The creation of 3D animation has truly taken the perception of the field from a youth entertainment medium to a sophisticated, complex process with virtually limitless prospects.
At this day in age, computer-generated graphics have nearly gotten to a point where they are indistinguishable from real life. It isn’t uncommon for a major motion picture studio to integrate 3D animated characters or effects over their live-action footage, to either enhance what is already in the scene, or to create an all new, fantastic landscape in which to work.
With the rising desire for these 3D animated graphics, it isn’t surprising that the amount of studios to choose from has increased exponentially over the past few decades. Luckily, most studios specialize in a very specific venue, such as television commercials or instructional videos, so the choice isn’t as threatening as it sounds. Some studios do not even offer client services, as their plan is to focus on personal projects.
When a 3D animation studio opens itself up for commercial production purposes, the first steps taken are to build a large base of clients, sending news of their abilities out to as many customers as possible. On the other hand, if a company is primarily interested in producing a film of their own design, they must first find investors to donate resources to the project, until they are competent enough to fund their own ventures. But, whether a studio is built for commercial or project purposes, they will have a tendency to follow a very similar 3D ‘pipeline’, or production process.
Considering every piece of a 3D animation must be built from the ground up, it is seldom possible for a single individual to produce on his or her own. Consequently, studios often find that compartmentalizing the process across several employees or divisions makes the most sense, with each one assigned to a specific step in the 3D animation pipeline. While one person is working on concept sketches, another employee can be finalizing details in the script and storyboards.
Once the 3D modelers, texture artists, and rigging artists have taken their turns, the postproduction specialists can add the lighting, camera movements, and environmental effects, finalizing everything enough to send the production out for its final render.
Once a 3D animation studio begins to grow larger, and the needs become greater, it often becomes beneficial to encompass more aspects of production in-house. Where a regular studio might send their project files to a ‘render farm’ to export the film in a polished format, a large studio may find it easier to set up their own facility. Or if the animation studio finds itself using footage of real actors as references quite often, they might look into building a motion capture studio.
Over the past two decades, an increasing number of locations in the world have introduced incentive programs for those interested in opening up studios, offering tax cuts or partial financial support, in the hopes of boosting their visibility on a global scale. Having a booming entertainment industry in the area increases tourism as well as general revenue, not to mention community pride. The creation of 3D animation has truly taken the perception of the field from a youth entertainment medium to a sophisticated, complex process with virtually limitless prospects. And, as technology continues to evolve, so will 3D animation studios, bringing us into a whole new era of colorful virtual clarity.