DesignSeries00010.pngCreating solar animations

A solar animation illustrates the way the sun moves over, or shadows are cast upon, a project as the sun’s position changes. It studies how the sun affects a model or site at a particular time of day or year. The animation can be set to rotate the sun about the model, or the model can rotate about the layer plane center or heliodon object.

Solar animations can be interactive, observing the effects in the drawing as changes are made. To interactively view changes as you move the sliders, render in Wireframe or OpenGL render mode. The solar animation can also be exported to a .mov file.

Depending on the view, render mode, presence of shadows, and heliodon view, various solar assessments can be conducted. Generally, OpenGL rendering (with or without shadows) will provide good results.


Solar Animation Effect

Wireframe, Top/Plan view

Observe the heliodon symbol while changing the time of year or time of day. Animating shows the position of the sun’s rays and approximate position of the sun in the sky dome. The date display on the heliodon label changes to indicate the animation’s day of the month.

OpenGL rendering (Use Shadows not selected), Top/Plan or 3D view

Observe the model as the sun’s rays move over it during the course of the year or day. Different portions of the model are illuminated by sunlight.

OpenGL rendering with shadows (Use Shadows selected), Top/Plan or 3D view

Observe the shadows cast by the model over the course of the day or year, and observe the portions of the model that are illuminated by sunlight.

Solar animation view set to View (sun to layer plane center) or View (sun to Heliodon center)

Observe as the model rotates, as if the viewer were positioned on the sun. Any visible surface has sunlight falling on it, while anything that cannot be seen is in shadow (therefore, Use Shadows is not necessary). The model rotates about the layer plane center or about the heliodon center. Rotating about the heliodon center can be useful when the model is not centrally located, or when a particular part of the model needs to be studied. For example, place the heliodon adjacent to a shading device, zoom in, and then animate using the heliodon center.


Creating interactive solar animations

Exporting solar animations

Solar studies

Inserting a heliodon object

Calculating shadow angles


Was this page helpful?