Now in 2015 we have a wealth of 3D animation software available to us. Some of it produces extraordinary effects, most of it takes a lot of time and effort.

On the other hand, we also have a lot of very capable 3D design packages, some very good, most time consuming and clunky to make changes with.

Enter Sketchup and its powerful Rubyscript API.

You see, animation is immensely powerful in communicating a product, concept, or design. I liken it to the next step up from showing a 3D model. When you show a 3D model the person you show it to can see exactly what you propose but it takes a little imagination for them to understand exactly how it works. In a well executed animation, there are few questions left to ask – you can see how things work.

On a recent project, I put together a 3D animation for Tranzwash showing a new truck washing concept. Using Sketchup and a powerful plugin called Keyframe Animation, I was able to make changes to the animation on the fly and, after several iterations, deliver what the client wanted with minimum hassle.

The beauty of using Sketchup and Keyframe Animation, as opposed to other design/animation packages is, in essence, a problem most designers face. As soon as your client sees a good design, they like to tinker with it, ask you to make changes….sometimes big changes.

With Sketchup and Keyframe Animation this is no problem because the 3D model can be updated very fast and the animation properties can remain. So the workflow goes something like this:

  • Design a product
  • Animate it
  • Show client
  • Watch them get excited, listen to all the changes they want made
  • Cry Make changes quickly and easily
  • Update animation
  • Get consensus

If communicating a proposed project more clearly via animation appeals to you, then you can download a trial version of Keyframe Animation and give it a go.