Navisworks for Construction Animations- Pros and Cons

I’ve recently been testing various methods for animations at work. Some of these have been motion animations and some have been construction animations. Some have turned out better than others.

For years I have heard that Navisworks his handy in certain scenarios. The consensus never seemed unanimous and I never had the opportunity, so until the past month, Navisworks was a rare Autodesk engineering product I hadn’t dabbled in. When I finally opened it up and gave a whirl at creating a sample construction animation, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t a versatile as 3ds Max and wasn’t as smooth as Lumion, but it didn’t take long to get a hang of it and I knew that I would return to it again if the right circumstances presented themselves.

But that’s kind of the problem. What are the right circumstances when it comes to Navisworks? While it is handy and nice to have around, it seems like it does a few things kind of well but nothing really well. I will reserve that final judgement until I use it for a wider variety of projects, still I feel qualified enough to give an overview of the pros and cons in the context of construction animations. Note that I am only talking about construction animations and not clash detection or other features of the software.

Before I jump into the P’s and C’s, I want to make one final point- there are at least two ways to do construction/phasing animations in Navisworks. The first is the standard, built-in method where that is more akin to project scheduling software than animating software. The second is the animating tools in which case you can manually animate each element into place. The latter is my preferred method, but I would use the former if I was on a time crunch and didn’t care too much about sparkle. My pros and cons will include both methods.


  • The interface is very simple and the learning curve is low
  • You can use Microsoft Project or Primavera Contractor files directly to get super accurate phasing!
  • It handles a variety of file types
  • If you are patient enough you can get more advanced animations such as traffic and construction equipment
  • Rendering is built in


  • Navigating in 3D isn’t impossible but I put it behind Sketchup, InfraWorks, Lumion and right in front of Civil 3D and Microstation
  • You have to be good with rendering engines to get good results (unlike software such as InfraWorks and Lumion)
  • There are no ‘sketchy’ or other artistic render styles
  • There are no options for built-in sound

Like I said, my first Navisworks impressions were positive. However, I’m not sure when I will go out of my way to use it when there are other, better options such as Lumion and 3ds Max.

Image credit to CAD Miami