Point Clouds
BIM

Best tips for Working with Point Clouds in Revit

3D Laser scanning and Point clouds are becoming much more common place in the design process. This is especially true when working with existing structures, where as-built accuracy is extremely important. Point Clouds can be used as an accurate guide for us to create a Revit model around, and provide real-world context for visualization purposes.

Revit makes it easy to import and work with Point Cloud data. In this blog post, I’ll outline some of the steps and tips to get you going.

Importing Point Clouds into Revit

Point Clouds

Importing Point Clouds into Revit is much like linking a Revit/CAD/IFC file. On the Insert tab under Link, click on the Point Cloud button.

Next, specify the file or files you want to insert. You can choose from:

.rcp Point Cloud Projects file – (a combination of multiple Point Clouds)

.rcs Point Clouds file – (indexed raw format files), or

any of the Raw format Files. If you employ a 3rd Party company to undertake the Laser Scanning for you, they should be able to provide you with a .rcp file.

Next, you have to select the Positioning for inserting your Point Cloud. Again, much like importing Revit/CAD/IFC files, you can choose from Auto – Center to Center, Auto – Origin to Origin, Auto – By Shared Coordinates, or Auto – Origin to Last Placed. How you insert the Point cloud is up to you and depends on the project and Point cloud.

Whatever the case, a good tip is to write down (Ideally within the Revit file) what you did to get your Point Cloud in the correct position, particularly if you inserted a Point Cloud into an existing model. For whatever reason, some times the Point Cloud file or link will get changed and you will have to re-insert the Point Cloud. It’s much easier to insert it back into the exact same place if you know what you did the first time!

Point Clouds

Text note showing the Point Cloud set-out instructions

Displaying Point Clouds

The visibility of Point Clouds is View specific. You can hide or change the appearance of Point Clouds by using Visibility Graphics. Under the Point Clouds tab, you can edit the Color Mode of the Point cloud which changes the appearance of the Points.

Point Clouds

RGB

When the laser scanner shoots points, it also takes a photo by which each point gets assigned a color based off the same point in the photo (Cool huh?!) This is the best Color mode in my opinion and the one I use the most. Basically it looks like a 3D photo which you can walk through! It’s great for 3D views and visuals.

Point Clouds

3D View in RGB Color Mode

Single Color

Single color is self explanatory, the point cloud gets displayed in a single color which you can choose. It’s not very helpful in 3D views, but is great for Plan Views and Sections.

Elevation

This grades each Point color based on its Z value. I don’t really see the point in this option and never use it to be honest.

Intensity

Intensity is a measure of point reflectivity, which can vary depending upon a surfaces texture and angle. This color mode is fairly helpful when differentiating between different surfaces (such as steel vs concrete for instance).

Point Clouds

3d View in ‘Intensity’ Color Mode

Normals

This one is hard to explain, but each point is displayed base on the normal direction of the point. Basically it’s helpful for seeing which angle or plane a surface is on. (The color scheme is built-in and is un-editable)

Point Clouds

3D View in ‘Normals’ Color Mode

Working with Point Clouds

Now that we know how to see and alter the appearance of our Point Clouds, we can start to use them to create our Revit Model. The best way to start is to set-out our Levels and Grids relative to the Point cloud. We do this by creating Plans and Sections with a very small View Range (say 150mm). The larger the View Range the more “fuzz” and interference you will see, too smaller View Range and you won’t see enough Points.

I like to start by cutting a section through the Point Cloud and adding Levels, using the Point Cloud as a guide. As we can see from the section below, we can easily see the Floor level, T.O Columns, and Roof structure.

Point Clouds

 

I then Set out the Grids in a Plan View. As we can see from the Plan View below, we can easily see the Outline of the Columns and Walls.

Point Clouds

And that’s basically how it’s done! Move your Section (with the small View Range) around your Point Cloud so you can see whats going on. Notice how I use ‘Single Color’ Color Mode for the plans and sections, and I make it Red so it stands out. This makes it easier to see the outlines of walls & columns etc.

Section Boxes

Point Clouds are great, but they can slow down your Revit session, especially if you’re navigating in 3D and your Point Cloud is quite Large. Use a section box to zero in on the area you’re working on. This reduces the amount of visible elements that Revit has to process.

Point Clouds Point Clouds


Working with Point Clouds is a great way for us to accurately model Existing structures. Hopefully this blog post has helped you get a grip on how we do it.

If you have any questions, or have some more tips for Working with Point Clouds in Revit then please leave a comment below!

If you found this post helpful, please feel free to share it.

-Talk soon

P.S – I’d love to connect with you on Twitter: here

Join the tribe and Subscribe!


 

Article written by:

Structural Revit Technician and BIM/Drafting Manager from New Zealand. Founder of revitIQ.com

Join the discussion

  1. Pingback: Best tips for Working with Point Clouds in Revit - Revit news

  2. Dwane

    Another Great Tip is to have a Separate Point Cloud Only Revit Project, and put the Point Clouds on a Workset specific to that Cloud.
    We had a Multi-level Building that had each Floor Scanned. We tried having them all on in a Single File – It boggs revit down too much. We ended up assigning each Point Cloud to a different Workset.
    We then linked in that Project, and Thru the Manage Links–>Worksets we could turn the Point Clouds on & off through there worksets.
    If you working on Level 10 – You only need Level 10 Point Cloud on (not all the others).

  3. Cettina Santagati

    Great article, but how to import point clouds into revit family editor?

    • Karl Tanner

      Hi Cettina, you cannot import point clouds into the family editor. But what you can do is import into a new project, model around your point cloud then create a group, then save that group as a family then edit the family in the family editor. I may create a post about this if it will help.
      Kind regards,
      Karl

  4. sharon maxwell

    Best Article, for the Revit..
    Regards,
    Sharon Maxwell
    Revit Training at CETPA

  5. Naruto62

    Good content provided on Revit at this blog
    thanks and do come up with more interesting articles
    Regards,
    Naruto
    Revit Training at Insergo Technologies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *