Process from Concept to Delivery – 3D Animation

Milestones

We follow a tried and tested production schedule only moving on to the next step when you’re 100% satisfied with progress. Approving our work at each milestone means there are absolutely no charges further down the line.

Kickoff

We’ll review the script and available content, establish the principle goal(s) for the video and import and cleanup the CAD models.

  • Script writing and discovery
  • CAD import and model refinement

Pre-production

We’ll work through a set of tasks applicable to the project and provide a set of style frames and a pre-visualisation (previs) for your feedback.

  • Machine rigging
  • Character modelling, rigging and texturing
  • Character animation using motion capture (mocap)
  • Environment design
  • Graphic overlays
  • Fluids and particles
  • Materials and lighting
  • Style frames – deliverable for feedback
  • Pre-visualisation (previs) – deliverable for feedback
  • Milestone complete

Production

With the style defined and the story shown in the previs approved, we’ll move on to refine the animation where required and apply materials and lighting throughout the project.

We’ll produce and composite low quality, grainy renders for your final feedback before committing to time consuming final renders.

  • Refined animation
  • Low quality, grainy renders are produced (fast turnaround)
  • Compositing
  • Animation output – deliverable for feedback
  • Milestone complete

Delivery

With the low quality render approved, we’ll move on to produce and composite final high quality renders and export the final video for delivery.

  • High quality renders are produced (slow turnaround)
  • Compositing
  • Animation output – final deliverable Full HD 1080p 25fps MP4 file

Simple Online Approval

We’ll ask you to provide feedback through our simple online video sharing platform, allowing you to propose unlimited changes until you’re 100% happy with the result. Fast feedback will help smooth and accelerate production.

Common elements of the process

Each project poses it’s own challenges with it’s own set of tasks. Some of the most common parts of the production process are summarised below.

Messaging / Script

If we’re writing the script for you, we’ll delve deeper into your audience and message. If you’re providing the first draft or final copy of the script, we’re happy to help refine the message, making it more conversational or punchy to suit the anticipated visuals.

This AV (Audio Visual) script may include written step-by-step guidance on the proposed animation and details of the graphics and text that should appear as an overlay.

Ask us for a simple Word document template to get you started on your AV script.

Voiceover (Multi-Lingual)

We’ll send you a zip file of voiceover demos and ask you to select your preferred voice artist. We’ll ask for specific guidance on pace, tone and emphasis for the voiceover artist to work from. We’ll also request any references for pronunciation if necessary.

We regularly provide UK and US accent demo reels but have access to multi-lingual options including German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.

Technical References

Ideally you’ll provide a parts list that matches the layer names in your CAD file and a note of the material spec of each component.

2D drawings of the assembly and/or components, usually in dwg format, can be useful for checking primary dimensions and creating graphic overlays.

Photo references, of the physical product or from Google images, are particularly useful so that we can create and apply realistic materials based on the colour, surface finish, reflectivity, specularity and transparency shown.

Videos from your website or YouTube are useful for us to understand assembly/component motion and the use case.

CAD Import and Model Refinement

We can import product assemblies and parts from all major 3D CAD programs with no tweaking or data fix-up required. SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor, ProE/Creo, Solid Edge, UG NX, Catia, AutoCAD, Revit, Navisworks, Rhino.

Sometimes cylindrical surfaces import as multi-sided objects. Where possible, we’ll refine the mesh so that they look smooth for any close up shots.

Machine Rigging

Many machines such as the boom, stick and bucket on an excavator require rigging. We’ll set up a layer hierarchy with a set of constraints and controllers so that we can animate the machine quickly during the production process.

Character Modelling, Rigging and Texturing

We’ll create the characters, their props and clothing. The characters will be positioned in a T-pose ready for rigging and animating. We’ll apply bones and muscle weighting during the rigging phase to create a natural motion.

We’ll apply textures to the character, props and clothing.

Motion Capture (Mocap)

We’ll import motion capture data (Mocap) from our extensive library and blend the individual actions together to create a single fluid motion for the character. We’ll manually keyframe any bespoke motions when required.

Environments

We’ll work scene by scene creating environments for the products, machines, vehicles and characters.

Outdoor environments require substantial detailed texturing to provide a realistic look.

Pre Visualisation (Previs)

A previs is a low quality or wireframe output used to help visualise complex scenes while still in the concept phase.  The advantage of previsualisation is that it allows us to experiment with different staging and art direction options – such as lighting, camera placement and movement – without having to incur the time or cost of full production.

Graphic Overlays

We’ll create vector graphics, use dwg 2d drawings or 3D meshes to create graphic overlays for the animation. The overlays may be separate 3D renders or 2D assets applied at the compositing phase.

Materials and Lighting

We’ll create materials for each component and light them virtually using custom built HDR images and/or lights taking care with the placement of highlights and reflections.

Depending on the level of photo realism required, we can apply brushed metal finishes, signs of wear, scratches, oil splotches, metal flecks and finger prints to the textures.

Animation

We’ll take the client approved previs and start to refine camera moves and mechanical / product motion working towards a final animation.

Fluids and Particles

We’ll set up any particle, fluid or gas simulations. Ideal for water, oil, dust and contaminant flows.

Cached and rendered separately, they’ll be composited with the main renders in post production.

Rendering

With 25 frames per second, or 1500 frames per minute of animation, and with each frame typically taking from 5 to 20 minutes, rendering can be a time consuming process.

In addition, we often have to render multiple versions of the same frame to overlay and composite together in final production to achieve the desired look.

Compositing

We’ll import the rendered sequences along with camera and position data. We’ll combine these visual elements into single compositions, to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene.

We’ll apply a range of effects including colour correction, depth of field and motion blur and we may overlay an animated vignette to help focus the shot.

Delivery

We’ll licence the backing track and swap the high quality audio file into the project. We’ll send the final video file, usually a full HD 1080p 25fps MP4, using WeTransfer.

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