3D Animation

3D Animation has the unique ability to visualize the invisible or non-existing. 3D Animation can show the past, present and future of the story. It is also capable of visualizing complicated scientific processes in a clear and accurate way.

ImageMaker’s 3D Animation is technically accurate and built from original geological, architectural. AutoCAD, ArcGIS and Mapinfo data all woven into an appealing virtual tour. Labels, charts and graphs give the necessary facts, information and the company’s vision.

How is it created | insight into the production of 3D Animation

3D Animation | 3D Modelling /Animation is a very powerful medium with few limitations but also a complex process. The creation of a 3D Animation goes through several stages:

Storyboarding | Storyboards are normally found in a comic book like format. They help Art Directors and Artists visualize the scene and find possible problems that could take place before the start of the production. They also help with cost estimation and saves time overall. Storyboards often come with a description of what the scene is about and directions for the camera.

3D Object Modeling | Object Modeling: any object that takes part in the scene has to be modelled in polygons using Maya software. Any detail that needs to be visual needs to be created. For close ups,additional models need to be created with higher polygon counts to provide smoother surface and more detail. Specific Engineered Object, such as a ore body, an open pit, or underground tunnelling, are built from original geological, architectural, engineering data in AutoCAD, dxf, ArcGIS, MapInfo data. The data has to contain 3D information and need to be in shells.

3D Environment Modeling | Specific environments such as landscapes are created based on data provided by topographic data for the model and satellite imagery for the surface (the skin). Any satellite image mostly covers a small area, therefore many images are needed to be matched and stitched together to create a larger environment;sometimes hundreds of images are involved. Color correction and hand painting is needed to create a seamless landscape. The higher resolution the satellite imagery the better the end result of the 3D landscape. Coordinates are important for accurate global placing of objects within the environment. Generic Environments are built from scratch, using reference material such as photos. The creation of realistic trees and plants, for example, is very time consuming. Large quantities can result in very large unworkable files in which case a texture has to be created that resembles a large amount of 3D trees or plants. 3D Modeling can be created from ‘scratch’ (for example from 1-point-of- view reference material such as photo’s or sketches), however, the modeling process will take at least twice as long as Modeling from original technical data.

3D Characters | Characters are time consuming to model or adjust especially when specific wardrobes are required.

3D Texturing | To create a realistic look to objects and environments,they need to be textured. A skin is created that resembles realistic material of the object or environment. For close-ups high resolution and detailed textures have to be created. Textures are hand created from references such as photos. It takes special skill to create water and gas like textures.

3D Rigging | Objects and characters that need to be animated need to be rigged first. Rigging means creating a ‘skeleton’ within the object or character, with specific points that can be individually animated resulting in realistic motion.

3D Lighting | Lighting and the creation of shadows is important to create a realistic look, a specific atmosphere and vibrant colors to the scene. Often many lights need to be positioned in a 3D scene to create the required effect. Many test renders are needed to check the result.

3D Particles | Small atmospheric objects such as dust and smoke give a feel great of reality to a scene, but are time consuming and difficult to create. The use of particles can also result in very large file sizes.

3D Camera | The most important storytelling tool of the 3D visual is the camera(s). Camera moves are according to the internal storyboard created by the Artistic Director. Smooth and cinematic camera use is an important element in ImageMaker’s 3D Animations. Many play blasts are needed to review camera moves.

3D Object Motion | Any object or character that is required to perform needs to be individually (including each part of the object individually) animated. Character animation is very time consuming.

Labelling | Labelling, to provide information in text with visual, is created at this stage in 3D, or later in 2D on the final video.

Layers | 3D animations are built in separate layers that are rendered individually. Sometimes hundreds of layers need to be rendered.

3D Rendering | One minute of 3D Animation can take anywhere from 40 to 120+ hours to produce. 3D Rendering times can vary for 15 sec. per frame to 20 minutes per frame for High Definition, 1280 x 720. During rendering often frames are missed or not rendered properly and have to be redone afterwards. The long render times are the main reason why 3D Animation production cannot be rushed.

Compositing and Re-render | All the layers that have been rendered individually have to be put together in After Effects software. Special effects are created at this stage, after which the composite is rendered into a final uncompressed video.

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