We have an excellent article about how Lumion relates to BIM. We interviewed Joe Sirilla & Nick Louloudis of Monta Consulting and Design to ask them several question like: How does visualization fit into the BIM processes?

Both Joe and Nick are experienced with the hands-on application of BIM processes and procedures. Currently, Joe is the national representative for the American Institute of Building Design (AIBD) on the United States National BIM standards project committee(NBIMS-US).

Building Information Modelling(BIM) is a term that’s been around for well over a decade and continues to gradually enter the consciousness of the architectural and construction communities at an ever-increasing rate. Trends to introduce BIM techniques are expected to intensify during the next few years, as legislation is introduced around the world, demanding increased amounts of compliance with BIM best practices. In searching for answers as to the consensus on what BIM has come to mean, it is clear that there are a lot of passionate and knowledgeable BIM evangelists out there who are keen to share their views on why BIM is such an important development for the AEC industry.

The Lumion team was particularly keen to understand the views of BIM experts and construction professionals working with BIM, on how visualization and 3D rendering fit into the BIM landscape. In search of answers, we spoke with Joe Sirilla and Nick Louloudis of Monta Consulting and Design for their thoughts.

Can you describe what is in the scope of BIM and how it is structured?

Joe: “People often talk about 2D or 3D but I like to think of BIM in terms of 8D. 2D BIM is all about plans and specifications, 3D BIM involves visualization and coordination of the project before the project begins and identifying design conflicts before any field work starts. 4D BIM is a model-based phasing of the construction process. 5D BIM includes model-based cost definition, with accurate costing based on precise measurement information and aims at zero waste by utilising ‘the whole piece’ rather than part of the materials. 6D BIM brings in procurement, property analysis and sustainability and 7D BIM looks at the life-cycle of the building, including its operation and maintenance. Finally, 8D BIM is the integrated product development and project delivery using all of the 2D through 7D BIM processes, which allows us to deliver a well-rounded and thoroughly calculated project.”

How does visualization fit into the BIM processes?

Joe & Nick: “If you could link the pictures in our brains to a screen then all would become clear! Visualization is relevant throughout the whole project, from the very beginning to the very end. You could say that it starts with “I had a dream about a great design last night and I want to build it!”. Even at that first moment of design conception, something has to be communicated about what exactly the ‘it’ from the dream looks like. Visualization is crucial in communicating ideas about the project. The key to understanding the role of visualization to BIM is to think of visualization as a means of effective communication to various stakeholder groups. Visualization plays an artistic role as well as a technical role in the BIM processes. On the one hand, it is important to get a client to understand what he’s going to get for his money. On the other hand, it is crucial to make good choices during the project to ensure that the critical path of the project is understood, the project can be delivered on time, within budget, and that buildability issues are minimal. Visualization tactics need to be implemented at all phases of a project and should be used with all parties involved. How detailed the rendered models need to be depends on what phase one is in and what the stakeholders hope to gain from looking at a virtual model, rendered or otherwise.”

What does the BIM approach demand from visualization tools and methods?

Joe & Nick: “Connections between software is essential. There is historically a lot of fragmentation in multiple trade disciplines of construction projects including visualization. It mostly comes from individual businesses doing what’s best for them and fearing they will lose out by integrating too much, with the result that they protect their own “green pastures”. But the ‘I’ in BIM requires the opposite of fragmentation, as shared information is the key to an accurate up-to-date depiction of the project. Similarly, visualization methods need to be well connected to the tools and information databases that feed them, free of integration limitations. Objects like building components, assemblies, as well as vegetation, should be represented as accurately as possible. The engineering aspects need to be visualized but that’s often not enough. The so called ‘lipstick and bubble-gum’ are also needed for artistic effect, otherwise the message won’t be effectively conveyed to some stakeholder groups. An ideal tool covers both the technical and the artistic aspects of visualization.”

Any other tips about BIM?

Joe: “Use it, it works! I have become a fan of BIM, not because of a desire to have a theoretical framework but because over a long period I’ve incrementally introduced the BIM ideas to our daily work. During the past decade, it has changed my way of thinking and working. We have definitely been awarded projects and delivered better product as a result of applying BIM methods and by growing our BIM practices over the years. We have developed and unveiled the “MCD BIM for Builders ProgramTM” recently and it has really taken off. This process takes homebuilders to a new level of performance, control, precision and value, of which all builders desire to gain.”

What the Lumion Team thinks

BIM is a very ambitious, broad-scoped subject and 3D visualization is a central feature in it. Lumion provides an environment to bring a project to life and to reflect the project design in a setting which can be simultaneously inspiring and clarifying.

The fact that Lumion links to almost every 3D modelling software package and can easily upload models and re-load modified models makes it a very suitable partner to the BIM modelling packages. Lumion has the advantage that it can extremely quickly render both still images and fly-through animations, which allows for multiple iterations without the need for outsourcing or going for a render farm option.

The Lumion workflow also allows for trial and error; if you don’t like your animation, simply change it in real-time. If you don’t like the effects on your still images, then switch them off and wait a few seconds for your next rendered image to appear, which you may or may not like better! You can freely keep doing this until you get it just the way you like it! This simplicity and speed, combined with a fast learning curve and a high quality output make communication through visualization a fast, easy and low threshold step for anyone working in the AEC sector, who is trying to get more familiar with the visualization component of the BIM processes.

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