A business based in Alamo may be unique in the state of Nevada. Sam Lytle, owner of Civil FX, says his company uses 3D visualization and animation to communicate complicated projects in Nevada and throughout the world. A 2002 graduate of Pahranagat Valley High and a 2010 civil engineering graduate from UNLV, his expertise is in creating graphics and visuals for transportation and other large infrastructure projects.
Lytle said the name Civil FX is “a blend of civil engineering and special effects. We are continually pushing the technology into new applications that we call visual experiences. In addition, blending actual photos with 3D renders can be an attractive and affordable way to communicate the vision of your project.”
Lytle said he started Civil FX because of a desire to branch out on his own and a to return to his own home town. Civil FX now employs several people in Alamo and Las Vegas.
For the past year or so, the company has been part of the team working on rebuilding the I-15 and Spaghetti Bowl in Las Vegas, an effort called Project Neon.
Lytle worked three years for the Nevada Department of Transportation and another year with an engineering firm in Las Vegas where he first began getting involved in 3D visualizations and animations. He said, “A few years ago, NDOT announced the Spaghetti Bowl project and sent out Requests for Proposals.” The team that was awarded the contract was led by Keiwit for the construction portion and Atkins for the engineering, two of the world’s largest companies in their industries.
“It’s the biggest infrastructure project in the history of Nevada,” Lytle said.
He knew some of the people on the Keiwit/Atkins teams from his time working for NDOT, and they in turn “asked Civil FX if we would be interested in doing the visualization portion of Project Neon. We were given a list of things we had to produce for them, including 3D animation.”
Civil FX is not involved in engineering phases of projects, but Lytle said they have been asked about that from time to time. “However, we prefer to just focus on the visualization part, working from the information provided us by the engineers, contractors and artists. Focusing on visualization allows us to be involved in more projects because we aren’t competing with our clients, the engineering firms.”
Civil FX has also not sought to branch out to architectural visualizations. “Architects already have those people in place,” he said, “and for us to be competitive with them would be a challenge we’re not looking at.”
The company’s part in Project Neon is “mostly wrapped at this time,” Lytle said, and he has moved on to other projects. “At any given time, we might be involved in several projects simultaneously, but not all related.”
Lytle noted Jared Judd, a licensed engineer and experienced video game programmer, has been vital to the work Civil FX does. Judd, along with fellow Alamo natives Mike Lytle and Greg Hjelstrom, were able to turn the visualizations of Project Neon into an interactive experience, not just a movie, because of the video game programming expertise the men have. “We designed a touch screen menu at several kiosks at the Project Neon office, and we created a virtual reality tour as well, as if you were flying over the project in a helicopter. We were able to push the technology because the project team gave us the flexibility.”
Among projects Civil FX is developing at present include visualizations of an elevated roadway in the Las Vegas area, a bike path at Lake Tahoe, and the upcoming work regarding the redesign and rebuilding of the freeway system in Reno.
You can learn more about the projects Civil FX is involved in by visiting the company’s website at www.civilfx.com.