The production flow of a 3D animation video is essentially divided into three phases: pre-production, production and post-production. In this page we will go into detail on every single phase.
The storyboard helps to create a visual trail of the story to tell and is essential for the success of the animation process. The keyframes are drawn by hand in sequence in order to highlight the key concepts of the story and the scenographies. Some short texts help to clarify some aspects that can not be drawn such as camera movements. The storyboard is a fundamental document for the work team but also for the client who can immediately realize whether the message to be communicated or the story is effective or requires changes.
To define the appearance of 3D models it is necessary to create a series of illustrations or sketches in which are represented all the possible positions or expressions that a character can assume during the animation. The sketches in addition to defining the appearance of a character also define the type of clothing and accessories.
In this case the artists deal with the creation of textures and materials capable of giving the 3D model the definitive appearance. Textures of characters or complex models are developed as image maps; in order to accurately cover every detail of the 3d model. Even the materials (shader) play a decisive role for the good realization of a 3D animation, they must in fact recreate the appearance of the real material with all the reflections, refractions, roughness and transparency.
Those involved in lighting have the task of positioning and defining the properties of the lights, defining how they interact with the different types of materials, calculating the intensity of the shadows to make a 3D scene believable. Ultimately, lighting gives the scene the harmony of colors and the; necessary for the correct representation.
Rigging is the term used to describe the process of adding bones to characters or defining the movements of mechanical objects. The technicians who take care of this phase, have the task of showing all the positions that a character can assume during the animation and possibly set limits and constraints in order to make the movement credible and natural.
In this phase the animators give the objects and the characters the movements described in the storyboard. For the animation of 3D objects the technique is not very different from that used for 2D animation (moving the object from a point A to a point B in a given period of time). As for the animation of the characters, the most commonly used technique to make a movement credible and fluid is that of <strong> motion capture </ strong>. This technique is used to digitize the movements of real actors who, equipped with markers on the pivotal points of the body and face, really interpret the movements that the 3D characters must perform.
Once the animation phase is finished, the files can move to the rendering phase. This name indicates the mathematical calculation that the computer processors must perform to export the frames in the final quality required. In fact, those involved in modeling and animation work on the project with a simplified visualization, only after rendering it is possible to evaluate the performance of materials and lights.
Some scenes may require special effects such as rain, snow, explosions or smoke. These effects can be generated in post-production by particular software that use particle animation techniques that are able to realistically simulate the movement of small particles subjected to gravity and other physical forces such as wind, vortex, weight, friction, etc.
With the audio-video editing, the clips generated during the rendering phase are assembled, the unnecessary parts are cut, the transition effects between one scene and the other are applied, special effects are applied and the whole is synchronized with the ‘audio composed of background music and the possible voice of the characters.