Monday, 17 November 2014

Visualisation – It's not just pretty pictures

3D visualisation was always seen as an architectural item to show off architectural projects for marketing purposes or client presentation.

3D Visualisation is much more then a fancy image or animation. It can add real value to a project. In this series of blogs, I’m going to discuss the different types of visualisation and how they can help and add value to a project. I will discuss how a good visualisation can save money on a project. But to start with we look at the main reasons for a visualisation and try and dispel some of the myths. So who are the visulaisation for. The visualisation is a method of communication and analysis. The visualisation is often created for

  • Clients
  • Public consultation
  • Local authorities
  • Design team
The argument I often hear about visualisation is that it’s only an artists impression. This is true of some visualisations. But I believe a visualisation should be accurate and should be a true representation of the finished project. Visualisation is a method of taking different types of design data such as

  • 2D Drawings
  • 3D Models
  • Lidar
  • Aerial mapping
  • Design Report
  • Schedules
  • Lighting
 With a visualisation all this and other data can be integrated together to produce an image or an animation to explain the design. Often on a project especially a large project members of the design team themselves don’t have an understanding or appreciation of the overall project. This happens because different parts of the project are designed, drawn or modelled by separate departments or consultants and an overall integrated model is often not produced or is not seen by every person on the project.

The new developments in the industry such as BIM has helped this as people are now starting to think in 3D. These models can be brought into review software such as Navisworks or Bentley navigator, but they still don’t give the realism that is often required for good communication.

With an animation you can create and test different scenarios, such as lighting effects, traffic flow, sight analysis etc. If you look at the image below it is a good example of different types of data used to create the animation

  •  The model was created using the following types of information,
  • 2D drawings
  • 3D models & information
  • Speed profiles (to accurately animate the
  • vehicle)
  • Lighting Design Information (To create accurate lighting)
  • Track information
  • Vehicle information (To accurately position the driver position and height) 
This is a good example how different types of information was used to visualise the project and analysis the design while the project is still in design stage.

If you have any questions on anything in this blog or any other blog please feel free to contact me at

Dan Deery is the managing director of Siscín which is a company an Irish based company specialising in visualisation and BIM for the Infrastructure, Engineering and Architectural industries.

Monday, 29 September 2014

BIM and Civil Engineering

At Siscín we work with all disciplines on both the 3D visualisation side of our business and on the BIM consultancy side of our business.

Often we hear the comment “civil engineers are not using BIM”.  Just because they are not using Revit it does not mean they are not using BIM.
Revit is a product to support building design not Civil design.

The Wikipdia definition of BIM  is“Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition”

The modern day Civil software’s on the market such as Civil 3D, Bentley products, Novapoint and many more all answer that definition of BIM or CIM (Civil Information Modelling) is a term I’ve heard used recently.

During early stages of a project you hear a lot of talk about the Building aspect of the project but the Civil aspect also needs to be taken into account. At the BIM kick off meeting the civil BIM team need to be included, plans need to be put in place about integrating the Civils with the buildings. If Revit is the preferred software for building design plans need to be put in place as Revit and Civil products use coordinate systems differently. The Revit shared coordinate system need to be coordinated with the world coordinate system of the Civil products. The process of sharing data between the different system needs to be documented in the Project Execution Plan.

When the BIM coordinator gets the initial survey and the concept model, they can start setting up the project base points. Coordination is very important between both the Civil team and the Building team. As the Building team are developing the buildings the Civil team will be developing the site, including calculating cut and fill, drainage, trench’s etc.

Constant communication need to be continued between the building team and the Civils team, similar to what goes on with the building team. This continuing dialog may not be just between the Architectural team and the Civils team. If district heating, electrical services, ducting are running between buildings or other assets on the site, communication will be needed between the MEP team and the Civils team. The MEP team will need to use trench’s provided by the Civils team or link into site drainage.

Remember the goal of the BIM project is to deliver a virtual model of the whole project not just the buildings.

If you have any questions on anything in this blog or any other blog please feel free to contact me at Dan Deery is a director of Siscín is a company specialising in BIM Consultancy, 3D modelling Animation and Visualisation. Siscín have worked on many different projects across the world. For more info on Siscín and their services check out their web site on

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Another BIM Solution

When people talk about BIM software they tend to talk about Revit or the Autodesk Suite of software. Revit is a brilliant product without doubt but like every software it has its issues.
I have an Autodesk and Bentley background having used and trained numerous products from both sides of the fence for over 20 years. Over the last while I have been talking to clients both here and the UK and Bentley AECOSYM (pronounced Ecosym) has come up in discussion.

