In this Simply Rhino video our Senior Rhino 3D trainer, Phil Cook, looks at creating a Sun Study Animation with Rhino 7 data from KeyShot 10.

How KeyShot helps create animation easily

Rhino, of course, has the capability to create Sun Study Animations but the benefit of using KeyShot as described is that the Sun Study can be combined with Camera movement and Object animation. KeyShot 10 makes creating this type of animation extremely straightforward and here Phil guides us through the simple steps involved.

The subject of this video is an apartment block so those using, or looking to use, Rhino3D and KeyShot in an architectural context will find this video of particular interest.

You can watch the video here and if you would like to follow along using the video transcript you’ll find this at the bottom of this page.

To learn more about KeyShot you can visit the KeyShot product page on the Simply Rhino website, you can also find out about our KeyShot training options, including a 1-day KeyShot essentials training course delivered by Phil, details of that course can be found here.

If you are interested in our previous Rhino and KeyShot video material you can find more on this site, including a video from last year in which we looked at the new features of KeyShot 9 that were of particular interest to Rhino users.

Rhino 7 and KeyShot 10 Sun Study Animation Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Phil from Simply Rhino and in this video, I’m going to take a look at creating this simple Sun Study Animation from Rhino 7 and KeyShot 10. We can, of course, create a Sun Study Animation straight from Rhino but by using KeyShot we can animate not only the Sun, but also the Camera, and Objects themselves.

The starting point for the Animation is this Rhino model of an apartment block and the surrounding context. The layers are organised on a per material basis so that we can set materials up quickly once the data is in KeyShot.

In the Rhino model, I’ve created these 9 surfaces that sit on the underside of the ceiling and these will become the internal lighting objects for the apartment block.

If I run the animation again, you’ll see that as well as the sun movement, there is a camera zoom and the lights in the apartment turn on at dusk and off just before the end of the animation. So we’ll look at creating these three elements in KeyShot.

In Rhino I’ve applied a single neutral material to all of the objects, and I’ll use the KeyShot Live Linking plug-in to push the data to KeyShot 10.

Once the model opens in KeyShot the single material is retained along with the Named Camera that I created in Rhino, and if I go to the Scene Manager the Rhino Layers are all there in the Apartment Block Model Set. So, my next task now is to apply a simple KeyShot material to each one of these layers and Save the File.

Once this is done, I’m going to go to the Lighting Tab and check that I just have the Basic Lighting Mode enabled. I’m going to change this later but, for now, the Basic Mode is going to give me fairly quick Previews of the Scene.

Next, I’m going to go to Environment Tab and then the HDRI Editor and I’m going to switch from ‘Image’ to ‘Sun and Sky’. Next, I’ll choose my location and I’ll select Madrid from the list here and set the Date to 9th August 2021.

I’ll pull back the time a little bit and, looking at the shadows, I’ll rotate the Environment to get those shadows coming over to the right like so.

Once the Environment is roughly set I can now add the animation. I can do this by Right-Clicking on ‘Environment’ here and Select ‘Add Animation’ and I’ll choose ‘Sun and Sky Day Arc’.

Doing this launches the Animation panel – with the Timeline Editor and the Properties Panel – and gives me a pre-set animation that starts at dawn and ends at dusk based on my chosen location and time of year that I set previously here. Also, in this panel I can see that the animation is set to a default of 5 seconds – that’s a little bit short for me and so I’m going to make it 15 seconds.

In the timeline editor here I’m just going to pull back on this little slider here just so I can see all 15 seconds of the animation in the Timeline without Scrolling. – SLOWLY – If I drag the ‘Playhead’ I can ‘Scrub’ through the animation just like I can in video editor.

Okay now you’ll remember that we had some lights in the animation and in order to be able to see those I really want to extend the end of animation further into the night – so I’m going to make the start time 5AM and the end time 10PM. Now, when I scrub the Playhead through the latter part of the animation I can clearly see those internal lights.

One thing to be wary of here is that when I scrub through the Timeline, make sure that if the Playhead is at the Start or the End of the Animation that I don’t accidentally drag the Work Area markers with or instead of the Playhead.

Next I’m going to add the ‘Camera Animation’. I’m going to go to my Active Camera in the Project Tab – this is the saved Camera from Rhino – and I’m going to Right Click on it and Choose ‘Add Zoom Animation’. The new animation is added to the Timeline and, once more, it will default to a length of 5 seconds from the Playhead position. I’m going to drag this out to 15 seconds or of course I can do this here by typing the value into the Properties pane.

