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Bringing Your Architectural Vision To Life With Cinema 4D Architectural Version

Part 2: How C4DA works with Graphisoft's ArchiCAD 11 to make creating your architectural visualization faster than lightning By Kevin McAuliffe

In the first of my two part series (Part 1), I looked at how to take a CAAD drawing from an older version of Autocad, and import it into Cinema 4D Architectural edition (C4DA), and I had mentioned that it was "The Long Way" to work. In this article, I'm going to show how C4DA works with Graphisoft's ArchiCAD 11 to make creating your architectural visualization faster than lightning.
The work is on the architect's shoulder's AKA The short way
The short way of working through the same procedure is to have the Architect (in this case my father), do all the design work, and really leave no thinking or design work for me to even think about, and as I had mention for this process, we are going to use ArchiCAD 11 from Graphisoft. ArchiCAD is a CAAD program that works in not only 2D but 3D space as well, and what I wanted to do was to have my father create the first floor of a house, so that I could show you how easy it is to import a file from ArchiCAD, add some textures, and then do a virtual walkthrough of the first floor, which is perfect for not only my fathers line of work, but also is a great selling tool for real estate agents who want people to be able to watch a walkthrough of a house from across the city, or across the world, to decide whether they want to buy.
First, you will need to make sure that the Cinema4D plug-in is installed on the computer running ArchiCAD. If you are an ArchiCAD user and are looking to download the plug-in, you can find it here.

Once installed, you will see a Cinema 4D format type when you navigate to "SAVE AS". Next, exporting the file from ArchiCAD is as simple as navigating to FILE>SAVE AS. Once the "Save As" window appears, click on the drop down menu, and select "Cinema 4D" as the file type, and then press "Save". Before the file saves, you are greeted with an option screen that looks like this.

For what I am working on, I want everything differentiated by "Material", so I will make sure that option is selected. Also, since there are no lights or cameras in the CAAD drawing, I will make sure that my father has those boxes unchecked. Once my father has saved his file and e-mailed it to me, I can open C4DA, navigate to FILE>OPEN, and select the desired file, and press OK. I now have the drawing exactly as it was in ArchiCAD.

Before I move ahead, I wanted to show the differences between the two saving options when saving in ArchiCAD. The first one, "Class", when saved gives you access to each "Class" of element in C4D. What I mean by this is that the Roof is a "Class", therefore, it is one polygon element. The Walls are also a "Class", therefore they are one polygon element. Obviously, the problem with this is that I can't texture one "class", without texturing them all.

Depending on what you are doing, this method might work for you, but for me, I want access to all the parts of the house that have different materials applied to them as individual elements, so I had my father save the document with "Materials" grouped, that way, I have access to each individual material item from within C4DA.

One other thing I want to point out is that my father and I were e-mailing the drawings back and forth, and I noticed a bit of a bug when transferring from the PC to the Mac. Any time my father would attach the file and send it to me (he's using Hotmail, I'm using G-Mail/Thunderbird), the file would corrupt itself. The workaround was to take the .ac4d file (which is the format ArchiCAD exports the file in) and zip (or compress using another method) the file, and once it was e-mailed that way, we had no problems.

 Looking at the drawing from the perspective of the outside of the house might make the house seem very basic and rudimentary, but the outside of the house is not my concern. I want to do a virtual walkthrough of the house on the inside. The outside is there just as a shell, to contain what I really want to show, and let me tell you that I was blown away by what ArchiCAD transferred over. Not only did I get the house, wall, etc, I got all the appliances, cupboards and furniture that my father had included in his drawing. It was pretty spectacular to say the least. Now that I have my ArchiCAD drawing imported, I'm going to add materials from C4DA's Material Manager, and add lights and environment to give my house a unique look.

If I wanted to, I could replace or add objects into my scene using the included objects in the C4DA bundle, but for the virtual walkthrough, I'm going to go with everything provided from ArchiCAD. Also, I'm going to remove all my lighting and environment for the purposes of this article, as those two elements (mostly the environment), depending on your system, add up to long render times.

Creating the virtual walkthrough is just as easy as everything else in C4DA, and there's a couple of ways you can work through it. You can record your animation in one pass with movement and head turns, or you can do it in two passes. First with just movements and second with rotation (head turns). I'm going to do everything with all the movements recorded into one. The actual navigation itself is quite easy, and I felt like I was playing one of my first-person shooter video games. You will use the W,A,S and D keys to control Forward, Left, Back and Right respectively, and you will use Q and E to control Left and Right head turn respectively. There are also hot keys to control start and stop recording, and they are V and B respectively. Finally, you can also zoom in and out using everyone's favorite I and O keys to control In and Out. Here is what the pass looked like before I rendered out my final animation.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, so here is my final render.

I have to say that I was completely blown away by how easy it was to get all the data over from ArchiCAD to C4DA, and the end result is amazing. At the end of the day, if I was working with an architect (which I am), ArchiCAD and C4DA is absolutely the way I would go to do any and all architectural visualization.

The Architectural edition of Cinema 4D is a truly excellent and remarkable program that is almost essential for anyone doing any type of architectural visualization. It is also a must have for anyone who works in the television, telephone or telecommunications field, as I know first hand how many videos and shows that are done that show telephone, television and other signals coming into people's homes. It can also be used for television and film pre-visualization in conjunction with ArchiCAD to show what scenes in movies or TV shows will look like, before a frame of film (or HD tape) is ever shot.

I want to thank Maxon for letting me take Cinema 4D Architectural edition and put it through it's paces. For someone who had never really used a "true 3D" program, I have to tell you that everything that I created in my modeling was done using my determination and the instruction manual. I also want to thank Graphisoft for letting me (and my father) show you how easy it is to have C4DA and ArchiCAD 11 work hand in hand to create excellent results. For more information on Cinema 4D, you can download a free 30 day demo at www.maxon.net. For more information on ArchiCAD, you can download a free 30 day demo at www.graphisoft.com, and for more information on architectural design for home renovations in the Toronto, Ontario area, you can contact my father, Patrick McAuliffe of Residential Drafting Services at [email protected] .

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Kevin P McAuliffe is currently a Senior Video Editor working in HD post production in Toronto, Canada. He has been in the television industry for 12 years, and spends his days onlining on a Final Cut Pro HD. Kevin's high definition onlining credit list includes concerts for Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, Snow Patrol, Sum41, Paul Anka, Il Divo and Pussycat Dolls, to name a few. Also, Kevin is an instructor of Advanced Final Cut Studio 2 at the Toronto Film College. If you have any questions or comments, you can drop him a line at [email protected]

Related Keywords:CAAD, CAD, computer aided design and drafting,

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