3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 03 - Exporting and Linking Workflows

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  • Design Visualization
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
10 min

3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 03 - Exporting and Linking Workflows

Before you start working on full scenes, you'll use simple geometry to understand the various workflows for transporting data between Revit and 3ds Max.


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


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In this movie, you take a look at various ways to export data from Revit to 3ds Max.

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If you have Revit installed, start it up and open the provided file named walls.rvt

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If you don't have Revit installed, just follow along until it's time you need to interact with 3ds Max.

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Take a look at the scene. It's a very simple scene with just a few objects, a few walls, doors and windows.

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You can orbit around using ViewCube or simply using Shift + middle mouse button.

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The first rule to follow before you send information from Revit to 3ds Max is that the Revit workspace needs to be in a 3D view.

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So if you were to temporarily switch to any 2D view, make sure you're back in a 3D view before proceeding.

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To send data to 3ds Max, you can use one of three methods:

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If you are using one of the later versions of Autodesk Revit and 3ds Max, you can use a method called Suite Workflow.

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It's a very easy process that requires a few simple clicks.

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You can then choose a template for exterior or interior renderings.

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When you run the tool, you are prompted for a destination link.

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This can be a new scene in 3ds Max, an existing scene or you can choose an active scene if 3ds Max is already running.

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Data will be updated by default although there are other options to choose from.

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When you click on Continue, the information is sent to 3ds Max.

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Although this method is easy to use, it is not always necessarily the best way to proceed.

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For one thing, it is only available if you have a recent version of Revit.

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Also, it is the slowest interaction method between the two applications.

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More importantly, it translates all Revit components into separate objects in 3ds Max, making them a little hard to manage.

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You'll notice that every wall, door, and window is a separate object.

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It's not too bad in a small scene like this, but it can be a hassle in larger scenes.

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Reset 3ds Max. The other method of importing Revit data into 3ds Max is to link directly to the .rvt native format.

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This can be useful if you need to open a Revit file even if you don't own Revit.

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In 3ds Max, all you need is to use the Import > Link Revit function to link to the .rvt file.

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This method works well, but still takes a fairly long time to process as 3ds Max needs to translate the Revit data into something it can understand.

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Attach the file and proceed to dismiss all the dialogs.

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The third option you will learn about is the one you will adopt for this tutorial.

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It relies on FBX interoperability. It's faster than the other methods and is quite convenient when you understand how it operates.

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Go back to Revit. To export a revit model to the .fbx file format, first ensure you are in a 3D view.

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You can then use the Export > FBX feature to give your file a name.

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Name it mywalls.fbx

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If you don't have Revit, a similar file named walls.fbx is already provided.

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Go back to 3ds Max and use Import again, only this time, use the Import > Link FBX method.

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Choose the walls file (either your own or the one provided to you) and then click Open.

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The Manage Links dialog appears.

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Here, you have a choice to combine elements based on your preferred criteria.

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Leave the Combine by Material option active and attach the file.

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You are prompted to create a Daylight System, click Yes for now and dismiss the Links dialog when done.

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This is a small scene, so it does not take very long to load although it is significantly faster than the other two methods.

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If you're using 3ds Max or 3ds Max Design 2015, you will see a Scene Explorer to the left hand side of the screen.

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This is a new feature in 3ds Max 2015 and makes scene management easier.

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Normally, this window is docked to the left side of the interface.

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It's sort of like having a better version of the Select from Scene dialog.

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Let's take a look at the scene: You chose to combine Revit elements by their materials.

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This means all objects sharing the same material come in as a single object.

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In this case, all door panels come in as one object, and all door frames come in as a separate object.

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All window glass panels have been combined as a single mesh, and the same is true for their frames.

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The walls are interesting as they are made of three entities.

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the reason for that is that the material for the outside of the walls is made of bricks,

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the inside of gypsum boards and a third material defines the tops, bottoms and sides.

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Combining objects by Material makes sense as you can redefine the material and have it update all elements assigned with it.

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In some cases, you may prefer to combine entities differently.

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Reset 3ds Max and link to the same FBX file one more time.

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You may notice an .fbm folder that shares the file name.

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This folder gets expanded to include all media files (such as bitmaps) associated with the scene file.

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When prompted this time, use the Combine by Category method and attach this file.

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Dismiss the Daylight System warning and the Link dialog.

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Here you'll notice two things:

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First, there is the inevitable annoying little bug that always falls through the cracks. The Scene Explorer gets undocked and moves to the top left corner.

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This happens every time you link or update an FBX or RVT file.

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You can leave it floating or dock it again, but it will move the next time you link or update a file, as mentioned.

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It's certainly an annoying little quirk but nothing that prevents you from doing your work properly.

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The other thing you'll notice is that combining objects by category simplifies the scene greatly:

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All the walls come in as one object, all doors and all windows are combined likewise.

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Note that door panels and door frames are all combined as a single object as the panels and frames are part of the door category.

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Reset 3ds Max one final timem

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and this time try the Revit Family Type option:

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This is somewhat like Category but with a twist: It still combines objects by category, but it also does so by sub-category or "Family Type".

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In this case, there are two door dimensions of 30"-wide and 36"-wide.

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Although they are part of the same category, they are of distinct "family types" and they are combined accordingly.

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The wider doors come in as one object and the narrower doors as a separate object.

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The same thing holds true for the two types of windows involved.

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Any one of these three methods of combining objects works well.

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I personally favor the Family Type method but you might feel differently as you develop your own workflows.

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Try not to use the "Combine as One Object" or the "Do not Combine" methods as I find that they make scene management harder than it needs to be.

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Of course, whether you use Suite Workflow, or link to an .rvt or .fbx file, you keep a live link active between Revit and 3ds Max.

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This means you can go back to Revit and make a design change,

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and export back to the same .fbx file you saved earlier.

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In 3ds Max, you can check for changes by using References > Manage Links to get back to the Links dialog after closing it.

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In the Files tab, a red flag indicates that the linked file has changed, and you can then reload it.

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Sure enough you have new bigger windows on the walls and since they're on a separate family type, they come in as one object.

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With these basic principles explained, it is time to move to a more complex, more complete architectural design.

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This is what you do in the next movie.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
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