In General

In a recent post, I discussed the free and subscription-based RPC content from ArchVision as well as the Enscape replacement content. In this post, I am excited to share a couple ways in which you can create your own content. The process includes a cloud-based tool by ArchVision and an example of a full scale 3D scanner with one of Enscape’s resellers here in the United States.

AXYZ RPC Content

Before getting into the custom content, I must mention something overlooked in the previous RPC content post. ArchVision also sells RPC content created by AXYZ. As seen in the first image below, this is also the content Enscape uses when replacing the basic RPC content.

The AXYZ content is quite nice as shown in the next two images. Each pack comes with eight actors in groupings such as medical, student, exercising, etc.

The two images above are screen-grabs from the downloadable Enscape EXE file, which lets you navigate the 3D content to preview it – and this does not require Enscape on your computer! You can see the download link just below the price, in the first image above. Give it a try!

Related links:

 

Custom 2D RPC Content

The easiest option to accomplish on your own, is to create a 2D RPC using a single photo. This does not have the same level of realism in Revit and Enscape, but can still be pretty nice. As we will see in a moment, the RPC element is designed to always face the camera in Revit and Enscape.

To start with, simply take a well-lit photo of someone or something. For this post, I took several photos of myself in various “sports fan” poses as seen in the next image. I used Photoshop’s magnetic select tool to quickly outline my body and delete the background to create a transparent background.

Now that you are done laughing at my poses, you will notice we are easily able to use Photoshop, or some other image editing program, to change the color of my shirt as shown below. I intentionally wore a solid color shirt which makes it easier to select and edit. Note that “AVAIL”, the letters on my shirt, is the content management tool offered by ArchVision (subtle plug). You could also apply the jersey for a specific sports team. Of course, for a real project you would be taking photos of several different people. But when trying to fill the bleachers or stadium with hundreds of people, having a few duplicates will not be noticed. Using these lightweight 2D RPCs will also be less of a burden on Revit and Enscape when using a lot of them, and viewed from a distance.

In just a few minutes, at home, I set up a camera on a tripod, positioned a shop light and a floor lamp on the subject area as seen in the next image. Now I can take several photos in various poses, to use in my renderings and live walkthroughs in Enscape’s real-time environment.

With your properly formatted image, a png file with transparent background, head to http://labs.archvision.com/. Log in and follow the three simple steps shown in the following image. BTW, the ArchVision account is free to create and this process does not cost anything!

You now have an RPC file which is about 1MB in size. Copy this file to your RPC folder defined in Preferences à Configure Paths in the ArchVision Dashboard app. The ArchVision Dashboard is also free, you just don’t see the subscription-based content if you have not paid for that. Once the RPC files are copied to the correct folder on your computer, they will show up in the Custom RPCs tab in Dashboard. Simply drag and drop the custom RPCs from Dashboard to Revit to place them in your model (this requires the ArchVision add-in for Revit, which is also free) for the drag and drop functionality to work.

Speaking of fans in bleachers, here are a few Enscape rendered views of my custom RPC spread around! Even in this match with low spectator turnout, the fact that I used the same RPCs multiple times is not immediately obvious.

In these four fan-bleachers scenes I also included the sample AXYZ sample RPC; click here to download. The point here is to highlight the fact that from this distance we cannot tell the difference between the high-quality 3D content and our custom ones.

As already mentioned, the custom 2D RPC content will always face the camera. Below, I saved an Enscape rendering from two vantagepoints, of the same scene without any modifications, which highlights this fact. In some cases, certain content, such as sitting people or vehicles, may look odd from some angles.

Again, to contrast the custom 2D content, these last two “fan” examples also have an ArchVision RPC (boy in wheelchair) and the AXYZ sample actor. You will notice those two high quality RPCs do not turn with the camera.

Given the lively and dynamic nature of Enscape, it is only fitting to also show how the custom RPCs follow the camera in a real-time screen capture!

Before leaving the topic of custom 2d content, consider another variation on the concept; hand sketched entourage. Using the same process just described, you can develop a set of abstract RPC content… the image below shows a sketch in Photoshop with a transparent background.

These sketchy RPCs can be used to, perhaps, focus more on the architecture than the life-like entourage. In the following image, I have added one realistic 3D RPC and my new sketchy person.

The sketchy entourage also shows up in the Dashboard app…

There are websites with lots of 2D entourage already setup with transparent backgrounds, ready to be turned into 2D RPC content. One such site is: https://immediateentourage.com/. You can also search Google, in Image mode, to find lots of specific photos. You just need to be careful about copyrights when pulling content from the internet.

Related links:

Custom 3D RPC Content

In addition to creating 2D custom content, we can also create high quality 3D content. Unlike the 2D process, creating custom 3D content requires some help. The results are amazing in Enscape, as you will soon see… and, keep in mind this process could be used for people, animals, furniture and more!

Enscape re-seller, Cad Technology Center (CTC) owns a store called ME3D in the Mall of America (one of the largest malls in North America) where they scan individuals or small groups and create colored 3D prints; think, 3D family portrait! Here is a photo of the storefront in the mall.

Helping me out with this post, Kiefer Paulson (on the right) who is trained in animation and gaming design. On the left, is Sam Dusbabek, the store manager.

The magic to their process is the large full-scale object scanner shown below. I simply stepped into the center and held a pose for about 3 seconds.

There are lights and scanners all around the subject, which instantly captures the pose from several angles.

A second scan, which is all part of the 3-second pose, captures a special pattern projected on the subject, which I assume helps in canceling out the background and defining how the texture maps to the mesh.

As soon as you walk out of the scanner you can see the results on a screen, as shown below.

With the scan data in hand, Kiefer opens the model in Autodesk Maya and then Autodesk Mudbox to make any necessary touchups. Some areas, like the armpits, are not fully visible to the scan heads, so they need some adjustments.

Notice the area between my arm and torso needs some clean up? This is done in Mudbox.

Given Kiefer’s background, and the fact that he does this a lot, I asked him if he could add a few pounds to my scanned model… the following video shows is mad skills!

Now we are ready to create the RPC. The steps are nearly the same as described above, using the ArchVision Labs tool.

What is needed:

  • 124 x 98 pixel .bmp Preview Image
  • .obj file
  • .jpg/.png texture file

We use the wizard to select all the required files and upload them as shown here.

The result is an RPC we can download and place in our RPC folder, which then populates in Dashboard as shown below!

The next four images show the new 3D RPC rendered in Enscape from multiple vantagepoints.

I love the detail, with the pattern in my shirt, the wrinkles in my pants and even the wrinkles next to my closed eye. This custom family casts shadows and shows up in reflections.

For more options on creating custom RPC content, be sure to check out the following link. They even have step-by-step instructions on using 3DS Max to turn any file from the SketchUp Warehouse into an RPC.

Step by step ArchVision instructions: http://help.archvision.com/creation/tutorials/creatorarchvisioncom.html

Talking with Randall Stevens, CEO of ArchVision, he tells me some clients are even using their RPC creator to make entire context buildings to populate around a Revit model. They are also working to move the functionality of Dashboard to Avail to streamline their user’s experience. This means that Dashboard will go away at some point.

Related links:

 

ArchVision Stash!

Finally, ArchVision has created a site to share custom RPC content – it is called Stash. But, they have also placed a few of their newer RPC families there. For example, the table placeware and Coke can, shown in the Enscape rendered views below, can be downloaded from Stash!

Related links:

In conclusion, the ability to create custom RPC content and develop unique images and real-time experiences in Enscape presents an opportunity to set your work apart from the competition and impress your client.

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB – a 250 person full-service design firm.

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