As I have mentioned earlier AECOsym  is a product Bentley systems are the company that developed the CAD product MicroStation which is the main competitor to AutoCAD.  Now Bentley have come up with a multi-discipline solution for BIM projects in AECOsym. This tool includes tools for Architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical and multi-discipline coordination.

AECOsym  uses a what is known as a federated approach to BIM which means that a building and its data do not need to be centralised in one single model. This gives a lot of flexibility and makes it possible to work on much larger project and enabling large teams to also work on the project. This is a slightly different approach then Revit.

AECOSym supports dwg, IFC, point clouds and Revit families. So it can work well in an open BIM project. Bentley have also developed their own open file format called i-models for exchange between Bentley products. They have also created a free tool to create i-models from Revit and 3D PDF.  AECOsym will also link directly to structural analysis packages such as RAM and Staad. It also integrates with Bentley projectwise which is used in a lot of companies for project collaboration and managing engineering documentation.

AECOsym can run clash detection, group clashs add suppression rules to add and manage clashes, clashes can also be exported to excel. This can be done without the need of a third party product.

I know people will ask me which is better Revit or AECOsym. But the answer is never that simple. It depends on numerous factors such as the particular project, the deliverables required, the type of workflow required. It is good to see another company with multi-discipline approach and I think competition can only be good for the market.

If you have any questions on anything in this blog or any other blog please feel free to contact me at

Dan Deery is a director of Siscín which is a company based in Ireland specialising in BIM Consultancy, 3D modelling Animation and Visualisation. Siscín have worked on many different projects across the world. For more info on Siscín and their services check out their web site on or contact

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

BIM from the TOP Down

  Here at Siscín we do BIM training for
  companies. We find that in a number of
 companies, they are making the jump to BIM
 software but they are not making the jump to
 BIM. By this I mean they are training up BIM
 Modellers to use the software but they are
 treating the BIM software as just a 3D
 modelling software and a replacement for CAD.

This happens when the senior management of a company don’t engage with the BIM process. Senior management realise that they have to make the jump to BIM software because they are tendering for a job or have won a job with a BIM requirement. But they don’t realise the potential of BIM software and the BIM process.

This causes a number of issues. The modellers do the BIM training they go back to their desks and are expected to deliver drawings as quickly as they did a few days before in CAD. They have no time for a learning curve on the new software, or to set the new software up correctly and then everybody get frustrated and the software gets blamed.

What is happening here is that BIM is seen just a software and they don’t realise that BIM is a process. BIM is a process of sharing and collaboration. The BIM software whether it is Bentley, Autodesk , Graphisoft or other is just an authoring tool for the BIM process. Senior management, project managers and design team leads need to be training in BIM as well as the modellers. They may not be using the software but they need to know how the whole BIM process works. They need to understand that in BIM you are virtually building the building. It will take longer to model the building but the benefits of being able to schedule, create plans, sections and elevations from anywhere in the model, do analysis or pass the model into analysis software.

BIM needs to be implemented from the top down in a company and senior management need to allow the modellers time to setup the BIM software and allow for a learning curve for the users. As I have mentioned in previous blogs projects need to be planned and this planning needs to be taken into consideration. A company should pilot the BIM software and process on a smaller project that does not have very tight deadline. This will allow the BIM software and process to blend its way into the company and integrate with the company standards and processes.

Here at Siscín we do courses for the modellers and non-modellers in companies, our courses go through the BIM process, what’s involved, planning a project, staffing a project, what the BIM authoring software can deliver and using project review software.

If you feel this training is something your company could do with please contact either myself or Michelle at or my own e-mail

If you have any questions on anything in this blog or any other blog please feel free to contact me at

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

It's good to share

  As I have mentioned previously, BIM is about   
  sharing and collaboration. Sharing is easily
  done if all the disciplines are working within
  the same software but on a large project that is
  not always the case. With BIM the disciplines
  are working much closer together and sharing
  data much more often. Sharing of data should   
  be worked out and planed at the start of the
  project and the sharing procedure should be
  outlined in the BIM execution plan. From the initial   BIM meeting each discipline should decide what  software they are using so a comprehensive plan for sharing data can be established. Sharing between the different software’s should be tested to ensure that the best procedures are implemented. When sharing data, data is exported from 1 product into another and sometimes the export/import is not 100% or problems can occur with project standards. If you test your transfer procedures and issues are discovered, then you can look at ways of working around these issues to get around the problem. It’s often hard to know where the problem lies. The problem could be caused by the program that is exporting the data or the program that is importing the data. These exporters and importers are only as good as the person that wrote them and tested them. Just because 2 programs have IFC exporters or DWG exporters they may not both be to the same quality, it depends on how the software development company have implemented and tested this part of the software.

