Autodesk is proud to feature Todd Rogers on the AutodeskHelp Expert Elite Highlight blog series again this year, with a step-by-step guide on how to create a vivid and animated project using various Autodesk software. Don't miss the really great SURPRISE shared in this article. Kudos & comments are welcomed! Here we go...
During the 'suites' era, many companies upgraded because it was free. However, not many used the products offered in the suites.
Now that 2016 has come and gone, and so have the suites. We now have the Autodesk Collections which offer much more than the suites.
I'm going to take you through a workflow to use your collection (or suite), to bring your Civil project from a bland 2-dimensional visual to a nice 3D animated model. We will be using Civil 3D, InfraWorks 360 and Civil View (which is inside of 3ds Max). You don’t have to be a 3ds Max expert to do this, you really don’t need to know how to use Max at all.
Let’s get started…
First, let's start in InfraWorks 360. Create a Design Road.I like to use a lot of “relief” in my terrain. It tends to be more realistic. However, depending on your region and your project, this could be rather flat.
Now, we will export this road out to an .imx file.
In the dialog box, select Polygon and then select your road in the model.
Make sure you set a coordinate system. This is important for the process of importing into Civil 3D.
Choose a file location, a file name and then click Export.
AutoCAD Civil 3D
Now we can open Civil 3D. Start a new drawing. Make sure there is NO coordinate system set in the drawing. You will be prompted to assign a coordinate system when you import the InfraWorks model.
On the ribbon, click the Input tab. Click on InfraWorks 360 and choose Open InfraWorks 360 Model…
This will bring up a dialog box. Click the folder to browse to the .imx file you exported out of InfraWorks 360.
You will see a button that says Set a Coordinate System, and a big red circle with an “X” stating Please set a coordinate system beside it.
Click the button to set the coordinate system…
When the dialog box appears, choose Use the InfraWorks 360 model coordinate system [your cs]…
Now you will be back in the first dialog box. Click the Refine Selection Set button at the bottom.
In this dialog box, the only things you need are the Terrain Surfaces and Design Road(s). Un-check everything else.
Click OK, then click Open Model. Your surfaces and an alignment (center of your design road) will be displayed.
Change your surfaces style to _No Display. Do NOT delete them.
On the Home tab of the ribbon, Profile & Section Views panel, select Create Profile View…
This will execute the Create Profile wizard. Choose a Profile Style and click Next. Keep clicking Next until you get to the Profile View Height page. There, you can click Create Profile View. Pick a place for your profile. In the profile you will see the AIW Proposed, AIW Existing and the name of the Design Road from InfraWorks. In my case, the name of that profile is 15.
Now, we have to create a corridor from the alignment and layout profile. For this lesson, I’m just going to choose the full assembly, Basic Assembly, from the Assemblies – Imperial tab of my Tool Palette…
Place the assembly somewhere in the drawing area. Now, create a corridor from the alignment, the layout profile and Basic Assembly.
Now you need to create a corridor surface using the Top code.
Now we can export out to 3ds Max. This is where the magic happens.
Click on the Output tab of the ribbon. On the Export panel, click Export to 3ds Max.
There will be an export dialog box that appears. In that dialog box is where you will select what you want brought over to 3ds Max. In this article, I’m only bringing in the Corridor. If you want to take your model to the next level, you can bring in all your surfaces as well and assign materials to them. The Corridor will already have the materials assigned from Civil 3D, such as grass, pavement, concrete, etc.
Click Export. Save the file. It will be a .vsp3d file. You might get some warning messages about unconnected link sequence. Not to worry. This will not affect anything.
3ds Max - Civil View
Ok, now let’s open up 3ds Max and make this look realistic with animation.
Once in 3ds Max, click the Civil View tab in the ribbon, then click Start Civil View. This will load Civil View.
Now the under the Civil View tab, you will see more options. Choose Civil View > Civil View Explorer…
When the dialog box appears, double-click the header and it will dock to the right of the screen. Now click on Civil View again, then Geometry Import>Civil 3D (VSP3D) file. Click the Open button and browse to the file you exported out of Civil 3D.
Right-click on Corridors  and choose Select All. If you exported your surfaces out, then do the same for them.Now click OK. Since 3ds Max does not work in coordinate systems, a warning dialog box appears stating that there is a Global Import Shift. Go ahead and accept it by clicking Yes, then Yes again.
Now you should see your corridor. Zoom in by rolling the mouse wheel forward. Notice the materials that came over from Civil 3D…
Remember, I didn’t bring my AIW Existing and AIW Proposed surface in. All you see is the extents of my corridor surface.
Now let’s bring this to life!
Go to the ribbon and click Civil View > Civil View > Object Placement Style Editor.
Once the dialog box is open, click the Parent Shape button, then select the center line of the road…
This is the alignment we are going to use to place objects along the road. The first thing we will add will be some street lights.
Click the Add New Element button.
At the bottom of the dialog box, click the tab for Furniture. I’m using from the Lamp Columns, the 45’ Single Column.
There are several options for placement. First, toggle the radio button for Multiple (Regular Interval) under the Longitudinal Placement section. Second, set an interval. I’m using 200’. Go ahead and click Apply to see how they come in.
