FreeCAD animated render

For an upcoming project I wanted to create a render of a rotating assembly created in FreeCAD.

I checked Twitter and YouTube and a few options came up. Firstly was to export to Blender then use Blender to render it. My last attempt with Blender was a complete disaster so I didn’t really want to go down that option. CADRays was also mentioned as a rendering tool that would take models from FreeCAD. I tried that and it did produce some quite nice results. There was a scripting tool too with that but I could not find documentation that would allow me to rotate and export the images.

FreeCADNews recommended the Render workbench. That requires a 3rd party rendering tool. I tried LuxCoreRender and Appleseed but I did not seem to be able to get good results from them, either just getting a blank screen or having render times that were hours per frame. And also there was no easy way to produce an animation.

At this point I was reminiscing back to the days when I used Carrara for my animation projects and wondered if I could use that. I found that software was now owned by DAZ and a license was nearly £300. So not really an option. But it did remind me that I owned a copy of DAZStudio and that would be able to import OBJ files into that. I tried that and ended up with a transparent object. But I tried again using the Colada file format and that correctly exported my object and properties. I found it a bit tricky to get the lighting quite right as the preview was a lot darker than the render. But it was possible to create the rotating animation and I should also be able to animate the lights.

I also tried the Screen Wiki Macro and that did make for an easy process, although it seemed a little temperamental. I found that worked best if you select the option for rotate the 3D view rather that the object. I like the results and simplicity of this but won’t be able to easily animate the lights using this technique. But I might be able to borrow some ideas from the macro to create my own custom animation/export.

I also created a light object, this will be a flashing orange light lit with an LED. I will be printing that in a translucent filament that I’ve previously used for the lights on the Upcycle It Design Challenge car.

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