Photo Realistic Animation


Hi, I have created a staging animation in SU for a construction of a metro station, an 8min video, approx. 160 scenes, showing how the station will be built from start to finish, with construction equipment, etc. Is there a plugin or a separate software which could be used to turn this animation into a more photorealistic video? Does anybody know a company or someone that could do it?


There is plenty of choice, a few that I have come across:

Unreal Engine

These can all produce photo realistic animation but you have to learn how to use them, engines running outside of SketchUp rather than Plugins work a lot better generally.

An 8 min video is very expensive professionally, it all depends on your expectations. In my town an agency will charge about 100,000SEK per minute of footage (thats £10,946). But that usually involved them making the 3D assets too.

If you just want the simple scene transition you have in SketchUp, then this is much easier and it mostly just about having the materials and lighting setup well. You may achieve Photorealistic results but the camera work will always fall short.

So it all depends on your expectations, if you have examples we can narrow it down in both software and cost.

Another big impact is the hardware you have at your disposal.

For instance, I am doing some work this evening and I am averaging 1h25 min for a single frame. If I wanted to animate that would be costing me 34h for a single second of animation (on this machine). This is because I am using Keyshot that only runs from the CPU. A lot of modern engines will run off the much faster GPU utilising its multiple cores. This machine is a Dell Precision 7520.


You can use Enscape - It’s PC only :frowning: but maybe some day they’ll change that:


There isn’t a plugin, it would require a render engine to achieve photorealism - either, one associated with sketchup, or another program entirely. One of the better parametric animators for SU is Fredo’s animator. It will animate camera moves smoothly with acceleration and deacceleration (or other speed curves). It integrates with “Thea Renderer” nicely, which is what I use. Essentially SU/fredo works with a 3rd party renderer within sketchup. It allows for moving groups around independently of scenes.

The model could be taken into other 3d animation Software and rendered there too, many of which will have better capabilities.

As for photorealism, this is down to the renderer, lighting and textures in the model, so beyond just the “moving parts” there is a bunch more to do to get those results. As Liam says, depending on the complexity of the scene and the renderer and the computer’s capabilities, each frame can take a while to output. There are different settings that can make this faster at the expense of true photorealism (AO for example) or a time limit can be set per frame. Such files can be sent to a render farm for speed, but at an additional cost.

8 minutes is long. When you say construction equipment etc, and that you have made 160 scenes!! are you just looking to smoothly animated between each scene, or are the scenes set up more like a stop frame animation?, or are you looking to move parts and equipment around within scenes, dust in the air etc. If you could share the file for a look. or if have you already output a video from the sketchup animation that would show the extent of the work? This would help determine the best approach. Also, what resolution are you needing for the final output?


Thanks guys, apologies for late response, last week (including the weekend) was hectic. Unfortunately, I can’t share the SU file. The work is part of a live tender for a major construction project and thus confidential. the animation depicts the construction process of a metro station from start to finish. the SU model has hundreds of layers which go on and off with each scene (ie. things appearing and disappearing) as work progresses. it shows the construction equipment that will be used at each stage (cranes, dozers, excavators, TBM, etc). we have been working on it, space proofing, testing various ideas and methodologies for weeks and it is now finalised. I was looking if there was a quick and efficient way to improve it, thus my post.

The video is set up as a stop frame animation, the camera moves to a given area, stops and the next scene shows the next stage of the construction. and so on. the underground work, tunnelling, etc is show in a section. the SU file is 291MB. animating between scenes, moving machines and dust would be good of course. can this be done with the animator / Rhea? would all the scenes have to be recreated or can they be easily reused?

it is probably too late to do it for this project as the deadline is only 2 weeks away. would any of you be interested in getting involved on future projects? let me know and we can talk some more offline. this is my linked in profile:
I am a civil engineer and often work for contractors to develop construction methodologies at a tender stage. I use SU extensively to produce construction staging animations. I’d be keen to develop a workflow where I could pass on the finalised SU staging model to someone to develop a good quality video for my clients.
Best regards,