In the last 6 to 18 months, the 3D collaboration and visualisation world has exploded with new software solutions to make life easier. The latest contender is from a startup based in Cambridge called Modelo. Modelo is a cloud based service that allows you to view 3D models that have been optimised for your web browser, giving you the ability to view models on almost any device with a data connection. Being a cloud based service, the recipient of your model doesn’t even need to own viewing software as the model is comes to you through a series of tube and viewed entirely on the line.
You can upload any Revit, SketchUp or Rhino file to Modelo, the original file is converted to an optimised format for viewing is generated. The original file is kept on the Modelo servers, however there is the option to delete the original file after the optimised file has been created.
Modelo is impressively fast for a browser based model viewing platform. You can share models with clients and the design team no matter where they’re located, allowing the team to annotate models and discuss through an online chat system.
It’s not collaboration in the league of Revizto, It’s collaboration made simple.
The commenting functionality is extremely well thought out, with ability to cut 3D sectional views or attach 2D images such as photos or plan views, comments can be kept private or flagged as ‘client ready’ so when you share your model on the client ready comments are displayed.
Camera locations are remembered in the comments as well, meaning that when a comment is selected, the model seamlessly flies around to the view the comment was created in so you see exactly what the person making the comment sees.
You can even adjust basic settings within the model, such as turning layers on and off (it uses Revit worksets) and even adjusting the location of the sun to change shadow detail in realtime. Of course with just simple sliders and the model not being located in any real space it’s a rough guide rather than daylight and shadowing simulation but the future potential is obviously there for Modelo.
Sharing a model is as easy as sharing a file in any cloud based hosting service, it’s as simple as a few clicks and share a link. When sharing a model you have options to restrict who can view the model and who can see model comments.
Sharing the model also has the ability to embed the model as an iframe, you may not realise this but iframes are not just something that can be embedded within websites, but with a plugin like iSpring or LiveWeb you can even embed the live models directly into a Powerpoint presentation.
The example above is a small part of a project that I’ve been working on for around 12 months now. The project involves a building structure on a bridge deck which has been constructed of spans of supertee structure, the bridge team working on the project were not working in Revit so that supertee structure that you’re seeing is actually a DWG file embedded within a Revit family which has come across quite nicely. To get the colours to come through, you will need to have materials applied to your modelled elements which in this instance I have applied at a piping system level.
On top of all the collaboration features, Modelo also gives you the ability to create a virtual reality model from a Revit model. Check out the transformation from Revit to VR in the video below, Eli from Modelo demonstrates just how easy it is, going from Revit to VR in 120 seconds.
All this is great, but what about this new fangled on the line technology? Won’t everything fall over when the data connection drops out? Well Modelo have this figured out, one the 3D model is loaded into your browser, Modelo can still be used to present regardless of if you have a data connection or not.
Finally, what does it cost? Well if you’re a personal user, it’s free. You’re limited to a single user, 5gb of storage and a maximum model upload size of 50mb. At the free tier you can still share and collaborate with others as well as create VR models. For small businesses of up to 10 users, Modelo will set you back $25 per user per month but you also get bumped 1tb of storage and model uploads of up to 1gb per model. If you need more than 10 licences you can contact Modelo for enterprise pricing as well.
I’ve only been using Modelo for a short while but I already love it. I actually prefer it to Autodesk’s web based offering. The simplicity and execution really hits the mark.