Monday, February 11, 2013

SketchUp + Vray Animation :: SpaceX Dragon

DESIGN :: In order to expand your skill set as a designer of products, interiors, architecture and more, eventually you will have to tackle animation. A properly done animation can greatly enhance your ability to communicate your design.

There are many different approaches to producing animations, and the approach you take depends on the tools you have available to you. In terms of rendering, I generally use Vray, though I do have Kerkythea as a backup and for experimentation.

Over the weekend I produced several animations - one using the Proper Animation plugin together with the free, open source rendering software, Kerkythea, and 3 using standard scene transitions inside of SketchUp along with Vray. Additionally, you can just export scene transitions directly from SketchUp and splice them together in a video editing program, which are included in the test animation.

The video below is the tutorial I used, showing the proper settings that worked with my version of Sketchup (8 Pro) and Vray. The most important steps are that you check Global Switches in your Vray options window, "Batch Render," and under Output, check "Animation," as well as designate where Vray will save finished frames to. Under View>Animation>Settings, you should also enable scene transitions, set an appropriate transition time in seconds (the tutorial used 3 seconds, I used 8), and ensure that "Scene Delay" is set to zero. Other tutorials will have you change a host of options, and these may work in certain instances, but not on my computer. 

Animations take a long time to render, Kerkythea and Vray have to render and save each frame. 8-16 seconds of animation can take a whole day to go through depending on your computer's specs and the quality you are rendering at. Before you commit that amount of time, you really want to be sure what the final result is going to be.

The 1st 5 frames rendered by Vray w/ noticeable movement.
Luckily, for both Kerkythea and Vray, frame by frame is saved in a folder and you can look at them as they're finished. This gives you an opportunity to stop the process, fix any problems that might arise, and restart it before letting it go too far.

If you have any problems, or are using a different version of SketchUp, Vray, or both, go to SketchUcation's Vray forums. When you type your problem into your favorite search engine, SketchUcation is what usually comes up. If you are trying to do the particular method described in the video above, or in this write-up, and run into any problems, contact us, we'll be glad to help.

Once you have all your frames, you can use a video editing program to put them together as an AVI file. I use the free Virtual Dub, and simply drag the images into the workspace, and "save as AVI." Since a rendered animation takes so long, if you are thinking about doing a presentation, try to splice in some standard exported animations. A well done, combination of SketchUp styles + Vray scenes can make for a more interesting and complete presentation.

You can download the Dragon spacecraft for SketchUp from SketchUp's 3D Warehouse here