Autodesk Digital Prototyping Forum 2011


If you can’t attend AU this year, and you are missing the AUGI CAD camps, then I hope that you managed to get to Autodesk’s Digital prototyping forum in Birmingham (UK).

This is the second year that Autodesk have run the DP Forum, and they are really hitting their stride. I was particularly impressed with Steve Bedder and Robin Oldroyd’s presentation on the Product Design Suite of software. Steve and Robin have really got to grips with how all the various software products come together and can be used in conjunction with each other (Even Mudbox!).

My only disappointment this year was that there wasn’t a lot of input from Autodesk users – maybe the slip up last year put the team from Autodesk off…

This year’s DP forum came hot on the heals of BIM Show live. Having wangled my way into demonstrating Inventor at a BIM conference, I was honoured to introduce Andrew Handley, an Architect, to DP forum. I thought that Andrew’s take on the day would provide an interesting counterpoint, and he graciously accepted the offer to write a guest post for the CAD Setter Out. Over to you Andrew!


DPForum 2011 – An Architects take on Engineering solutions

I was lucky enough to attend the second annual Autodesk Digital Prototyping Forum at Aston Villa Stadium with Paul Munford (@Cadsetterout). During the day I was surprised and delighted when Paul asked if I would like to write a guest blog post about the day.

Digital Prototyping Forum 2011 - Steve Bedder

As an architect and long time user of Autodesk software, I’m well aware there are people that design and document things other than buildings, but beyond the odd session at Autodesk University this was the first time i’d spent a day immersed in the world of design with Inventor at the centre as opposed to Revit.

The Digital Prototyping Forum followed the inaugural BIM Live Show at the Business Design Centre London, where Paul was speaking while trying to ignore my iPhoneography. Attending the events back to back provided an interesting compare and contrast that strengthened the idea that the Building in BIM is the verb not the noun. We’re all regardless of area and discipline increasingly modelling, generating and extracting information from which to build.

Vicki Butler Henderson was MC for the event. We don’t get celebrity MC’s at AEC events; or not that I can remember. It worked and actually provided a welcome foil to the presentations. Further light relief was provided by quiz questions such as, ‘Name the Autodesk software used to model Gollum’. Answers were given by delegates via electronic handsets.

I was impressed with the demonstrations of sketch design tools such as Sketchbook Designer and the way they can be used in the early design stages. Sketchbook Designer is included in all the Autodesk Building Design Suites, but I have not yet heard any reports of it being used.

The demonstration during the ‘Digital Requirements Gathering & Concept Design’ breakout session, eloquently highlighted the potential of Sketchbook Designer, Mudbox and Alias for early stage design. There are Autodesk mobile app equivalents of Sketchbook on iOS and Android and Mudbox on iOS, yet these barely got a mention until the closing session.

Autodesk Mobile Apps

The eco materials selection tools built into Inventor raised my hopes that increasing exchange of data and models with Revit might lead to more accurate energy analysis, understanding of embodied energy and ultimately building life-cycle.

Filling order books earlier with visualisation was discussed, be it via the improved rendering native to Inventor or increasingly using 3D Studio Max, now included in 2 of the 3 of the Product Design Suites. Visualisation to sell design is very familiar to architects but thinking about it as a way of filling the order book earlier is a new perspective.

Visualisation was linked to a broader view of digital asset creation and the ability to repurpose digital assets, in this case for use in Inventor Publisher creating what as an architect I would call O&M manuals. This was great stuff and the comments I heard during the day bemoaning the lack of inclusion in the Product Design Suites made a lot of sense. I could see a use for Inventor Publisher in AEC, especially as IPM files are an export option in Autodesk Labs ‘Project Photofly’, allowing models to be viewed on iOS and Android devices.

A presentation of Factory Design Suite! sarcastically I thought, ‘this is going to be very…well, niche’. I was wrong and have to confess to being impressed. There were elements such as the focus on robots that are niche, however this is exactly the purpose of attending events like the Digital Prototyping Forum; an opportunity to hear about a broader range of design applications. Fundamentally Factory seems to be about documenting workflows and processes, this was demonstrated by the fact a ship building firm is using Factory Design for parts of their design process.

The geekout session of the day was attending the ‘Design Automation and Rules Based Design’ session, presented by Steve Bedder of Autodesk. Essentially an hour of iLogic voodoo from Steve with Paul providing a running commentary and mild smugness that something so simple, accessible and yet powerful would be a welcome addition to the Revit Family Editor.

The closing session by Keith Perrin covering Autodesk Futures closed the day. I always enjoy hearing Phil Bernstein of Autodesk speak and Keith’s presentation was equally inspiring.

There were no earth shattering revolutionary announcements, just an eloquently concise demonstration of Autodesk’s evolution and incubation of ideas. Key ideas presented included, empowering everyone not just the power users, which we are starting to see with the democratisation of design tools via app stores, both desktop and mobile. Solver technologies that increasingly are cloud based so again democratising tools and reducing or removing cost as a determining factor of innovation.

Thank you Paul for being my guide and thank you Autodesk for a great event. I look forward to hopefully attending the Digital Prototyping Forum 2012.

P.S. The answer to the Gollum question is Mudbox.

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