Podium Walker

real time, photo-realistic animations inside SketchUp

Works with SketchUp 8, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016- Windows or Mac

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Table of Contents

Take a look at the new Podium Walker Gallery

    Inspiring video presentations that combine Podium Walker, SU Podium V2 images and models full of Podium Browser content. Click here.
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Click above to watch an embedded video on how to create a Walker animation.
To watch the 4 part video series on design with Podium Browser and visualizing in Podium Walker please click here.

1. What is Podium Walker?

  • It is a photo-realistic, real-time, animations plug-in for SketchUp that allows for quick photo-real visualization and the production of video animations.
  • It uses ray tracing and ambient occlusion to create photo-real renderings and animations.
  • It works directly with SU Podium V2/ V2.5 and/or Podium Browser. It reads Podium's reflections, blurred reflections, refractions, bump maps, omni lights, LEM lights and translates SketchUp sun position to create it's own sun and sky light.
  • It is CPU based, not GPU based.
  • It renders in near real-time and renders all of Podium's material properties and artificial lights.
  • It renders the thousands of components and materials from Podium Browser.
  • It is a great tool to preview SU Podium rendering and/ or Podium Browser components inside SketchUp.
  • It creates keyframe animations for video productiion and also can record your camera navigation.
  • It will import SketchUp scenes to create keyframe animations automatically.
  • It will create animations directly from SU Animate camera paths as well.
  • It will export to video formats such as .mp4, .mov, .m2t and .avi.
  • Supports SketchUp 2015, 2014, 2013 and SketchUp 8 (for Windows).
  • Supports Windows and Mac (Lion, Mountain Lion and Maverick).
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Podium Walker 64 bit version for SketchUp 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 and 8

Podium Walker 64 bit has been released. This version supports 64 bit Windows/ Mac OS and as much system memory that is on your PC. This dramatically changes the size of the SketchUp model Podium Walker can open, render, and animate. Now supports Podium hidden LEM.
Currently Podium Walker is $99.00 (USD).

2. Download and install Podium Walker

    Windows Install for SketchUp.

      The Podium Walker Windows install is an .rbz installation file. The file that you download from the Podium Walker download web page is an .rbz a .rbz file. Downloaded the .rbz file to any folder on your computer.

      Note: Internet Explorer 8 may unpack .rbz files so it's recommended to use IE 9, FireFox or Chrome to download .rbz files.

      Install Extensions and RBZ. .rbz files are installation files that install extensions (plug-ins) from within SketchUp 8 or 2013. You must install the Windows version of Podium Walker from within SketchUp's Window menu, Preferences/ Extension dialog box. Do not attempt to install the .rbz file from outside of SketchUp.

        Use SketchUp 8, 2013, 2014, 2015 Install Extensions, is located in the SketchUp Windows menu, in the Preferences/ Extensions dialog box. Use Install Extensions to install the Podium Walker.rbz file. The Windows .rbz file will only work with Windows versions of SketchUp. Do not use the Podium Walker .rbz Windows version on a Mac.

      Windows Uninstall

        Uninstalling an .rbz file requires checking off the Podium Walker extension in SketchUp's Preference/ Extensions interface.

        You can also remove the entire PodiumWalker folder and the loadPodiumWalker.rbs file from the c:\program files (x86)\sketchup\sketchup (8 or 2013)\plugins\ folder.

        For SketchUp 2014/ 2015, Podium Walker is installed here - C:\Users\YourComputerName\AppData\Roaming\SketchUp\SketchUp 2014\Plugins\. Remove the PodiumWalker folder and the loadPodiumWalker.rbs file

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      Mac OS-X Install.

        Mac install is an .rbz installation file. The file that you download is an .rbz file. This will install without any issues for Maverick, Mountain Lion and Lion. It will only work in SketchUp 8, SketchUp 2013 and SketchUp 2014. It will not work on Mac OS-X 10.6.x or earlier. Downlaod the .rbz file to a folder of your choice.

        Install Extensions and RBZ. .rbz files are installation files that install extensions (plug-ins) from within SketchUp. You must install the Mac version of Podium Walker from within SketchUp. Do not attempt to install the .rbz file from outside of SketchUp.

