Autodesk’s Purchase of Dynamite Unlocks Civil3D Visualization Workflows

by Matt Ball on February 5, 2010

Autodesk recently acquired Dynamite VSP and Dynamite SIM visualization software tools from UK-based 3AM Solutions. This software provides an easy and automated workflow for engineers that are working in Autodesk’s AutoCAD Civil 3D software to port their data directly into the powerful visualization environment of 3ds Max Design software. The tools is specifically optimized for road design and corridor modeling in the transportation market, but there are plans to extend the toolset into other domains.

The VSP part of this toolset primarily provides the connection capability for 3D visualization, retaining all of the original design detail without losing the intelligence in the model. It also contains elements that help add to the realism of the model, such as country kits with the appropriate signage and foliage for the location of the project. It also includes a wide array of “street furniture” that can be manipulated to fit the design specifications, and includes road surface textures that are automated for greater realism, including patterns of wear to make the textures more real.

Dynamite VSP includes a library of infrastructure-related content such as vehicles, signage and textures.

Allowing engineers to become design and visualization specialists in an automated way breaks some new ground. Traditionally top-quality visualization has been the realm of designers and artists, but software is slowly filling that aesthetic void. The VSP functionality offers automation and a guided view of 3ds Max so that it matches the engineers intent and domain expertise. For instance, there are tools for the engineer to control the camera that are specific to roadway visualization, allowing them to match the speed of normal travel.

The ability to quickly move into the 3D visualization environment provides a great degree of flexibility for communication and collaboration. The intuitive features of the product that don’t require a high level of artistic input means that the engineers can complete both the design and visualization work themselves, and have the visualization provide direct feedback that informs their model in a way that allows them to do things that you couldn’t do in a 2D environment–going beyond simply plan and profile..

The SIM component provides the ability to import and simulate traffic data so that the designer can review the performance of their design and test it against different scenarios to evaluate and optimize their design with different real-world scenarios. The analysis capabilities currently center on visual analysis, but there’s research into extending this capability to noise analysis, and other dynamic feeds such as weather.

View the following YouTube video to get a sense of the kind of visualizations that are possible with this product.

Autodesk has a vision for a fully integrated Civil BIM concept to meet the growing demand from designers and clients who are designing large multi-year projects. These customers want an integrated digital model of the whole project with interoperability between structural, civil, geospatial, analysis and visualization tools. The intent is to maintain the intelligence of the model and to manage iterative change in a the complex lifecycle of many-year projects.

In the past, the AEC community only created visualizations at crucial project phases (bid, design phase, public inquiry). Today, this community is creating visualizations at any moment possible, because it can provide insight that informs the design process and helps communicate and handle change. With these new approaches, construction on large projects is starting before design is actually finished, which saves both time and money. Having the visuals very early in the process can speed and meet the urgency of design.

Autodesk holds all the pieces to integrate all the different disciplines and design flows that take place in the AEC space. This Dynamite acquisition provides a window onto future development where the intelligence of the model is preserved, and the power of 3ds Max for visualization is tuned to the demands of a subset of users. We can expect other custom workflow tools in the future that aim for greater interoperability between tools and greater collaboration.

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