capturing the final idea worked better than putting the capture first.

              Last edited by Gordon Price; February 14, 2011, 09:25 PM.
              Pragmatic Praxis


                Thanks so far for the suggestions!

                Originally posted by mdradvies View Post
                Why not use a screen capture software (Snagit) which has markups build in? Take a screen capture, it automatically pops up and you can go and talk, write, place arrows, etc. Use it with a projector and a Wacom tablet and you're off...
                This is where I'm headed. I know Snagit is ideal for creating tutorial type stuff, but it looks a little "complex" for what I'm looking for - way too many toolbars, etc. I might download the trial to see how much I can "simplify" the UI.

                Other suggestions for a very simple screenshot & markup utility?

                Gordon hit it on the nose about how ugly models look loaded into DR. Besides, it's just too complex to be exporting and importing models back and forth.

                The Electronic Whiteboard concept is fascinating, but well outside our budget right now. The projector concepts are interesting, and a great idea for taking it with you, but doesn't fit our limited conference room setup. I love hearing about this sort of tech and clever usage (so certainly feel free to post more about this kind of gear), but in this case, I think it needs to basically be a software solution.


                  to go off on another tangent, do you have access to an iPad? You might take a look at AirSketch. Basically it allows you to import PDFs and annotate on top, either with a finger or a Pogo stylus or the like. Don't know if it supports virtual keyboard entry or not, and don't know if it supports zooming with annotations zooming as well. But the cool part is it posts the ongoing markeup session to a web page. So all you need to do to project it is go to the page. You can project on someone else's projector without even connecting to their hardware or network. Slick.

                  Pragmatic Praxis


                    Originally posted by iru69 View Post
                    This is where I'm headed. I know Snagit is ideal for creating tutorial type stuff, but it looks a little "complex" for what I'm looking for - way too many toolbars, etc. I might download the trial to see how much I can "simplify" the UI.
                    I was going to post a screen shot of my Snagit Editor but since Snagit is the screen shot program it won't take a picture of itself?? Anyway you'll find that you can pare down the around the screen clutter a lot in the Editor. Turn off the ribbon, make the QAT real small, minimize the folder navigation window, etc. My Snagit editor working area is probably 95% of the screen
                    I'm retired, if you don't like it, go around!


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