In a lot of projects people use dwg as a format for transferring data between products. This makes sense because all CAD and BIM software import and export dwg. But in the BIM industry if you use dwg you will only get graphics you will lose all the data behind the graphics that has been built up in the BIM model. There is another format which can be used between different software’s. This format is called IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) IFC is not a new format and has been around since 1994. IFC is a platform neutral, open format. It is not controlled by any one vendor. It is developed by an independent company called buildingSmart to facilitate the sharing of data within the AEC industry. In Denmark it is compulsory to use  IFC on publicly aided building projects.

If you would like to learn more about IFC you can get more information from the following links



Graphisoft Archicad:

If you are working within the Autodesk suite of products, Autodesk has developed a file format called adsk (Autodesk exchange format). This format can exchange data between Revit, Civil 3D, Inventor and AutoCAD Architecture. In Revit you can bring in an inventor file through > Building Component commands. You can export to Civil 3D from Revit through .adskfile format by selecting  Export >Building Site. I will chat about the adsk file format and other Autodesk formats in later blogs.

If you are using Bentley products you can use the Bentley native DGN format. The great thing about the DGN file format it never changes. In all the years I have been using MicroStation it only changed once between version 7 and 8.

If you are using Graphisoft ArchiCAD, Trimble Tekla, Nemetschek All Plan or others you will need to use IFC. Always checkout the software providers website for the latest version of IFC export/Import or other plugins they may have for exporting and importing IFC. For example if you are using ArchiCAD with Revit Graphisoft have a Revit plugin for improved importing/exporting between Revit and ArchiCAD. Check out the Graphisoft website for further details,


To sum up this article make sure you decide how you are going to exchange and share data. Test the import/export and document the procedure noting any issues and work arounds. Share the data regularly through your chosen format so if any issues arise they can be tackled as they arise and you won’t have any surprises when you are under pressure to issue models. Always keep in mind the deliverables for the client and document your sharing procedure. Let all start sharing our data.

If you have any questions on anything in this blog or any other blog please feel free to contact me at

Dan Deery is a director of Siscín which is a company based in Ireland specialising in BIM Consultancy, 3D modelling Animation and Visualisation. Siscín have worked on many different projects across the world. For more info on Siscín and their services check out their web site on

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

At Siscín we often work on multi-discipline. In    
these projects numerous softwares can be used
such as Civil 3D, Bentley  MX Road/Rail.,
AutoCAD , MicroStation, Revit, 3DS Max etc.
We are often involved in the coordination,
 training, modelling, visualisation or all of the

The project starts off with the civil/survey data From the Civil/Survey data we get our site, our  levels and we can create our DTM (Digital Terrain model).

If we are using Revit we will use the survey data to derive our shared coordinates. When it comes to coordinates Revit differs from the other software’s. The other software’s mentioned above all work in world or absolute coordinates based on 0,0.  Revit works differently. In Revit your coordinates are relative and your site can not be further then 33km from the origin. Origin is probably a bad word to use, in Revit we call our reference point (origin) the project base point.  When it comes to positioning your project in Revit a lot of people have a mental block. But it is very important that your project is positioned correctly if you want to use setout coordinates, analysis or if you want to collaborate with users using other products.. In today’s blog I won’t go into setting up shared coordinates. I will deal with this in a later blog. But if you want to learn about it now, go online and search for Revit and shared coordinates. If  you are using Revit in your project you will need to pick a reference point on your survey and this will become your survey point or you project base point.

In the last blog I mention the BIM Execution plan. The coordinates of this reference point should be outlined in this document. Not only do you need it for Revit, you will need it to ensure all your models are coordinating correctly. If you are using 3DS Max for visualisations, sight or lighting analysys you will need a reference point because  Max does not use absolute coordinates either.. I will discuss more about positioning your model in 3DS Max in a later blog.

When you have a number of software’s involved in a project good coordination is critical. For example if we take a road or a rail project. These projects can include roads, building, drainage, ducting, electrical systems and many more. You could end up using all of the softwares mention above and more. Careful planning from the start of your project can make the coordination less complicated.

As you have probably gathered from this blog and my last one. Planning and good BIM management at the start of a BIM project is essential. Followed on throughout the project with further management and coordination. A BIM manager or coordinator is must have on any BIM team.

