3D animation is present across different media. We encounter it in our daily lives in multiple formats, including but not restricted to games, animated movies, and TV shows. Most of these have a huge amount of animation, sometimes in places that you never expect.
For instance, there are several movies that at first glance do not have 3D animation, but a deeper look would reveal that it has. These could be regular items such as a tree near a road, some snow on the sidewalk, or even a camera angle from a particular distance. For us, it would seem as if these were shot in real-time, but experts would be able to point out that they are in fact 3D animation added later on.
All this proves the proliferation of 3D animation in the industry and its popularity. In fact, some of the highest-grossing movies of today have 3D animation in them as a vital aspect. Movies and TV shows that are higher on the charts in streaming shows also reveal that many of them have a significant chunk of the scenes in 3D.
Despite the proliferation, there are still a lot of challenges while creating 3D animation that teams face on a regular basis. Let us have a look at some of them:
The world of animation is in flux at all times. There are often rapid advancements in the field that disrupt the working of the industry till then. Oftentimes, the ripples of new technologies echo for decades causing massive changes that leave a lasting impact in the industry.
Among these are the release of new tools. 3D animation is created using dedicated software specially created for creating animation. These have a lot of features that aid the animator in creating the best possible output by maximizing their skillset and creativity.
But there are also massive changes within the industry with regard to these tools. The tools used for animation creation change from one to the next in a very short span of time and thus create 3D animation challenges. In the present moment, there exists numerous software each with its own set of features. Oftentimes, if you have skills in one specific software does not mean you can translate the same set of skills into a different software.
This leads us to an issue where animators have to constantly be on guard for new technologies and master them at a fast pace. Sometimes the new technologies might be passing fads that make a wave during the moment of its release but fade away into irrelevance a few months later. Animators must also correctly identify these and shy away from passing fads.
Not all the software that you use to create 3D animation is going to be free to use. The pricing ranges and licensing terms vary from one to the next.
There are a lot of software that are free to use. Some of them are even open-source, so if you have any coding language, you can edit the source code and adapt it to the software to your particular liking.
But a lot of the tools are paid tools, released for commercial use by companies wanting to make a profit. Hence, these tools are paid tools that require you to purchase the tool for use, either through a single upfront payment or through periodic subscription plans. Even for software that you have paid upfront for, there might be novel features that require additional payment.
These software licensing costs often cut into the budget and is a major challenge in 3D animation projects. If you are a small-scale game developer or a mobile game development company, the licensing costs might account for a major percentage of the overall budget for your animation project.
Another challenge of 3D animation creation is hardware. This happens in both cases: production and in games.
In terms of production, the scenario is as follows: 3D animation is often resource-intensive on the system as it requires the calculation and rendering of thousands of polygons, each of which requires the system to make complex mathematical calculations. To do this in an efficient manner and without crashing the system and thus hampering the work, the system requires high power in terms of processing and graphics.
The same logic applies to games as well. But in the case of games, the challenge of 3D animation is real-time rendering. In normal 3D animation playback, the 3D data is rendered and converted into a video for playback. But in games, the 3D data has to be rendered in real-time because the visuals depend on the interaction the player has with the game.
For instance, if the player chooses to move under a lamp, the lighting has to change to reflect the interaction the player has had with the game. This issue does not exist for pre-rendered videos.
Collaboration is another challenge of 3D animation.
Because sometimes, there are a lot of personnel involved in a project that revolves around 3D animation. This is especially true for projects that are not centered around the 3D itself, such as games.
For instance, in a game, the 3D animation team of the game development studio has to not only create the animation but also make sure the output is optimized to run properly in games. This means the right file format and the right framerates are maintained so the scene can run as intended without bottlenecks in the performance.
Getting these right is often a challenge. It requires the team to maintain the right communication channels and strategies so that challenges in 3D animation that arise during any stage are tackled together as a team and ironed out within a short span of time.
3D is time-consuming to create. If you compare the most basic 3D and 2D to each other in relation to the time required to create, 3D would require the most time.
This is the reason a lot of games and animated movies sometimes take half a decade to produce. 3D animation goes through a complex process that involves multiple steps. Each step has to be completed to perfection before moving on to the next step to ensure the final quality is not compromised.
There are sometimes advancements in technology that speed up the time for production. But the quickness does not last for long. Because these tools are often integrated into the workflow the envelope of quality is pushed even further. Thus, the time required for 3D animation challenges to be executed remains on the longer side.
Another hallmark challenge of 3D animation is that often it requires a lot of resources.
Because the more complex the project is, the more the personnel required to execute the project. For instance, a game that has AAA-quality graphics and 50 hours of gameplay narrative can’t be executed by a single 3D animator.
Instead, it would require multiple personnel from each department such as concept art, animation, rigging, modeling, lighting, and more. It may even require you to opt for a game art outsourcing studio.
Getting the right resources is also a hassle in today’s competitive environment. You require skilled people who have prior experience working on projects and/or new animators who possess the talent, drive, and potential to learn about animation concepts and execute them.
Motion capture is both a 3D animation challenge and an opportunity.
It allows you to capture the movements of real-life humans, their gestures, methods of walking and running, and other plethora of movements. This gives us much more realistic animations to work with and integrate into our games and videos.
But, the work doesn’t stop after the capture of the data. The animators have to work on the data to process and polish it further. In short, each motion capture performance you see is not only the effort of one actor but also numerous animators who build upon the performance they have received and polish it further.
There are numerous challenges while creating 3D animation that teams face on a regular basis. Some of these are problematic challenges that require a lot of effort and time to overcome. Some of these are specific to certain industries.
But keeping in mind all of these things before you create animation output would be a vital step to creating the best quality output that you can. Before you create anything that involves 3D animation, be it a video or a game, you should do your best to keep these common 3D animation challenges in mind.
You can approach us, at Juego Studios. We are a leading 3D animation services provider that offers animation services for games and other media. Our forte is a team of animators that has years of industry experience and a proven track record in tackling creative projects of both complex and simple requirements.