The production process of a 3D animation (well-suited to promote 3D configurators) video is essentially divided into three phases: pre-production, production and post-production. In this article we will discuss each phase in detail.

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Before production.

The most important stage of 3D animation is pre-production. In this phase, the main aspects of the 3D animation are defined, the most important element of which is the storyboard.

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The storyboard helps to create a visual sequence of the narrative story and is essential for the successful animation process. The keyframes are drawn one after the other by hand to highlight the keywords history and scenography. Some short texts help to clarify some aspects that cannot be drawn, such as chamber movements. The Storyboard is a basic document for the work team, but also for the client, who can immediately understand whether the message arrives so the story is effective or adjustments are still necessary.

Designing models
To define the appearance of 3D models, it is necessary to create a series of illustrations or sketches that show all the possible positions or expressions a character can assume during the animation. The sketches define not only the appearance of a character, but also the type of clothing and accessories.

The production
After the release of the storyboard, the project now enters the production phase. This is where the execution phase of the work begins, in which designers and animators create 3D characters and environments based on the pre-production phase.

3D modelling
In close cooperation with the Art Director, experienced 3D modellers convert 2D sketches into solid 3D models. At this point, each small detail must be converted into polygons, with the density varying according to the accuracy of the model. Once approved, the 3D model can go through the next steps of texturing and rigging.

Artists are responsible for creating textures and materials that give the 3D model its final appearance. The textures of the characters or complex models are developed in the form of image maps to cover every detail of the 3D model exactly. Materials play a decisive role for a successful 3D animation, because they have to reproduce the appearance of the real material.

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The light manager is responsible for positioning and defining the lighting properties, defines the interaction with different materials and calculates the intensity of the shadows to make a 3D scene credible. Finally, the lighting gives the scene the harmony of colours and the warmth that is necessary for the right presentation.

Rigging is the term used to define the movements of mechanical objects. The technicians who deal with this phase have the task of showing all the positions a character can take during the animation, setting limits and restrictions to make the movement credible and natural.

3D animation
In this phase, the animators give the objects and characters the movement described in the storyboard. The technique for animating 3D objects does not differ much from that for 2D objects. Motion Capture is often used to make the animation of characters as credible as possible. This technique is used to visualize the movement of real actors.

After completion of the animation phase, the project goes into the rendering phase. This name specifies the mathematical calculation that computer processors must perform in order to export the frames in the required quality.

After production
In the final phase of the production process, 3D animation is given the finishing touches with video audio editing and the use of special effects.

Special Effects
Some scenes require special effects such as rain, snow, explosions or smoke. These effects can be generated in post-production by special software using particle animation techniques that can realistically simulate the movement of small particles exposed to gravity and other physical forces such as wind, vertices, weight, friction, etc.

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Audiovisual editing
Audio-video editing combines the clips created during the rendering phase, cuts out unnecessary parts, applies transition effects between scenes, applies special effects, and synchronizes everything with the background music audio and the characters’ voices (if any).