Creating Animations With SolidWorks: A New Step By Step Guide

SolidWorks has released a new Step By Step Guide, “Creating Animations with SolidWorks“.  This guide is the replacement for the Motion Manager Step By Step Guide and has seen a lot of enhancements.  At 18 chapters and 516 pages it’s almost double the size of the old guide.  before we talk about the new guide let’s take a moment to discuss the included DVD.  The DVD housed in the back cover contains all the files needed to follow along with the guide examples.  The files are in both a finished and unfinished state which means double the required information is burned onto the DVD.  Becasue of this the DVD executable file needs to run in two stages requiring a fair amount of time to install all the data.  DO NOT REMOVE THE DVD  until the entire installation process has completed.  Total install time on my M-6300 took about 60 minutes.

Chapter 1:  As you would expect chapter 1 is an introduction to the motion manager UI.  It also talks about the different kinds of motion studies, types of motion available in the software, motion drivers and gives a general overview on the process of building an animation.

Chapter 2 & 3:  In chapter 2 the guide covers using the animation wizard to build rotation, explode and collapse motion and it also covers the different interpolation modes available in the software.  You’ll save your first avi file in chapter 2 and you’ll also learn some good information about video file types, codecs and the different save options available.  Chapter 3 shows the finer points of editing the various time line elements to better control the output.  You also learn what the various color codes are for the keys and timeline as well as how to group edit and scale the entire animation.

Chapter 4:This is where you are exposed to view orientation for the first time.  You won’t cover camera views here (that has its own chapter) but you will cover the other SolidWorks viewing controls as well as the perspective setting which can be very important depending on the type of animation you’re creating.

Chapter 5:  Chapters 1-4 show you the basics of creating simple animations.  For some users this will be the extent of their animation needs and many could stop here with the information they have picked up.  Chapter 5 is where the real fun begins however and it’s the start of  creating more intermediate level animations for users that need that capability.  In chapter 5 you’ll learn all about animating appearances, lights and creating photo realistic output.  If basic animations are good then animations that look pretty are better and chapter 5 helps you look pretty. 😉

Chapter 6 & 7:  These chapters continue on the intermediate level path and cover the various ways to drive motion in your animation.  Free movement (with the triad and without), motors (all the various types) and mates.  I’m covering it quickly here but these chapters go into a great amount of depth and do a great job of covering a lot of information.

Chapter 8:This chapter is entirely new information and could previously only be found by searching the web or SolidWorks forums.  Chapter 8 covers how to animate parts changing size and shape including how to animate a spring compressing and extending.  It also shows the use of equations in animations and has a great example of a wheel and suspension components.

Chapter 9:  In chapter 9 you’ll use physical simulation techniques to help drive and control motion in your animation.  If you’d like to show your motion being governed by contact forces, motors, gravity, springs etc. you’ll want to have a look at chapter 9.

Chapter 10:  I really like this chapter because it covers a difficult to answer commonly asked question,  “What is the correct way to create this type of animation”?  This question is difficult to answer because just like in SolidWorks there are many ways to achieve the same end result in your animation.  There really is no “right” or “wrong” method but different methods offer different pros and cons and chapter 10 illustrates this.

Chapters 11 & 12:  This is where the guide covers using cameras in animations and boy does it ever cover the topic.  There is so much information in these two chapter and some of it is borrowed from the PhotoWorks Step By Step Guide.  Creating cameras, setting the properties,  depth of field, saving cameras, animating them, animating multiple cameras, using camera sleds.  Everything you wanted to know about SolidWorks cameras is in this chapter.

Chapter 13:  You’ll expand on your camera knowledge in chapter 13.  Here you’ll cover walk-through and walk-around animations.  Fixing a camera target point, following a path, making edits, everything you need to know about moving around or through your geometry.

Chapter 14:  until this point the guide has covered creating animations using core SolidWorks functionality.  Chapter 14 covers ways to use your motion analysis study from SolidWorks Motion to create an animation.  It also discusses when and when not to use a motion study for creating an animation.

Chapter 15:   What I think might be the best chapter in the guide.  Chapter 15 covers post processing which is a very important part of creating your final animation even though it happens outside of SolidWorks.  Often the video or image output from SolidWorks is just a small part of the final animation you’ll create.  These elements will be compiled with many others in video editing or compiling software to create the final product.  This again is information that in the past would have been difficult to find but is now included in the guide.

Chapter 16:   Titled, “Advanced Topics” chapter 16 also covers information a user would have had to search out on their own in the past.  Animating configuration changes is in there as is one of my favorites, animating dynamic section cuts.  This happens to be a very powerful technique for creating many different effects such as pouring liquid.  Chapter 16 also covers some of the common troubleshooting topics users have.

Chapter 17:  This chapter covers the animation of large assemblies.  The example used is the miter saw which you might remember from the PhotoWorks Step by Step Guide.  You’ll learn the techniques and settings available to make animating large assemblies more manageable.

Chapter 18:  The final chapter in the guide gives some general tips and tricks for creating better animations.

You can see a breakdown of each chapter by page header here.

The animations playing in this post are from the DVD found in the back cover of the guide.

This newest Step By Step Guide covering animation from SolidWorks is a huge leap over the earlier editions.  Each chapter includes example files and case studies that allow you to follow along and create all the steps shown in the guide.  The guide is in full color and most pages have at least one screen shot making it easy to follow along with the software.  Most of the examples use interesting models and some “real life” animation situations.  A lot of new information has been added to cover topics that users would need to search out on their own in the past making this guide a true one stop learning place.  SolidWorks is capable of creating some really nice animations if you understand how to use the tools provided.  This guide makes understanding those tools easier.  If you’d like to learn more about creating animation in SolidWorks I highly recommend this guide.

My hat is off to the people at SolidWorks responsible for the production of this guide.  The information, example files and final videos represent a huge amount of work and hours to create, edit and fine tune into a final product.  They’ve done a great job with this guide! 😉

If you’d like to explore the guide more or purchase a copy you can do so by contacting your VAR or clicking here.

As a full disclosure statement, I do sell this guide as well as the PhotoWorks Step By Step Guide on this blog.  I do receive a small profit from each guide sold on my site.

Posted on June 22, 2010 in Product Review

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  1. […] has put out a great self-study guide, but I’m a bit late to the party as far as reviewing it. Rob Rodriguez, Gabi Jack and Deepak Gupta have all done reviews, but I’ll add my 1/2 cent as […]

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