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How much do you know about the creation of 3D animation?
At this point, it has been around for about half a century. Although many of the first TV shows and movies that relied on 3D animation didn’t come out in the U.S. until the 1990s, the technology dates all the way back 1960s and 1970s.
But even still, many people don’t have the slightest clue as to how the 3D animation production process works. It prevents them from being able to fully understand and appreciate TV shows and movies that feature this kind of animation.
So, how exactly does a 3D animation studio bring a TV show or movie to life? In this article, we’re going to break down the process so that you know everything that goes into making a 3D animation production.
Continue reading to learn all about the rendering of a 3D animation from beginning to end.
Putting Together a Storyboard
You might be under the impression that 3D animation starts with someone jumping right into 3D animation software and beginning to put it to good use. Yet, this couldn’t possibly be more off-base.
Instead, the production process actually starts in the 2D world. The team creating this kind of animation will put together a 2D storyboard that’ll be designed to showcase the story that’ll be told in a TV show or movie.
It’s very important for the team working on a 3D animation to nail this part of the process. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how awesome their final product looks once it’s in 3D. It won’t be enough to make up for a lackluster story.
Creating 3D Models
Once the team completing a 3D animation has their storyboard in a good place, they’ll start to create 3D models for their story. They’ll typically use software to work their way through the process of putting together these models.
They’ll make 3D models for all the characters who will be in their story. They’ll also make them for any settings and props that they’ll need to use to tell their story.
Oftentimes, a 3D artist will need to spend their fair share of time designing and redesigning 3D models before they’re able to get them just right. But in the end, they’ll be able to come up with 3D models that’ll look great in a 3D animation.
Adding Texture to 3D Models
Once 3D artists are happy with the 3D models they’ve created, they’ll move on to the next step, which will include adding texture to these models. This essentially means picking out clothes for them to wear and layering their original 3D animations to add these clothes to their characters’ bodies.
They’ll also add other types of texture to characters, like hair. This is how they’ll really be able to bring these characters to life and make them unique. Just like with creating 3D models, they’ll often play around with different design ideas until they’re able to land on the right ones.
Rigging and Skinning 3D Models
When 3D artists reach this point, they should be happy with the way their 3D models look. Now will be the time to give these 3D models the chance to start moving around.
Prior to working movement into the mix, though, 3D artists will need to do what is called “rigging and skinning.” Rigging involves taking a 3D model and creating a skeleton for it that can be controlled. This is what will allow 3D artists to move the 3D models around.
Skinning, meanwhile, involves adding skin to a 3D model to make it look alive and to make it possible for a 3D artist to move it around. Rigging and skinning are very technical tasks compared to some of the other steps listed here. But they’re a very necessary part of the 3D animation production process.
Making 3D Models Move
As long as everything has gone according to plan thus far, a team working on a 3D animation will be ready to start making 3D models move. They’ll be able to use software to “animate” these 3D models so that they can run, walk, jump, etc. when they’re on screen.
Some people hear the words “3D animation” and think that it involves artists sitting down and drawing 3D models. But in actuality, the software artists use does most of the heavy lifting. 3D artists just need to know how to manipulate this software so that they’re able to have 3D models making the right movements as they provide 3D animation services.
Incorporating Lighting Into the 3D World
On the set of a TV show or movie that’s being filmed, there will obviously be lighting all over the place. It’s extremely important for those directing TV shows and movies to find the right lighting for their productions.
You might not think lighting would be as important when it comes to a 3D animation. But it’s every bit as important. You would notice if the lighting was off even just slightly in this type of animation.
You won’t, however, find any actual lights being used for 3D animations. Instead, 3D artists will need to mess around with the different settings that their software has to offer. By doing this, they’ll be able to find the right lighting for the 3D world they’re working on creating.
Playing Around With 3D Camera Angles
Here’s the really cool thing about a 3D animation: It doesn’t have to be restricted by the physical limitations that so many directors face when making real-life TV shows and movies.
