SketchUp’s Animation Export Options Settings - dummies

SketchUp’s Animation Export Options Settings

By Aidan Chopra, Rebecca Huehls

Digital video can be complicated. Lucky for you, you don’t really have to know exactly what everything means to export the right kind of movie; you just have to know how to set up everything in SketchUp. The Animation Export Options dialog box is the same for each of the video file formats that SketchUp offers; here’s a brief guide to the settings:

  • Resolution: This use of the word resolution refers to the pixel dimensions — the physical size — of your video. SketchUp Make (the free version) lets you choose from three standard sizes, whereas SketchUp Pro provides a Custom option for more flexibility. Here’s what the terms mean:
    • 1080p Full HD yields a video that is 1920 pixels wide and 1080 pixels high. This is the highest resolution that most newer televisions can display, and it’s even higher than a lot of laptops can handle natively. Choose this option only if you know you’ll need it; exporting this many pixels takes a long time.
    • 720p HD, which is 1280 pixels wide by 720 pixels high, is the most common resolution for high-quality exported video. This size looks good on computer screens and televisions, and it’s the recommended upload resolution for YouTube and Vimeo. Chances are good that this is the resolution for you.
    • 480p SD, at only 854 pixels wide by 480 pixels high, will probably look small on most computer screens. This is the resolution used for DVDs, which every 16-year-old knows are weird artifacts from the distant past. Use 480p if file size is a concern.
    • Custom is available only if you’re using the Pro version of SketchUp. Choosing this option “unlocks” settings for Aspect Ratio and Frame Size.
  • Aspect Ratio: This refers to the proportions of your video frame; the first name refers to the width and the second to the height. Common aspect ratios for film and video are 16:9 (which is wide) and 4:3 (which is more square). If you’re using SketchUp Pro, you can choose Custom and put whatever you want into the Frame Size fields below this setting.
  • Frame Size: Pro users can pick their own video frame dimensions. Go nuts, big spender.
  • Preview Frame Size: This is actually an incredibly handy button. Click it to see a green box preview of how big your video will look on your screen. Click the preview to make it go away when you’re done.
  • Frame Rate: Different video technologies use different frame rates. Using more frames/second (fps) results in smoother motion but bigger files and longer processing times. Generally speaking, 30 fps is a good sweet spot. If you’re worried about big files, try 15 fps and see how that looks.
  • Restore Defaults: Replaces your hard drive’s contents with a looping, 8-second video montage of Keanu Reaves’s greatest cinematic moments. Just making sure you’re still paying attention — this button puts everything in Export Options back the way it was before you started messing around.
  • Loop to Starting Scene: Automatically ends your video on the scene you started with, rather than the last scene in the sequence. This option is handy if you want your movie to end exactly how it started.
  • Anti-alias Rendering: Choosing this doubles the amount of time it takes for your animation to export, but it makes your edges look much smoother in the final movie. You’ll almost certainly want to select this option.
  • Transparent Background (Mac only): If you’re planning to use your exported movie with advanced video editing software, this is something that might interest you. Otherwise, you should probably leave this option deselected.
  • Always Prompt for Animation Options (Windows only): Select this to force SketchUp to show you the Animation Export Options dialog box every time you export a movie.