Keyframe Animation for SketchUp

Animation Plugins Compared

This review compares the keyframe features of three SketchUp animation plugins. Proper Animation and Keyframe Animation both use SketchUp scenes to act as keyframes. SU Animate originally used a path-based approach, however, in a sort of turnabout SU Animate announced support for "keyframe animations" in version 4.0.

So, the question is, if all these plugins have keyframe functionality, then are they all the same, and if not, then what are the differences? This table summarizes how these three plugins compare for several features. This page has been updated to take into account the new features in Keyframe Animation 2.0

Summary of Keyframe Features

Keyframe Animation 2.0 Proper Animation SU Animate
Object Interpolation
Translation tick tick tick
Rotation tick bug bug
Scaling tick x x
Reflection tick x x
Inversion tick x x
Animation Features
Nested Objects tick x x
Transition Times tick tick x
Delay Times tick tick x
Reorder Keyframes tick tick x
Scene Properties
Camera Location tick tick tick
Hidden Geometry tick tick x
Visible Layers tick tick tick
Active Section Planes tick tick x
Style and Fog tick tick x
Shadow Settings tick tick x
Export Features
Export Video tick x check
Export Image Set tick x tick
Export Animated GIF tick x x
Custom Settings tick x x
Price
User License $39 Free $49

Object Interpolation

There are various ways an object can be interpolated between keyframe positions.

Translation

If the location changes, but not the orientation, then the object is interpolated by translating it along a straight line.

All three plugins can interpolate translations.

Rotation

If the orientation changes, then the object is interpolated by rotating it about the appropriate axis.

Keyframe Animation can interpolate rotations about ANY axis.

The other two plugins can only rotate an object about an axis that passes through its origin (i.e. the point where all three component axes meet). Interpolation about any other axis is buggy.

Scale

If the object's size changes, then it is interpolated by scaling it along each component axis.

Keyframe Animation can scale objects uniformly, or nonuniformly. Each component axis can grow or shrink independent of the others.

The other two plugins can not interpolate changes in size.

Reflection

If an object is flipped along one of its axes (menu item right-click > Flip Along), that reflects it.

In this case, Keyframe Animation 2.0 interpolates the object by moving every point along a line that passes through a "mirror plane" in the middle to a point an equal distance on the other side, reflecting the object in the process.

The other two plugins can not interpolate reflections.

Inversion

If an object is flipped along all three component axes (i.e. red, green, and blue), that inverts it.

In this case, Keyframe Animation 2.0 interpolates the object by by moving every point along a line that passes through the center to a point an equal distance on the other side (i.e. its antipodal point). This inverts the object in the process.

The other two plugins can not interpolate inversions.

Animation Features

Nested Objects

An object can be either a group or a component. Objects can be contained inside of other objects.

Keyframe Animation allows you to animate objects at any depth. Nested objects move relative to their parent. If the parent also moves, the composition of translations and rotations produce more complex types of motion.

The other two plugins do not animate nested objects.

Transition Times

The Transition Time is the time it takes for the objects to move to the their keyframe positions.

Both Keyframe Animation and Proper Animation allow you to assign independant transition times for each keyframe.

SU Animate doesn't support independant transition times.

Delay Times

The Delay Time is the time the animation will wait before beginning the transition to the next keyframe.

Both Keyframe Animation and Proper Animation allow you to assign an arbitrary pause after any keyframe transition.

SU Animate doesn't support delays between keyframes.

Reorder Keyframes

Keyframe Animation cooperates with the SketchUp Scenes Manager, which lets you easiy insert, delete, or rearrange scenes (keyframes).

Proper Animation allows you to append a new keyframe to the end of the queue, and then move it forward if you want to insert it somewhere in the middle.

SU Animate has no support for inserting or reordering the keyframes, in general.

Scene Properties

SketchUp animates the Camera Location, Style and Fog, Shadow Settings, and Section Planes properties during the scene transition.

SketchUp toggles the Layer Visibility, and Hidden Geometry properties on or off at the start of each scene transition, which allows you to animate the visibility of geometry.

Keyframe Animation 2.0 and Proper Animation both play nice with all the scene properties that SketchUp animates.

SU Animate plays nice with only the Camera Location and Visible Layers properties.

Export Features

Both Keyframe Animation and SU Animate will export your animation to a video or image set, directly from SketchUp. Proper Animation can not export the object animation, just the SketchUp scene property animation.

Keyframe Animation 2.0 has some addition formats that the animation can be exported to, such as Animated GIF.

Keyframe Animation 2.0 has more options for exporting the animation. The Frame Rate can go from 1 to 60 frames per second. The Frame Size can go from 8x8 to 3840x2160 pixels.

Conclusion

I'll let you draw your own conclusions. If anything on this page has been reported inaccurately, please contact us, and we will be happy to correct it.