Next year’s model – same as this year but with more detail

By Matt Pennell, BSL 2014 Conference producer

Hello and welcome back to BIM Show Live. This year’s event will take place in late April at Manchester Central. Preparations for the event are well underway and we’ll fill you in on what’s in store later. Many of you will have noticed that 2014 has started with a splurge of commentary on BIM in our sister title Building. Everyone in project teams now has a perspective on BIM, how it relates to their job or indeed the wider world. So it’s subject more talked about than ever.

We know that Government policy is a driver of BIM use, but on top of the Morrell mandate a fast evolution in software and hardware is changing BIM too. Two technology trends are set to have a major impact on BIM. The New Scientist recently ran a piece on the next generation of TV – Ultra High Definition TV, otherwise known as 4KTV as it uses 4,000 lines. UHD is four times sharper and clearer than current HD TV. As with most new technologies the price of a brand new UHD TV is high and sales are only expected to be in the tens of thousands this year, however observers predict that UHD TV will be standard across the industrial world by 2020. Where TV leads computer monitors will follow.

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Ultimate Play the Game led the way with 3D computer games in the 80s

At the moment software allows for rendering of surfaces to a respectable degree, and is a good way of presenting exteriors to clients. UBM’s own internal research shows that when it comes to interiors however, most people look at intricate FF & E products in a showroom first, even if they buy online later. UHD could be a game changer for architects presenting high-end design rich environments to clients, such as luxury retail, high end resi and 4/5* hotels. Producing a 3D model with a complicated interior layout will be possible, and the image quality should be credible.

Distributing large files with UHD images should be straightforward by 2020 as broadband speeds are set to make a quantum leap. A recent test by BT successfully transferred data between London and Ipswich at a rate of 1.4 terrabits per second – that’s roughly 14,000 times faster than the average Virgin Media broadband rate of 120 megabits per second. We keep hearing about big data, usually in the context of storage, but it won’t be static – soon capacity will be in place to move data around in a way we never imagined before.

3D Modelling is still seen as a bit of a luxury by some sections of the construction industry. I traded office gossip with a Revit technician recently, his civil structural practice hired a young graduate who was in and out of the doors within a few weeks – a 3D modeller who refused to do anything else. My friend observed that this wasn’t a good career move considering most images used by construction managers on site were still in 2D.

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Oscar-nominated Gravity was shot at Shepperton but the CGI was created in Soho – part of a £1Bn hi-tech post production industry in London that has grown exponentially since the first Harry Potter films were digitally enhanced in the UK

How are we to view 3D images? The UK is a world leader in producing 3D images for entertainment – Grand Theft Auto V (made in Edinburgh) and Oscar-nominated Gravity (all CGI produced in London) are prime examples. If UK architects take a lead with 3D modelling will this give them an edge in international markets, or is it a nice cherry on top to present to clients after winning a bid? Opinion will vary on this but at least it’s a technology trend we can see coming.

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