SU Podium V2 is a photo-realistic rendering plug-in to SketchUp 7 or 8. SU Podium employs ray tracing and global illumination to create photo-realistic images. Ray tracing simulates the path of a ray of light as it would be absorbed or reflected by various SketchUp textures or faces. Global Illumination or GI is an algorithm that takes into account not only the light which comes directly from a light source like Sky Light or the Sun, but also subsequent cases in which light rays from the same source are reflected by other faces in the scene (indirect illumination). SU Podium V2's GI is far superior to previous versions of Podium. For more information about Ray tracing and GI, please read about it in Wikipedia.org.
Are you still using SU Podium 1.x? Need a guide to help you compare SU Podium 1.x with V2? Click here for the V2 Migration guide.
SU Podium V2 requires SketchUp 7 or 8. Windows version requires Windows XP, Vista or 7. Mac version will require OS-X 10.6.x or above. The V2 engine is multi-threaded meaning it will take advantage of all your CPU core's. You also need a reasonable amount of RAM to hold 3d scene data. The more RAM you have, the more complex models you can render. However, currently SU Podium V2 is a 32 bit application. Therefore any RAM above 4 gigabytes will not be used.
The install process is straight forward and in most cases will require no input from the user. The main thing to be aware of is which version of SketchUp you are using. When you purchase SU Podium V2 from Cadalog, Inc's web store or from your reseller, you will receive a web page link that has the SU Podium V2 versions to download. You will also receive a 16 digit license code. If you need to reinstall SU Podium V2 for some reason, go to the Free Trial page and download the free evaluation version and activate the trial version with your license code. Alternative, click on this link to go to the Version 2 web page and download from here.
(If you are using the evaluation version, ignore this dialog box and wait for the process scene to finish to continue to evaluate.)
After installing SU Podium V2 for SketchUp 7 or 8, you can access SU Podium V2 from the SketchUp plug-ins pull down menu or from the SU Podium V2 tool bar.
Before you render your first SketchUp model, get familiar with the Options dialog box and the various settings that are controlled there. We also recommend that render a sample model from here SU Podium V2 models pageas a way to test Podium.
To introduce yourself to V2's rendering process, do a quick render of your model. First click on the Options menu from the pull down or the tool bar. In the preset pull down list, pick Default.pps. This preset is not the best but the easiest to start with. In the Output tab, under Dimensions, pick a Fixed size or the default Viewport size for the rendered image size. Click the OK button. Then pick the Render menu from the pull-down or tool bar. A series of sequences will happen after clicking on the Render icon or menu. If this is you first render, you will be prompted to Activate your license.
Once Raytracing starts you can click on the Preview menu in the Podium Render Manager to view the render progress dynamically. The Preview image will be smaller than the final rendered image. As a default, the final rendered image will be saved to the folder that the SketchUp model is saved in unless you change the location for saved images to be saved in. Please read about this in the Options section.
Click on this link to go to the SU Podium V2 models page. You can do download five render ready SketchUp models to test results.
The following Help pages will guide you through Installation and using and applying SU Podium. Please take a moment and read through the Installation chapter if you are having difficulty with the install. If you are having trouble finding your serial number, please take a look at the FAQ section of this web site. There is a detailed description of how to find your serial number. In addition, you can get support from the following areas:
If you are using SU Podium V2.9 or above, click on the About menu item in the SU Podium V2 pull down menu. This will link to a web page which will display the version number. If you do not have an About menu option, you are using a version prior to SU Podium V2.9. SU Podium V2 users can get free updates here - Current Version 2 page.
If you are using a version prior to V2.9, a quick way to see what version of SU Podium V2 you are running is to use the Information Bar that gets attached to a rendered image. You will need to turn on the information bar and render something to see the version number you are running.
Please look at this check list of items that will help in supporting your SU Podium installation.
The Options menu has important settings that allow you to choose presets, resolution size for the rendered image, image file format (JPG/PNG/HDR), transparent, where to save your rendered images and various Environment settings such as Physical Sky vs SketchUp Sky, sun exposure and intensity, caustic, clay and soft omni lights.
