You splurged on those movie tickets and grabbed a pair of Wayfairer lookalike glasses to make everything on the big screen pop. Jumpscares and comedy moments alike become amplified via the use of 3D. What about 3D animation explainer videos? You can leave the glasses at the multiplex and dive into the animation magic. 

What is 3D Animation?

3D animation in a marketing and explainer video context looks slightly different from when you’re off to watch Jaws. 3D animation is about creating an illusion in front of your eyes. With the help of computer-generated animation, objects appear to be moving in a three-dimensional environment. Next thing you know, characters and objects rotate and move similarly to real life. If 2D is a painting, 3D is a sculpture. 2D animation is a square, and 3D animation is a cube—no need to freak out about memories of high school geometry now! There is added depth that isn’t available in a 2D animation.

How does 3D Animation Work?

A magician never shares how the magic is made, but the rules are more lenient when it comes to computer magic. Let’s do some demystifying 3D animation together. There are three primary phases to successful 3D animation:

  1. Modeling: creating the 3D object within the scene. Modeling a 3D object isn’t like drawing. It means taking a simple form and growing it into 3D from all sides. 
  2. Layout and Animation: how these modeled 3D objects are positioned and animated. This means it’s time to make them move. Frequently 3D applications have built-in physics engines which follow rules of physics for falling objects. 
  3. Rendering: computer output creation, essentially how the graphics are made and exported. 

History of 3D Animation

3D animation had its humble beginnings in the 1900s as claymation: picture Wallace and Gromit. Clay objects and characters are made and moved into different positions. With a sprinkling of stop-motion, you have a charming 3D animation film. In the 1960s, labor-intensive claymation was replaced by CGI animation. 1995 saw Pixar releasing Toy Story, a completely CGI animated movie. $362 million gross income later, 3D animation showed it could hold its own against live-action blockbusters and traditional animation. 

Where Can 3D Animation be Used?

If you’ve been following this blog series, you know I have a firm stance that you can use any animated explainer video in most industries and for most needs. There is enough variety in each explainer video category to make it appropriate across broad sectors and target audiences. However, 3D animation’s characteristics do make it uniquely suitable for:

  • Introducing Products: Remove real-life clutter when presenting your audience with a 3D animated version of your product. Zoom into the features and show it from its best (every) angle.
  • Explain Yourself: Toy Story showed us this in the 90s. 3D animation is ideally suited for storytelling and narrative, which gives you the perfect opportunity to explain what you need to share with your audience. 
  • Show off the intelligible: With extra creativity and the help of 3D animation, you can show off parts of a product or service that generally can’t be visualized. An audiobook becomes a story happening in real-time in your 3D animated character’s ears. A new BMW motor gets broken down into its components. A sneaker’s shock absorption is explained. 

Characteristics and Advantages of 3D Animation

  • Three-Dimensional: Obviously, we have covered this in-depth, but what does it mean for your explainer video? You can view characters and objects from all sides. Very useful when it comes to introducing a new product or piece of craftsmanship. 
  • Modern and High-End: Where cartoon animations feel delightfully nostalgic, 3D animation feels rooted in the future. Additionally, 3D is often associated with higher cost, giving your product, service, or idea a more luxurious edge. 
  • Attention-Grabbing (and Keeping!): 3D animation adds visual interest in an environment where it’s rare to see something new.
  • Flexibility: You are not bound to two dimensions or specific creativity. No matter how simple or complex you want to go, 3D animation can accommodate you. 
  • Engagement: When audiences feel integrated into the story or clever animation, they are more likely to engage with it and get it trending worldwide. 
  • Better Brand Recall: Due to the impact 3D animation has on viewers, it is more likely to have a long-lasting effect on your brand. 
  • Reusable: You’ve invested a hefty chunk of money into your 3D animation explainer video, and now you have some updates to make. Thankfully the character design and animation don’t disappear upon rendering. You can now make any updates and changes you want to make. This makes your video more future-proof. 

Disadvantages of 3D Animation

  • Limits: Because the 3D animation is built around a rig, it cannot be as creative and free-flowing as a drawn cartoon. The laws of physics prevail.
  • Complexity Equals Higher Costs: 3D animation is a time-consuming process due to character modeling animation, lighting, voiceovers, and other elements all coming together to create the perfect 3D animation. It may not be as costly as hiring actors and sets, but it isn’t cheap. If it’s cheap, it isn’t good. 

Remember that no matter how impressive the rendering might be, it will still fall short without a strong message or story. You cannot fix a weak message with a pretty picture. The idea has to come in strong. Have you decided that 3D is the way to go, but the price tag puts you off? Consider a combination of 2D and 3D animation to cut down on cost. Whatever decision you end up making for your explainer video, remember you deserve the best you can afford. Return on investment is high when it comes to genuinely outstanding 3D animation.