          Use SketchUp 8, 2013, 2014, 2015 Install Extensions, located in the SketchUp Preferences/ Extensions dialog box. Use Install Extensions to install the Podium Walker.rbz file. The Podium Walker Mac .rbz file will only work with Mac versions of SketchUp. Do not use the Podium Walker Mac .rbz for Windows.

          One issue to be aware with SketchUp Install Extension on the Mac: If your Mac does not have read and write privileges on the SketchUp plugins folder, SketchUp will be unable to install the Extension.

          Safari may unpack .rbz files so it's recommended to use FireFox or Chrome to download .rbz files.

          • SketchUp 2014, 2015: In Finder go to User\Library\Application Support\SketchUp 2014\SketchUp\Plugins\ folder, right click Get Info and make sure that your account has Read & Write privilege.
          • SketchUp 8: In finder go to \Macintosh HD\\Library\Application Support\SketchUp 8\SketchUp\Plugins\right click Get Info and make sure that your account has Read & Write privilege.

        To removePodium Walker from your Mac

          SketchUp 8 and SketchUp 2014/ 2015/ 2016 Mac difference

          Although SketchUp use the same .rbz installation file, the location that Podium Walker plug-in gets installed is different. So if you want to remove Podium Walker, you will need to be aware where Podium Walker is installed.

          To remove Podium Walker from SketchUp on the Mac go to your Application folder your \User (your computer name)Library\Application Support\Google SketchUp X\SketchUp\Plugins\ folder.

          Remove loadPodiumWalker.rbs and the PodiumWalker folder.

          Macintosh HD folder is often referred to as the Global directory. It will be listed as one of your devices in Finder. If it is not listed in Finder, go to Finder Preferences, Sidebar and check Hard disks under Devices. You may need to go to the General icon in Finder Preferences and make sure Macintosh HD is listed in New Finder windows show:

          To remove Podium Walker from SketchUp 2014/ 2015 on the Mac go your \user (user name)\Library\Application Support\ SketchUp 2014 or 2015\SketchUp\Plugins\ folder.

          Remove PodiumWalker.rbs and the PodiumWalker folder.

          The user folder is the Home folder. It will be listed as one of your favorites in Finder If it is not listed in Finder, go to Finder Preferences, Sidebar and check the Home icon.

        Activate your license

          Activate your Podium Walker license using the Podium Walker pull down menu in the SketchUp Plugins menu.

        Where to get support - use the Forum

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    3. How Podium Walker works in SketchUp and with SU Podium V2

      After installing Podium Walker, open SketchUp.

      Podium Walker works best on SketchUp models that have some SU Podium V2 materials or lights included. To examine Podium Walker functions, load a SketchUp model with Podium properties or download this Barcelona model from here. Note: This model has Podium V2 reflections applied to the water.

      Podium Walker can be accessed from the SketchUp plug-ins menu or from a single icon tool bar.

      Invoke the Podium Walker icon and the SketchUp model will get loaded (exported) into a Podium Walker window and rendered very quickly. If your SketchUp scene covers the entire viewport, it's possible that the Podium Walker window will be behind the SketchUp window.

      Your viewport should look like this image below with the SketchUp window and the Podium Walker window.

      With the Barcelona model, you can see how Podium Walker quickly converts the SketchUp model and renders it using ray tracing. The Podium V2 materials properties and artificial lights are rendered as well. Podium Walker is not meant for still image rendering. SU Podium V2 is a much higher quality ray tracing and global illumination program. However, with Podium Walker you can navigate inside the Podium Walker window and experience real time ray tracing. It can be used a "viewer" for SU Podium V2.

      As a default, PW camera is disconnected to SketchUp camera. The mouse controls in PW are different from SketchUp's. Please read the navigation section below. However, you can connect the PW camera to the SketchUp camera to obtain the familiar SketchUp navigation controls. Please read below.

      Podium Walker also reads the time of day from SketchUp and provides natural sun and sky light. The sky environment provided by Podium Walker will change with the time of day and or position of your camera.

      You can re-size the Podium Window dynamically.

