How to Create a Direct Beam Solar Animation



Using Rhino Render, set up a solar animation to analyze direct beam solar penetration into a building at various times of day and year. Use Photoshop to sequence the images into a movie for presentation.
Uses Tool(s) Rhinoceros , Photoshop CS5

Step 1: Open Rhino Model and Check Orientation

For this workflow, north is the y-axis. If your building is oriented to true north good; if it is project-north then you'll need to rotate the building accordingly.

01 Orientation North 001.jpg

Step 2: Set Renderer and Render Settings

Rhino Render is plenty good for this exercise. Set your renderer to Rhino Render, as shown.

02 ChooseRenderer 001.jpg

To adjust render settings click on the menu item, as shown.

03 RendererProperties 001.jpg

Adjust the settings as shown. For more detail, toggle the Skylight on. Be forwarned this will increase your rendering time. As you'll be making an animation, this increased time per render gets multiplied by the number of renders you will call.

04 RenderDocumentProperties 001.jpg

Step 3: Bring up the Animation Toolbar

Follow the images to locate the toolbar layout dialogue and toggle on the Animation Toolbar.

05 ToolbarLayout 001.jpg 06 AnimationToolbar 001.jpg

Step 4: Set up the Sun Animation

Choose the Sun Animation icon from the toolbar. It defaults to "Set up one-day sun study".

07 AnimationToolbar 002.jpg

The dialogue come up and you can fill it in with settings of your location. If you do not know the latitude and longitude, click "Set" and use the map to set these coordinates. Use your interior perspective viewport for the renderings. Fill out the rest of the dialogue as shown.

08OneDaySunAnimation 001.jpg 09 OneDaySunAnimation 002.jpg

Step 5: Preview the Sun Study

After you have closed the Sun Study dialogue, click the preview button on the Animation Toolbar. This will give you a general idea of what the sun will do in the animation. It will not look like the preview when it renders. If things look correct then you are ready to record the animation.

10 AnimationPreview 001.jpg

Step 6: Record the Sun Study

Click the Record Animation button.

11 RecordAnimation 001.jpg

This will bring up a dialogue in the command line of Rhino. You'll need to click the desination folder command line to set the destination of the renders.

11a RecordAnimation DestinationFolder 001.jpg 13 DestinationFolder 001.jpg

Step 7: View the Sun Study

At this point, we can check our results in from the target folder. Find the HTML document with your animation renders. This file reads the renders and gives you a smooth animation.

12 AnimationOutput 001.jpg

Loop the animation continuously and consider what the sun is doing and how this impacts the space.

14 HTMLanimation 001.jpg

Step 8: Repeat the above steps for 3/21 and 6/21

Step 9: Sequence a movie in Photoshop

It is very easy to make an .avi or quicktime movie now that you have a series of images. Open Photoshop and select File --> Open. Navigate to your target folder for one of the animations. Select just ONE image, and toggle the check box at the bottom for "Image Sequence". Photoshop will open the image, but it will be looking to the same folder to call the other images to make a movie.

15 Photoshop-OpenImageSequence 001.jpg

When you open the image as a sequence, you need to choose a Frame Rate. The lower the number, the slower the animation will run. With relatively few frames to animate, you'll want to choose a low number. Choose 10 fps.

16 Photoshop-FrameRate 001.jpg

Drag the animation block on the timeline forward two seconds (2f). This will provide some buffer when opening the animation. Otherwise, the viewer will be able to see the beginning of the animation clearly. Create two new layers and make sure they are under the video group layer. Make the bottom layer a background. On the other layer, put a title for the animation, the animation time (winter, summer, etc) and your name. Stretch this layer in the timeline until it extends past the beginning of your direct beam sun study animation.

17 Photoshop-IntroBuffer 001.jpg 17 Photoshop-CreditLayer 001.jpg

Now export to video, as shown.

18 Photoshop-ExportRenderVideo 001.jpg

A dialogue appears. Follow the image to see which settings need to be configured.

19 Photoshop-ExportRenderVideo 002.jpg

If the export is successful, you should have an .avi or quicktime file. This is a much smaller and easier format for sharing.

20 Photoshop-AnimationMovie 001.jpg