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SU Walk great feature is that you can create animations of your SketchUp model without having to create multiple SketchUp scenes. The SketchUp scene animation does not often give the desired result and can be time consuming. Furthermore, if you are doing fly thrus/ walk thrus, your animation will look a lot better using SU Walk as it support advanced material properties, like reflection and lights.
The first step is in SketchUp with the SU Walk plug-in. Add some SU Walk refection/shininess and bumps to your material, if needed. (Note - you don't need to add reflections or any properties if you just want to create a non-photorealistic animation).
SU Walk does not currently use SU Podium material properties, due to the very different rendering technology between the two programs. Since SU Walk is a real time renderer, to make it fast, it does not use ray tracing or global illumination. Having a modest number of reflective faces and point lights will be important. Too many reflective faces will reduce the frame rate when navigating with shadows on. However, the exported video will not be any slower and in many cases, more realistic. It all depends of what you need or want.
There are two types of reflections - flat mirror or environmental maps. Both are applied in SketchUp first and unlike SU Podium V2, they are applied to SketchUp faces. Flat mirror reflections are suited for flat SketchUp surfaces(like glass, water, floor etc) and will reflect their surrounding geometry accurately. Environmental maps on the other are intended for more complex curved surfaces. Both reflections require you to turn the face or complex object into SketchUp groups.
You can also, add Bumps to your materials the same way you do in SU Podium by applying the property to a material. Additionally,shininess is a lighter alternative to reflection. Shininess will reflect the brightness around the material but not geometry. Shininess is a "low cost" alternative to reflections. More info on refections, bump,shininess and how to add them click here.
Once your SketchUp model is ready, it needs to be imported into SU Walk. The hardest task might be mastering SU Walk controls. It can take some time and is different to SketchUp. But the controls are really effective once you get the hang of it. To make things easy, use the "walk" mode and use the left mouse button to navigate through your model. The more you move the mouse up or down the faster the camera goes forwards or backwards. Move the mouse left or right will rotate the view. If you use the right mouse button, it will navigate around the point on view. With these simple mouse controls, you should manage to make good animations quickly. If you want see real time reflections and lights while navigating, keep the Shadows On option on.
Once you are confident with navigation, it is time to record this animation path and export the video. Depending on your hardware configuration and model complexity, it will probably be better to navigate and make your animation path with shadows off, as the frame rate may be a lot better. When you are ready, go to SU Walk Preset window and click on the "REC" button. Once you do this, SU Walk will record all your camera movement and make an animation path. Once your are done moving your camera, you can double click on the newly saved path to review it. When you are satisfied with the result,all that is left to do is to export the path into a video format.
An alternative to "REC" is to use the Key frame method. For this method, move the camera to a position in SU Walk and click the big Arrow icon to save a View from the Preset window. Move and repeat this action. This process creates key frames (called Views) When you are done creating views, highlight all the views and click on the "K" to create a path. SU Walk interpolates an animation path.
Before outputting to video, do not forget to activate shadows. When you are ready to output to video, open the "Preset" window, highlight an animation path by clicking on it once and then, click on the movie film icon. This will "Generate a movie file". You will be asked for export settings. If you don't know anything about those parameters leave the defaults on. You can change the video parameters by creating a new video. Keep in mind that the higher the frame number, the longer it will take to generate the video. However, you should not go under 25 frames per second.
Click here to take a look at a video I created. Dave added the psuedo-reggae music. (If you don't like the music, please complain to Dave:-)) Also, note, if you don't want to view this in YouTube click here to go to the Gallery and Sample page.
This is a basic way to start to creating SU Walk animations. As you can see turning your SketchUp model, rapidly and with a lot of control into a good looking animation is easier than creating a batch of SketchUp scenes and exporting to AVI. There are also other features and trick you can try that we will talk about in the incoming enews.
Do not forget about SU Walk website, where you can find the help and examples. There is also a forum where you can post your work and ask for answers, comments and tricks. Everything you need to know and what is talked above here is located on the "help" page. I recommend that you download SU Walk and try out some of the sample models to determine if there are any graphic card issues with SU Walk and your computer. Also, keep in mind, SU Walk is a Windows program. It does not support the Mac yet. To download the trial version, click here. To download some sample SketchUp models to import, click here.
SU Walk 1.0.6 is the current version. This might be a really good time to try it out because for SU Podium V2 users, it's priced at $70.00 until September 15, 2011.