      Changing geometry in SketchUp or adding SU Podium V2 properties does require that you to close and reopen the Podium Walker window or use the Reload button from the top icon menu.

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      3.1What SU Podium V2 properties does Podium Walker support

        Download another SketchUp model that has Podium Browser components and various Podium V2 properties
        This model has a light fixture, 3D tree, glass material, blurred reflections, direct reflections and furnishing from Podium Browser.

      What properties and lights are supported?

    • SU Podium V2 - reflections and blurred reflections
    • SU Podium V2 - refractions
    • SU Podium V2 - bumps
    • SU Podium V2 - omni lights
    • SU Podium V2 - spot lights
    • SU Podium V2 - LEM materials (light emitting materials)

    4. Podium Walker icon menus explained

      Walk mode/ Fly mode

      The upper left of the Podium Walker window has the Walk Mode and Fly Mode navigation options.

    • Fly Mode - A mode without considering gravity.
      There is no collision to any objects. View point height is ignored.
    • Walk Mode - A mode that simulates walking on the ground.
      This considers gravity. This mode detects collision. You can You can Jump by using the space bar. The view point is always located at current SketchUp camera height except when using jump.

      Connect SketchUp and Podium Walker camera: Always synchronize camera to SketchUp off/ on

      The Always synchronize camera to SketchUp will either connect or disconnect the Podium Walker camera with the SketchUp camera. If this option is on, the icon will be grey. When you move your Podium Walker camera, SketchUp camera position will be synchronized as well SketchUp camera will control the PW camera. There's sometimes an advantage to this as you can use SketchUp to navigate the PW scene. In this case, your mouse controls are the familiar SketchUp mouse controls. When you move the camera in SketchUp, you will see the Podium Walker windows being updated in real time.
      The other camera icon is for when you want PW camera to synchronize with the current SketchUp camera view. It will not change the camera controls to SketchUp but will simply update the PW camera to whatever camera view is current in SketchUp
      Ambient Occlusion (AO)

With AO on

With AO off
    Podium Walker is a ray tracing rendering program. With the addition of Ambient Occlusion, PW can calculate light reflecting from surfaces not directly exposed to the light source. In other words, AO is indirect light. It is an approximation to full global illumination so will not have the quality level of still images that SU Podium V2 can create. But the AO makes a quality difference especially when rendering walk-thru animations of interiors. You can see in the above two images the clarity and definitions of the ceiling and window frame which are not seen with AO off. However when AO is on, the raytracing speed will decreases. AO is not always needed especially with exterior renderings so PW includes an option to turn AO on or off. As a default it is on.
    LEM support
    SU Podium V2 LEM is behind the camera in this snap shot taken from Podium Walker animation.
    SU Podium V2 LEM lighting is supported in PW. LEM lighting is very time consuming to calculate so the larger your LEM material is, the longer Podium Walker will take to calculate it. As a default LEM is turned off. Turn it on if your SketchUp/ Podium model contains LEM lighting. Please note, that the rendering time will take longer than with omni lights. If your camera is directly viewing the LEM material, the material will not appear illuminated as it does in a SU Podium V2 image. But in the Podium Walker, the LEM material is emitting light.
    Read about what SU Podium V2 LEM is here.
    SU Podium's Hidden LEM is supported.
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    Preset Panel. When this is clicked on, the Preset Panel will appear. This dialog is where you will create camera views that you will combine to make an animation path. Preset panel is discussed in more detail in the section of creating animations below.

    Light Settings

    Light/ Image setting UI gives you control over various global lighting and image settings. The light intensity section is self explanatory. Each variable will increase the various light sources globally.

    Lighting dialog allows for real time changes in Podium Walker's natural light (sun and ambient) and omni or LEM light power within Podium Walker. You can always turn of LEM lighting support directly through the tool bar. These controls will not effect the SU Podium V2 properties that are in the SketchUp model.

    The image setting include Brightness, Contrast and Gamma sliders.

    The Background Settings icon will open the Background Setting dialog box. This include a texture and simulation mode that creates various exterior backgrounds. This provides various types of sky and ground backgrounds.

    Snap Shot. You can take a "snap shot" of the Podium Walker scene to get a still image.

