Can someone tell me if this is possible please?


Hi All,

Would someone be kind enough to give me an opinion on this please?

I am a sculptor who makes steel sculptures that rotate in the wind. I would like to show my clients what my sculpture would look like if it was spinning in front of their building. Could I model the sculpture and have it rotating and then overlay this on top of a jpeg of my clients building? Would it look at all natural?

The other way for me to do this is to do it with video and green-screen it. I would love to avoid the cost, time and learning curve with this.

Should I be looking at different software?

Regards to All,



If you can get a photograph of the building that is suitable for Match Photo, you could insert the image into SketchUp with your model in front of it and have it look natural enough. You can create an animation in several ways with SketchUp with or without the use of extensions (Fredo’s Animator would be worth looking at.) so I think you can do it.

Here’s a quickie with nothing but native tools.


Hi Dave,

Thanks so much! That is great. In your example, if one wanted to, would it be possible to have the chicken rotate in a natural way? My other question would be, if I want to show my finished product to the client, would they need to have sketch up installed to open the file and show it?


Yes. I only used 12 scenes for that so it does look a little bit jerky. Just like any other animation, the shorter the distance the object moves between frames, the smoother it would look. If I were really putting some effort into it, I would export a series of images and combine them in a video editor to have better control over the time each scene is viewed.

No. For this example I exported the animation as MP4 and I didn’t do anything to it after exporting other than uploading it.


Dave, do you do this stuff for a living?


Just so you can see how this would look in Fredo’s animator.(currently free) It will make it look smoother and all of the separate elements are individually controllable.
Not sure what your sculptures are like, but this is a very crude representation of one just to show movement.
I have the background image placed as a “background watermark”.

The second one shows a v rough rendered version - but you would need a renderer.


Here’s a little breeze to make the sculptures move.

• 24 Scenes in SketchUp
• File > Export > Animation > Image Set
• Multiple copies of the image set assembled in an ancient version of MS Movie Maker


I use SketchUp and LayOut professionally, if that’s what you mean.

FWIW, here’s a couple of ancient animations I did using just SketchUp with layers and scenes as I did with the weather vane.

Showing how a lock stitch is made by a sewing machine.

This one is really old. Probably SU4 or 5.


Hi ,

That is really helpful. I was wondering if you would be interested in animating my sculpture , as a job? Here is a link to a 60 second video I made which shows the sculpture moving. The password is: shed

my other option is to green-screen it which is going to cost me in time and money and headaches. lol.

Kind Regards,


I’d be happy to help you out with an animation but would need some specific measurements and photo details of the sculpture… maybe you could put them in a dropbox and share that link…but

However, my recommendation to you would be to shoot this on green screen (or similar - maybe even black or white and use a luminance key) so you could pull a matte and overlay it on any other image or video of a client’s building. The reason I would go this route is that you already have this sculpture built and working and would get the full fidelity of its glorious details. From your original post I didn’t know that it existed but that you wanted to visualize an idea.

The reason to do something like this in sketchup would be if the sculpture didn’t exist and you needed to visualize it, then of course it would make more sense. I’m not sure the workload would be much different. Even as a Sketchup animation render, I would output it with an alpha channel and composite it afterwards so that you could overlay it with other, different backgrounds if needed. Ideally, each animation render should be unique as it would need to be lit with, and be seen to reflect the specific background image and light so it blends seamlessly, but as the renders do take hours that may not be as practical.

Anyway, have a think about that and let me know.


Thank you so much for advising me on this, it is much appreciated. I am being a bit lazy perhaps in not wanting to buy a green-screen and spend time shooting and editing. I thought maybe there was a more easy way but from what you have said, I think I will go with that idea. Was trying to avoid it!

Had a look at your site and its most impressive, well done. Well, I have run out of excuses and I guess its time to order my green screen.

Again, thanks so much.

Kind Regards,



I think this is your best approach, I don’t think it’s lazy. As I said, you may be able to get a decent matte from using a black or white background too. Also, don’t assume that you have to buy a “green screen”. You look like a handy guy, just buy the paint and paint a wall or or stretched fabric. There is special green screen paint, but you can get close with similar colors.
I’d also advise you to shoot not only the wide shot but also punch in for some details too. In the edit/comp you would just blur out the background plate a little. If you later decide you need help with this let me know as I do work in after effects too. Just check out some tutorials on shooting on greenscreen, it’s not that hard, but there are a few tips you would be advised to know, particularly not having it too close where the bounced green light contaminates the sculpture and makes the matte harder to separate. Good luck, please report back with the results…


I love your sculpture’s design & made a 3D model of it. It just looked so fun to model. Feel free to add to it and animate it. It’s all yours.
Sjharris Sculpture.skp (2.4 MB)


Thanks so much. Looks good!