3D animation-Everything you need to know
3d Animation subject, to the laymen, is a confusing one. They sometimes wonder how pictures start to move. Even though animation has been with us for quite a while now, this still baffles some.
The rise of 3D animation only did more to deepen this confusion around the subject matter. Most people refer to 3D animation as having the same characteristics as 2D, oblivious to the processes that occur in the background.
What is 3D animation?
The simplicity of this question might fool many. The purpose of this article is to shine a light on what goes on behind the scenes of a 3D animation production.
3D animation refers to the creation of moving objects in a digital 3- dimensional environment. The illusion of movement is made from the exportation of images gotten through the manipulation of objects with computer software.
Motion is stimulated in a way that creates the illusion of movement. This is true whether for 3D, 2D or stop motion animation. While drawn pictures are used in 2D with each picture slightly different from the previous one. When this is played back sequentially an illusion of motion is created.
In 3D animation, the creation is done within computer software. While for stop motion real-life models are moved slightly with pictures of this sequentially player back.
Basic processes of 3D animation.
The processes of 3D animation can be divided into 3 main phases. Though there are other sub-phases to the processes.
● Modeling- involves the process of creating the 3D object within a scene.
● Layout and animation- involves the positioning and animation of objects within a scene.
● Rendering- This describes the final output of the completed computer graphics.
Through the combination of these 3 phases in addition to the other sub-phases 3D animation can be achieved.
The process of 3D animation.
There are many steps involved in 3D animation that the layman is oblivious of. But we would focus on the most common steps involved in the production of a 3D animation project.
Here are eleven of the most common steps:
Step one- Storyboard and conceptualization.
A storyboard is a sequential arrangement of illustrations that displays the storyline in two dimensions. The first dimension is time, the second is the interaction of the elements in your story- how the images interact with your storyline and the soundtracks, it also involves how the visual transition and effect help tie together the images. Alongside this stage is trying to fit the illustration with the storyboard. It is important to note that any project without this stage would find it hard to have a smooth sail as the journey could get really complicated. This is the bedrock for every other subsequent steps. Storyboarding makes life easier for the team
● Step two- 3D modeling.
This is a process after the storyboards are finished. It is a process that involves taking a shape and molding it into a finished 3D mesh. It is a common practice to take a 3D model by taking a simple shape- called a primitive and growing that into a shape that is detailed and refined.
● Step 3- Texturing.
This is the process of overlaying 2D images on 3D models to add colors, design, and textures. Sometimes called mapping. The majority of the model’s colors come from this step. Software such as Substance Painter and Photoshop are commonly used for this.
● Step 4- Rigging and skinning.
This is a process of setting up a controllable skeleton for the character intended for animation. Every rig is unique to the project at hand.
● Step 5- Animation.
This is the process of getting the 3D object to move. There are different ways of achieving this. It could be through the manipulation of objects on a frame-by-frame basis or even using the 3D software in-built physics engines, that tracks movements called Motion Capture(Mocap)
● Step 6- Lighting.
Lights in real life are different than they are in 3D space. But lights in 3D are stimulated to make the objects take on amazing results. Mastering the use of lighting can mean the difference between mundane results and excellence.
● Step 7- Camera and techniques.
Unlike in the real world, there are no limitations to the use of cameras in 3D space. This unlocks the artist’s creative freedom and takes it to a new level.
● Step 8- Rendering.
Here more refined attention is placed in the camera placement, lighting choices, reflections and transparency, and the handling of special effects, like fluids and gasses.
● Step 9- Compositing and FX.
This includes everything that involves blending computer-generated footage with live footage.
● Step 10- Music and Foley.
This is where the music and sound are blended in to match the animation.
● Step 11- Editing the final output.
This is where all the above steps are blended to produce a final piece. It is the final stage of 3D animation.
Would you say 3D is an advanced development of 2D?
It’s a common belief that 3D animation grew as an advancement of 2D animation. This isn’t the whole truth. 3D animation has more roots and is similar to stop motion animation.
Stop motion techniques have been around for as early as the 19th century. There exist more similarities between 3D animation and stop animation that you can find between 3D animation and 2D animation. For stop motion filming techniques several pictures of a life model are taken with varying changing positions. These pictures are okayed back in a sequence at between 12 and 70 frames per second. It is a tedious process.
While 3D uses a similar approach but instead the use of a computer is applied
The only difference is that one happens in real life while the other happens in computer software.
Is there a difference between 2D and 3D animation?
This question might sound funny to some. Isn’t it pretty obvious that there’s a difference between the two?
Well, while 2D is a process that occurs in 2-dimensional space, 3D occurs in a 3-dimensional space.
For 2D animation, there is no depth and only one perspective is offered. Objects lack the subtle soft shadows and touch we observe in real life and the colors have limited varying shades.
In 3D, there is depth and a more realistic touch is applied. The easiest way to understand this is that 2D can be seen as a painting while 3D can be seen as a sculpture.
Which Softwares Can I Learn for 3D animation?
When picking softwares, it’s important you consider the end goal of your learning process. Do you want to go solo or work with a team? At the end of the day, it is how well you develop yourself that matters. Some of these softwares overlap in their features, however, each of these softwares have their strength and weaknesses.
Industry Standard Softwares for 3d Animation: Maya, Zbrush, Houdini, Blender, Cinema4D, 3dsMax, Substance Painter and Designer, Mari, Photoshop, Premiere Pro, After Effects, Nuke
Maya: Rigging and Animation, Rendering
Zbrush: Advance character modeling and Texturing
Blender: Character Modeling, TexturingCinema4D: VFX, 3D Motion Graphics
3DsMax: Large buildings or constructions, VFX
Substance Painter, Designer and Mari: Advance and realistic Texturing
Photoshop: Basic Texturing, Post photo editing
Premiere Pro: Frame compilation, Color Grading
Arnold,Vray,Octane Renderer: Render Engine
After Effects: VFX Composition, Motion Graphics
Is 3D Animation VFX?
Yes it is. Visual Effect is the combination of all elements in 3d. Most if not all the softwares used in creating Visual Effects are also used in creating 3d Animation. In fact, there’s a major overlap. The only difference is in the specialization. 3D Animation covers 3d Cartoon films or Stylized ( Moana, Frozen, Raya and the last Dragon), Feature Films ( Avengers, Bloodshot, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead), Gaming and VR (GOW, FIFA/PES, GTA) and others.
How long can I use to Master 3D Animation?
In short answer, for the rest of your life.
However, to become self reliant and have a presentable portfolio, it will take you at least 3 to 4 months. Then within 1 to 2 years, you should be average.
Added to that is your level of dedication, system features and where you are learning from. Furthermore, it is important to consider whether you want to be a 3D Generalist (Being skilled in multiple fields in 3d) or being a Generalist(focusing on one field). The latter is highly recommended. You should however know one or two things about other pipelines in 3D Animation.
How long does it take to complete a 3d movie?
For movies running to hours, it can take 3 to 5 years for big studios such as Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks, Industrial Light & Magic, Weta Digital, etc.
For short movies running into minutes, it takes months or even years to complete.
Animation takes time, great planning, amazing teams and good budget.
Picking a 3D animation company right for you.
There is no company right for every project you can think of. This is true as individual companies have both their strengths and their weaknesses.
At Leinad Studios, our strength focuses on our passion to impact World-class knowledge and our ability to introduce state-of-the-art trends. While making sure our customers are satisfied with our desire to make their brands noticeable with a professional approach to handling their projects.
We make sure growth becomes noticeable and satisfaction is guaranteed with our personalized follow-ups and customer services.