There are three categories of presets that have been crafted for certain rendering environments. Presets were created to control hidden variables that effect things like Physical Sky’s turbidity, sun brightness and contrast, ray trace bounces, amount of ambient light, tone mapping variables, anti-aliasing, etc.
The categories of presets are default, exterior and interior. The presets are saved in the Preset folder in the SU Podium V2 folder. Presets can be opened and edited with a text editor if you know what you are doing.
This page does not describe how to edit the presets. If you do desire to edit the presets, visit the the Preset Page. Presets have a file extensions of .pps. This means that your Windows Explorer or Mac OS may confuse the preset file for a PowerPoint file. Make sure you open a preset with a text editor like Notepad.
The fastest raytracing preset is default. However, default preset has not been calibrate for exterior or interior SketchUp environments. Default is a general purpose preset.
Interior and Exterior presets have been crafted for the SketchUp Interior or Exterior environment. Interior would be defined as a model or scene that is indoors. Exterior would be primarily an outdoor environment. There are four types of interior and four types of exterior presets.
Interior presets. Currently there are four which include the default, high, QMC and Preview versions. The most widely used interior preset is the interior_default.pps. The interior presets have increased levels of global illumination. The best use of the interior presets are with interior models. You will notice that interior presets expose a lot of light. Therefore experimenting with this preset and how much light is in the interior space that you are rendering is important. Please read here on Tips for Interior Lighting.
The QMC presets are the highest quality but will take the longest to render. QMC presets are good to get rid of blotches if you have a blotches problem. See here about blotches.The Preview presets have minimize resampling phase which includes means very little anti-aliasing so are good for quick previews but not for final renderings.
Exterior presets. Exterior presets are made for exterior renderings. Exterior presets are highly recommended for exterior renderings that use sun and sky as a primary source for light. There are default, high, QMC and Preview types of Exterior presets.
Exterior lighting is greatly effected by whether or not SU Podium's Physical Sky is used, whether or not SketchUp Shadows are on (sun light), and the if Physical Sky is not on, how dark the background color of the SketchUp environment is, the color of the textures. Please read the section below on items in the Environment tab to understand your various sky options. Also read about setting up your model for Exterior renderings here.
Please take a look at this FAQ section for information on sun and sky brightness and how to best control this. Click Here.
Preset Alternatives. Take a look at the Presets page to see what other presets are available for download.
The full version will have Fixed sizes and Custom sizes for resolution. The trial version has limited resolution sizes. Viewport resolution means the rendered image is restricted to your SketchUp viewport resolution size. In other words, the image resolution will match the pixel size of your SketchUp viewport. For example, if you have a 1600 X 900 pixel computer screen and the SketchUp viewport is full screen, then your rendered image resolution will be close to 1600 X 900 pixels.
The choice of resolutions sizes include Fixed sizes or custom sizes. Fixed sizes are 230X150, 640X480, 1024X768, 2048X1536, 3076X2304, 4076X3304, Wide screen resolutions of 16:9 aspect ratios of 852X480, 1600X900, 1920X1080. Custom sizes mean that you can enter any pixel height and width such as 8000 X 5000. Keep in mind that you should chose pixels sizes that much the aspect ratio of your computer's monitor if you want the entire SketchUp viewport to be rendered.
SU Podium V2 gives you the option to choose PNG/JPG/HDR as saved image formats. You can save your images to a folder of your choice if you choose Custom. Click on the Browse button to choose the folder you would like to save your rendered images in.
There is no print feature in SU Podium. To print your rendered image, you need to use a image processing program such as Paint Shop or Photoshop. Click here to read about printing your image.
With the PNG format on, Transparent will create rendered images with alpha transparent backgrounds so that you can easily add your own sky background image to rendered .png file in an image editor program. Click Here for more detail on Transparent backgrounds
Reflections, refractions, bump maps, LEM lights and other properties are applied to a specific texture globally in the model.
Select a SketchUp texture you want to apply Podium properties too. You can select the texture by selecting the face that the texture is on or you can select the texture directly from the SketchUp Material browser. When you make a texture selection, its name will appear at the top of the Podium Material Property dialog box.