What I want to do here is to have my existing Camera View at the end of the animation and zoom into this from a wider focal length. So, I’m going to set my ‘Start Focal Length’ to 20mm and my ‘End Focal Length’ to the current 35mm.

Now I can Preview this zoom motion – and, to make this easier to see, it may be worth going to the Window Menu and selecting the ‘Geometry View’.

Once I’m happy with the motion I can get a better idea of what’s going on by rendering out a Preview Animation. I’ll do this by clicking on the ‘Preview’ button in the Timeline Editor.

Now I can play through the animation and I can check the path of the sun and the camera movement looks okay. I may need reduce the exposure at some stage as it looks a little bright at midday – but Ican see that generally things are looking okay.

However, just at the start here I can see where the horizon of the Sun and Sky Environment is and this just needs to be lowered slightly – so I’ll look at this in a moment.

I can Save the Animation Preview if necessary but for now I won’t bother with this., but I will, however, Save the KeyShot file itself.

Next, I want to go to the start of the animation and go to the Environment Tab here and go to ‘Settings’ and just reduce the height of the Environment just slightly just to get rid of that little bit there.

Next, I want to look at the lights. If I drag the Playhead all the way to the end of the Timeline then I can see that the lights stay on constantly throughout the animation. What I want is for them to come on at Dusk and go off before the end of the animation. So, I’ll drag the Playhead to Dusk and I can clearly see that the Are Lights are on – and I’ll use this point as a position in the timeline for when I want the lights to come on.

Before I add the animation, I’m going to go to the Camera Tab and I’m going to Lock the Active Camera just so I don’t inadvertently move anything whilst I’m working.

I’m going to go to my Material Tab here and open up the Area Light material; now you’ll see that I have a fairly high value for this Area Light which means that it is visible during the day part of the animation. If I now go into the Material Graph here then what I can do is to Right Click on the Canvas, go to Animation and I can select Colour Fade.

Now, I won’t connect this Colour Fade yet, but if I double click on the Colour Fade here you’ll see the properties for this – and what I can do here is to create a simple Black and White Ramp or Gradient. In simple terms Black is ‘Off’ and white is ‘On’ and a greyscale value will dim the illumination.

So, at the start here I want to make this Black so that the Area Light is Off and then I want to add in another marker and move this fairly close to the first one and make this White.

Next, I want to add another marker here and push this close to the end and make that one White.

So, what’s going to happen here is that when we apply this colour fade the Area Light is going to turn On gradually and turn Off gradually.

So, I’ll connect the Colour Fade to the Area Light and adjust the area in the Timeline where the animation is going to take place. Now that I’ve added the animation the Area Light is Off apart from the animated area. As I move the Playhead here in the middle of this area I can see the light is On and if I move the Playhead backwards I can see the light comes on gradually.

Okay that looks good but I’ll just Render out another Preview to make sure.

That all looks good, the Horizon is now at the correct height and the Area Lights come on at the correct time – as well as playing the Preview, I can scrub along the Preview Timeline here.

Once I’m happy with the animation, I can make any necessary tweaks to the Materials, Environment, Illumination etcetera – and one important thing I want to do here is to go into the Lighting Tab and switch now to Interior Lighting mode. This will mean that my images will take longer to generate but that the quality of the illumination is going to be a lot better.

Now I can go to the ‘Render’ Menu and select ‘Render’ – and to render out the complete animation I can first of all switch to ‘Animation’ and I can set my image size here and I’ll set it to 1920×1080 pixels.
I can choose either the ‘Work Area’ or ‘Frame Range’ or the ‘Entire Duration’ of the animation and I can choose to output to a Video in a number of different formats or I can choose to output a number of Still Frames and put those together in a video editor.

As with static Rendering I can choose Layers and Passes but more important here I can go into Options and I can set my Options for Quality and then I can either press ‘Render’ or add this to a queue to render out later on.

So, thanks for watching and please leave any comments below. If you’ve found this video useful then please hit the ‘like’ button and, remember that to keep up with the latest developments in Rhino and KeyShot you can subscribe to this channel. At Simply Rhino we offer training for Rhino and all its key plug-ins – including KeyShot – so check out our website for more details.

Thanks again for watching and I’ll catch up with you in the next video.