What is SU Podium?
SU Podium V2.5 Plus employs advanced rendering technology but sticks to it’s original intention: To make photo-realistic rendering for SketchUp an easy and rewarding task. The user interface is simply and does not require advanced knowledge of rendering techniques.
- Raytracing and Global Illumination: SU Podium uses a photon mapping algorithm that provides accurate raytracing and global illumination that yields beautiful, photo-realistic images. Although the user does not have to be aware of what technology is being used, it’s important to note that you can obtain high quality images with realistic reflection and lighting, quickly.
- Multi-Threading: SU Podium uses multi-threading of your CPU so much of the rendering process will use all your processors (Dual/ Quad/ Eight).
- Cross-platform accessibility: SU Podium V2.5 Plus also supports 64 bit as well 32 bit, Windows or Mac operating systems, with support for SketchUp 8 thru SketchUp 2019. Over 50,000 licenses have been sold world wide.
Realistic Materials: An essential part of creating SketchUp models is applying textures to faces. SU Podium can turn these plain textures into very realistic materials, quickly and intuitively via the Podium material user interface. Reflections, refractions, bump maps and other advanced properties can be applied to a specific SketchUp materials. When rendered these properties bring the model to life by reflecting light and the environment. You can use standard SketchUp materials as well higher resolution textures from a variety of libraries as well as Podium Browser content.
Related to Materials:
- Podium Browser Materials: Podium library of higher resolution textures and hundreds of pre-made render ready Podium materials in the Podium Browser.
- Automatic Materials: When Automatic Materials is on, SU Podium understand that certain SketchUp standard materials will be assigned pre-defined Podium photo-realistic material properties. Using this option can save you a lot of time in applying good reflection, blur, refraction or bump properties to materials if you are using SketchUp standard materials.
Lighting up exteriors and interiors: SU Podium V2.5 has two types of natural lights. Sky and Sun. These are both “exterior” lights but will have a lot of effect on interior renderings if you are using windows and openings to the exterior.
- Sky Light: – Sky light is an ambient light source applied evenly to the entire SketchUp background sky.
- Sun Light – Sun light is a directional light source that uses SketchUp’s sky and shadow settings (SketchUp shadows must be turned on). The sun’s brightness, exposure, and shadow direction can easily be controlled by changing SketchUp’s time of day and year in the Shadows dialog. When sun light is on, you can use Podium’s Physical Sky to create a realistic sky background with atmospheric qualities such as turbidity and realistic tone-mapping.
Omni & Spot Lights. Omni light or Point light 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 point light icon in the tool bar and drag an omni light into the model. The omni light/ point light is a SketchUp group called a light group. You can see the light group in SketchUp’s outliner.
LEM Lights: Unlike Omni and Spotlights, Podium LEM materials use actual SketchUp geometry to cast illumination into a SketchUp scene. LEM materials can be applied to any face in your SketchUp model and used as a visible illumination source (like a lightbulb, neon sign, etc.).
Hidden LEM: LEMs can also be made invisible by checking the hidden LEM option in the material editor. Hidden LEM lights will still cast light into your SketchUp scene, but any surface with a Hidden LEM material applied will be invisible in the rendered image. This is a powerful feature that lets you hide the light source but creates an evenly distributed light, and is extremely useful for creating behind camera “fill lights” to fine tune your lighting.
Podium Browser Light Fixtures: SU Podium V2.5 comes with a companion plug-in called the Podium Browser. Podium Browser provides hundreds of free, render ready light fixtures that have artificial point and spot-lights carefully configured for accuracy, and ready to render.
Using these render ready light fixtures can greatly reduce the time involved in setting up the SketchUp model for interior lighting. Podium Browser also has a Paid content section that includes hundreds of additional light fixtures and thousands of render-ready design components.
Image Options: 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.
