Animation is when images of figures are manipulated to appear to the human eye as though they are moving. In traditional animation, images are drawn individually to be photographed or put onto film. Another kind of traditional animation is called stop motion animation. With this, three dimensional figures are painstakingly committed to film, frame by frame, being moved slightly between shots. With 3D animation, all of the images are created using computer graphics.
At it’s most basic form, animation is an illusion, a trick of the eye, allowing us to see movement in a rapid succession of images. In order to trick the eye, the frames should move at a minimum of 12 frames a second, although there are instances where even slower speeds are used for effect. However, for 3D animation to appear as though movement is naturally occurring in three dimensional space, a much faster speed of frames per second is required, 24 at a minimum, with no still frames in between.
Objects are created with 3D models and then manipulated within 3D software. These manipulations allow for picture sequences to be exported that make it appear as though movement is occurring in a 3D digital environment.
There are three main phases in the creation of 3D animation:
There are two main sources for modeling. The first is when an engineer or artist uses a 3D modeling tool to create a 3D object within the computer. The second is when real world objects are scanned into a computer to create the models.
During the modeling phase, a great many number of controls are built into the model, allowing it to be animated. For an animal or human model, oftentimes a skeletal animation is first created. This can aid in assigning animation variables (Avars).
There are two main types of rendering. The first is for photorealistic results and simulates light transport and scattering. The second creates non-photorealistic rendering by applying an art style. Rendering also requires 3D projecting which displays the 3D image in two dimensions.
Although a lot of the history of animation is most apparent to the general public in how it has been used in the entertainment industry, the truth is that 3D animation is used across a wide variety of industries, now more than ever before.
In the beginning as much as 3D animation was developed for the arts, it was also being used for research and science. But today it doesn’t stop there. Let’s take a look at just a few of the many ways in which 3D animation is used.