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.

More information:
Tej Kohli Law Career Blog
Tej Kohli Review on Allvoices
Tej Kohli Press Release
Tej Kohli Dubai

No comments: