Proper Animation is a very cool plugin

Somewhere near the top of SketchUp’s all-time list of feature requests, there’s a big, bold headline that reads ANIMATE THE MOVEMENT OF OBJECTS. It’s something all of us have wanted to do at one time or another. Unfortunately, it’s also not something we’ve managed to tackle just yet. And that’s why Ruby script plugins for SketchUp are so darn useful.

A while ago, I found out about a nice little plugin called Proper Animation. Watching the teaser video (below) inspired me to model and animate my very own robotic contraption. Shockingly, it only took me about half and hour to do; Proper Animation is refreshingly easy to figure out and use.

This script’s premise is that objects in your model—groups and components—can each have multiple positions. You manually assign each position to build an animation. Playing that animation involves using SketchUp’s already-existing Scenes feature. The really nice thing is that Proper Animation automatically connects positions to scenes.

The first thing you need to do is download and install the plugin. Its developer is MorisDov; you can find it on his site. Proper Animation also comes bundled with its own tutorial PDF. If you’re looking for even more encouragement/inspiration/support, you can check out the plugin’s SketchUcation thread.

Here’s how I recommend getting started with Proper Animation:

Step 1

Build a box and turn it into a group. This plugin only works with groups and components.

Step 2

Right-click the box and choose Proper Animation > Set Position – 1. This tells the plugin where the box should start out.

Step 3

Move the box using SketchUp’s Move tool. It doesn’t matter where you move it to.

Step 4

Right-click the box again and choose Proper Animation > Set Position – 2.

Step 5

Open the Scenes Manager (Window > Scenes) and create a couple of new scenes. Clicking the Add Scene button twice is the quickest way to do this.

Step 6

Choose Plugins > Proper Animation > Start Scenes Observer from the menu bar. This tells SketchUp to start paying attention to the Proper Animation plugin.

Step 7

Click the first scene tab and watch the box travel back to its original position. Now click the second scene tab to animate the box back to Position 2.

Step 8

Telephone Pixar to let them know you’ll be applying for a job shortly.

Proper Animation does a whole bunch of other stuff, too. There are controls for scene transition and delay timing, as well as fancier parameters like easing. You can use the plugin’s dedicated “Animation Attributes Map” dialog box to fiddle with individual settings. Extremely advanced people are even experimenting with combining animation and rendering—take a look at the most recent pages of this SketchUcation thread to read all about it.

Note: Running Proper Animation on my Mac with the latest version of SketchUp 8 installed, I’m experiencing some weird crashing that didn’t seem to happen before. Using the plugin in connection with Scenes (as described above) seems to resolve the issue, though.

Thanks to MorisDov for a truly nifty piece of technology. A thousand nerdy assembly line robot models owe their lives to you.

Googlers Down Under

Despite the recent flooding in Brisbane, Australia, (lca) will proceed from January 24th to 29th, and Googlers from across the company will be there. LCA is a community-run technical conference for free and open source software enthusiasts, featuring but not limited to Linux. In addition to the many Googlers who will be attending, several Googlers will also be presenting at the conference.

The conference starts on Monday the 24th with a day of miniconfs, and Nóirín Shirley from Google’s Zurich office will be presenting “Open Source: Saving the World” as part of the Haecksen track.

Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist Vint Cerf will start the day on Tuesday the 25th with his keynote presentation, and later that morning he will present “In Search of Transmission Capacity – a Multicore Dilemma.” On Tuesday afternoon, Google Summer of Code Administrator Carol Smith will give a “Google Summer of Code Update” at the FOSS in Research and Student Innovation Miniconf.

On Wednesday January 26th, Google staff engineer and Linux kernel committer Ted Ts’o will explain “Making file systems scale: A case study using ext4.”

Andrew Gerrand and Nigel Tao of the Go team will give attendees “A Tour of Go” on Thursday the 27th, and Nóirín will present “Baby Steps into Open Source – Incubation and Mentoring at Apache,” which is based on her experience at the Apache Software Foundation.

On Friday the 28th, Carol will present her talk, “The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Project Managers” in the morning. A little later in the day, Daniel Bentley and Daniel Nadasi of the open source and Geo teams respectively will talk about “Opening a Closed World,” followed by Marc MERLIN, who works on infrastructure at Google. Marc will discuss “Saving Money with Misterhouse: Running Your Lights and HVAC System. Scaring your cat off the kitchen counter is just a bonus 🙂

LCA always closes with Open Day, a free day-long event where the general public can leearn about open source, open data – all things “open”. The Open Day is on Saturday the 29th, and Cat Allman of the Open Source Programs Office will be presenting her talk, “What is Open Source?” there.

Come learn more about the latest happenings in open source, and join us in showing support for Brisbane’s recovery. We hope to see you there!