3D artists can play around with so many 3D camera angles as they create 3D animation. They can, for instance, have a tiny bug fly into someone’s mouth and then fly around inside a person’s body without actually having to figure out a way to have this happen in real life (which would, of course, be impossible!).
At the same time, it can be a little overwhelming for 3D artists to find the right 3D camera angles since there are so many angles available to them. They aren’t always sure which camera angles will work best for certain scenes that are being put together.
It takes a lot of experimentation to find the best 3D camera angles. There is also so much trial and error that’ll need to be done throughout this portion of the production process.
Rendering a 3D Animation
One of the final steps in the actual creation of a 3D animation is the rendering of this animation. This is what happens when all the different elements of a scene come together.
From lighting and camera placement to 3D model movement and any special effects, all the things that make a 3D animation so special will converge in one place when rendering is going on. You could argue that this is the most important step that 3D artists will take since it’ll truly bring an animated story to life.
Editing a 3D Animation
Just like with any other TV show or movie featuring real actors and actresses, there will be editing that’ll need to take place during the 3D animation production process. This is yet another very important step that can take some time to finish.
More often than not, the producer of a TV show or movie will want to keep it to a certain length. Editing it might involve chopping out some parts of it to make it fit into a window of time.
Editing a 3D animation will also involve fine-tuning everything from the colors being used to the special effects that are being added to the production. The editing process will make all the things in an animated show or movie look their best.
Choosing Music for a 3D Animation
If you’ve watched your fair share of 3D animations over time, you know first-hand how important it is for them to have the right music added to them. This music could ultimately make or break a 3D animation by injecting the right emotions into it.
This music will often be chosen early on in the production process. But it won’t get added to a TV show or movie until later on in the process once most other things are complete.
Adding music to a TV show or movie will require some more editing on the parts of 3D artists. They’ll have to make sure the animations they’ve come up with sync with the music that’s playing.
They’ll also have to see to it that the voiceovers that are done for a 3D animation are added, and they’ll have to be sure they don’t conflict with the music. Everything you see and hear while watching an animation will need to work well together.
Doing Final Editing on a 3D Animation
When the 3D animation production process reaches this stage, those who are in charge of it will sit down and give it a watch. In fact, they’ll typically watch it a handful of times and take notes on what they see.
In a perfect world, they’ll be satisfied with the end result. But just in case there are things they’d like to see done differently, they’ll write down their thoughts and provide them to the 3D artists who have worked so hard on a TV show or movie.
From there, these 3D artists will go back to animation one more time to make any final edits to it. They’ll then export it when it’s all finished and put it in the hands of the studios that will be showcasing it to the world.
Showing Off a 3D Animation to the World
After all the other steps are completed, a 3D animation will officially be finished. The only thing left to do will be to show it off to those who want to watch it.
Whether it’s going to appear on TV or in movie theaters, the team behind it will complete the process by making it available in different formats. They’ll send them to the appropriate channels so that everyone can see what they’ve been working hard on.
Not everyone who watches a 3D animation will comprehend everything that went into it. But that’s okay. What’s most important is that an animated TV show or movie tells a solid story and keeps people on the edge of their seats.
As time goes on, there is a good chance that the 3D animation production process will evolve and change in many ways. In 50 years, this process will likely look outdated just like the 2D animation production process looks outdated in 2023.
But for now, it’s remarkable to see just how far the production process has come. It has helped create some of the very best animated movies of all time. It’s also led to some of the best storytelling that Hollywood has ever seen and changed the way that at least some people watch TV shows and movies.
The 3D Animation Production Process Is Amazing
Now that you know a little more about the production process, you should have a greater appreciation for the next TV show or movie you see with 3D animation in it. You’ll know everything that went into putting that type of animation together.
It might also make you ask questions about 3D animated TV shows and movies as you look at them from a new perspective. You’ll wonder what was going through the heads of 3D artists as they created their spectacular 3D characters and scenes.
If you would like to read through more articles that explore the latest technological marvels, browse through the rest of our blog.