Sunday, December 22, 2019

AU 2019. 02

How do I explain that AU exceeded my expectations? To be honest I had some misgivings. Vegas is a strange place and huge gatherings of people don’t excite me. Plus... I am suspicious of technology hype/worship, which is inevitably part of such events. But for me AU2019 was an overwhelmingly positive experience, partly because of things I learned/sessions I attended, but mostly for the interactions with people: old friendships reinforced, new friendships begun.

Day 2 began with rain, which made the short walk from my hotel more interesting. On my phone, some messages to remind me that my presentation had made an impact. 

I attended the AEC keynote. Tantalising to see an animation from the new point cloud that Autodesk helped to organise for the French Government. I doubt that we have any chance of gaining access to this, but still live in hope that we may get our hands on the scan done by Andrew Tallon … one day.  It would be useful to cross-check and adjust our setting out.  Possibly we could use it to generate low-poly mesh objects of some of the sculptural features.  Ideally we would find a way to bring these into Revit with mapped bitmap textures to represent the finer detail.  This is something that both Archvision and Enscape3d have mastered so we know it can be done.

Possibly the highlight of Nicholas Magnon’s presentation was his interaction with Spot, the robot dog created by Boston Dynamics.  I had broken Twitter silence a couple of days earlier.  I have removed Twitter and Facebook from my daily routine, but the brevity of a Twitter post remains useful during a conference.

I guess you could spend the whole three days wandering around the exhibition floor.  I thought I had got the balance about right, but skimming through the list of exhibitors on the way home, I realised that there were lots more booths I should have liked to visit.  It was good to run into Anthony Hauck on the last day.  Allegion & Enscape are well established partners.  BIMtrack is a potential portal for linking our model to historical data.  Janice was a chance meeting while grabbing lunch and a fascinating conversation.  Mental Canvas is a digital pencil I would love to play around with.  Oh to be super rich.

Alfredo nagged Ryan into doing a LinkedIn post about his organ family.  I didn’t realise that he had set it out with “sacred geometry” in mind: nicely done Ryan.  According to Wikipedia, the organ is very ancient in principle, but in its “present form” dates back to the 14th century.  Certainly this design looks classical to me.  I wonder what preceded it at Notre Dame de Paris.  (get your phones out)  Well it seems to be the third organ, part of Viollet-le-Duc’s restoration in the nineteenth century.  The first was built in 1403, some 240 years after construction of the cathedral began, and almost 60 years after its completion.

A standard feature of any conference is eating too much.  At the height of my “recovery from diabetes” I managed to be very disciplined for a couple of conferences in a row, and cut out alcohol completely.  I should have been more disciplined at the grab & go lunches in the Expo, represented here by salad and beer. But when you are invited for dinner with a group of friends, (half of whom you last saw in Tuscanny 18 months ago and half who you never met before) … discipline is not the order of the day.  The Volterra Reality Capture workshop was an experience of a lifetime for me and it was great to hang out with these guys on Wednesday night.

On the final day I attended a fascinating session on Topologic.  I don’t think I can begin to do it justice, but it reminded me of the “wooden block” model that I had made of Notre dame and hinted at how this could evolve in a rule-based way if the blocks were aware of their relationships to each other.  I had bumped into the Fulmax guys at the Unity stand on the previous day and we succeeded in getting the Notre Dame model up and running in their VR cave.  At some point I joined up with Paul and some of the other Volterra guys to do short video interviews about our BIM/heritage work.  

Then the day concluded with Alfredo’s Lab on gothic vaults.  As expected he was smooth as silk.  Full class, great response, finished on time.  Lab assistants’ selfie at the end.  Privilege to be part of that group. Paul’s xmas card (British translation of Holiday) which features Notre Dame and came home to Dubai with me, via Florida.

I opted to fly out that night, but had a couple of hours to hang around.  Ryan had posted on linked in about his chandeliers, giving insight into his approach to the geometry which was a bit deeper than I had realised.  I just love the variety of approaches in our group. Subtle differences that enrich the outcomes.   Finally I bumped into Dan Stine, an old friend of many conferences.  Again I am stagerred by how much my life has been enriched by making the effort to be part of the global BIM community.  

Many old friends that I didn’t bump into, although they were there.  Pretty much inevitable in a meeting of 12,000 souls.  I guess there was a time when gatherings of this size would be either religious festivals or large scale warfare.  


  1. Love that comment at the end Andy. Recognizing that: "I guess there was a time when gatherings of this size would be either religious festivals or large scale warfare." is the kind of observation that we have grown to expect from you! Great post as always.
    I enjoyed seeing you and all my other conference buddies too, but a bout of laryngitis put a little bit of a damper on AU for me this year...

  2. Great post, Andy, as usual. I enjoyed reading this very much. Nice summary of experiences at AU 2019. I hope to see you in Valencia if we get our class proposals approved.

  3. Thanks guys. Friendships across the globe. We live in special times and this year has been a blast.


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