(Please Note: Textures that are assigned to curved surfaces or back side of faces, should be selected from the SketchUp Material browser or with the i-dropper icon. These textures will not automatically appear in the V2 material editor. Please see known issues below. )
Once a selection is made, apply the various Podium properties to the texture by using the appropriate slider. This will turn the texture into a Podium material.
Please Note: You must click on the Apply button for the properties to be applied to the material.
Diffuse, Transparency and Reflections are connected to each other. The combined value of the three sliders should equal 100% when applied to a texture. The default setting for non-transparent materials is 100% diffuse. However, if you want to see direct reflections on that texture, move the Reflection slider to the right. The Diffuse slider will automatically move left. Diffuse is reflection that does not bounce directly back to the camera but reflects at an angle. An example of the difference between Diffuse and direct reflection might be the reflection of a paved road. When it is dry, it has more diffuse reflection. When it is wet, it has more direct reflections. You can not have 100% Reflection (direct) and 100% Diffuse. Otherwise the material will render strangely.
Confused about Diffuse? Click Here
Transparency is the SketchUp transparency/ opacity property conveniently located here. It is not wise to have a high transparency and a high reflection value. That is not real world and you renderings will look odd. The rule of thumb is to combine the 3 sliders to make 100%.
Refraction is where light waves "bend" when passing through a material with a refractive index. A good example of this is a straw placed at an angle in a glass of water. The water has a refractive index of 1.33. The straw looks bent at the surface of the water. Although there is no such material as air in Podium, if there was it would have a refractive index of 1. Version 2 has a list of preset refractive indexes for certain materials. To use Refraction on a texture, select the texture and enter a refractive index. Check out a good explanation of refraction here - Wikipedia
Both Reflections and Refractions have a blur option. The render speed will slow down if you choose the blur option but the reflections will look very realistic.
Bump Depth slider will allow you to apply bump maps to textures. Bump values are different to V1.x, and a value of 1 produces an extremely subtle effect suitable for water.
The Light slider in the material properties will apply LEM (Light Emitting Material) to the texture you have selected. LEM lights are one type of artificial light source in SU Podium V2 and will create lights that emit light in one direction away from the face of the texture. LEM lights are easy to create and are quick to render. Light slider is the LEM light slider. Pick a texture and apply the light slider. This will turn that texture into a LEM Light. You can pick a value from 1 to 100. The values must be whole numbers.
High Intensity check box is applied to the LEM Light. When High Intensity is on, single digit power values should be used. Otherwise the LEM light will be extremely bright. In most cases, you will not need the High Intensity option.
Hidden LEM is a feature that will hide the material and SketchUp face that the material is on in the rendered image. The LEM light will be displayed but the SketchUp geometry and material will not be displayed in the final image.
See more about artificial and natural lights below in section C.
Anti-aliasing is an image process that is used in SU Podium that subtly smooths the jagged edges of objects in the image. In SU Podium, it is the last step in creating the photo-realistic image. It is a global setting that is equally applied through out the image. The SU Podium presets determine how much anti-aliasing will occur. For example the exterior_high and interior_high presets will apply a greater degree of anti-aliasing than other presets. However, there are times, where you want some materials to have more or less anti-aliasing that what the preset has determined. For example, you may have a 3D tree model that has a leaf material applied to hundreds of leaves in the model. The anti-aliasing of the leaves could take minutes or longer. In that case, you may want to have no or low anti-aliasing applied to the leaf material. This will reduce the overall render time of the hundreds of leaves but still retain high anti-aliasing for the rest of the model.
SU Podium V2 has two types of natural lights. Sky and Sun. These are both "exterior" lights but can have great influence on interior renderings if your models have openings to the exterior such as windows and doors.
Sky light is an ambient, exterior and uniform light source being emitted from the "sky". It is analogues to an overcast day where the sunlight is hidden. Sky light is always on. However, if you have interior designs with no openings to the exterior, sky light will be shut out.
Sky light brightness is controlled by a variety of variables. One is the preset you choose from the Preset list in the Options menu. Another is whether you use SketchUp Sky or Podium's Physical Sky, also selected from the Options menu in the Environment section. If you have selected SketchUp Sky, SketchUp's background colors will control the sky light's brightness. If you have selected Podium's Sky or Physical Sky, SketchUp background colors will be ignored. Rather the time of day will be an important factor in sky light color and brightness. Also the Sun/ Sky Brightness sliders in the Options menu will have some influence.
