In the last six months it's become commonplace to hear customers say "Model Builder has changed the game." For us at Autodesk, this is more than just validation that we're doing something right. It's the first insight towards the next round of challenges for our customers. If this doesn't make sense right way, keep reading.
Since its release less than a year ago, Model Builder usage has increased rapidly. Today, it helps thousands of InfraWorks 360 users automate the collection of terrain, imagery, road, water, and building data in a single, usable model for various design purposes.
Outside support for Model Builder has become so common, in fact, that the general conversation around InfraWorks 360 itself has drifted away from coordinate systems, data types, and early model creation to subjects such as bridge design, landscape architecture, and site development. Model Builder, by enabling users to fast forward to conceptual design, has single handily changed the conversation around the civil design process.
However, while Model Builder certainly deserves it's due praise for solving many universal problems, there will always be challenges to overcome for a civil designer. As Model Builder usage continues to grow, it will become the baseline expectation for client meetings and public presentations. To differentiate yourself from the competition, you will have to find and add supplementary data to the data that Model Builder provides.
This is what I call Crossing the Chasm. That is, the small additions that help you get from Model Builder to a polished, winning proposal. To that end, I hope this series of articles (this is the first) helps InfraWorks 360 users get past the predictable "what now?!" feeling after Model Builder has finished. These tips and tricks should be useful for new users as well as experienced vets trying to stay in front of the curve.
Let's talk improved imagery. The aerial imagery in Model Builder is fairly decent 1-meter quality. This is a great starting point, but again, it's the starting point for all Model Builder users. Thus, you may want to consider downloading true orthoimagery (that is, aerial imagery that’s as geospatially correct as a 2D map) with a superior resolution. For example, those working on projects within the United States can easily download free, USGS .3-meter color orthoimagery at http://nationalmap.gov/viewer.html.
To add new data to a model for an improved look at feel:
- Open the Data Sources panel in InfraWorks 360
- Delete the existing data (in this case, imagery)
- Drag and drop the new data into the model
- Right click on the newly added files and configure your new data
You can use the same workflow for other data types, as well. For example, Model Builder will occasionally produce models with sparse building and structure data. To supplement this, follow these simple steps:
- Search city and state online GIS portals (or use the USGS site linked above) to find more complete building data sets
- Use the Data Sources panel in InfraWorks 360 to swap the old for the new (as in the previous example)
To go one step further, consider randomizing building heights. To do this:
- Right click on the building data source
- Select configure data
- Change the height value to math.random()*12+12.
For the icing on the cake, pair randomized heights with a variety of building facades for a much more realistic look. Finally, to learn more about the newly released production version of Model Builder, watch the demonstration here:
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