How to Make 3D Animated Videos: A Useful Guide

3D animated videos have become increasingly popular for a wide range of applications. From entertainment and marketing to education and scientific visualization. Knowing how to make 3D animated videos may seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and tools, it’s achievable.

Our video animation company also specializes in making 3D animated videos. Here’s a video our team made for a client.

Contact us and we will make one for you!

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In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of making 3D animated videos, from the pre-production stage to animation and post-production.


How to make 3D animated videos: Pre-production

1. Concept development

The pre-production process kicks off with concept development. This is the stage where you brainstorm ideas and decide on the core concept of your 3D animation.

Consider what message you want to convey, the emotions you want to evoke, and the story you want to tell. This is the time to let your imagination run wild. Once you have a clear concept in mind, move on to storyboarding.


2. Storyboarding

Storyboarding is a visual representation of your animation’s narrative. It consists of a series of drawings or sketches that depict the key moments and scenes in your animation.

Storyboards serve as a visual script, allowing you to plan the sequence of events, camera angles, and transitions between scenes. They help you see the big picture and identify any potential issues before you start animating.

Related: What Does It Take to Be a 3D Animator?


3. Character and environment design

In 3D animation, characters and environments are pivotal to the success of your project. During the pre-production phase, you’ll need to design characters, objects, and the world they inhabit. This includes creating 3D models, textures, and lighting setups.

Character design involves defining the appearance, personality, and characteristics of your animated figures. The environment design should complement the story and add depth to your narrative.

Specialized software like Blender, Maya, or 3ds Max is often used to create 3D models and textures.


4. Voiceover and soundtrack

If your 3D animation includes dialogue or a narrative, this is the stage to plan and record voiceovers.

Voiceovers bring your characters to life, and a well-chosen voice actor can greatly enhance your animation. Ensure that the voice acting matches the emotions and personalities of your characters.

The soundtrack is equally important. A carefully chosen background music or score can set the mood and atmosphere of your animation.

Additionally, sound effects can add depth and realism to your scenes. Plan your audio elements during pre-production to ensure they are integrated seamlessly into your animation.


5. Rigging and animation planning

Before you jump into animating your characters, you need to rig them. Rigging involves creating a skeletal structure or control system that allows your characters to move realistically. A well-rigged character is essential for smooth and natural-looking animations.

Moreover, during this phase, you should develop an animation plan that outlines the key poses, actions, and timing for your characters. This plan will serve as your animation roadmap in the production phase.

Here’s how you can do it in Blender.

And here’s a short tutorial for rigging and animation in Maya.


How to make 3D animated videos: Production

1. 3D Animation

The heart of the animation process is, of course, animation itself. This is where you take your rigged 3D models and animate them according to the plan you established during pre-production.

In 3D animation, this typically involves keyframing, which is a technique where you create key poses at significant points in time, and the software interpolates the frames in between to create smooth motion.

You need to consider the fluidity of motion, the timing of actions, and the expression of emotions. Whether it’s a character’s walk cycle, a vehicle in motion, or an object falling, each animation should be approached with careful attention to detail.


2. Texturing and lighting

Once your 3D models are moving as intended, it’s time to apply textures and set up lighting. Texturing involves adding realistic surface materials and colors to your objects and characters. This step is crucial for creating depth and visual interest.

Lighting is equally important as it affects the mood and atmosphere of your scenes. Adjusting shaders and materials, positioning lights, and configuring the quality of shadows can drastically impact the realism of your 3D animation.


3. Rendering

Rendering is the process where your 3D software converts your scenes into 2D images or frames. This is the step where the software calculates how light interacts with your models and materials.

Depending on the complexity of your animation, rendering can be time-consuming and resource-intensive.

It’s important to configure your rendering settings carefully. You’ll need to choose the resolution, the file format, and the quality settings. The choice of these settings depends on your project’s requirements and the platforms where you plan to showcase your animation.


4. Fine-tuning and iteration

Animation is rarely perfect on the first attempt. After rendering, it’s essential to review your animation multiple times.

This is the stage where you identify any errors, inconsistencies, or areas that need improvement. Pay close attention to timing, smoothness of motion, and the overall coherence of your animation.

Take the time to make adjustments, fine-tune the animation, and iterate as necessary. This is where your animation truly comes to life and where you can refine it until it meets your vision.


How to make 3D animated videos: Post-production

1. Editing

Editing is the first stage in post-production. This is where you take all the rendered frames or footage and arrange them into a cohesive sequence.

Editing software, such as Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or DaVinci Resolve, is used for this purpose.

Read more: Best Video Editing Software for YouTube


In this phase, you can cut and trim your animation, adjust the timing of scenes, and create smooth transitions.

Editing is also where you can add additional effects, such as color correction, filters, or stylized visual effects to enhance the overall look of your animation.


2. Visual Effects and compositing

Visual effects (VFX) and compositing are crucial for adding that extra layer of magic to your animation.

In this phase, you can incorporate special effects, such as explosions, fire, or particle systems, to make your animation more engaging and dynamic.

Compositing allows you to combine various elements, such as characters and backgrounds, seamlessly. This is where you can integrate 2D and 3D elements together, adjusting their interactions to make the animation feel more realistic.


3. Color Correction and grading

Color correction and grading are essential in post-production to fine-tune the overall look and feel of your animation.

This is where you adjust the colors, contrast, and brightness to create a consistent and visually appealing experience for your audience.

Color correction can help fix any discrepancies in lighting that may have occurred during the animation process.

Furthermore, color grading is used to create a specific mood or atmosphere within your animation. It can drastically impact the emotional resonance of your project, making it feel more immersive and engaging.


4. Sound design

Sound design plays a pivotal role in post-production. Once you’ve completed your animation, it’s time to mix and integrate all audio elements. This includes voiceovers, sound effects, and music.

The goal of sound design is to ensure that the audio quality is consistent and synchronized with the visuals. You can adjust the volume levels, add effects, and create a balanced soundscape to enhance the viewer’s experience.


5. Final review and export

Before you release your 3D animation to the world, a final review is essential. This is your last chance to catch any errors, inconsistencies, or elements that need refinement.

You should review your animation multiple times, seeking feedback from peers if possible. Ensure that the audio and visual elements are in perfect harmony.

Here’s a great tutorial that covers every step of post-production in detail.

Read more: How to Become a 3D Animator – Interview with an Expert


That’s a wrap

Creating a 3D animated video is a complex but rewarding process. It requires careful planning during pre-production, skilled execution in production, and attention to detail in post-production. By following our guide, you will know all about how to make 3D animated video.

Remember that practice and continuous learning are key to improving your skills, so don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. With dedication, you can make 3D animated videos just the way you want.

In case you’d rather have someone make a 3D animated video for your business, get in touch! Our team of specialists are here to bring your vision to life.

Want a video for your business?


Posted by Samra Tiwana

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