Sun light is another source of natural light. Sun light is only on when SketchUp Shadows are on. The sun's brightness and exposure are controlled by a number of variables:
But don't be intimidated by these variables. Take a look at the Options section below and try some settings.
The Light slider in the material properties menu will apply LEM (Light Emitting Material) to the specific texture you have selected. LEM lights are one type of artificial light source in SU Podium V2 and will create lights that emit light in one direction away from the face of the texture. LEM lights are easy to create and are quick to render. Light slider is the LEM light slider. Pick a texture and apply the light slider. This will turn that texture into a LEM Light. You can pick a value from 1 to 100. The values must be whole numbers.
High Intensity check box is applied to the LEM Light. When High Intensity is on, single digit power values should be used. Otherwise the LEM light will be extremely bright. In most cases, you will not need the High Intensity option.
Note: Unlike Podium 1.X, V2 will apply Podium properties globally to textures. If you select a certain texture to have light, every surface in the entire model with that texture applied will emit light.
When Hidden LEM option is checked on, the LEM light will be rendered but the SketchUp face and material that the LEM is applied to will not be rendered. This is a very useful feature if you want to hide the LEM light source and keep the light. Below is a simple example.
Omni light or Point light (name is used interchangeably in this document) is an artificial light source which emits light uniformly in all directions, similar to a light bulb. To insert an omni light or point light, click on the icon in the tool bar. This will invoke the Podium Light System dialog box.
There are some things to consider before creating an omni light.
Power. The light power value for omni lights ranges from 1 to 100. Because light power is relative the the amount of ambient and natural light in the image and to the angle of your camera, you will need to experiment with power levels.
Color. Color is self explanatory. Just as in the Light Properties menu, there is a color picker which allows you to apply various colors to the spot light. Default color is white.
Placement. Once you have made Power and Color selection, click on Create. The omni lights have an intuitive inference method of placement based on a temporary XYZ axis with green, red and blue lines coming out from the center of the axis.
Beam Angles. This option is reserved for Spot Lights only.
Read more about the Podium Light System here.
It's easy to adjust light power and color for omni/ point lights. Select the the light point component in SketchUp. You can do this by picking the component (very small) or finding it in SketchUp's outliner. The point light will have a name that starts as light-point. Once the light point component is selected, pick the light bulb icon from the SU Podium V2 tool bar or menu. Adjust the light power from this dialog box. You can use decimal values for omni/ point lights. To change color, pick the Browse button from this dialog box and then pick the color you want from the color user interface.
For LEMs lights, select the material with the SketchUp texture i-dropper and adjust the slider in the Podium Material Properties dialog box. LEM lights only accept whole numbers. LEM light is a material property so different from a omni/ point light.
As a default, omni lights/ point lights have "hard" shadows meaning the edge of the shadow cast by the omni light is hard. There is a soft shadow option that makes the omni lights look more natural. This option is accessed from the Options menu in the Environment tab. There is a significant render speed cost when using this option.
Podium Light System is both a spot light and omni lights (point lights) system. Spot lights are a type of omni light. However, spot lights have one more option - beam angles. Please read about Spot Lights
Before rendering, you may want to check the Options menu, to see where the rendered image will be saved and to look at other settings. As a default, the rendered image will be saved to the same folder that your SketchUp model is in. However, the rendered image can be saved in a folder of your choice. There is no browse button to find the folder of your choice. You must key in the address to save the images.
To start the rendering process, click on the Render icon from the Tool bar..
Once the rendering process is invoked, you can preview the rendering progress by picking the Preview menu in the Podium Render Manager UI (OOPR).
Generate has two useful purposes. Generate essentially is a manual way for Podium to create a .script file that can then be run in the Podium Render Manager. This allows you to run the .script later if you like. It also gives you an alternative, in case OOPR does not get initiated automatically during the rendering process.