    Reload. This icon will invoke PW to reload the SketchUp model. It's useful if you have made some changes to the SketchUp model itself.

    Mouse speed - (the mouse movement speed)

    As you move about Podium Walker the camera movement is set for reasonable speed. The keys for camera movement speed are is "Shift + L and drag".

    4.1 Podium Walker bottom menu explained

    Time display Time display shows the current day that the view is set to. Once you first open a SketchUp model, the time will be displayed to the same time to the SketchUp model. Also, if you import scenes from SketchUp and then change to each scene, the time displayed will match the time of the original SketchUp scene. When you use the time lapse feature, the time displayed will show your times they are updated.

    Cam Height. The default camera height if your camera is in Walk mode will be 70". However, you can change the camera height by clicking on the Cam Height icon. This action will invoke a small dialog box that will allow you to change the dimensions in inches.

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5. Navigating - the mouse controls

    As a default the PW camera is disconnected from the SketchUp camera. PW camera has different navigation controls to SketchUp's mouse.

    If you click on the Podium Walker window the mouse and keyboard control of your Podium Walker camera will change. The below description is how the mouse and keyboard controls the Podium Walker camera.

    • W/S keys will make camera make camera go forward/backward in the same plane.
    • A/D keys will make it go sideways in the same plane.
    • Holding space bar will move the camera up vertically in the Z direction
    • Shift +space key will make the camera go down in the Z direction.
    • Left mouse button will move the camera forward, backward and rotate in one plane.
    • Right mouse button will pivot the camera vertically and move the camera position forward, backward and in rotation.
    • Hold the CLT + right mouse button and move left or right and time will change. You can use REC to create a video of time/ shadow motion.
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6. Creating walk thru animations

    Preset Panel. When this is clicked on, the Preset Panel will appear. This dialog is where you will create camera views that you will combine to make an animation path.

    How to make an animation

    There are three ways to create an animation. One is a key frame animation. Another is a Tour animation which is a type of Key Frame animation. A third is recording your camera movements in real time. Key frame animations are an accurate and easy way to create an animation. It uses a sequence of Views. You can create views from the Preset panel. Each view will be treated as a key frame in the animation. If your SketchUp model already has a number of SketchUp scenes, these scenes can be used as key frames.

    The definition of view points, camera views and key frames are the same. These terms apply to the same thing.

    What is a key frame (camera view/ view point)?

    Podium Walker treats each view as a key frame of the animation. Once you have created several views, arrange the views in sequence so that each view is a key frame in the animation. Podium Walker will interpolate an animation path from the sequence of views.

    From SketchUp Scenes

    If you have already made an number of animation scenes in SketchUp and wish to use these scenes as the viewpoint (camera view) of the animation, use the Import SketchUp Scenes icon in the Preset panel. This will import all your Sketchup scenes and convert this to PodiumWalker views.

    Note: only the camera position of each SketchUp scene will be imported. The sun position and hidden geometry on hidden layers will not be imported.

    New Views

    To create a key frame, click on the Arrow icon within the Preset dialog.

    The Create New Preset dialog will appear. Click OK. Then move your Podium Walker camera. Click on the Arrow icon again. This sequence of actions will create a number of views in Podium Walker. By moving your mouse forward or backwards so you have a new camera view. Each viewpoint is a camera view and represent a key frame of the animation. Podium Walker will interpolate an animation path from the views you create.

    Creating the key frame animation or animation path

    To command Podium Walker to create an animation path, highlight all your views or scenes that you have arranged in sequence and then click on the K icon in your Preset dialog. (K is the symbol for Key Frame).

    You will be prompted to name a path and to pick a camera speed. 100 is the default speed but Podium Walker will display the last camera speed that you were using. The path's camera speed is an important consideration for the final video. The faster the path's camera speed, the fewer frames in the video which will meann less time to export to a video format.

    After creating the keyframe, to run the animation, double click on the path name that you have created.

    Using Rec to create the animation

    If you start the Rec operation, Podium Walker will create an animation path from your mouse camera movement. Click on Rec when you are finished recording the screen. This method is particularly very useful if you are creating time line animations. Please read below.