In my case, I do not need to assign a rotation, just a horizontal offset. Play around with your horizontal offset to get it exactly where you want it…
Now we are going to Copy and Paste the Object Definition for the opposite side of the road. When you do that, you need to apply a negative (-) value in the offset field and a rotation of 180… Click Apply to see your results. If you are satisfied with the results, then click OK. Do not save the current style when prompted.
Now, let’s place some signage.
Go back to Civil View > Civil View > Object Placement Style Editor. Click the Add New Element button.
At the bottom of the dialog box, click the Signs tab.
Select the Parent Shape button, then select one of the lines in the model space. I’m going to use the centerline again.
Select Miscellaneous. Under the Longitudinal Placement, toggle the radio button for Multiple (Random Station). Change the count to something reasonable. I’m using 20. Depending on how long the road is, will determine how many signs you might want to add. Under the Other Options sections, check the box to Use random object(s) from the selected category. Notice in the screenshot below, my signs are looking at the back of the sign. This means that I need to add a positive offset to move it left…
Apply an offset. Click Apply to check if this is where you want it. NOTE: When using the Random objects checked box, every time you click Apply, it re-randomizes the objects.
Do exactly what we did earlier with the Copy and Paste. Assign a negative (-) offset and a rotation of 180.
Click Apply to see if this is what you want. If so, then click OK and do not save.
You can edit offsets, stations, etc. from the Civil View Explorer. Sometimes when the program randomizes, it might put objects on top of each other, or they might not be offset enough.
Now let’s place some vehicles and animate them!
Go to Civil View > Civil View > Object Placement Style Editor. Click the Add New Element button.
Click the Parent Shape button and select the centerline of the road. At the bottom of the dialog click Cars. Toggle the radio button for Multiple (Random Station), change the offset to 5.5, and check the box to Use random object(s) from the selected category.
One thing we need to add to this that we didn’t add before is the miles per hour. I’m choosing 45. Click apply to make sure your scene looks correct. If not, do the necessary adjustments. To make sure your cars are going in the correct direction, move the “scrubber” to see the animated cars.
If they are going the correct way, then we will need to perform the Copy and Paste again. Once you do that, change the miles per hour (mph) and offset to a negative (-) value, and the rotation to 180. Click Apply and move the “scrubber” to see if you are getting the desired result. If not, tweak to your liking.
Once you got it like you want it, click OK, do not save the style. More than likely you will have some cars on top of each other. Clean them up by selecting one, then moving the Station slider bar in the Civil View Explorer to place it at a different location.
Now for the last and final piece of the puzzle. We are going to create a camera path to move along the road.
Go to Civil View > Civil View > Object Placement Style Editor. Click the Add New Element button.
Click the Parent Shape button and select the centerline of the road. At the bottom of the dialog box, click the Cameras tab. Select the desired camera you want to use. I’m using the Wide Angle Lens, 035mm Lens. Position the camera to your liking. As for the miles per hour, make it slower or faster than you made the cars. The reason for this is that you don’t want to lock on to a car.
Once you have it set, click OK and do not save the style.
Now for the animation. In the upper left corner of the model space, click on Perspective. Then click Cameras, then the camera you used in the Object Placement Style Editor…
Finally, you can view your masterpiece. See below. (download and open the GIF for clearer view HERE)
About Todd Rogers
Todd Rogers is a Technical Specialist and certified Autodesk instructor with over 23 years of experience in teaching, managing, and, providing hardware and software solutions for hundreds of engineering firms throughout the greater Houston, Texas area. He currently works for Graitec USA (formerly Total CAD Systems).
Todd holds the “Autodesk Expert Elite” status - a program to recognize individual community members who have made extraordinary contributions with helping customers by sharing knowledge, providing community leadership, and exemplifying an engaging style of collaboration that drives a healthy and valuable Autodesk customer community.
Some of his hobbies are composing electronic music and customizing Harley Davidsons. Todd has 4 children; all boys. Todd enjoys posting to his personal blog website (civil3dj.wordpress.com), where he shares tips and solutions with Autodesk software.
*Autodesk would like to thank Todd for being a part of the Expert Elite program and making tremendous contributions within Autodesk as well as the Autodesk community. We look forward to many more positive communication and collaboration in this new year! Please don't forget to kudos or comment if you've found this article helpful or enjoyable, and visit AutodeskHelp for articles like this one!
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Mr. Bryan Todd Rogers is a certified Partner Service Expert (P.S.E.) and certified Autodesk instructor with over 23 years of experience in teaching, managing, and, providing hardware and software solutions for hundreds of engineering firms throughout the greater Houston, Texas area. Mr. Rogers has a proven track record of success for implementing technology to engineering firms to speed up production and accuracy for a large increase of ROI. In 1995, Mr. Rogers began his professional career after graduating from the Art Institute of Houston where he earned his degree in Computer Aided Drafting and Design. Today, Mr. Rogers is a valued member of the Infrastructure Support Division (ISD) for Total CAD Systems, Inc., Houston, Texas, where he works as a Technical Specialist and an Autodeks Certified Instructor.
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