SketchUp Animation

Animating models using SketchUp is an easy process. Animated fly-through and walk-through movies are the best way to give your client an easy impression of what it's like to actually move around the built space. Such animations can be outputted as an AVI or Quick Time movie which can then be emailed or uploaded directly onto your website.

The first step in the process is to ensure that the materials and lighting have been applied to your satisfaction. It's best to delete any redundant scenes and to temporarily turn the scene's shadows off. This will give us faster results while we conduct our test renders. Then when we are happy with the resulting animated flow, we would switch back on the lighting and shadows before conducting the next series of renders.

Next we wish to place our cameras, so zoom out from the scene and choose the Position Camera tool. We next click in the foreground of the model and then move around until we achieve a good view of the overall space. We may also wish to switch to a wide angled lens at this point: go to the Camera drop-down menu, and select Field of View. We then change this to 60°, which is visible on the bottom right Measurements field of the SketchUp interface.

If happy with the overall result framing result open the Window drop-down menu and choose Scenes and New Scene. A new tab will appear on the top left of the screen named Scene 1. If you are using the Macintosh version of SketchUp this will appear at the top centre of your screen. Note that this Scene 1 will be the start and end point of your rendered result.

Next we zoom into and around the scene as if we were flying into the model space. It's best not to make the scene change too dramatic, since this can result in violent changes in the camera's path. It's best to create more scenes than less, for a smooth transition. When happy with the position of the camera create a new scene. We create as many scenes in this fashion as desired, using any of the navigation tools like Zoom or Pan. Alternatively we can right-click to choose a tool, or use the Walk and Look Around tools.

In this way create about ten or twelve scenes, and in the final scene we may want to view the whole model as if from above and outside. Therefore zoom all the way out. Then select the ceiling, right-click on it and choose to Hide. You may also wish to change the camera's Field of View back to 35°, as above. And save your changes.

Now we may wish to review our work before outputting, so return to Scene 1, and go to the View drop-down menu, and choose Animation and Play. The process takes some experimentation until you are satisfied with both the transitions between scenes and the speed of the frames. Feel free to delete or change any of the scenes that don't work, but always remember to right-click on the scene tab afterwards to choose Update.

To create a smooth transition, go to the View drop-down menu and select Animation then Settings and Scene Transitions. Change the duration to 3 Seconds and a Scene Delay of 0, for example. And create a test render by going to File and Export, Animation and choose either AVI or QuickTime file format. Change the Options to 10 fps (frames per second). If we are satisfied with the test render, we would then increase the Scene Transitions to 4 or 5 seconds, and the frame rate to 15, then Export again. This will inevitably take longer to render. And if we are happy with this new result, we should turn on the Shadows and materials to render again. Every time we make a change to the quality the render time will increase, but eventually we'll have a production quality animation which we can upload to our website, online portfolio or send to our client.

Tom Gillan has been training sketchup courses to corporate clients in Sydney for seven years. If you like to know more about sketchup, visit Design Workshop Sydney webpage for more information.

This article was published on 17 Dec 2015 and has been viewed 652 times
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