- Resolution and Image format – Podium allows near unlimited resolution size for the rendered images depending on your system memory. However, the trial version has limited resolution sizes. Fixed resolution options include presets for 230X150, 640X480, 1024X768, 2048X1536, 3076X2304, 4076X3304, and widescreen resolutions of 852X480, 1600X900, 1920X1080. With the custom option selected you can set any resolution and aspect ratio of your choosing.
- Image Formats – SU Podium V2.5 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, otherwise rendered images will be saved into the same folder as your SketchUp model.
- Transparency – 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. This feature can save you a tremendous amount of time in post-processing.
Render Presets: To simplify the process of getting started with SU Podium, the plugin comes with several presets that have been crafted to match certain rendering environments. Presets were created to provide high-quality results without the user needing to spend hours configuring hidden variables like Physical Sky’s turbidity, ray trace bounces, amount of ambient light, tone mapping variables, anti-aliasing, etc.
The presets provide a base from which the user can carry out further configurations, adjust brightness/exposure, or even modify the presets themselves using the Podium preset editor. Using SU Podium’s presets, you can quickly set up a rendering environment that is best suited for either exterior or interior scenes, and then adjust the lighting to your liking with the Podium light system.
The Environment Tab: This section gives you access to several global settings related to shadows, sky type, intensity, and exposure, and additional options for fine-tuning the look of your renders./
- Background: Set the sky that SketchUp uses.
- Default (set in SketchUp) will use SketchUp background colour and/or SketchUp Sky settings (set in your SketchUp Style) for the rendered image’s background colours.
- Sky or Physical Sky. Physical Sky is a setting where Podium calculates and displays Sky turbidity (haziness caused by particles suspended in the atmosphere) and depth. Physical Sky will ignore the SketchUp background colours but rather is controlled by the preset variables, time day and year, location. Physical Sky will only be on when SketchUp Shadows are on.
- Sun Intensity and Exposure: Sun intensity and exposure sliders in the Environment settings. Move sliders to the left and the rendered images will have less Sun exposure or intensity. The opposite effect will be true if you move the sliders to the right. Rest will reset the slide values to the original state.
- Additional Options:
- Clay – Clay is where textures are ignored and the entire model is rendered in the default, front face colour of SketchUp – like a clay model.
- Caustic will apply a caustic effect to transparent materials, globally. Coloured light through coloured glass is not implemented yet.
- Soft omni lights is a global setting for omni or point lights. The default setting is for this option to be checked off. However, if you want soft shadows to be applied to omni lights to create a natural lighting effect, turn this on. Soft Omni Lights is discussed in more detail in Section C.
- Geometry Caching: When this is checked, SketchUp geometry can be cached to increase rendering speed.
Increase your efficiency with Podium Browser: SU Podium Browser is a growing library of render ready components that can be dropped into the SketchUp model and then rendered.
- Podium Browser is automatically installed with SU Podium and provides hundreds of free light fixtures, high resolution textures, 2D face-me plants, trees, and household components.
- Podium Browser paid content: Podium Browser also has a rapidly growing paid library with thousands of additional components, including advanced 3D plants and trees, a huge selection of light fixtures, 3D cars, advanced Podium Materials and thousands of render ready household items like furniture, bathroom items, exterior items and more. Paid content is continuously added, usually with a few hundred additions per month. You can view the Paid content images in the Browser freely, but you will not be able to “click and drop” Paid content into SketchUp without an active Paid content license.
Post Processing with Podium Image Editor: PIE is part of SU Podium V2.5 Plus. It was created so that Podium users can do quick post processing or image editing of Podium rendered images. Post processing means making changes to the bitmap image created by Podium. For example, editing the light levels, brightness, cropping the image, adding a background to alpha transparent image, create Depth of Field areas, adding an overlay and blending are some of PIE’s features.
To do any post processing, previously, you needed a good image editor like Photoshop. PIE makes it easy to do much of the post processing inside SketchUp and in fact directly from SU Podium after the rendering is completed.