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SketchUp for Film and Stage Visualization

Rajib Dey : Editor-in-chief

In the past we had noticed extensive application of SketchUp for architecture, engineering and construction sectors. But now-a-days with the constant revolution in digital filmmaking, the rising popularity for stereoscopic content inside the entertainment industry and utilization of computer graphics, the SketchUp software is considered as a useful guidance system for Art Directors, Filmmakers, Graphic/Film Designers, Production Designers, Cinematographers and Design Professionals engaged in Film, Stage and Television industries.

Inside SketchUp there are some user-friendly and flexible tools which can aid in the process of generating 3D (three dimensional look) to model in 3D precisely. The director, producers, art director, set decorator, director of photography, designers and others get the ability to share their ideas in 3D from props, displays, storyboard to complete set design and walk through’ the set before making final design. The designers can hand off the model to the concerned art director and set designers. They can disintegrate the model and apply it as the basis for working construction drawings which will create the set or props accordingly.

SketchUp for Film and Stage Visualization

The designers can also take more up-to-date decision and communicate project features with the team easily.

The SketchUp can provide great assistance for storyboarding. If the 3D models of the set or general location are created before the formation of story board, it will be very easy to generate 2D props and actors and position them into the scene and preview in context through the camera. After that export images to form a series of traditional storyboards.

SketchUp for Film and Stage Visualization

Most interesting application of SketchUp is to make the backdrop, set and circumstances and then draw realistic images beyond the storyboards to substitute for the actors or props. Here SketchUp is utilized to model the basic shapes & structures of those components with precise scalling to ensure the exact positioning of such components in the set or the exact scalling for creating them so that the camera can applied to capture them as the storyboards portray.

SketchUp for Film and Stage Visualization

Besides, the visualization characteristic of SketchUp facilitates stereoscopic pre-visualisation in a synchronized way in film and entertainment industry to view the project before it is actually created. The amendment for design is performed quickly. The software allows you to make sets and characters, direct, shoot and edit your movies.

Filmmakers have applied SketchUp to work out problematical scenes, camera moves, and set designs. The SketchUp is utilized in some renowned films like Avatar, Transformer, Star Trek, upcoming Dracula 3D many other blockbusters have taken the help of SketchUp to produce the fantasy like atmosphere in the movies.

SketchUp for Film and Stage Visualization

In some 3D movies the SketchUp was applied to generate special effects with its high-end rendering programme. The SketchUp can make colorized rendering of the scenes to view it comfortably.

The film professionals find SketchUp most useful for designing a set. SketchUp can smoothly visualize all construction, electrical, lighting, artwork, paint, etc. facilitating the creation of complete stage and set by making fine adjustments infinitely before it is physically built.

There exist some extensions for SketchUp which may also be called as Film & Stage plug-in with SketchUp. These types of plug-in/extensions were built up to facilitate the camera behavior to be modified precisely to characterize the proper through-the-lens visualization of SketchUp models. The Extension offers a visual approach to get rid of multifaceted spatial design troubles. The Film & Stage plug-in consists of an advanced camera tool and various pre-viz components. Select from an extensive collection of cameras, lights, dollies, cranes, grips, characters and more. The Art directors & Cinematographer utilize SketchUp camera plug-in to pre-visualize shots and scenes in SketchUp before filming and walk around & control the aspect ratios, different camera lenses and positions to obtain the proper shot. The Cinematographers can make sure that the camera positioning is achievable physically on the film stage.

SketchUp for Film and Stage Visualization

A virtual camera is created within the Film & Stage plug-in with which Cinematographers, Production Designers, Art Directors and other design professionals can go with diverse scenarios for camera positioning and pan/tilt settings and transform camera focal-length and intraocular distance and view all these in stereo/3D. Once the cameras are set up, the production designers can easily locate the accurate height, tilt angle and focal length for each one. The designers can also carry out tilt, dolly, truck and pedestal moves to reproduce the action of a real camera. They will be capable of producing detailed floor plans and measurements to position the real cameras fast and competently at the time of rehearsal and main shoot.

The SketchUp film stage plug-in also contains a huge library with filming-specific components like dollies, cranes, grips, characters, lights and cameras. These components are very useful for making a 3D scene or stage visualization.

SketchUp for Film and Stage Visualization

The SketchUp can also be fruitful for making storyboards and animatics, set diagrams and/or technical documentation of sets, props and rigs etc. While planning a shot of any film production, perform with the storyboard into the 3rd dimension to view the necessity of positioning your camera to avail the proper shot.

There are several persons like Gaffers, Production Designers, Producers etc. engaged with the production of a film. A Gaffer can apply SketchUp to communicate its lighting plans. Production designers may utilize it for designing a set. Producers may find the software useful with equipment rental houses to find out the requirements for type of lens, lighting and camera support. A DP may apply the Shadow tool inside SketchUp to reproduce shadows falling on the set at different moments of the day or for preparation of plan with lens packages. SketchUp also contains a broad library with lighting, cameras, lenses and support equipment useful users, a library of popular lighting, cameras, lenses and support equipment is available for users to create their individual set-ups.

After the addition of street view imagery in SketchUp 7.1, many film professionals find it very useful for their work as street view data from an un-modeled areas facilitates them to model the scene adjacent to a real-world place in which the staging for film will be happened. The designers and cinematographers can trace distant places or more exhilarating places for filming which are close to the planned location of a shoot before now.

So we can say SketchUp is a blessing for Film professionals. Some renowned designers like Tyruben Ellingson (Lead Vehicle Designer for Cameron’s AVATAR), Production Designer James Bissel (Zack Snyder’s ’300′), and the production design/ special effects team on Chris Nolan’s INCEPTION apply SketchUp successfully in their projects to make storyboards, digital lay-outs & virtual models for commercials, films, and visual effects.

References : The book "Film Directing: Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen" is a good resource, as is "Digital Moviemaking 3.0".

SketchUp with Film Making

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