What Are the Different Types of 3D Animation?

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Students working on their computers about the types of 3D animation and their techniques

Many of us know that 3D animation involves animating objects that appear in a three-dimensional space. Unlike 2D images, artists can move and rotate 3D figures like real objects. But did you know that 3D comes in various forms and techniques, too? Read on and discover various types of 3D animation and how they differ from each other.

Types of 3D Animation

Since its inception, 3D animation has come a long way at the same time technology advanced. Regardless of technique and 3D animation styles, the focus remains the same: to create a convincing world for the audience.

1. 3D Video and Film

Among the types of 3D animation, 3D video and film is the most widely known. A three-dimensional visual feature of moving images within a digital environment, it uses motion graphics to move the subjects around a 3D space. This type is purely visual, which means there’s no interaction required.

2. Interactive 3D

This is a 3D production that features purely digital environment created in using 3D software. While 3D video and film animation relies on the visual experience, this type involves user interaction. This allows users to be in first person and move within the 3D world through a computer screen, with mouse and keyboards as external controls.

3. Virtual Reality 3D

Among the 3D animation types, virtual reality is the one that has opened an entirely new world for users. Like interactive 3D, this features purely digital environment created in a 3D software, but is used and experienced in an immersive way. Virtual reality 3D requires a device, such as Google Glass and Oculus, to allow its users to interact with the physical space. Of the types of 3D animation, virtual reality 3D is the most immersive and complex to create.

Types of 3D Animation Techniques and Their Evolution

Over the years, 3D animation has since evolved by leaps and abounds. From then on, 3D animation gave birth to various techniques, which aim to push the boundaries further. Here are eight types of 3D animation techniques in use today.

Digital 3D

Also known as computer-generated imagery (CGI), this method is the latest type of 3D animation that uses computer software. Some of these software programs include Maya, Unity, Mudbox, Houdini, LightWave, and SketchUp Pro.

Compared to other types of 3D animation, CGI is more prevalent in the moviemaking industry. It is also more realistic and easier to create than 2D animation. One technique under digital 3D is cel-shading. This is a non-photorealistic rendering that aims to make a 3D image look flat.

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Photo credit: vancouverfilmschool via Visual hunt / CC BY

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