February 25, 2013

Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler for Interoperability – .IMX and .FBX Files

Here at Ideate, Inc., we often receive requests from customers for information on how they can take advantage of their current Autodesk Suite of products to make modeling and visualization easier. Is there anything that can incorporate GIS data for existing features? Is there a product that can use model data that we already have in Civil 3D or Revit to create rendered animations? 

The answer to those questions is: Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler. And the best part is, if you’re on subscription with the right Autodesk Suite of products, you can have it for free. Autodesk Building Design Suite Ultimate, and Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite Premium and Ultimate editions include AIM. 

Introduced in 2011, Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler has the ability to quickly and easily generate a 3D model from existing GIS and other data sources. In most cases, GIS data in the form of SDF, SHP along with Raster Images are used to generate the base of the AIM Model. For proposed features like buildings, roads, and sitework, the 2013 releases of Revit Architecture and Civil 3D include built-in exporting tools that generate AIM compatible files. These files come in .FBX and .IMX formats and can be imported directly into an AIM project. 

In Revit Architecture, the Export command under the Application Icon (Purple “R” in the upper left corner) includes the FBX option that allows users to export the 3D View to a FBX file. In the FBX file, both the building model and the toposurface will be included. 

In Civil 3D, the Output tab → Export panel of the Ribbon includes an Export IMX icon for exporting Civil 3D objects to AIM compatible format. The IMX file contains data from Civil 3D objects in the drawing and can be used to re-create those objects in AIM. Alignments can be easily converted and stylized to display proposed roads, and surfaces can be exported and combined to display existing and developed conditions.

As of October 2012, an enhanced version of AIM was posted and available for download to Subscription customers. Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler 2013 R2 can be found on the main Subscription Benefits page after logging in to Subscription Center. AIM R2 has been enhanced with new tools for communicating and presenting proposed designs. 

NOTE: If you’re considering AIM R2, please note that the existing version of AIM needs to be uninstalled from your computer before you install AIM R2. 

Also included in the AIM R2 package is an iPad® compatible version called Autodesk 360 Infrastructure Modeler for Mobile and a web-based version called Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler for Web that works on 32-bit Internet Explorer. Here’s the Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler 2013 R2 info per Subscription Center: 

Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler 2013 R2
Release Date: 2012-10-04 

Autodesk® Infrastructure Modeler 2013 R2 software delivers several enhancements to our Autodesk® Infrastructure Modeler 2013 desktop software and our Autodesk® 360 Infrastructure Modeler cloud service. With the extension, Autodesk® Subscription customers will gain new tools designed to help better communicate their designs and produce high quality, low-touch design presentations in addition to new publishing options. 

  • Storytelling Tools Enables users to better convey the details of their designs to non-technical audiences with the ability to create camera paths, fly-through animations, and videos that include titles, captions, points of interest and storyboards without needing video editing software. 
  • Rendering More Realistic Models Helps users produce higher quality renderings with new photorealism tools like progressive ray trace, more realistic sun/sky models, and high and low definition range output. 
  • Open Standards Support – Enables user to access CityGML, the standard many municipal bureaus in Europe use to store city data. CityGML data may contain a whole city’s structure (including detailed 3D models), roads, pipes, and textures in different levels of detail. The inclusion of CityGML can greatly improve our user’s ability to incorporate detailed data into their designs that was previously unavailable. 
  • Autodesk 360 Infrastructure Modeler for Mobile Now, infrastructure professionals can share their models as well as specific scenarios in a more secure cloud environment - via Autodesk® BIM 360™ cloud-based services- with public stakeholders who want the ease and convenience of using an iPad® mobile digital device. 
  • Autodesk 360 Infrastructure Modeler for Web The new Web application enables interested parties who are not Autodesk Infrastructure Modeler 2013 users to view models and specific scenarios via a link using their Web browser, giving broader access to project proposals and more. 
We’ve also posted a short fly-through video or a proposed road made with the new Storytelling tools to our YouTube page. The existing ground model and roads were imported via IMX file from Civil 3D and the road used in the fly-through (including light posts, median and intersections) was created directly in AIM R2. The process of setting up the model to producing the recording took about 30 minutes. The quality of this video clip has been lowered so we could post it on the web (down to 3 MB). The original video produced by AIM R2 is just under 3 GB. 

Matt Miyamoto, P.E.
Ideate AEC Application Specialist

Matt is a licensed Civil Engineer in the state of Hawaii. Matt obtained a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and has 7 years of private sector design experience which he applies in his role as an application specialist with Ideate, Inc. His project experience includes residential and commercial site development, private and public sewer, water and drainage systems, harbors improvements, and roadway improvements. While in Hawaii, Matt was involved in multidisciplinary projects for City and County agencies, State Departments, the Army COE and private developers. @MattM_PE

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