3D animation is more complicated than you think it is!
A 3D animation pipeline’s workflow is intricate, and it can be far more so than any other type of animation workflow.
Some projects require more or less phases depending on the 3D animation company involved.
Here, I’ve outlined and illustrated the 11 most frequent phases required in creating a 3D animation project.
The following are their names:
- Storyboards and Conceptualization
- 3D modeling
- Special effects and VFX compositing
- Foley and Music
- Final output and editing
Step 1: Concept and Storyboards
A storyboard is a two-dimensional representation of your digital story. The first dimension is time: what happens first, next, and last. What are the visual transitions and effects used to assist connect the images? How do they help tie the images together? How do they interact with the musical soundtrack? Any piece can interact with any other one, and the storyboard is the place to lay out the impression you wish to have on the audience.
Step 2: 3D Modelling
You can’t just doodle in 3D!
Once the storyboards have been completed and authorized by the customer, work on the props, set, and characters may begin. Modeling is the correct term for what we’re doing.
It is the process of taking an object and shaping it into a finished 3D mesh, which is called modeling. The most common way to create a 3D model is to start with a simple object, known as a primitive, and then “grow” it into a more complex shape. A vertex, an edge, a curve, or a spline are all examples of primitives, as are three-dimensional objects. Each of these primitives can be transformed into a finished product by utilizing the capabilities of your chosen 3D modeling program. 3D modeling is a repetitive process that requires you to learn a single technique and use it over and over again. 3D artists need to know how to produce a model utilizing each of the three primary techniques available to them.
Step 3: Texturing
The art of fine tuning 3D models.
3D models can be augmented with 2D photos to give color, design, and texture. This process is known as mapping, and it is often the source of all of a model’s colors. It is possible to create these maps in programs like Photoshop, and the illusions of textures can be brushed onto the models just as easily as if you had painted them yourself; some animators even use real photographs of the textures they’re trying to create, simply captured and then altered to make seamless repeatable patterns. When creating hair illusions, rather of modeling individual strands, locks of hair are modelled, and then a texture is painted on top of the model to add individual strands and features.
Step 4: Rigging
Once the skeletons are inserted into the 3D model, the character can begin moving!
The final step before character animation can begin is setting up a character to walk and talk. Characters are brought to life in this stage, which we refer to as “rigging” and “skinning,” respectively.
Rigging is the technique of creating a controllable skeleton for an animated character. For each subject matter, each rig has its own set of controls, and each set of controls has its own rig.
It is necessary to skin a 3D model in order to use the rig’s controls on that 3D model, which can then be controlled by the rig’s controls.
Step 5: Animation
Now you know that in 3D animation, animation doesn’t necessarily come first, huh?
A 3D object can be animated by applying motion to it. There are numerous types of animation. Keyframe animation is akin to hand-drawn cartoons in that the animator manipulates the objects one frame at a time, just as in the ancient days. Other ways of animation include arranging items on splines and setting them to follow the course of the curve, or importing motion capture data and applying it to a character rig. If your scenario necessitates that things fall, you can also leverage the built-in physics engines of your 3D application.
Step 6: Lighting
Lighting is equally as important in a 3D world as it is in the real world.
When it comes to a scene’s capacity to come to life, lighting is the key ingredient. As a general rule, if you’re going to use light to enhance a scene, you should use it wisely. Lighting, however, can be used well to create a compelling setting or, if realism is the goal, to produce a scenario that is nearly indistinguishable from real life.
There are no lights in 3D like there are in reality. If you want to get the desired results in 3D, you’ll need to apply a variety of settings to both the lights and the materials, not just the lights themselves.
Step 7: Camera
The quality of a film’s cinematography is largely determined by the quality of its camera work.
One of the most useful things you may have in your toolbox is a camera. Physical limits do not exist in 3D, as they do in the actual world. The camera can take you on a voyage inside a human body, or it can be utilized to be an eye in the sky in your scenarios, it can zoom and pan, and so much more can be done with it. There isn’t enough room in this essay to cover everything there is to know about cameras, but let’s start with the basics.
In order to get a better understanding of 3D cameras, it’s helpful to compare them to real-world cameras. Like in real life, there are no lenses, focusing adjustments, film, or apertures to deal with in 3D compared to 2D. Software controls all of these functions. The camera is used in a similar way in both cases. A camera can be created in 3D, placed exactly where it needs to be in 3D space, and its settings used to replicate the likes of a focal length, depth of field, and so on. Other methods for moving a 3D camera, such as a truck, dolly, motion blur, orbit, and pan, are similar to those used in filmmaking.
In addition, there are no size or weight constraints for software-based cameras. Even the tiniest of items may be filmed using a camera that can be moved to any spot. Cameras can also be animated to do many actions at once, such as zooming into a scene and adjusting the depth of focus at once. You can see the scene from the camera’s point of view when you’ve created a 3D camera and assigned that camera to a view.
Step 8: It’s time to render! (Rendering)
It’s here that the visuals are created and exported…
“However, it is not over yet!”
As the final stage in a 3D production pipeline (although not the final step in the entire production pipeline), rendering an image can be considered the most critical step. Beginning animators often skip over this phase in favor of generating models and animating them. Camera positioning, lighting choices, reflections, and transparency all play a role in making a nice final render of a scene. Additionally, special effects like fluids or gasses must be handled with care.
Step 9: Compositing and Special Effects
Compositing programs are used to modify, enhance, and add special effects to the rendered images.
These images are imported into compositing applications where they can be retouched and enhanced with additional effects.
Compositing encompasses everything from simple explosions and evaporation to complex morphing and other special effects. Aside from enlarging the scene stage larger digitally in post-production, it also entails creating environments, such as entire worlds, or even individual buildings (shooting in-front of a blue or green screen and then replacing the background with digitally created footage or footage shot elsewhere). Compositing, in its broadest sense, is the process of taking real-world footage and fusing it with computer-generated counterparts.
Step 10: Music and Foley
The use of music and foley (sound effects) enhances the audio experience of watching the animation.
The soundtrack and accompanying music for the animation will be composed by a music composer.
Film, television, and radio projects employ foley artists to’recreate’ sound effects. Foley Artists use a wide variety of shoes and a wide variety of props, including car fenders, plates, glasses, chairs, and just about anything else I can locate on the side of the road, to create a deeper track.
Step 11: Editing and final output
It all comes to a close here!