Making a 3D animation video requires more work than it seems. From concept to final render, it could take months.
Below are the steps involved in making a 3D animation video.
1 – Concept
A 3D animation video can be made about anything. It is very important to leverage on this capability by ideating out-of-box concepts. Creativity is only limited by imagination. During the concept ideation process, it is important to keep the focus on the exact message and uniqueness of the concept.
Below an example of creative imagination by coke and how it associates with the “Open Happiness” concept.
2 – Storyboard & Animatic
Once a concept is finalized, each scene is broken into tentative images which help close the camera angles and screenplay. Since animators also need to close the exact motion of models, a rough mock-up called animatic can be created to showcase the motion of animation in the storyboard.
3 – Modeling
3D modeling is a time taking task of creating the protagonist of the story. Higher the realism required in the video, more time it would take. Most 3D animation ads are about products and require 3d models of the products. On many occasions, models can be available with advertiser themselves. Eg for a smartphone 3D animation ad, smartphone company would have the 3D design of smartphone already available. Animators can help build more internal parts of the product which can be shown in the animation.
4 – Texturing
Texturing is the concept of adding skin to draft 3D model. With precise texturing of each material, a 3D model can look very realistic. Texturing metallic or glass products is comparatively easy, but texturing of natural products like skin, fur, and human hair can take higher rendering capabilities.
At this stage, it is important to get approval and closure from client/advertiser regarding the model look and feel. Once rigging is done, reworking on the model is extremely tough.
5 – Rigging
Rigging is the concept of adding bones or structure to the model. With the added structure, animator defines the way that product can move. Each bone has a limited range of motion, which is defined by animator using something called a controller. The skin and muscle of the model also react in a unique way corresponding to the product. This can take significant time in making, depending on the complexity of models and range of motion.
6 – Animation
Animation is the part where the final rigged model is set into motion. Animators define the object’s camera angle and the way it moves. For each motion, multiple keyframes are added, and the model seems to move as per the frames. With realism in modeling & texturing, along with the creativity of animation, animator and create interesting concepts come to life.
Below an example of realistic Hero engine getting assembled in an interesting manner.
7 – Lighting
Lighting is the art of making the model and animation realistic and visible. A lighting expert can make the simplest animation look amazing. Of course, texturing must be realistic as well. A glass texture with perfectly lit spotlight can make a smartphone look elegant. The best example of well-done lighting can also be seen in retail outlets, where each product is lit with the best lighting to make an impact on customers.
8 – Rendering & VFX
Once all animation and light are done, the entire animation is rendered. Rendering is the formal term of making the computer, create the animation based on preset keyframes and lighting effects. Once rendering is done, the output animation file is subjected to visual effects which can include text overlays or special effects like light leaks. Below an example for your reference.
9 – Music & Sound effects
The final step of completing the video is adding sound and video. It’s very important to sync music with animation to make the best impact. A good animator always makes sure that high tone in the music is synced with important keyframes in animation. Once music and sound editing is done, the video is ready for final output.
Below video has an opening sequence with 3D animations and music. Co-ordination between both makes the entire output more impactful.
10 – Final output
Once all steps are done and the final output is rendered, same is shared with the client for feedback. At this point, changes involving sound, music, special effects or animation can be done. Any changes required in modeling or texturing would require lots of time. It’s best to first close modeling & texture and then proceed to the next steps.