After a long delay, Autodesk's visualization software, VIZ 2005, is finally available for AutoCAD 2004 users, as well as AutoCAD 2005. Development of the software has been moved from the discreet division over to Autodesk's Design Platform division (ie, AutoCAD and related CAD products). The company promises annual updates of the US$1995 VIZ to match the release cycle of AutoCAD.
In a telephone interview today, Autodesk's Michael Woodcox told me that the new VIZ 2005 imports ADT, VIZ Render, LandXML and Inventor files (for Inventor, the exporter is on the Inventor CD).
The layer dialog box is modeless, meaning it can stay on the screen at all times, becoming central to managing scenes. Also new is the Light Lister (for managing lights), the Architectural Materials editor (with 300 materials provided), and Light Assemblies (allowing manufacturers to assemble digital lumineres).
New forms of rendering include Photon Mapping from Mental Ray (simulates scuff marks, rippled floors, etc) and "Render to Texture" which creates bitmaps that are later used in thin-pipe viewing and walkthrus, such as over the Internet. Command-line rendering allows batch rendering.
Autodesk says VIZ has matured in terms of features from the entertainment world, but now needs to be made more friendly towards the CAD world. A version of VIZ currently is included free with Architectural Desktop (called "VIZ Render"), and we assume the product will merge into others, such as AutoCAD and Inventor over the next few years.
With regards to using VIZ with Revit, Liz Armistead tells me, "There is a link between the two. For creating photorealistic visualizations of Revit files, you can use File Link to connect to Revit data by exporting a 3D DWG file from Revit and then linking to the resulting file."