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The Craft of Animation

Did you know that a 60-second animated video may require anywhere up to 100 hours of work and collaboration? It’s a craft that requires a lot of attention to detail, both technically and creatively.

We spoke with One Floor Up 3D Designer, Cody Hendrickson, about one of his recent projects.

Animated Video with 3D – Produced by One Floor Up

OFU: As far as animated projects go, the Varian Identify System was pretty involved. Can you tell us more about what went into this project?

CODY: Sure. This project was unique because we got all these great 3D models from the client. They had an engineering company create the models using CAD software, which meant that they are really high quality but it took a little prep work to get them into the systems that we use for animation.

In addition to that, the client had really specific requests with lighting and ways that they wanted this to look.

So the first 30% of the project was re-creating these models, or sort of getting these models back to where they were, but in a way that we could use to animate them.

OFU: What does that process look like?

CODY: Well, the geometry, the “mesh” of the models comes in a little inconsistently with CAD software. So, the first thing is to optimize the mesh.

Once I do that, I add in textures, which is kind of like a block of gray clay that you paint to look like it has textures. So, it’s the gold colors, the white colors – different things like that.

And then the third thing is lighting. Within the 3D software we can add all sorts of lights. And they work the same as the lights in the real world. It’s just like a photography studio, essentially. So, I set all that up to make it look like it did [in the original CAD drawings].

OFU: Wow. So, once all that prep work is done, how does the video come together?

CODY: In this kind of animation, where we have these 3D models, it’s pretty similar to filming something. Once we have the lighting set-up, we’re moving cameras and getting different shots.

I’ve set up the lighting so that some things are highlighted, some things look prettier. And then I have to maintain that throughout the video. Especially in this one, there’s big camera moves. So with each big camera move, we’re turning things on and off. Making sure that it looks good throughout.

OFU: You’re talking about camera moves, but that is all happening within the software, right?

CODY: Yes. Exactly. And then similar to when you go out on a shoot, we come back and treat the footage. Same thing here. We render it out, we bring it into post processing software, and make it look even better. And that’s when we’re adding in text, and things like that.

2D Animated Video – Produced by One Floor Up

OFU: How does this compare to the 2D animation process?

CODY: In 2D you’re sourcing illustrations – stock imagery, illustrating ourselves, or hiring an illustrator. And then we animate those. Move them side-to-side, up-and-down. But you can’t rotate them like we would in animating 3D models.

OFU: Got it. In either case, it sounds like a very meticulous process!

CODY: Yeah, but it’s a labor of love.

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