3D animation and modelling – New Media Class

The scope of this blog post is to have students following my lectures on New Media, share their contribution to the lesson by posting comments, views, and links which they find and sharing them online.

To students: You are free to repost on Facebook or retweet… the essential scope is twofold: 1. to share our knowledge, to share our resources.

Animation primarily is considered to be the prelude to immersion into the digital reality with the essential goal of recreating a movement, whether it is for a character, ambience or object, which resembles the physical reality as much as possible.

Some questions which I would like to discuss with you all here and to which I would like some answers through your comments are:

  1. What is the essential difference between 2D and 3D animation?
  2. What is the 3D World Space?
  3. The Pyramid of Vision reflects the way the immersive animation is perceived by the user. Give examples to explain this further.
  4. What are the Transformations into the 3D World Space? Give practical examples.
  5. Cameras and lighting play a very important role in 3D animations. Give more detail.
  6. Points, lines and Curves in 3D Modelling software.
  7. Primitives, surfaces and textures…the what and how.
  8. The character animation and advanced modelling procedures.

For the purpose of this class we shall be using the Blender software to experiment with some simple 3D animation. Kindly download using this link. Your comments can include links to videos, or other resources which you find online as well as your own personal views, experiences, and other information which can be relevant and shared with the others.


11 thoughts on “3D animation and modelling – New Media Class

  1. Group A2 – New Media – Question 1
    Kris Apap Sandra Hili Ryan Xuereb

    What is the essential difference between 2D and 3D animation?


    Graphics in 2D and 3D can be animated, and used to tell a story. The differences between the two techniques are not about the graphics, artworks or drawings but how these two techniques are animated, processed and the tool used to create it.
    Essential difference between 2D and 3D animation.

    In 2D computer animation the process used to create movement entails such things as morphing which is a is a special effect in motion pictures and animations that changes a image into another through a seamless transition. 2D animation movements can give a rotoscoping animation technique in which animators trace over live-action film movement, frame by frame, for use in animated films. All these movements allows a two dimensional view of an object or character and the background. It does not allow for contouring which gives it visual depth. While 3D animation on the other hand uses digital modelling that allows a complete 360 degree view as well as a high degree of realistic features.

    2D drawings are based on two geometric co-ordinates, ‘x’ for horizontal and ‘y’ for vertical. If you turn these drawings to the side you see nothing but a straight line. 2D is based on ‘x’ which allows characters to move left and right and a ‘y’ co-ordinate which allows up and down movements. 3D animation includes an additional co-ordinate, known as ‘z’. Known as the ‘Cartesian Co-ordinate System’, the additional ‘z’ factor adds another level of movement that lets the character to both not only forward and backwards, up and down but also from side to side. Now when you turn the drawing to the side what you see is a complete every angle or view of the drawing.


    2D animation is limited in definition and it only represent a flat image animation while 3D animation offers a 360 view of an object, that gives a greater level of detail and allows animation to appear as realistic as possible. The below link shows a visual representation of the difference between 2D and 3D images and also a basic tutorial on how to work with 3D images.

  2. 6. Points, Lines and Curves in 3D Modelling Software

    In 3D animations a point in space is called a vertex. It is good practice to use as few points as possible since 3D calculations
    are time consuming.

    Curves are building blocks of surfaces. There are 5 types of curves:
    1.Polyline: which is used to define edges of polygons,
    2.Cardinal Spline: which is a curve that passes through control points,
    3.Bezier Curve: Bézier curves are used to model smooth curves that can be scaled indefinitely,
    4.B-Spline: approximating curve that allows for the creation of curved 3D surfaces called bicubic patches,
    5.Nurb: It is a mathematical technique using polynomials to describe smooth curves or surfaces.

    Polygons render more quickly while spline-based offer more sophisticated controls over modelling and animation

    Curve density refers to the number of points that form the curve. The more points there are the higher the curve density.
    Each point is weighted such that the higher the weight the closer the curve is pulled to the point.

    in Straight line 3D modelling an object’s surface is created out of flat, 2D polygons usually of 3 & 4 sides.

