Blog List > 2018 Sketch Up/3D Basecamp Recap

2018 Sketch Up/3D Basecamp Recap

Employee Perspective

For those interested in 3D modeling, 3D Basecamp is a wonderful conference to meet, learn, innovate and play in the SketchUp world. The biennial user conference took place this year in Palm Springs, California from September 24-28. With an excellent lineup of new and seasoned amateurs and professional presenters, and over 1250 attendees at all levels of proficiency and from all around the world it was quite a gathering. Some of the major exhibitors and sponsors of this year’s 3D Basecamp included HP, Kubity, Lumion, Unreal Engine, and ChaosGroup; focusing around augmented reality, virtual reality, rendering programs, 3D printing, massing BIM modelling, specification, and estimating.

SketchUp is used in so many different industries and whether it be architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, rendering, construction, making, 3D printing, augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), event or movie design, to name a few, there was something for everyone at this conference. The keynote address unified the diverse range of interests and experiences among the attendees. Grant Imahara, of Mythbusters fame, spoke of how he helped Disney build a robotic stunt double. He discussed the design process for this project as part of a larger keynote address about creativity, as well as innovation hacking, trial and error, and the need to persevere.

My personal goals, as a User both in and out of the office, were to increase my awareness and knowledge of program plug-ins and extensions and, as I feel I really know only about 50% of SketchUp very well; to try to expand my understanding of its full potential in my workflow. Some of the workshops I attended were, Site Design Modelling, Introduction to the Extensions, 3D Warehouse, and Animation in SketchUp. From these workshops, I left with a long list of extensions, plug-ins and tips along with the knowledge that there is a strong community of extension and plug-in builders that allow this basic program to perform some really quite sophisticated modelling tasks.

This year’s conference did focus on and had a good amount on AR/VR on display. In particular, there was a “VR Island,” a room where attendees could put on a variety of headsets and try them out. For those interested in AR/VR, Unreal Studio Beta (Free) with Datasmith can be used to import Sketchup (and 3dsmax) allowing stand-alone 3d animated presentations.

Seminar Highlights

I attended around 14 excellent workshops & seminars some highlights are below and not in any particular order:


  • Crossing the Model Drop Chasm by Bill Allen of Evolve Labs was a very useful seminar that discussed how to convert a SketchUp model’s data to real Revit building information model components, something which has long been pain point of our industry. The biggest win was learning that it can be within in your firm’s ecosystem by syncing your SketchUp components and Revit library families.

  • The Massive Model Management seminar presented by Dr. Matthew Nicholls featured the large-scale digital model of ancient Rome built in SketchUp. Matthew spoke on the importance of using appropriate levels of detail, breaking the model into pieces and also ensuring the definition of the topo information is appropriate to the size of the model.

  • In the session demonstrating the Unreal Studio 4, Daniel Brown identified key workflows for preparing SketchUp data to work properly in Unreal Engine. A great takeaway for me from this session was learning that the program exports in different outputs, in particular a stand-alone exe program which can be installed, shared and viewed on almost any computer without the need for specialist software.

  • The Shining City: Accurate Urban Modelling for 3D Printing was a seminar hosted by Felix Heuman & Anders Lyhagen of Holygon discussed the challenges and innovations required to produce a true-to-life city model. The Swedish 3D modelling studio told the story of how they built a 3D model of the Swedish city of Landskrona using a script in SketchUp to interpret a massive 431-million lidar cloud into simple elegant building forms for 3D printing.

  • 3d Modelling for Concept Art by Chris Rosewarne was an interesting insight into the design process using Sketchup as a tool for creating movie props for James Bond – Spectre, Guardians of the Galaxy, along with sophisticated personal robotic design projects.


Overall 3D Basecamp reinforced for me my belief in the value of SketchUp as a very simple and accessible core 3D program. A large, friendly and sociable community of diverse SketchUp users at all levels proved that Sketchup provides an important gateway to creativity and allows incredible ideas to come to life. While the Desert Glow Party was a fantastic wind up to the Conference we still have to wait another two years for the next 3D Basecamp to come around and I am already looking forward to the 2020 SketchUp conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada. In the meantime, anyone wanting to share their 3D Basecamp experience, or hear more details from the event, feel free to contact me.

by: Neil Paterson