3D animation pipeline used in 3D animated productions
A 3D animation pipeline is a complex set of procedures laid out systematically in order to deliver sophisticated 3d modelling and animation production, mostly for larger productions with an underlying story.
This is when we have a sit down in our studio, at your address or hold a conversation over the phone and discuss what your requirements are and also what it is that you are trying to achieve through our 3D animation services.
Once we have a summary of what the requirements are and have developed on the idea, path and direction. We can then conduct any necessary research that is required, including textures, features, props, photos, stats, writing etc.
3. Idea development
This is where we can help you to develop your idea, script or vision, backed up by any further research on the topic or assets etc. This is good as it helps strategise where different levels of 3D can be utilised.
4. Scripting/ Screenplay
We can help in the writing of scripts or screenplays. There have been many instances where a client may have a great idea or vision for animation but has not thought through the full system including, structure or step-by-step process, dialogue, events and/or sequences. So even times where a script or screenplay is not requested, we sometimes create a rough version to help structure the workflow of the animation.
5. Concept design
In this stage, we create any necessary concepts of characters, props, and environments. We base these visual concepts on the descriptions in the script.
6. Voiceover recording and sound recording
We have a large base of voiceover and audio artists that create all audio for our animations. In this stage, we have our audio, sound effects and voiceover pieces recorded.
This is the stage where we take the script, screenplay or story and create a visual, step-by-step representation of the sequence of events. This works twofold as it helps illustrate to the client how the animation will link together and run. Also, it helps us keep on track and understand our animation creation sequence. We often create video storyboards and edit all voiceover and audio tracks for longer larger budget animations. This helps us keep better sequence timing and track the process better.
8. 3D modelling of all assets
In this stage, we create all necessary 3D models, right from the largest 3d environments to detailed 3D characters to the tiniest props. These models are based off the concept sketches created at the concept art stage. We also create the range of phonemes for any character models. Phonemes are the shapes that the face makes as you pronounce as syllable, letter, or word.
We proceed to texture all the 3d models. We texture using several different methods including, just applying simple maps to using multiple procedurals for high-end UV mapping. On large scenes, multiple styles of texturing can be used; typically we would unwrap and use high-level texturing for a 3d character that is close to the camera and perhaps use simpler maps on far-off scenery. A good practice that we use is to throw each model into a scene with realistic lighting. Even though the lighting in the final animation may not look like this, it gives us a good start in working out the texture values.
We rig all objects that require movement and sometimes even rig inanimate objects. We rig non-animated objects with simple nodes to help move them around the scene for easier setup. We create more complex rigs for 3D character models. So whether they are bipedal, quadruped or something else, we can create any form of rigging to allow that character or object to animate and move seamlessly.
This is where we take all the created objects, characters and environments and set them all out in the scene as per the storyboard. We create all the cameras and set them to their shooting angles and ready everything else for animation.
This is where we fully light the scene in accordance with the descriptions in the script. In this stage, we often change some of the values of the texture maps to be more complementary to the scene and lighting environment.
Animation is the step-by-step process of moving the rigged characters or objects to a position recording their movement and moving the position again. We typically create our animations at 25 frames a second and so a lot of intricate movements need to take place to deliver a single second of animation. Often multiple elements are being animated for every second of footage. This is most common in character animation where the body, limbs and head need to move and animate along with the expressions of the mouth and eyes, which all need to work in sync with the others in order to allow the animation to look smooth and non-robotic.
Off-topic, you’d be surprised at how hard it is to animate a human character properly and at how easy it is to make a human character move in a poor robotic fashion. But most surprisingly if you try and animate a robotic character and try and animate it in that poor-quality robotic style you’ll still find that it doesn’t look quite right, even though it’s a robot. This is why at Painting Pixels we only hire the most talented artists who understand the theory behind anatomy, movement and physiology so as to have the ability to understand and create more realistic-looking and fluid animation sequences.
14. Render output
This is the stage where we allow our large investment in to rendering hardware come into its own. We set up the scenes and set the directories and hit render. We allow the computers to crunch the numbers and visualise every frame of our animation.
As a minimum, we render out at full 1080p HD quality but we can render out at 4K or higher. We unusually agree with this in the initial consultation stage or ideas stage. This is because even though we would still technically be able to render at higher resolutions, each render time will increase 8 fold and add to costs and also all textures will look blurry as they would have only been created in HD quality instead of 4K and or higher.
15. Video Editing
This is the stage where we compile all the rendered frames and stitch them together in sequence as per the storyboard or animated storyboard. We create any required transitions and make any necessary cuts.
16. Post-production special effects
It’s not necessary to use post effect’s on everything though we do tend to add some form of additional effect to spruce up the final look of the animations. Post-production effects can be anything from changes in colours, and grades to explosions and added smoke and dynamics etc.
17. Sound design and Final Edit
In this stage, we add in all the final audio and voiceover tracks, synchronise everything and add additional effects for any post graphics like explosion or bullets, flashes etc
18. Final output
The final output is the render from the editing suit. We usually have a fully uncompressed render and alternate renders in a variety of formats so that the animation can be viewed on multiple platforms.
We then deliver the final piece on the agreed platform whether it be a video for use on websites and social media like YouTube.
Find out more about our 3D Animation Services