3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 12 - Linking to an Existing Scene

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Last modification: 5 Apr, 2019
  • Design Visualization
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
9 min

3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 12 - Linking to an Existing Scene

In this tutorial, you import the Museum modeled in Revit and link it to an existing scene modeled in 3ds Max. This would be a good time to test the link preset you created as the Max scene already has lighting and cameras set up.





  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2015
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2015 or higher.


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In the last few movies, you have learned how lights and cameras transfer between Revit and 3ds Max.

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In some cases, it is important to have that information coming from Revit, in others, lights and cameras may already be set up.

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In this movie, you'll explore that scenario by linking the museum model into an already existing scene.

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In 3ds Max, open the file named: "CityBlock.max".

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If you're a regular on this channel, you might recognize this scene. It shows part of a city, complete with roads, construction lots and buildings.

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There are some additional elements hidden from view at this time such as traffic lights, stop signs, bus stops and others.

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Although you can't currently see them in the viewport, they are set to show at render time.

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That's courtesy of an option named Render Hidden Geometry that you can enable in the Render Setup dialog.

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More importantly, you'll also notice that the scene already contains a Daylight System, set for an early afternoon render.

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Other adjustments such as exposure control and a background have already been set.

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Because a daylight scenario is already in place, you wouldn't want to add another daylight system coming from Revit.

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Also, there are a couple of camera shots already defined, and you will be creating and animating others later on.

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For that reason, you don't absolutely need to include cameras coming from Revit either.

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Therefore, you will import and link the museum you worked on previously but you will use the Link preset you created in the last movie.

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This way, you ensure you bring in all geometry but discard any cameras or Daylight Systems that are stored in the FBX file.

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In Revit, you can use the file named: "05-Museum_final.fbx"

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You need to export this file as an fbx file. You can also simply use the FBX file named 05-Museum_final.fbx that was provided to you.

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In 3ds Max, ensure the 3D view is set to Perspective.

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Use Views > Restore Active Perspective View to get back to the original shot of the city.

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Import and Link the museum file you saved as an fbx file. As mentioned a second ago, you can also use the file named 05-Museum_final.fbx

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However, make sure you select the preset you created earlier.

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If you remember, you set this one to discard Revit Daylight Systems and cameras, and to also retain any material changes done in 3ds Max.

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Attach the file to the scene. After a few seconds, the museum is imported.

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Dismiss the Manage Links dialog and dock the scene explorer back to the left side if you need to.

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Zoom in on the model in the top view. If you want, press F3 to see the view in shaded mode.

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The museum comes in part of a hierarchy, with the main node acting as a parent.

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This makes it easy to relocate the museum where you need it, in this case the gray empty lot near the center.

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With the cursor hovering over the top view, press Alt+W to maximize that view.

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You'll notice that the imported geometry is at a slight angle, 6 degrees to be exact,

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This is how the architect set his Revit scene before rotating it.

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No matter; with the main parent still selected, use the Rotate tool to rotate the museum 6 degrees on the Z-axis.

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Zoom in a bit more and use the move tool to center the project on the empty lot as best you can.

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As part of his design, the architect planned the plaza to be sunk under the sidewalk level.

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Unfortunately, the lot's surface itself, which is at the same level as the sidewalks, is cutting through the plaza space.

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You'll need to make a hole where the gray paving stones are laid.

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In the top view, go ahead and select the existing ground surface and go to the Modify panel.

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Enter Polygon mode and then select the construction lot.

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You need two vertical cuts to subdivide this surface, in order to get rid of the center piece.

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Use the QuickSlice tool to specify two points defining a vertical line along the left edge of the plaza.

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Use the F3 toggle to see which display mode works better for you.

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Repeat for another slice at the right edge of the plaza. The surface is now divided into three parts.

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Exit QuickSlice mode and select the center surface; and then delete it. Exit Polygon mode when done.

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Maximize the perspective view and zoom in on a corner of the plaza.

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It's a little bit high because the top of the plaza is set to two feet above level 0, and the lot is only about 6 inches high.

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Select the FBX root again, and then move the museum down on the Z-axis.

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A value of about -1'8" should work nicely.

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The plaza surface has its own material defined in Revit, but here, you want to use the existing paving stone material.

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Open the Material Editor.

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Use the Material Picker to sample the plaza's surface. A new material appears.

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It seems to be based on some bitmaps but you can't see that effect in the viewport just yet.

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Select the material and then use Show Shaded Material in Viewport.

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The material appears but the scale is too small. That's not an issue since you are planning to replace it.

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In the Material Editor, ensure the option Move Children is enabled and move the material to the side to make space.

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Use Pick Material again but this time, sample the gray pavers.

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A very long material definition appears. It encompasses all materials used for the road markings, sidewalks and lots.

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The one you are interested in is the one before last. Drag the out socket of that material and drop it on the surface of the plaza.

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It looks good but you can tweak it further to ensure it is aligned with the existing layout.

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Make sure the plaza surface is selected and add a UVW Map modifier. This controls the projection of the bitmap onto the surface.

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Make sure the UVW Map modifier is set to Planar mode and that it is using Real-World Map Size.

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Expand the modifier and select the gizmo.

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Use the Rotate tool and give it a -6-degree rotation in Z.

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It still needs a 90-degree rotation to align itself with the existing pavers.

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Zoom in and fine-tune the Move Y-values for a perfect match.

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Exit Gizmo mode when you are happy with the results.

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This is a good start, but we're not done yet. There are some additional materials to adjust, almost everywhere around the museum.

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You can certainly try to do that in Revit and update the link.

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However, as you get comfortable with 3ds Max's Material Editor, you may find it easier to do that kind of work here.

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This is the approach you will take for the rest of this project.

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In fact, once you know the geometry is finalized, you can opt to "bind" the fbx file to make it a permanent part of the 3ds Max scene.

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Caution, this is something you would do ONLY when you are absolutely certain no more changes need to happen in Revit.

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If that's the case, then you can go back to the Manage Links dialog,

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and under File,

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Bind the linked geometry.

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You get a warning reminding you that updates are no longer possible.

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If you are sure, click Proceed with Bind to make the museum independent from the FBX file.

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This way, you can take the max scene and copy it to another system without needing the fbx file to tag along.

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In the next movie, you adjust more materials around the plaza area.

Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
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