Getting Started with SketchAir

SketchAir is a plugin for rendering with Air directly from within SketchUp.  This tutorial describes how to install Air and SketchAir and how to start rendering.


Start by downloading the Air demo and the SketchAir plugin from the Download page of the SiTex Graphics web site:

To install Air:

  • Run the downloaded installer file, and follow the prompts.
  • After running the installer, restart your computer to complete the installation.

To install SketchAir:

  • Start SketchUp.
  • From the Window menu select Preferences.
  • In the Preferences dialog, select Extensions.
  • Click the button labeled “Install Extension”
  • Navigate to the directory where you downloaded SketchAir, and select the sketchair .rbz file.

When SketchAir is installed, it will add a new menu to the Plugins menu and a new toolbar to the SketchUp user interface.


Once SketchAir and Air have been installed, you can render your scene with Air using one of the following methods:

  • Click the render button in the SketchAir toolbar (the button on the far left) ,or
  • Select Render from the SketchAir menu (under the Plugins menu).

SketchAir will export your scene and start Air as a separate process for rendering.  The rendered image will appear in the standalone Air Show framebuffer.

For complex scenes, the export process may take several seconds.  SketchAir reports the export progress in the SketchUp status bar.

Performance Tip: To save time on subsequent renders, tell SketchAir to reuse the last set of objects exported for rendering by checking “Reuse Objects?” in the SketchAir menu.  You can adjust the camera, lights, and materials and continue to reuse the same set of exported objects.  If objects are added, removed, or edited a new object file will need to be exported, and you should uncheck “Reuse Objects?” prior to re-rendering.

More information on rendering with SketchAir can be found in the SketchAir help file included with the plugin.  To view the help file, select Help from the SketchAir menu (under the Plugins menu).

We welcome feedback from anyone using SketchAir.  Please send comments to

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Rendering a Motion Pass in Massive with Air

Air includes two surface shaders for rendering a motion pass:

ReelSmartMotion:  This surface shader produces an image compatible with the ReelSmart Motion blur plugin from RE:Vision Effects.

:  This is a general motion vector shader with an optional opacity map.

When using either of these shader, the rendered image should be unfiltered, since it doesn’t generally make sense to combine different motion vectors in a single pixel.  To render an unfiltered image in Massive, use an options rib file with the following text:

PixelSamples 1 1
PixelFilter "box" 1 1

You can also add a Surface declaration to the options rib to apply the desired surface shader without having to create a new rendering pass in Massive:

Surface "MotionPass"
Option "render" "commands" "-Surface"

The options file can be included as the options rib file in the render pass in Massive.  Alternatively, you can include the options rib when rendering from the command line:

air options.rib myscene.rib

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Textures for Massive

For best performance and quality, we usually recommend that all source textures be converted to Air texture files for rendering with Air.  This conversion can be accomplished using either the the mktex command line tool or the mktexui user interface tool.  The resulting texture file contains filtered versions of the texture at different resolutions, each version stored as a set of tiles.  This arrangement allows Air to efficiently load sections of an image on demand at an appropriate resolution to produce high-quality anti-aliased texture results.

During the conversion to an Air texture file, the source image can also be converted from a nonlinear color space such as sRGB into the linear color space that is appropriate for Air’s shading computations.

Now, although conversion to Air texture files is the recommended procedure, sometimes that is not possible or desirable.  In particular, Massive will not automatically convert source images to Air texture files when exporting a scene with default agent materials for rendering with Air.  The latest versions of Air have a couple new options to improve the workflow in this case.

Air 13 has a new option to specify the color space for source images used as textures that have not been converted to Air texture files.  This option can be used to automatically convert textures in sRGB color space to linear color space:

ColorSpace "rawtexture" "sRGB"

Air 13.02 introduces a new option to automatically create an internal tiled, filtered texture  from any unconverted source texture image:

Option "texture" "automipmap" [1]

Either or both of these options can be placed in a small text file, and that file can be specified as the options rib file in the render pass settings dialog in Massive.  Alternatively, the options rib can be passed on the command line prior to the main scene  file:

air opts.rib myscene.rib

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