Monday, July 26, 2010

Tej Kohli - Difference in 2D and 3D animation

In the previous post, Tej Kohli outlined the basic difference between 2D and 3D animation, particularly in terms of definition, limitations and how they compliment each other. Today, we will dig this topic a little deeper.

Differences in 2D and 3D animation

2D and 3D animation differs from each other in a variety of aspects. 2D animation is an art form that gained immense popularity after zoetrope and flipbooks were introduced, and was later processed by the likes of Walt Disney. However, the advancement in computer technology added another dimension to 2D animation and led to the rise of 3D animation. Today 3D animation is commonly used for creating special effects in movies. Although both are the two different branches of animation, both may differ significantly in terms of their capabilities and creation process.

Creation Process

All 3D animation is computer generated and is created using software like 3D Studio Max or Light Wave 3D. Though 2D animation can also be generated of a computer using programs like Adobe Flash, it can also be rendered in hand on a paper-pad using pencil or pen. In 2D animation, artists draw individual images on each page, which when flipped creates an effect of movement.


In 2D animation, objects can only move horizontally axis along X axis for creating forward or backward motion, and a vertically along Y axis for stimulating an up and down movement. 3D animation allow objects to move closer of farther away from the viewer, moving along the third Z axis. To make an object appear closer in 3D animation, the object must be drawn large so as to create such an effect.


All objects in 2D animation look flat, just like in a photograph or painting. For example, if we look at the facade of a building in a 2D animation, that's the only part of the building that is visible on paper. 3D animation, however, shows objects in sculpture form. You can view the front, back, top, bottom of the building.


3D animation software have a virtual camera, which is a part of the animation process. This virtual camera is similar to a real camera with features like focal length. What's more, this camera moves in the same fashion as an actual movie camera, and include features like zoom, pan and dolly. 2D animation does not require such an advanced technology.


3D animation programs also have virtual light that can imitate light bulbs, spotlights, or even sunlight. Besides, they are also use multiple light sources or colored lights to add several special effects. If you make an object pass in front of these lights, they can also cast real shadows on other objects in your composition. In 2D animation, you have to draw shadows by hand.


Through the use of realistic textures and 3D objects, 3D Animation help animators create scenes that are virtually identical to real life. But in 2D animation, even the highest quality animation has a cartoon-like, hand drawn look.

Rotoscoping and Motion Capture

To ease some pressure off the animation process, 3D animation may use a process called motion capture. Motion capture is a process that involve an actor wearing s special suit with lots of points on it. Now, as the actor moves, the camera uses these points as reference for animating a 3D character. A few points may also be used on actor's face to record facial expressions and lip-movement for dialogues. In 2D animation, there is no such thing as motion capture, however, it uses a similar process known as rotoscoping, which involves tracing over live footage of actors frame by frame to help generate the animation.

Special Effects

In 2D animation special effects like smoke, fir, moving water and explosions must be arduously drawn for each frame. In 3D animation you can use plugins or exclusive filters to create such effects, which automatically generates the effects after you indicate certain parameters.

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

2D Animation Versus 3D Animation - Tej Kohli

In present times when many well known Hollywood directors are choosing animation over live action, the future of this evolving art form looks promising and is here to stay. While the world of 3D animation is continually evolving, there are areas where 2D animation is still being done. The aim of the article is not to establish which one is better than the other, but to demonstrate what each type of animation adds to a project.

2D animation
To create a 2D animation, the artist make use of bitmap images that consists of colored blocks. These colored blocks, when placed side by side, creates an image or graphic.

3D animation
3D animation use computer generated lines, solids and surfaces to construct a 3-dimensional look. The finished product is a picture with visibly noticeable depth and spacial understanding, which is less prominent in a 2D image.

Limitations of 2D
In 2D animation, only one angle or side of a picture is visible at a time, rendering the image a flat appearance.

Limitations of 3D
The expertise needed to create 3D animation is much more difficult to learn as compared to those needed in 2D animation. Furthermore, the cost of producing a 3D image is more than 2D.

The Conclusion
Today, animators are using both 3D and 2D techniques to create several animation projects. Both 3D and 2D animations have been artistically merged together to become the benchmark that many animated projects will follow.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tej Kohli Animation Glossary V to Z

Tej Kohli animation career blog brings you the final series of Animation Glossary containing words from V to Z.

See: Point.

Viewport : The region of the interface of a 3D software package in which the scene is displayed to the artist.

Volumetrics : Volumetric lights are lights whose illumination can be observed throughout a volume of space, rather than simply where the light strikes a surface. In similar fashion, volumetric textures are textures applied throughout a volume of space, rather than to a surface.

Walk Cycle : A short sequence of animation containing the keyframes necessary to make a bipedal character take two consecutive steps. The sequence may then be repeated over and over again to animate the character walking forward. Walk cycles may be modified in many subtle ways to suggest information about a character’s age, gender, emotional state or personality.

Weighting : The process of determining which bone in a skeleton affects which part of a model’s surface mesh. In many cases, this is achieved by painting weight maps onto the surface of the model that delineate a particular bone’s area of influence.

Wireframe : A shading method in which a simple grid of lines is used to represent the basic contours of the underlying model. For many 3D artists, this is a favoured mode to work in, since it permits them to see faces and surfaces that would otherwise be hidden by overlying geometry.

World axes: See: Co-ordinate systems.

Z-depth : The distance a particular point or surface lies inside a scene. Z-depth information is used to calculate where a light casts shadows, and also to calculate which surfaces are visible to the camera during rendering, and which are obscured by nearer geometry.

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