In the recent years, 3D animation has been extremely popular and it’s plain to see why. This animation technique has the ability to portray objects and movements realistically. Not to mention, how vivid and appealing the visuals look to the human eye. It is one of the best forms of visual representation for information out there.
You must have seen a 3D animation before – from blockbuster films, games, YouTube videos and even the enticing product advertisements you see online. But what makes 3D animation shine even more are the character animations which allow for greater expression – ultimately making the story of the film or video come to life. As a result, there has been a huge shift in the advertising and marketing space favouring this animation technique to create highly engaging and memorable characters for businesses.
What is 3D character animation?
3D character animation is one the most favoured computer animation techniques that basically creates three-dimensional humanoid characters which are then animated – producing motion. Unlike 2D characters that are just flat and shows less life, 3D characters create a more realistic version with lifelike movements and body language.
The movement of such animations resemble that of real life – they can walk, speak and express emotions – just like humans. For a better visual understanding, both Minion the beloved tiny yellow henchmen’s in Minions and Woody the cowboy toy from Toy Stories are 3D character animations.
Also read: Get to Know All About Animation Character
The steps to creating 3D character animation
Modeling is a procedure where animators create detailed 3D models of the character by using animation software such as Autodesk Maya, Z-Brush, and Blender. The models are made up of a 3D mesh that can be created through a wide range of techniques. The common practice for animators is to take a simple object, refine and stretch it to achieve a detailed model that presents realistic features.
2. Rigging and Skinning
Before a character can begin walking and talking, it needs to have a skeleton, just like us! Rigging is a significant technical task in 3D character animation as it is required in order for the characters to move. At this stage, animators will set up a rig which is essentially a digital skeleton for the 3D model. The rig can be controlled to produce movement that is unique to each character. Whereas skinning is the process of smoothing the rig. You can think of this like putting skin to cover up the digital skeleton underneath.
Once the 3D models are have been created, it undergoes texturing which is basically a step where animators provide clothes onto 3D models. During a texturing task, animators will use 2D images overlaid on to a 3D model to add colours, texture and designs which is also known as mapping. This allows the characters to achieve a more visually realistic appearance on the hair, skin and clothing.
At this stage, animators will begin to animate the 3D characters to make them move – just like how you see it on screens. There are various ways that animators do this:
Animate by keyframes
One of the most common ways to create 3D character animations. This is done by animating objects on a frame by frame basis which is similar to stop motion animation.
Animate the trajectory
Where objects are placed on splines and setting them to follow the path of the curve to create movement.
Animate using motion capture
This method is done by importing motion capture data and applying it to a character rig.
This is one of the most important steps in 3D animation because this is where the graphics are generated and then exported. Animators will design a scene for the 3D model using computer graphics and convert it into a 2D image.
6. Compositing and special FX
The last and final step is compositing – where multiple renders will be combined to produce the final animation. At this stage, the renders will be further refined and special effects such as lighting, shadows, camera angles and the texture of a frame will be added and adjusted.
How can 3D character animation help businesses
In today’s digital age, technology has redefined how me communicate with one another as we heavily rely on visual media stimuli on a daily basis. Hence, businesses are constantly on the lookout for new and innovative ways to capture the attention of their target consumers. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of 3D character animation. It is a great technique that allows businesses to convey their message in an immersive way and can be applied to various uses and industries.
The uses of 3D character animation
Films and Television Shows
Marketing and Advertising
3D character animation benefits for businesses: Why it’s great for marketing campaigns
It can be an ideal tool for businesses across all sectors to effectively communicate and showcase complex or innovative products or concepts. It allows for the illustration of intricate ideas and processes in a visually engaging and easy-to-understand manner.
1. Increased engagement and relatability
As we are constantly bombarded with visual media on our day to day, businesses need to stand out in order to compete for user retention. 3D characters are able to express the brand’s personality and model human like traits that your target audience can relate to which can improve user engagement and keep them immersed for a longer period of time. With the use of 3D animated characters, you can turn complex messages and concepts into more engaging visual content that cannot be produced with just static images and texts alone.
One example is the Mandai Ranger Buddies trailer that aims to promote their Ranger Buddies program that focuses on educating the importance of wildlife conservation to young children. In order to keep the animated video engaging and relatable, the creative team at Superpixel created the 3D characters based on the real-life animals inhabiting Singapore’s Mandai Wildlife Reserve.
This was a great approach to increase relatability as viewers can recognise the animals like “Khansa” the orang utan character seen in the video. It may even build excitement and anticipation for a visit to the Mandai Wildlife Reserve Park – encouraging families and children to participate in the programme. The use of real-life animals in creating the 3D characters can also create a more engaging and emotionally impactful experience for the viewer.
2. Effective Branding Strategy
A well-thought 3D animated character can also be used as a model or mascot which acts as a distinctive and identifiable brand persona. This can elevate the perspective viewers have towards a brand which initiates brand image and recall – accelerating widespread exposure.
Characters are the most effective assets in a brand identity. Research has also shown that 3D animated characters created more positive consumer advertising outcomes because such characters often display human-like relatable traits, drawing more appeal and familiarity.
One example is Singapore’s Health and Promotion Board campaign against the incorrect use of antibiotics. The “Antibiotic Boy” was animated and personified to make it walk, talk, and entertain the public whilst displaying relatable traits like having a day job. This increases the recall ability when customers need to buy or take antibiotics. The video received so much love that it ended up being the 4th most-watched YouTube video ads in Singapore from July to December 2018!
3D animation has the advantage of being more cost-efficient and time-saving compared to the traditional commercial video productions. With 3D character animation, businesses will only need to hire animators – removing the need to hire real-life actors, a decorated set for shooting, camera and equipment, along with a professional production team. This also eliminates the need to constantly hire actors or brand ambassadors as the character animation can be recycled.
When compared to traditional productions, there are no limits to your imagination with character animation. You will have a wide range of access to unlimited features, movement, and creativity in the process of creating a 3D character animation. Allowing businesses to come up with any idea or styles they would want to produce without having to worry whether if it is possible or not.
Not to mention, how versatile and customisable 3D models can be – reuse and modify them according to your marketing campaigns without having to develop new content from scratch for each new promotional video.
Oribel played with character animations to promote children toys by making them come to life. This is a great way for businesses to showcase their products to make it more appealing and unique and helps them stand out from the rest.
5. Storytelling capabilities
3D characters are elements within a brand’s story that viewers can relate to – making them stellar storytellers for marketing purposes. Whether it is for a campaign, social media marketing, content marketing or a combination of it all.
The use of 3D characters allow brands to express the story they want in a compelling manner effectively which cannot be translated with just visuals and texts alone. Characters have a persona and relatability that can acquire the viewers attention – shifting their focus to keep them engaged throughout the entire promotional video. Which is what every business marketer out there is competing for. Having a 3D character is helpful when it comes to storytelling because you can personify your brand’s values, purpose and personality in the most simplest and fun way you can put it out.
Take a look at Redmart’s simple series of short videos that promotes buying groceries online but with an adorable comedic twist. The use of 3D characters in each video helped to communicate the brand’s purpose by relatability.
Creating 3D Character Animation for your Next Marketing Campaign
In conclusion, 3D character animation is a powerful tool for businesses looking to capture the attention of their target audience and create memorable marketing campaigns.
However, creating high-quality animations can be a complex and time-consuming process, which is why it’s important to work with a professional team. A Singapore animation studios like SuperPixel, who have a team of experienced 2D and 3D animators, can help bring your characters and campaign ideas to life.
Contact us today and let us help you create a successful 3D character animation campaign.