If you have any questions on anything in this blog or any other blog please feel free to contact me at

Dan Deery is a director of Siscín which is a company based in Ireland specialising in BIM Consultancy, 3D modelling and Visualisation. Siscín have worked on many different projects across the world. For more info on Siscín and their services check out their web site on

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Starting a BIM Project

 BIM is a process that is now an essential part of the construction industry. BIM is not a software it is a process.

Revit is quickly becoming the number 1 BIM authoring software and is quickly replacing AutoCAD as the main construction industry drawing tool.

BIM is not new, it has only been called BIM in the last 10 years. 3D modelling products with databases attached for storing data for schedules have been around for a very long time. I remember using similar products back in the mid 90’s.

At Siscín we get involved in very large multi-discipline projects such as road, rail, architectural, interior, as-built and other type projects. So we have to use different types of software some BIM some not BIM and often these have to be integrated in to a single project. In the next series of blogs I’m going to discuss some of the different types of software’s we use and why we use them.

We will look at a project that includes Road, Rail, new buildings, existing building and all the disciplines involved with such a project.

We’ll start off this week with setting up the BIM project. The first step in any BIM project is to nominate a BIM Coordinator. In a Multi discipline project this should be somebody who has a multi-discipline background, who understands the needs of each discipline and can communicate with the different disciplines. These disciplines maybe departments within the same company or different consultants. The BIM Coordinator should have good people skills and an expert knowledge of the most of the software’s involved in the project if not all. They should have an overall independent stance and should not be aligned to any one discipline. Because the BIM coordinator will have to sort out issues that arise between different disciplines.

The BIM coordinators job is not to check the design content of each model but ensure that the BIM standards and the BIM process’s are being strictly adhered to.

At the start of any job a BIM meeting should be setup with the main BIM people from each discipline present. Each discipline should have their own BIM lead who is in charge of overseeing the BIM process within the discipline and can attend the project BIM meetings. This will often be the person that is responsible for integrating BIM into the department or company.

BIM is about collaborativeworking and sharing information. The initial BIM meeting should be about how information is shared, what standards will be used. What deliverables are required. Out of this meeting a project execution plan and a project standard documents should be created. These documents are essential for efficient running of any BIM project.
For more information on these documents check out the AEC (UK) CAD & BIM Standards site

Or the national BIM Standard – United States

Next week we will look at the Civil Engineering discipline.

If you have any questions on this article please feel free to contact me at

Dan Deery is a director of Siscín which is a company based in the west of Ireland specialising in BIM Consultancy, 3D modelling and Visualisation. Siscín have worked on many different projects across the world. For more info on Siscín and their services check out their web site on

Monday, 6 January 2014

3DS Max Design is now included in the Premium and Ultimate versions of the Autodesk infrastructure and Building suites. This product is largely has  been seen as a fancy tool for architects. This view of 3DS max is far from the truth. It has always been a great tool for creating visualisations of your design, and communicating your design to clients, public consultation and project teams by creating still images, animations and photomontages.

Autodesk acquired a product called Dynamite VSP from a company called 3AM Solutions. Dynamite VSP was renamed Civil View and it is now included as part of 3DS Max Design.

Civil View allows you to directly link your design from Civil 3D and Bentley MX.
When the link between 3DS Max Design and Civil 3D is made the 3DS Max Design model retains the link, when your Civil 3D model changes the 3DS Max model can be updated instantly.

Civil View also has tools to easily add road marking, fences, lighting, animated vehicles & sight distance analysis. You can also import traffic simulation data from Vissim  & paramics.

3DS Max Design uses real world lighting so you can accurately see how your design acts in real world lighting situations and you can do lighting analysis.

Install 3DS Max Design  it and have a play with it. It will open a new world to you.
To see some samples of civil work done with 3DS Max Design click on the link below.

Clink on the link below to see samples of work done in 3DS Max Design and civil view

At Siscín we create 3D Animation resolution images and photomontages. We specialise in  Engineering and architectural projects. We specialise in infrastructure projects such as road rail and waterways. But have experience in other area such as water, renewable energy, buildings, pharmacutical, Oil and Gas, Architecture and interiors. 

We also offer BIM consultancy services and training. 

We are often asked 3D and BIM related questions and in response to the number of questions we get we have decided to create this blog to answer some of these questions.

Please feel free to send us your questions on 3DS MAX, BIM or Revit and we will do our best to answer your question through our blog.

Dan Deery
Dan Deery is a director of Siscín which is a company based Ireland specialising in visualisation for the Civil Engineering industry and BIM.