New !   Keyframe Animation 2.0 is available.

It is backward compatible; easily convert version 1.x animations to version 2.x format.

Get the latest version on the Download page.

Keyframe Animation makes animating objects in SketchUp easy and intutive. Ordinary scenes act as keyframes. For each scene, just place the objects where you want them to be, and click the Record button. When a scene is selected, the objects will magically translate, rotate, and scale to their recorded values.

Animated Construction Example By Mark Clapsadle

This video demonstrates an amazingly complex animated construction process, where the parts are moved into place using the Keyframe Animation plugin.

Main Features

The main features of Keyframe Animation are conveniently located on the toolbar to facilitate your workflow.

Keyframe Animation 2.0 Toolbar Buttons
Toolbar and menu
Play Button Play Button Toggles the Object Animation on and off.
Record Button Record Button Saves the position data of objects on the current scene. (Disabled if there are no scenes.)
Erase Button Erase Button Deletes the position data of all selected objects on every scene. (Disabled if no objects are selected.)
Select Button Select Button New   Selects all the objects that have position data saved on the current scene. (Disabled if there are no scenes.)
Time Settings Button Time Settings Button Toggles the display of the Scene Time Settings window. The Scene Time Settings window lets you set the transition time and delay time for each scene.
Export Video Button Export Video Button New   Exports the animation to a video directly from the keyframe model. (Disabled unless there are at least two scenes.)
User Guide Button Help Button Opens up the User Guide (the page you are viewing now) in your browser.

Object Interpolation

Keyframe Animation figures out the best way to interpolate an object between its initial and final position. Objects can be interpolated by translation, rotation, scale, reflection, inversion, or a combination.

Translation If the move tool is used to change the location location, but not the orientation, then the object is interpolated by translating it along a straight line.
Rotation If the orientation changes, then the object is interpolated by rotating it about the appropriate axis, through the smaller angle (i.e. less than or equal to 180 degrees).
Scale If the object is scaled, then its size interpolated along each component axis. Each component axis can grow or shrink independent of the others (i.e. nonuniform scaling is supported).
New Reflection If an object is flipped along one of its axes (context menu right-click > Flip Along), that reflects it. This is interpolated 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.
New Inversion If an object is flipped along all three component axes (i.e. red, green, and blue), that inverts it. This is interpolated 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.

Object Interpolation Tutorial

This Keyframe Animation 2.0 tutorial shows the five types of object interpolation supported: translation, rotation, scale, reflection, and inversion.

Animating Nested Objects

An object can be either a group or a component. (Loose geometry can't be animated.) Objects can also be contained inside of other objects and animated at any depth. Nested objects move relative to their parent. If the parent also moves, the composition of translations and rotations can produce more complex types of motion.

Folding Doors By Regular Polygon

The door on the far right is a top-level object, and the middle door is a subgroup. While the right door rotates 90 degrees clockwise, the middle door rotates 90 degrees counter-clockwise relative to it. The combination of these two rotations produces the desired motion of folding doors.

Scene Time Settings

Click the Time Settings Button on the toolbar to display the Scene Time Settings window. This interface allows you to set the transition time and delay time for each scene.

The transition time is the number of seconds it takes for the animated objects to move to their recorded positions. It is also the time it takes for scene properties -- like camera location, or shadow settings -- to transition to the value saved with the scene. A negative value will use the default transition time.

The delay time is the number of seconds the animation will wait before beginning the transition to the next scene. A negative value will use the default delay time.

All settings are saved as soon as the textbox loses focus. A bell will ring to indicate the value has changed. The time is rounded to half-second intervals.

Animating Scene Properties

Each keyframe is essentially a SketchUp scene. SketchUp provides native animation for several scene properties. You can combine SketchUp's built-in scene property animation with Keyframe's object animation.

Use the SketchUp Scenes Manager (menu item Window > Scenes) to manage the various properties that are saved for a scene.

New   Keyframe Animation 2.0 is compatible with all the scene properties:

  • Camera Location
  • Hidden Geometry New
  • Visible Layers
  • Section Planes New
  • Style and Fog New
  • Shadow Settings New

You can combine SketchUp's built-in animation of any scene property, with Keyframe's object animation, and export it all to a video.

I think that Keyframe Animation 2.0 is the only plugin out there that can combine a SketchUp section cut animation with an object animation. The following video demonstrates this.

24 Pencil Sculpture By Regular Polygon

Section cuts reveal how 24 pencils, with hexagonal cross-sections, criss-cross from four directions, and interlock with each other.

Exporting the Animation

Once your animation is set up, you can export it to a standard video, custom video, or an image sequence.

SketchUp has a utility to export animations, but it only exports its own built-in animation of the scene properties, and ignores the object animation. However, Keyframe Animation 2.0 has a utility to export both the scene animation and the object animation.

New in version 2.0: Video Export Utility.

Now you can combine SketchUp's built-in scene animation with Keyframe's object animation, and export it all, directly from the keyframe model. You no longer have to create the tweens model to export the object animation. This new approach is fast, simple, and far more efficient than creating the resource intensive tweens.

Exporting a Standard Video   (PC only)

Click the Export Video Button on the toolbar to export the animation as a video with standard settings. (Currently this only supported on the PC, not the Mac.)

There are several video codecs and formats that are new in version 2.0.

  • H.264 codec (.mp4)
  • VP8 codec (.webm)
  • VP9 codec (.webm)   New
  • Theora codec (.ogg)
  • Animated GIF (.gif)   New
  • Windows Media Video (.wmv)   New
  • Microsoft MPEG-4 v2 (.avi)   New
  • Lossless (.avi)   New
  • Uncompressed (.avi)

New Exporting a Custom Video   (PC only)

To export the animation as a video with custom settings, access the menu item Export Animation > Custom Video.... (Currently this only supported on the PC, not the Mac.)

The Frame Rate can go from 1 to 60 frames per second.

The Frame Size can go from 8x8 to 3840x2160 pixels.

The Video Encoding-Format options are the same as the Standard Video export.

Exporting an Image Sequence   (PC and Mac)

To export the animation a sequence of image files, access the menu item Export Animation > Image Sequence....

The Frame Rate can go from 1 to 60 frames per second.

The Frame Size can go from 8x8 to 3840x2160 pixels.

The Image Format has a drop-down list to choose from JPG, PNG, TIF, or BMP.

The Background is always opaque for .jpg, .tif, and .bmp images. However, if exporting .png images, the background can be either opaque or transparent.

New Progress Bar   (PC and Mac)

The export process is much more user friendly with the new Progress Bar. It displays the time elapsed and the estimated time remaining. It also keeps SketchUp responsive. You can stop the export at any time, and resume it, or quit and pick up where you left off another day.

Backward Compatibility with Version 1.x

Quickly and easily convert a 1.x animation to version 2.x format.

If you see a grayed out toolbar, it is not a bug! What is going on under the hood in version 2.0 is so different that your version 1.x animation will not run. Basically, if you open a model with version 1.x position data, all of the commands on the toolbar and menu will be disabled.

However, there is a quick and easy solution. There is a utility that will convert a 1.x animation to version 2.x format. Access is from the menu item, Keyframe Animation > Convert v1 to v2.

The Keyframe 2.x compatible animation is created in a new model. You can save it with any name you want. The original model is NOT modified.

Once the new model is open, your old animation will work in Keyframe Animation 2.0, and all the toolbar buttons and menu items will be enabled normally.

This feature does require SketchUp 2014 or newer.