Sketchup to Cinema 4D: Importing Sky Data and Geolocation

Photo of Mike Heighway

Instructor Mike Heighway

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Sketchup’s sky data and geolocation can be imported into Cinema 4D.

Sketchup’s sky data and geolocation can be imported into Cinema 4D. This is particularly useful if you want to recreate the lighting and shadows of a model from Sketchup within Cinema 4D for rendering. This video shows you how.



- Sketchup is used heavily in the profession of architecture, where it is often good practice to do design with the position of the sun in mind. One powerful feature of Sketchup is the ability to place your design anywhere on the globe. Cinema 4D has a similar capability, and importing sky data from Sketchup is very simple. Of course, you might want to capture the sky data from models outside of architecture. In either case, we'll review how to pull in sun positioning and latitude/longitude information into Cinema 4D in this video. Let's go ahead and open our Sky Data folder here, and open the Sky Data file in Sketchup. We'll see I have the cube house that I've been sort of building on in this tutorial series. Well, first, if you don't see your shadows, make sure that you have Shadows selected here in View. The other thing we'll want to do is pull up in Window our shadows box here. I've set this to UTC -7, because I'm here in Denver. The time is 2:00 p.m., and the date is set to the middle of the summer. That's not quite accurate to right now, but I know that the sun is basically directly overhead at roughly 70 degrees and that it should be casting a shadow somewhat like this during this time of the year. I've now also provided myself with two gnomes. So what I'm doing is these two cubes are placed in here, marking roughly where the edge of the shadow should be. Now, this is just more for illustration purposes. Sometimes I do this on files where I just want to verify that there's consistency across programs. So let's go ahead and open Sky Data in Cinema 4D, and see how this handles. So I'll drag this into Cinema. Again, our dialog box here, we want to make sure that this first selection, Daylight System/Physical Sky, is selected. That's all we really need to select, and we'll say OK. Now, here is our building. Now, in order to render anything, if I just hit the Render button, there's no shadows. Physical sky is present, but we need to activate it. Now, this is a bit funny, and this is going to get fixed in the next update for Cinema 4D, hopefully this late spring, early summer. What's going on here is we just have to twirl down our city under, so I've got Physical Sky selected, Time and Location in the attributes selected, and I twirl down at the city setting here. We actually verified this. This is the correct latitude, correct longitude. The one thing we have to do is move into our Daylight Saving, and just turn this to Off. That then, when I render out, the shadow shows correctly that this is in fact falling just like it should be in Sketchup. I'll go ahead and render to the viewport, so that is in fact accurate. That is how you pull in very simply your sky data into Cinema 4D. Very clean, easy process, and your model is placed appropriately with the right shadows and everything. I should add that you can go ahead and change this stuff, so that if you like, you can go into North America, USA. Let's say you're in Chicago, you can change that, the latitude and longitude, keep the time the same. You'll notice the time zone is different, and if I hit Render here you'll notice the shadow falls a little bit differently. So you can go ahead and update this stuff. You can change the time if you so desire. Roll it forward a little bit, hit Render, you'll notice that the shadows getting cast are a little bit longer and sort of the hues in the sky have changed a bit. But this is just a really handy way to pull in that sky data into Cinema.
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