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What do 3D Animators Do?

3D animators create an imaginary word that appears so real, you see people, cartoon characters, and objects move around in realistic space. Not only do they move, but they move within an ever-changing backdrop and they interact with it and other characters. It's the work of 3D animators that make the fictional realm real to the viewer: lighting, shadows, movement all change as the subjects move about the imaginary world.

It's hard to find a sector in our modern world of online and broadcast media that does not feature rich animations. That's why 3D animators work in a wide range of professions that draw upon their expertise for creating entertainment, educational, or sales-related animations that capture an audience and plunge them into a dazzling visual world. From console and computer video games, to simulators for military flight or combat training, 3D animators take flat narrative storylines into realistic or fantastic dimensions using state-of-the-art software.

Most 3D animators received detailed, career-focused training at colleges, universities, and dedicated design arts schools where they study animation history, story creation techniques, 3D rendering software, and digital editing computer programs. Sophisticated software used at schools and in the industry today helps 3D animators create figures from wire-frame models or "light suit" technologies that capture human motion.

Work for accomplished, well-trained 3D animators remains in high demand at Hollywood movie studios, at national and local television production studios, at game design companies, with corporate and government training and HR departments, at PR and advertising companies, and with business marketing firms.

A Brief Overview of 3D Animation Itself

The 3D animation process is fascinating. Images are manipulated by computer software so that they give the impression of movement in a world with depth, texture, varying colors, and sound. In many ways, computer animation resembles the frame-by-frame illusion created by traditional film cell animations created by hand. But today's robust 3D software such as Maya allows animators to move figures and objects about a realistic 3D space without having to draw it all from scratch in every frame.

Before the animation can be composed, the initial design of each character and object has to be completed as 3D models. These models are often first fleshed out through concept art sketched and painting out by concept artisits. From there, the 3D modelers can take this concept art and create it's 3D counterpart. Most animation software is based on vector graphics that take flat, stick-figure or wire-frame characters and build dimensional movement for each character -- typically based on human attributes.

The computers that process the animation themselves are built on an advanced hardware platform, including multiple processors that can crunch the 3D data in seconds via a technique known as "rendering", enabling animators to see their creations move about in real time. Animators use this give and take rendering procedure to position their creations in 3D space in relation to other characters, objects, textures, shadows, and lighting features.

Animators rely on state-of-the-art software programs as well as on proprietary design and editing software that is created by individual studios. Often software packages combine the features of several programs to give animators a set of tools that cuts down the total number of passes over each frame and saves valuable time.


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