If you click Generate from the SU Podium V2 pull down menu, Podium will generate a .script file and save it to a folder of your choice. Generate will render using your current Options settings. The textures of the particular model will also be saved in the same folder as the .script file. You can later Add the .script file to the Podium Render Manager enabling you to render scripts whenever you choose. You can even stack scripts in the Podium Render Manager (OOPR) to render the scripts in sequence.
To run .scripts inside SketchUp, open Podium Render Manager (OOPR) by choosing Podium Render Manager from the SU Podium V2 pull down menu (you will need to install Version 2.8 or above). Then use Add File. Then Start if the rendering does not automatically commence.
Alternatively, you can open OOPR from outside of SketchUp and Add the script file without invoking the Render function.
Once you have the OOPR window open, click on Add File and add the .script file. Rendering will commence when you do that.
Using Generate is also one way to trouble shoot a model that hiccups in Podium.
Tools is accessed from the SU Podium V2 pull down menu. There is no tool bar icon for Tools. Tools is provided to help you analyse and reset the SketchUp model for Podium material and light properties.
Analyse Model - this feature will Analyse the SketchUp model and return a dialog box which will display information about Podium properties. The information includes: Podium V2 Light Sources and Materials properties in the model. Analyse will list how many point lights, LEM and reflective faces are in the model. It will also list the names of the materials that have Podium V2 properties on them. It will also display any materials that have that have a combination of LEM and reflection properties on them. Reflection and LEM properties on the same material will result in black rendered textures or crashes. Furthermore, Tools now detects textures that are .psd and .pdf files which do not render.
Analyse will not display properties that are created by Automatic Materials.
Toggle Point Lights - This tool will turn off (and back on) all the point lights (omni lights) in your model. As with Reset Materials, make a re-named copy of your model before using this tool.
Render Manager will invoke the OOPR user interface without you having to start a render process. This is handy if you want to render scripts that you created using Generate.
About will display a web page that will show the SU Podium V2 version number that you are using. There will be other pertinent information in this web page.
Podium Browser is part of SU Podium V2 and gives you access to hundreds of Podium V2 ready light fixtures, alpha transparent plants and trees and SketchUp high resolution textures. Podium Browser comes installed with SU Podium V2.4 and above. It also has a Paid section, which requires a purchase of another license. This will give you access to thousands of more advanced light fixtures, 3D plants and Podium render ready materials. Click here for more detail on Podium Browser.
Omni Grid is a plug-in for SU Podium V2 that allows you to create a grid of point lights ( omni lights) above or below a planar surface (SketchUp face). By creating a grid of omni lights, Omni Grid creates a relatively even source of light over a wide space. It is best for interior rendering. An alternative to omni grid is LEM or Hidden LEM.
Omni Grid is a free plug-in. It does not come installed with SU Podium. You do need to install it separately. As with all SketchUp plug-ins, close SketchUp completely (quit SketchUp in the Mac) before installing. Make sure you install for the correct version of SketchUp. If installed correctly, when you open SketchUp, OmniGridV2 is a accessed through SketchUp's context sensitive menu. Select a face and right click.
A possibly better alternative to OmniGrid V2 is using LEM on a material. LEM lighting will give you a very even source of interior lighting. OmniGrid V2 is a grid of point lights therefore the lighting will have bright spots. Many V2 users that used OmniGrid in Podium 1.x, like OmniGrid and that is the primary reason why it has been retained in V2. Please read about LEM material property in the LEM light section here before using OmniGrid V2.
Click on download page for Omni Grid V2
Check the download page for free SU Podium plug-ins Download page
A function that will invoke Podium's rendering from a Ruby script or from the Ruby Console is included in V2. The command is Podium::render( :filename => '' ) . Include the file name without extensions between ' and ' if you want the script to render to a specific file name. Podium will append the file name with 0000. If you want a unique file name do not use the ( :filename => '' ).
Render All Scenes is a feature that allows you to render all the SketchUp scenes in a model in sequence. When invoked, Render All, renders each scene and saves the image in the SU Podium image save folder. This enables you to batch render several scenes in sequence or even create photo-realistic animation especially if you have created the SketchUp scenes using SU Animate. Render All is still in beta for SU Podium V2. It is a Ruby Script that needs to be saved to your plugins folder. Please download RenderAll from the Download page.