The Washington State Dept of Transportation (WSDOT) Visual Engineering Resource Group (VERG) has developed a number of innovative LumenRT use cases ranging from roadway design to courtroom legal support visualization. Here, we showcase the work of VERG and its visionary leader Kurt Stiles.
Kurt Stiles has led the activities of VERG since 2009 transforming the group into a top-flight, nationally recognized media production company. His pioneering work in the visualization field is well known across the transportation community where he is a sought after speaker and consultant.
Can you share with us the type of projects you are creating with LumenRT?
Kurt Stiles: We are applying 3D immersive visualization to a variety of projects including Design Reviews, Courtroom Support Animations, and Cultural Resource Documentation.
KS: One of the “bread and butter” jobs of VERG is roadway intersection improvement. Today, roundabouts are being added as a cost effective, at-grade solution providing both increased volume movements and improved safety. Providing still and animated visualizations that illustrate the goals of the roundabout vs. signalized intersection treatment allow stakeholders to quickly and effectively understand the need for a specific design and ultimately, gaining consent for project approval.
WSDOT VERG generated a LumenRT4 LiveCube™ to visually describe a proposed roundabout design produced in Microstation SS3 to aid in assessing the project’s impact for city management as well as a casino that used one side of the intersection as access to the facility. The LumenRT4 LiveCube™ was played at several public and city council gatherings. The added insights the LiveCube™ delivered were significant to the over-all understanding and continued funding of this intersection.
Courtroom Support Animation
KS: Litigation is perhaps one of the largest growing applications for 3D modeling, animations and other forms of visualization. The ability to go back and forth in time within a 3D world to prove a certain point accurately is very valuable in winning legal casework. VERG uses LumenRT4 to quickly produce dynamic and compelling 3D environments of WSDOT projects to use in a court of law that accurately reflect the engineering design.
The 3D LiveCube™ illustrates critical views, measured distances, and right of way / access issues with ease. Moreover, the LiveCube™ helps us to produce engaging video fly-throughs that can be played in court or driven in real time by the attorney in court. WSDOT has gained an advantage in court when using accurate visualizations and LumenRT4.
Cultural Resource Documentation
KS: All state DOTs and governmental agencies have the federal charge of documenting their cultural resources through Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. WSDOT has perhaps one of the most robust and nationally respected Cultural Resource programs in the USA. VERG has merged with the WSDOT Cultural Resource program to provide visual communication of these unique stories through video production and visualization.
LumenRT4, combined with Bentley’s MicroStation 3D CAD modeling software is the perfect combination to visually document historical structures. By modeling the structures, building, bridges, or entire town in a 3D environment, the past comes alive!
E-on:What is driving the use of real-time 3D and visualization in DOT applications?
KS: Presently, 3D modeling and visualization is a strongly recommended practice advocated by the federal government for all DOTs to follow. Whether it is building information modeling (BIM), 3D modeling for automated construction activities, or visual communication of a project’s design for stakeholder understanding and consent, the world of 3D is here to stay. Beyond that, it just makes sense to design and communicate in 3D, since the world we all live in is 3D. Having an infrastructure project completed in 3D provides a richer understanding, saving time and money. Also, negative issues, like conflicting utilities and right-of-way mishaps can be avoided early on by seeing the design in 3D early in the process.
E-on: Do you see this as a growing opportunity?
KS:Yes, most definitely. I see it as an opportunity for state DOT’s to develop their own “Visual Voice” for all their projects and programs and employing this “Voice” to improve engagement with stakeholders and the public as a whole. Immersive 3D visualization allows the public and other stakeholders to better understand the design intent, hopefully improving relationships, transparency, and trust. By retaining the strategic power and core competency of 3D Immersive Modeling in-house, the DOT’s can do a better job of controlling the message and production costs.
E-on: How did you learn about LumenRT?
KS:VERG routinely reviews software on the market. During one of these reviews, we found LumenRT. Once we discovered the relationship between LumenRT4 and Bentley MicroStation, VERG had to have this software. Additionally, VERG uses Sketchup for small civil project visualizations, roadside landscape architecture and modeling for environmental regulation adherence. Taking advantage of the great Sketchup/LumenRT4 interface was a also a key driver in our decision to adopt LumenRT.
E-on: Besides LumenRT, what other tools do you use in your workflow?
KS:WSDOT has standardized on Bentley software as its primary CAD technology. We use InRoads and Select Series 3 MicroStation for most design surface modeling and animation. We are also learning Autodesk’s Infrastructure Design Suite including 3DS Max Design and Infraworks.
In addition, VERG uses the Adobe Creative Suite 6, Google Earth Pro, Trimble Sketchup and assorted other Plugins.
E-on: What do you see as the key strengths of LumenRT?
KS:The ability to create LiveCubes™ for rapid production of animations and still images is the most important LumenRT feature for VERG. Historically, creating animations and images took considerable time to set up and render out animation fly-throughs. With LumenRT, creating engaging media is now just a few clicks away. This is almost unheard of in civil infrastructure visualization work.
In addition, the LumenRT content is very diverse, accommodating, and easy to integrate into the 3D model. The trees are so realistic and the 3D people add a lot of context to our civil visualizations.
E-on: What kinds of improvements/additions would you like to see in LumenRT??
KS:Being able to show vehicles moving through a facility (interchange, roundabout, over a bridge, etc.) via a VISSIM script or the MicroStation traffic path animator would be excellent.
VERG is a producer of strategic visual communication for WSDOT including 3D modeling/animation, video production and commercial photography. From planning and communications to design and construction, VERG delivers a variety of media productions designed to explain complicated stories to a mass audience in a compelling and engaging fashion. In addition to its traditional role of illustrating civil infrastructure change, VERG has expanded its practice into arenas such as environmental regulation, impact studies, litigation, and cultural resource work.