If you have paid attention to animated films for the last decade, then you know that 3D animation is definitely on the rise. While 2D animation largely dominates TV, 3D animation has become the predominant form of animation for American movies. You have probably seen many examples of 3D animation, but what is it really? This article will explain the major phases behind creating an animation with 3D technology, and other information that will help you understand exactly what this is.
What is 3D Animation?
In a nutshell, 3D animation is when a movie file is created with various techniques that are aimed at stimulating the physical world with 3D objects and characters. Traditional animation, better known as 2D animation, uses flat drawings to create a scene with an X and Y axis. While shading and other techniques are used to simulate depth, 3D animation actually creates depth by providing an X, Y and Z axis to every scene.
Unlike 2D animation that can be made on a piece of paper without any technology (though more advanced animations will require technology), 3D animation cannot be made without the use of specialized software.
Phases of Animation
There are three main phases when creating a 3D animation. The first phase is all about modeling. The artists will work on modeling the objects, scenery, characters and anything else important to the piece. For example, a spaceship may be required for a science-fiction movie. The artists will create a grid model, which will then be covered with colors and textures to make it look realistic.
The second phase is all about setting up the scene and moving the important pieces. This involves placing the characters and objects where they need to be, setting the camera at the appropriate angle (all 3D animation programs have a camera function) and creating motion paths so that all of the objects and characters move appropriately.
The final phase is finishing the images and rendering all of the effects. For example, artists typically won’t create light effects when first making a scene. They will instead focus on creating objects and making them move. The light effects, such as how light interacts with a character’s movements, will be added during this phase. This is because the effects are typically easiest to add since artists don’t need to constantly conform the effects to new motion paths if directors want characters or objects to move differently.
There are many different ways that artists can create objects. Many artists rely on making the object from scratch. They will create a 3D grid without any assistance, and thus will create an entirely unique object.
Others modify existing image maps. You can find many websites where people sell pre-made objects that you can change and modify for your needs. If you don’t want to create a horse, then just buy a horse image map and most of the work will be done for you.
The third way that artists create objects (and motion paths) is to film actors moving around with special equipment that records their movements. This makes it easier to create the motion path, and artists can easily place the details and colors over the actor’s 3D representation.