    Using T instead of K

    The T icon stands for Tour. This option will create a path that has a transition time between each key frame. In other words, the animation will pause between each key frame or view. The length of the pause is determined in the Preference.

    Creating a time line animation

    4. Time of day, time of year, shadow movement

    This feature is invoked in PW by holding the CTRL Key + right mouse key and drag. Time of day will change and this can be recorded with the Rec button option.

    Creating Podium Walker Key frames from SU Animate key frames or paths

    There is a quick way of importing SU Animate V4's camera path's or key frames into Podium Walker. After you have previewed the camera animation in SU Animate's preview, Export the Camera Path. This will not work unless you have a camera animation. Export the Camera Path menu in SU Animate will create a CSV file. Import the model into Podium Walker using the Imp icon from the Preset Panel. Once the model is imported, go to Presets and IMP (import) the SU Animate CSV file. You will then see a Path in the Preset panel.

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7. Creating a Video File

    To create a video file of your animation, highlight the animation Path and click on "Generate a Movie file" in the Preset dialog. This will display the Movie Settings dialog box. Camera Speed option is simple a way to increase the movie's camera speed in relation to the Key frame animations speed. This will require you to know something about the Bit Rate and Frame Rate of the particular Codec you choose. Note that some Codecs require a particular video viewer.

    Once you create an animation with Podium Walker and run it and like the way it looks, you will want to export or output the animation to a video (movie) format such as .mp4 or .mov (for Mac users). To view the movie you create, you will need a video player. You may need to experiment with video players to make sure the movie format you export to can be played. Windows 7 provides a free video player called Live Movie Maker but some people have reported that it is not compatible to some video formats.

    The movie setting controls allow you to change the original path camera speed to make an even faster camera movement. In other words, you can export the movie so it plays 2 or 3 times faster than you created the path.
    Also note, the Preview. Preview is off by default. If it is on, you will be able to create a movie in less time but it will not be a photo-realistic movie. Preview's only intention is for you to create a non-photo-realistic movie so you can see if the animation's path is what you want.
    Output or export to video time. The most time consuming part of creating a Podium Walker animation is the exporting or outputting to a video format. For example, at a resolution size of 1920 X 1080 and a Frame Rate of 30, a thirty second video may take several hours or more. The speed and number of cores of your CPU is very important factor. Other top considerations are:
    1. The resolution size. The larger the pixel resolution, the longer the video will take to create. Consider lowering your resolution to 640 X 480 or less to initially to test what your video will look like.
    2. Frame Rate. Frame Rate is the number of frames per second. Consider lowering your frame rate to 10 or 15 initially. Frame rate over 30 is unnecessary in most cases.
    3. The Camera Speed. When you first created the animation path you were prompted for inches per second. When you output the path to video format, you will have a choice for camera speed. 1 will the same as your animation path speed. The faster the camera speed, the fewer frames will be needed.
    4. Your computer's system memory. System memory or RAM will not change the video output speed. But if you want to have high resolution and relative long video animations, you should have as much memory as you can.
    5. Face-me 2D components. Face-me 2D SketchUp components, like the many trees, plants and people from Podium Browser, require Podium Walker to reload the SketchUp model each time the face-me component moves to face the camera. Consider using as few face-me 2D components as possible. Explode 2D face-me components to disable face-me.
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    8. Video Editors

    It's most likely that you will need a video editor to add audio and other effects to your Podium Walker generated video animation. In fact, in many cases, it will be wise to create several paths and equivalent number of videos and stitch these together in a video editor. This is something to consider if you lack the RAM to create a long video. With multiple paths, you can have different camera speeds for each path and corresponding video and you can combine these videos together effectively.

    Some well known video editors are Adobe's Premier, Tech Smith's Camtasia, Pinnacle Studio, even iMovie and Windows MovieMaker.

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    9. Design and Visualize: SketchUp, Podium Browser, Podium Walker

    Four part video series that explores first designing a model primarily with render-ready components from Podium Browser. Then visualizing the design with both SU Podium V2 and Podium Walker. Part 3 and 4 videos present how to create a simple photo-realistic walk thru of the new SketchUp model using Podium Walker.

    Click on the image to link to the Podium Browser with Podium Walker Video series page