I’ve written several posts about using Trimble Sketchup (formerly Google Sketchup) to size and visualize solar energy systems. It’s a tool that I have come to rely upon for technical and sales purposes. This week I am heading to Sketchup 3D Basecamp in Boulder, CO. Every two years Sketchup enthusiasts and experts convene for the “unconference.”
While the focus of this year’s event will be on scripting – programming Sketchup plugins – I will be taking the opportunity to learn how to better render my 3D models into photorealistic images for sales presentations and visualizations. Rendering can result in amazing lifelike representations of proposed projects. Plugins and external applications are used to take basic 3D models and use surface material information to improve the visual output.
My frustrations with rendering systems I have tested are that:
- Rendering takes a long time, even on very capable computers
- I have only a basic understanding of surface characteristics like roughness, reflectivity, opacity, refraction, etc.
- Rendering does not fit well into my current workflow of exporting Sketchup models to Layout for preparation of presentations
- It seems harder than it need to be for my limited requirements and time.
Undoubtedly I will gather a huge amount of knowledge from the experts on hand. When you get this type of group together, creativity flows. As I have learned in the past, sometimes the inspiration comes from a completely different discipline. While Sketchup is widely used in the construction and architectural industries, it’s also used for film and video game production. The precision needed to make accurate construction drawings has likely narrowed my artistic viewpoint needed for the preconstruction phase of project development. You never know who will turn on the light bulb.
While I am sure to be humbled and awed by the Sketchup brain trust that will be present, maybe I’ll have the opportunity to share something useful that I’ve done with Sketchup for the solar energy industry. Or maybe I’ll just be better prepared for my next home improvement or woodworking project. Either way, I’m really looking forward to this opportunity to hang out with Sketchup’s best.