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Autodesk Conference London: 4 Divisions

By [email protected] - 26th October 2006 - 20:25

Every conference provides a unique impression. The Autodesk Conference - London, UK this week provided many opportunities for new thoughts. As each of 4 divisions were represented, here are a few thoughts and observations that I made while listening to the presentations.
Chris Bradshaw, VP, Infrastructure - Autodesk

Media and EntertainmentNick Manning, VP of Autodesk Media anmd Entertainment Division spoke about visualisation and entertainment. "Where do you want your visualisation to be?" he asks. That in reference to the fact that photo-realistic scenes can be rendered and moved anywhere.Crossing the entertainment and media sphere, Manning outlines the primary purposes of 3D modelling:1) Visualisation2) Simulation3) Analysis4) Virtual programming Manning is quick to point out that all of these are more than pretty pictures. There are real benefits to 3D visualisation and one of the greatest is the ability to link tool sets together to provide a visual output which allows a company to Compete. In other words, 3D visualisation can get you work because of these unique capabilities.It was intriguing to learn that 300-400 design people work together to make a movie. For example, the movie 'X-Men' used designers from all around the world.The City of London is modelled in 3D with Autodesk products and virtually every vehicle manufactured worldwide, is done with Autodesk products. (I found it interesting that magazine ads for cars used modelled autos rather than the real thing). Manning can explain the uniqueness of visualisation and how it translates into work and savings. At the same time, he noted the communication factors relating to 3D visualisation, most of which are related to "intuitiveness". Manning talks about the 'Early Days' with "AutoShade" - referring to the concept of shading to obtain the 3D effect - flat shaded rendering. Whereas 'In the 1990's' we now have marble effects, shininess and a host of textures possible. He also comments on the idea of a rendering farm, both then and now, and how computing technology today can process and render high end visualisations. ManufacturingKevin Ison heads up the Manufacturing Division, and while this is a distance from the geospatial community (or so it seems), I am pretty sure we all wear shoes, sit on chairs and buy many manufactured (and designed) products each week. "Manufacturing is about creating," Ison says. Shoes now have integrated chips, sensors are making their way into design products. In this sense, "we see design as allowing for better competition, enabling a company to compete" he indicates. As I sit listening to Ison, my own thoughts are running toward the day that geospatial data and manufactured products converge and integrate. My guess at the moment is that there are some of them happening - a good reason to track Ison down for a future interview. BuildingPeter Baxter is Sales Director for Nothern Europe at Autodesk and talks about "drawing production." As he speaks, he points out the need to design in coherent ways. Ways that are intuitive but also take into account such factors as energy efficiency, design automation, lighting, materials computation and so on. Waste reduction is a key factor in building design, for example. Nevertheless, Baxter imparts the idea that building design is a blend of considerations that must be taken into account, therefore tools are necessary to manage, design and plan for them. The thought occurred to me that building design is not far off the mark when we begin to talk about "infrastructure" in a geospatial sense, where resources are shared, connected and manged simultaneously between both.InfrastructureChris Bradshaw is VP for Infrastructure at Autodesk. Admittedly, it is this connection to the geospatial industry that stands out the strongest. When Bradshaw begins to speak, he outlines some straight forward facts - the kind of stuff we all need to know and understand. "Interesting stuff happens with design, but who will own and operate?" he asks."We need to leverage design into operations" and "we need the tools for the specialised tasks." He then turns toward even more basic points, "one in six people have clean drinking water," he states. In Bradshaw's words, the concepts of 'Sustainable Design' begin to form. As I listen to him speak, the connection between design and solving very basic and real problems around the world becomes evident. Later in the day he points out that there is a shortage of skilled labour that are able to use these technologies, before asking the audience: "how does it feel to be in the worlds most in-demand field?" I ponder that a moment, before acknowledging that he is likely right. The numbers of engineers graduating in India and Asia is very high, yet, they are in high demand still. Bradshaw counts labour shortage as the "number one problem in infrastructure."I had the opportunity to speak with Chris Bradshaw on a number of infrastructure, open source and related matters while at this conference which will be in our December / January GEO: International Magazine in more complete form. So how do we put all this together in a geospatial sense? I know in my mind that the boundaries between these divisions were shortened. The numerous examples of work among them show that there is overlap in design principles, operations and management. The way this information was presented and easily accessible at this conference, enabled a cross pollination of thoughts, ideas and interpretations. I think the connection of GIS to CAD is a big issue. I think Autodesk has designed Map 3D, Civil 3D and Topobase to encircle that line of thinking as a inner ring (so to speak). The outer ring of Revit and Inventor would appear to support it. Mind you, the idea here is to begin thinking about bridging design with location.Design must be functional, effective and useful. These principles also apply to geospatial data and location enabled resources. Crossing over between GIS and CAD is a step in that direction. One that this conference solidified in a new way in my mind this week.

Author: Jeff Thurston

Bio.: Editor, GEO International Magazine

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