Animating In SketchUp

I’m new to SketchUp and exploring what it can do. I just came upon an animation extension (should I post a link?) which is boosting my enthusiasm for SketchUp considerably. I’m used to animating in my video editor and would love to do so in SketchUp as well.

So here’s a thread about SketchUp animation, which I’ve started hoping to learn more. I’m a newbie in SketchUp Make, but please feel free to take animation conversations where ever you wish to go, as any discussion will be educational here. If you’re animating in SketchUp and would like to show us what you’re doing, please do.

I’m not sure how to compare the kind of animation created in a video editor vs. what can be done in SketchUp. Seems like apples vs. oranges. I use iMovie for video editing. It’s great for picture-in-picture, pan-and-zoom, transitions between clips, titles, etc. but cannot do anything with 3D object space.

I have used @Fredo6’s Animator extension a lot. It is packed with features. As a result, it is somewhat overwhelming at first. But it is very capable. Here are some (longish) videos with most of the animation done via Animator:

One weakness with Animator is that it struggles with large models (i.e., 100+ groups and components, 100K to 1M+ edges and faces): performance issues, the GUI gets out-of-sync sometimes, occasionally it causes SketchUp to crash. Save often! It has been worth it to me because the results are what I have been looking for.


Thanks for the introduction to Animator Tom, I’ll investigate further. I didn’t realize anything as sophisticated as your vids could be made in SketchUp, so I’m further intrigued by the possibilities.

My intent in coming to SketchUp was to create scenes I could further animate and enhance etc in Hitfilm. So far so good, with the exception of a few file transfer issues discussed in other threads. What I’m discovering today about animation in SketchUp is causing me explore the degree to which I might be able to stay in SketchUp. There’s more to it than I realized.

For the benefit of other brand new SketchUp newbies like myself, here’s a basic animation tutorial from Justin Geis.

I think @TDahl said “most” of the animation. It may have been imported into a video editor to insert the images and narration. Can you confirm Tom?

I believe you’ll need a Pro edition of SketchUp in order to export image sets. You may still be running under the Pro trial of Make and have this feature. But it will go away when the trial expires.

In newer SketchUp versions only the mpeg export remains. The other formats were removed for security reasons (3rd party libraries with bugs) and lack of use. So if you need lossless export for external video editing, then you’ll need the image set export feature.

(And image set export avoids the 32bit file length copy bug for very large video files.)

@DanRathbun is correct. The individual “SketchUp-looking” clips in the videos linked above were generated in SketchUp via the Animator extension. I used the qualifier “most” to cover the fact that a few clips were created by my own SketchUp Ruby code, and a couple of clips were created with the MS Physics extension. This is what I consider the “animation” in the videos - 3D objects rotating, components moving in and out, the virtual camera flying around, etc.

The hundreds of individual video clips (that were created in SketchUp) were edited together using iMovie to produce the overall video. That is where the cross-dissolves, picture-in-picture, green-screen, still-frame pan-and-scan, voice-over etc. were added. Titles were added as a mix of native iMovie titles and Photoshop-created still frames that were blended into the video via iMovie’s green-screen feature.

By image sets are you referring to what Hitfilm calls image sequences? That is, a folder full of images which when put together make up a movie.

I am still in the trial version of Make. So far, I’ve been exporting scenes in DAE, converting them to FBX, and then importing in to Hitfilm. Best I can tell this will still be available once trial expires. I guess I’ll find out before long.

So what I’m doing isn’t lossless, and exporting an image sequence would be?

Tom has reminded me that I haven’t used iMovie in years, so perhaps it’s time to take another look.

Yes. [1]

Yes, DAE (Collada) import and export is available in Make. (FBX export is Pro and Shop Only.) [2]

If you choose a lossless image type (not jpeg).

You are exporting 3D data that describes the model and scenes, not lossy images. Any loss would be properties that don’t export well through the Collada > FBX path. (I’m not an expert on either of these formats, so I cannot advise there.)

Also I’m not a Mac guy and know nothing of Hitfilm’s capabilities. If it works for you, keep on. We do what we can.

So of course Justin has a tutorial series on animation which would seem to belong here: