Axis 3D Design OfferingBy: Brian Rhodes, Published on Feb 06, 2013
Axis is releasing 3D design models that aims to improve camera design and layout. In this note, we explain what they are, what platform it works (and does not work on), the benefits and limitations of this offering and its potential industry impact.
Only for Revit
While surveillance designers use many drafting tools, such as Visio, AutoCAD and proprietary CCTV tools, this new Axis offering only works with Revit. While Revit is extremely powerful, it is expensive and typically used for large scale construction projects (see our Revit for Surveillance tutorial). As such, most users will not be able to take advantage of this.
However, those using Visio can find a similar 2D-only design tool in Axis Coverage Shapes.
Camera Families Explained
Axis' Camera Families are CAD objects, representing all current production camera models, for Autodesk's Revit platform. This allows a designer to download and import 3D models an Axis cameras, with according FoV and PPF values, into a concept building design.
Importing 'Axis Camera Families' into a model gives a designer an accurate understanding of exactly which coverage to expect from an Axis camera model and allows fine tweaking of lensing, focusing, and mounting options within a virtual, but highly accurate, rendering of a building.
The short promotional video below gives a good overview of the free download:
Axis further states that any future camera models will also have 'Family' entries developed, and that libraries can be downloaded within the Partner Page portal.
Total Cost Examined
While Axis offers Camera Families as a free download, the parent Revit platform must be purchased. Because of Revit's substantial design scope, it is costly, with MSRP pricing starting at $5,775 USD. For our examination of Revit, see our 'Revit for Surveilance' update.
Because perpetual maintenance licensing and user training is often required, Revit is a design tool catering to those regularly involved in numerous complex designs, not casual 'one-off' users.
Despite the sizable prerequisites required, Camera Families offers advantages over traditional design methods.
- Flexible: All camera models provide real-time feedback on FoV adjustments and dynamic PPF information. This flexibility enhances estimating 'image quality' of a concept camera.
- 3 Dimensions: Not all blind spots or obstructions are obvious in 'top down' 2D views. Given that camera placement can be checked in all three planes, concept designs can avoid spacial issues.
- Clear Mounting Details: The actual interface between a camera and its mounting surface is a perpetual 'gray area' for many designers. Camera Families allows a clear understanding of which hardware or mounts are required to install a camera. Quickly changing between options takes mouse clicks, and eliminates shuffling between separate plan set sheets.
However, Axis Camera Families will not be useful for everyone, in all situations:
- Environment Matters: Neither Camera Families nor Revit can easily or accurately depict 'real world' impacts to surveillance like WDR issues, low light levels, or exterior line of sight/topography impacts. These fine variables can greatly impact the value of surveillance, and manual consideration of the variables is required. Designers primarily engaged in outdoor installations will find ACF marginally useful, unless they have access to large, accurate models of outside spaces. This is not how Revit is typically employed.
- Cameras Only: Ethernet wired and wireless networks need to be designed behind ACF. The tool focuses on the camera, but does not flag on issues relating to network distance, cable installation impacts, or placement of ethernet equipment.
- Axis Only: The most meaningful use of ACF comes when specifying Axis equipment. Information like lens options, mounting options, and resolution are all tied to Axis offerings, but not other manufacturers. While 'generic symbols' are offered, they will not be fined-tuned to represent performance qualities of non-Axis equipment.
Since Revit is widely used in mega projects using thousands of cameras, this is likely a valuable tool in helping Axis cameras get specified and best used in those opportunities, especially since such camera models (for Revit) are rare. However, this will not significant the mass market of surveillance projects that likely use other drafting tools.