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Revit families

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by RickR, Feb 14, 2018.

  1. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    I am dipping my toe into the Revit waters and hoping not to drown in that vastness. There has been a bit of discussion here so I know some of you deal with this.

    Specifically, I'm hoping someone is willing to share stage curtain and rigging families. Of course anything else theatrical related would be great. I've found ETC has much of their product. But very little else seems to be around from the major manufacturers. (Clancy, H&H, ADC, Stagecraft)

    Are there other useful sources? Audio, Platforms etc? (Seating seems covered)

    TIA!
     
  2. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    The lack of a sort of complete range of "families" is one of the reasons I have not made an effort to transition. I do think Wenger has some and thought Clancy (am I repeating myself) did - but last I looked very hit or miss. I've always imagined were I to get into Revit, I'd have to create my own families. Also, because everyone tkes it literally, you'd really need to do a "glass box" around for instance a traveler curtain on a counterweight set - from floor to high trim - so someone didn't run a roof drain under it or between the parted halves. Just dealing with things being in two places - like a orchestra shell - is not something that Revit deals with very well. Not to mention it still cant do a theatre floor. Grrr.

    On the other hand, you might make a good business out of creating Revit families for a broad range of theatre equipment - as a lot of consultants are facing this - and therre might be a market.
     
  3. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    A market? I wonder if Landru Designs would want a commission for copying Vectorworks SoftGoods.

    The fact that there is so much missing made me think someone must have dealt with this before! Hmm, perhaps a "Keep Clear" object? From pit floor to rafters, apron to back wall!

    (edit) I just went back to Clancy/Wenger and found they do have manual and motorized rigging stuff. Not sure how I missed it before.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2018
  4. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    Just found this for you Bill. Maybe technology is improving.
    upload_2018-2-14_15-21-49.png
     
  5. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Usually you're best off building your own content. Manufacturers are great about dumping all kinds of data and logos and screw heads into the details of their Revit families and it doesn't make the design process any faster and just bogs down the model.

    Don't even bother dragging a Source Four family from ETC into your model. Pretty sure they made their Revit content by regurgitating their 3D Solidworks fabrication files. By the time you have a few dozen of those in your model theres so much linework that your model takes forever to load. I'm not just talking about the time it takes to open -- every time you switch between views or sheets it has to re-render all of that linework again. Useless for anyone who isn't on anti-anxiety meds or anti-depressants.

    It really comes down to what your design workflow is and what you're trying to accomplish. If you want something you can quickly drag into a model times 30 that you only need to show in section -- that's fundamentally different than something that'll be used in weekly clash detection sessions that'll need to be accurate in all 3 dimensions with clearance zones to keep the other construction disciplines out of your way or that you can use for 3D sight line studies from representative audience positions. Important to note: just because you put it in the model correctly with a clearance zone doesn't actually prevent a fire protection contractor from taking artistic liberties in the field.

    If you want content that can do double duty -- that can be represented both in stored position and in show position for the purpose of doing sight line studies -- that's another layer of complexity. If want something that you can host lighting fixtures to or that looks good not only in 3D but shows up appropriately in plan and section -- that's also another layer of complexity.

    I home-brewed my own content that is all based at the plaster line, and uses parameters to position the battens, lift lines, curtain tracks, curtain ropes, trim positions, and so forth so that I my curtain/track/batten schedules are all automatically generated. To make it work though I had to do quite a bit to trick Revit into letting me do it this way. If I got hit by a bus tomorrow I pity the guy who has to come in after me to figure out how that content actually works.

    Rigging content is by far the hardest to accommodate. My most commonly used 5-6 families are simple extruded rectangles that through a process I put together with an Excel spreadsheet can represent 150+ devices and automatically populate all of the data on what that device is and how it's installed into a schedule.

    If it's a TV, it has a viewing cone that shows up on plan, certain schedulable/calculated parameters others don't (aspect ratio, distance from wall, tilt, etc). So I loaded up that family with the top 10 sizes of TV's I use.

