February 21, 2022

Lumion 12: the Animation Tools

Video clips and movies are crucial tools to make your clients live your design. It’s not only the lights and materials  but also the narrative you create. It’s the movement inside the space and the  perspective at human eye level that you as  

an architect need to communicate for others to understand the subtleties of your creations.

Lumion comes with several features you can employ for your animations.

The simplest way to understand this is in  the hundreds of pre-animated library objects that you can place in your project. Take birds, for example. Simply select them and place them in your scene, and they will start flying in  circles around the insertion point.

Of course, these are not the  only models that are animated. People in Lumion bring different animations to the table.  

Some are idle. Some are walking.  And some are even cycling.

To make your people move, they  require a trajectory to follow, unlike what we saw with the birds.

A trajectory can either be from  Point A to Point B, or a path.

The most common way to animate people along  a non-linear direction, such as a curve,  

is to create a path.

The Lumion 12 UI for the Mass Move effect  comes with all the tools you need to control  the direction you want objects to follow. Click on ‘Edit’. Place a new path.

Then, set the first point just behind the model you want to move.

Now, move the cursor to a second point that represents the minimum required to define a path.  

If you want to add more points, hold the  CTRL-key when clicking on the project.

Then, you can use the ‘Play’  button to preview the animation.

If it doesn’t work right away, move one of the points slightly. This will initiate the animation.

To create smoother corners, click on a path point and you can increase the smoothness with the slider shown on the right.

The beauty of the Mass Move effect is that  the path will move any object placed on it, which is great for moving multiple objects  at once, including cars and cyclists.

This way, you don’t have to  animate them individually.

The four buttons under the  timeline of the Mass Move effect  

indicate the types of objects that will move.

You can select or deselect categories that you  want to be affected by a path in your animation.

At the same time, if you need the object  to move in the opposite direction,  

just click the direction toggle to reverse.



Take these cars, for example.  Click on ‘Place new path’ and set the first point in the center of the road. We’ll keep it simple, so let’s just add a second point in a straight line and make the path really wide to cover both  the pedestrian path and the traffic lanes.

Set the car speed slider to about 30 km/h and test if the speed is adequate.

Place a few more people on the pedestrian walkway and move the cars a bit further apart.

Click on ‘Play’ and you will see all the cars and people start to move.

When an object reaches the end of the path,  its position is reset to the start point.

This is not necessarily desirable in a video clip, so try to keep it off-camera.

Let’s suppose you need to create more complex movements for a single object.

Advanced Move is the effect that allows you to do that.

Say we want to show a small aircraft flying in the background.

Click on ‘Place’. Choose the ‘Air’ category and select one of the flying planes.

Place it in the far distance at a height of 100m.

It’s probably best to zoom the camera out a  bit, so you have a better overview of the scene. Now, let’s make a new animation clip at eye level. For example, here at the  walkway opposite the house,  add the Advanced Move effect and click on ‘Edit’.

Next, we need to select the object we want to move.

Add the first keyframe using the little icon with the + sign.

Now, move the time slider to the end of  the animation and set another keyframe.

To get the results we want out of this  animation, we need to move the plane  

to the location desired for that moment in time.

It can be tricky and you can  either calculate it or eyeball it.

First, click on ‘Move horizontally’ to  keep the plane at the same height.

Then, drag it to the end position.

Click on ‘Play’. Looks pretty reasonable.

Now, let’s see how it looks from  the camera position of the clip.

Click on ‘Save changes and then click on ‘Play’.

You can always go back to edit the start and end points, if you want, to make a more complex animation of the plane.

Eye-level walkthroughs are a  great way to showcase your work,  especially since they give a good  sense of space for the viewer.

A great use for the Advanced  Move effect in this context is to open doors while the  camera moves through them.

To make that happen, we need to separate the door  from the house and export it as a separate object.

In your 3D modeling software – in our case,  SketchUp – create a separate grouping of the door.

Hide the door and save your file.

In Lumion, select the house  and click on ‘Reimport model’.

If you gave it a different name, press the ALT key.

Now you have the house in Lumion without the door, but with all the materials settings  you made in Lumion preserved.

Now, let’s import the door as a separate object.

Go back to SketchUp and hide everything apart from the door group.

To make the door rotate around its hinges, we need to first shift the hinge  point to the file’s origin point.

Now, export the object as a Collada file.

Make sure you tick the ‘Export only selection set’ in the Export settings.

Import the door object in Lumion.

Place it at its initial location in the door frame, and add the door materials again.

Now, let’s make an animation  that starts in front of the house and goes through the door and ends inside, all at an eye-level height.

That goes a little bit too fast. Increase the time to 8 seconds and set the ‘Ease out’ to smooth.

That looks much better. As we approach the door, let’s open it.

At 5 seconds, it should start to open. And at 7 seconds, it should be completely open.

Add the Advanced Move effect. Click on ‘Edit’ and select the door.

Add a keyframe at the 0 timestamps, another one at 5 seconds, and the third one at 7 seconds.

At the third keyframe, set the door rotation heading to 90 degrees.

As you can see, the door  starts opening at 5 seconds and is completely open at 7 seconds. This is easy!

Let’s add the Daytime Style and render the clip. As you’ve seen in this tutorial, animating objects in a Lumion clip is pretty straightforward. All it takes is just a few clicks and we’re done.

Apart from the quality of the rendering,  creating a sense of movement is an important detail that every architect and visualization artist should keep in mind.

You can use the tricks I’ve just shown you to  boost the atmosphere of your clips, and with the intuitive design of the effects interface, it can  become a fun thing to implement in your projects.



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