Setting up your Revit project to model point cloud data

The best format to bring your point cloud directly into Revit will be in *.pcg format – If you are yet to index your files, you may have any of the following files types: *.fls *.fws *.las *.ptg *.pts *.pcx *.xyb *.xyz – If your files are still in one of these raw formats, you will first need to index your files. You can do this directly in Revit, or if you’d prefer, check my old post here to find out how to do it outside of Revit.

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If you are working with point clouds, you are probably aware that setting up the points to be re-modeled properly within Revit is essential. When you import your point cloud by shared coordinates, you are left with a 3D model of your points. Although this may look good, it’s not going to be enough information for you to model the building. What we need to do is set up sections, levels and elevations in order to give us a good chance of capturing all the details.

ImageAs you can see from the image above, when you import a point cloud into Revit, you do not get a very clean view of the model compared to when you view it in a program made for this specific purpose, e.g. point tools.

The first thing that we will do is create a section view on Level 0. Right click and zoom to fit > Draw a section from the left to the right hand side of your screen to ensure you will be intersecting your point cloud. Once you have done this, go to your section. If your point clouds shared coordinates file was set up correctly, you will now see your model in the section view. Unlike 3D views, section views allow you to add levels and elevation tags to your model.

ImageSet up your levels as required. There should hopefully be enough detail at this point to be able to identify where your floor slabs are starting and where your ceilings are located. Simply create your levels and as normal, you will notice new floor and ceiling plan views appear in your project browser. Once you have you levels set up, it will most likely be necessary to adjust the view range, in order to cut out any noise, or objects in the point cloud that you don’t want modeled in your Revit file – for instance bins, storage etc. I personally like to use 2 plan views for each level – 1 with a low view range and the other with a high view range. This will make it clear which elements are located where in the building. Using sections in certain areas will most likely be compulsory.

ImageNow you have 2 views of each level it will be easy for you to begin modeling the walls, openings etc inside of Revit. As you can see from the image below, just changing the view range makes a huge difference to the same level and is a very important aspect of modeling from a point cloud. If you neglect this, you may well miss vital parts of the building that need to be modeled.

ImageOnce you have started modeling your walls etc you will probably come across certain objects for example beams and columns which need to be modeled. Although, of course Revit has standard beams and columns in the generic libraries, I find it better to model these as structural in place components – This way you can recreate a very close replica of the objects in question.

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If you have surveyed the building with a scanner such as a Leica model, you will most likely have TruView files to go along with your .pcg or raw format files – These will come in very useful when you are unsure about how certain objects are joining together etc. Be sure to make use of these files which can be opened in Internet Explorer with a plugin enabled. They are 360* panoramic photos of the areas which have been scanned. (The scanner also photographs the building as the points are being scanned.)

ImageAfter a bit of time and a lot of patience you will eventually see your existing building come to life in Revit. If you are having any troubles with modeling point clouds, feel free to get in contact and ask any questions you may have. I will be posting a blog shortly about jumping geometry (see below) due to positioning of point clouds in relation to shared coordinates – and a solution to fix this problem!

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About Ben Malone

Information Manager for BIM.Technologies in London

7 responses to “Setting up your Revit project to model point cloud data”

  1. agniete says :

    Hi, thank you for the information.
    well, i am new on working with point clouds in Revit. Now i have one .pcg file. I have to make a model from this file. But here is a problem, i have know idea how to work with this thing. i inserted that file, made a plan view, sections, elevations, etc. But here i stopted. How it works? If you could give me some information how to use it for making model i would be very thankful!

    • bimopedia says :

      Hi Agniete,

      If you already have plans and elevations set up, the first thing I would recommend would be to get your floor slabs and ceilings drawn in. Set your view range so you can see the cut planes of the walls and begin to trace over them. It’s a fairly slow process to start with, but once you get used to it you will begin to find your own preferred methods. Good luck and if you have any specific queries get back to me and I’ll try help you out.

      Ben

      • John Shelbourn says :

        Ben I am having problems with the jumping geometry, specifically walls when trying to draw over the point cloud in Revit 2016. Do you have any insight on that issue? Thanks

      • Ben Malone says :

        Hi John, it sounds like your point cloud is located too far away from your project origin. If you imported it by shared coordinates, try and use origin to origin instead. You may have to manually move it into position. Hope that helps.

  2. Shubha says :

    if we have a *.rcs file means how can we open it in Rivet Structures 2014… ? though we linked that *.rcs file in the rivet its invisible in 3d view can anybody resolve it as soon as possible.

  3. Gabriele says :

    Hi Ben,
    We are working on a refurbishment project of quite a big scheme. The only part we will be retaining is an existing facade of multiple buildings with a lot of detailing on the facades. We also need to have an accurate model of the internal skin of the facade after soft strip.
    We are now looking to order the point cloud survey and possibly Revit model created from it by external company. Would it maybe be better that the model is built by the same team who is actually designing the project?
    Thanks in advance for your advise.

    • Ben Malone says :

      Hi Gabriele,

      There may be some advantages to the team who is designing the project to model from the point cloud, but it would depend on their expertise in this area.

      There are many specialist companies out there who can produce this information accurately from a point cloud. If you are based in the UK I can pass on some recommendations.

      Whoever you chose to go with, ensure that they are experienced in providing this service, as it can easily be modelled incorrectly.

      Ben

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