Let’s start with the question of, “What is 3D animation?”.
3D animation is the process of creating animated graphics in three dimensions. Unlike traditional hand-drawn animation, 3D animation is created almost entirely inside software. At Made By Things, we use Cinema 4D and 3D Studio Max. Objects and characters are modeled entirely one polygon at a time and then placed into a scene and then animated. Then, much like real life, a camera can be placed in the scenes to simulate real camera movements. As you could imagine, 3D Animation is a complex process of video creation. However, that amount of work is scene by a viewer and demands their attention.
Here’s a 3D animated video that we created for Root Insurance.
Made popular by Pixar starting with Toy Story in 1995, 3D Animation started becoming used by advertising and marketing companies shortly after. Since the early 2000s, 3D animation has become widely used by some of the best production companies in the world.
3D animation works great for many purposes including, but not limited to:
Overall, 3D animation works really well for things that you might not be able to photograph or capture videos of for whatever reason. Maybe it’s too big, too small or doesn’t exist yet. It also works great in a stylized way to create an illustrated or designed kind of effect.
The process of 3D animation is known to need a bit more time than other types of videos including motion graphics or film. However, 3d animation provides greater creative freedom than any other medium out there. It starts with 3D modeling of all the elements in a scene. Then, once those elements are placed in a scene, the texture/color must be applied, lights created and then a camera. From there it can be rendered. Some renders taking anywhere from a few seconds to a few hours per each frame (At 24-30 frames per second of video, that can take days or weeks!). Once renders are made, the scenes are composited and edited with sound to create a completed video.
Each part of the process resembles theory from its real-world counterpart. So to be good at 3D scene layout, you must also have a good understanding of composition and photography. To be good at lighting, you should have a good understanding of real-world lighting theory. The comparisons go on and on but to be a great 3D animator, you must be good at many other things.
Typically, 3D animation is on the higher end of the video cost spectrum, but there are a few major value points. One is the ability to capture different angles of something that might be too difficult to shoot as a live-action video. Another would be the ability to visualize something that doesn’t yet exist in a realistic way. Lastly, since 3D animation is used a bit more uncommonly then things like motion graphics when it is used, it very quickly grabs a viewer’s attention and creates a great deal of professionalism for a brand.
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