    If it's a connector panel, it can be flush or surface mount by checking a box, and I have pre-sorted list of 50 sizes of back boxes I use regularly with codes that automatically populate to the device tags to indicate what they are and how they are mounted. If it's connector strip or a plug box, it's the same family as the one I just talked about except it has different schedulable and preset parameters for circuit numbers, plug types, receptacle quantities/types, circuit numbering, associated dimmer/relay panel name, etc. It absolutely does not show the geometry for the actual receptacles or pigtails -- there is no reason for that.

    Resist the urge to think more than a few people have dealt with this before. With exception to a handful of consultants (ARUP & Fisher Dachs come to mind), I would estimate most theater specialties consultants and contractors are still operating in AutoCAD or VW based on 2D plans and sections the architect exported for them out of Revit. There are probably more AV consultants that have dealt with this than rigging/lighting consultants because of the steep, highly custom, and highly project-specific learning curve associated with rigging & lighting. (Congratulations on building that content for your custom GALA spiralift system for that one project! You can rest peacefully knowing you'll never need to touch that one ever again!)
     
  6. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    That all sounds much like the argument between 2D & 3D. Back in the paper days I did just fine with a template with less than a dozen outlines and I did quickie plots with 3 kinds of arrows. Now all the young ones want an exact outline by model version number. I note that the Vectorworks S4 symbols are pretty plain. I just looked at the ColorSource Par that seems similar, but that clamp is a work of art and the line thickness is doing weird things. :stumped:

    My typical project is a high school/community center for a small town, so the needs are simple compared to pro facilities. Basic battens, curtains and lights and keep the HVAC ducts and sprinker pipe out of the way!

    I really like your idea of plasterline/ centerline referenced battens. I'd love to buy you a few beers and learn all about it, but it sounds like I'll still be building stuff come LDI. :( Care to suggest a form of bribery?
     
  7. BillConnerFASTC

    BillConnerFASTC Well-Known Member

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    Centerline, plasterline, floor. 0,0,0 of any stage. All my 2d views are based on that.

    Michael got it right on why Revit is not popular among theatre consultants - almost unanimously. Not many building types have floors, walls, and roofs that slope and step and curve as much as theatres, nor things that move and occupy different spaces.
     
  8. rwhealey

    rwhealey Active Member

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    We have found that our clients (architects) expect us to work in Revit. We started the transition by offering clients a discount if they let us work in CAD. So far, no one has taken the discount.

    I love working in both plan and section at the same time - I put the plan on one monitor and the section on the other. Being able to cut a section anywhere has let me catch a few things that would have been big headaches in the field. I have also found it much easier to create simple coordination sketches. So far I have enough families to make our Revit drawings look like our old CAD drawings. This is reasonably inefficient - my next step is to start building families like Mike describes, that automatically populate schedules and automate some of the process.

    EDIT: Edit to add that I think I was among the first graduating class or two of Architectural Engineering students to go through my entire program with no AutoCAD! That was a few years ago now. All drawing work done in classes was done in Revit. If you are hiring new grads from engineering programs, expect to have to train them in AutoCAD if that is your drawing method of choice.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2018
  9. RickR

    RickR Well-Known Member

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    That's the word we are getting. Get Revit or else!

    My newest project has curved stairs forming the seating floor, broken by normal stair aisles and some flat floor. Seems workable for a simple conic section. Elliptical or multi-curve would be harder. Actual sloped curves are bear in any tool. I've always taken the approach of drawing something like it would be built, and those aren't easy to build either.

    I'm willing to share my new families in hopes of encouraging others to share. I'm thinking my first set will be a plain batten, but with lift lines to fill that void. Then box boom single pipe and some curtain tracks and draperies. Certainly keeping the details low is important and balancing the number of parameters vs flexibility is battle. Stacking space for travelers has been a problem with the uneducated clients and owners, so I'll do something with that, but I'm not sure what.

    Any requests or suggestions are very welcome.
     

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