    When objects are created using a higher density of vertices and lines, the end result looks smoother to a human viewing.
    Here is a useful link explaining this in more detail: http://wordsbybuzz.com/?p=396.

  3. Group G1:
    Cameras and lighting play a vital role in any 3D animation and is a crucial part in any scene. Cameras in an animation provide different perspectives on the animation which help bring out the 3D aspect of the the object. The camera simulates a real life camera in real life by providing a point of view from where the viewer will be seeing the animation from.

    Lighting in an animation provides more depth to your 3D objects by altering the intensity of the lighting, angles and shadows being cast by the object. Lighting an animation is done the same way a photographer or producer will place lights in his studio in order to create a particular effect and properly light up a scene.

    Link to video regarding lighting and camera:

  4. The world space is like a virtual world for the 3D objects. In the world space all the 2D and 3D objects’ positions, movements, animations (with the required physics computation) and collision detection is done. The world space is defined when creating a new animation. The world space is the basis of a 3D animation and it is also the workspace. A 3D object will not be able to move in a location outside the world space. A world space is defined by the X, Y and Z axis. They are all perpendicular to each other. This illustrates the width, height and depth of the space. The world space is like a giant globe with preset X (length), Y (height) and Z (depth) co-ordinates. In this ‘globe’ there may be stationary objects like a house as well as moving objects such as a person.

  5. 1. What is the essential difference between 2D and 3D animation?

    Animation is a type of optical illusion. It involves the appearance of motion caused by displaying still images one after another. Often, animation is used for entertainment purposes.
    In addition to its use for entertainment, animation is considered a form of art. It is often displayed and celebrated in film festivals throughout the world. Also used for educational purposes, animation has a place in learning and instructional applications as well.
    2D and 3D refer to the actual dimensions in a computer’s workspace. 2D is ‘flat’, using the X & Y (horizontal and vertical) axis’, the image has only two dimensions and if turned to the side becomes a line. 3D adds the ‘Z’ dimension. This third dimension allows for rotation and depth. It’s essentially the difference between a painting and a sculpture.
    Animations in 2D involve manipulations on a graphics “surface”, where animations are rendered pixel-by-pixel onto a graphics memory area that corresponds to the viewing space allowed by the graphics hardware. Actual animations are done by moving the positions of distinct entities called ‘sprites’, as well as changing the graphics associated with the sprites either programmatically or by loading a prerendered graphic onto the surface.
    Animations for 3D involve loading entities called “meshes.” Meshes are sets of data that contain information about points, colours, and other important data. These meshes are then placed in the view, scaled (resized) to fit, “textures” are applied, lights are placed, and then the graphics engine will translate the locations and colours onto a flat surface similar to the 2D animation system.

    Difference of 2D/3D in Games

    2D games make use of images (or animated images). So if you want to get some guy smiling, you have to draw each facial expression to see that smile in motion. In terms of production it can be time consuming to make changes if you need to re-draw lots of images.
    Examples of games in 2D would be the Lucas Arts classic Point and Click adventure games such as Sam and Max, Monkey Island and Full Throttle.
    3D models are created by programs where you have a mesh and can use bones. This makes it quite easy to create different facial expressions when everything is set up: you simply create bit different positions for bones and you are done.

  6. Mario Zammit & David Spiteri – Group A1
    Primitives, surfaces and textures…the what and how.

    In 3D applications basic geometric shapes and forms are considered to be primitives. Such shapes and forms include:
    cubes or boxes;

    These are considered to be primitives in 3D modelling because they are the building blocks for many other shapes and forms. A 3D package may also include a list of extended primitives which are more complex shapes that come with the package. For example, a teapot is listed as a primitive in 3D Studio Max.

    A texture is simply a bitmap image that is used to provide surface coloring for a 3D model. A 3D texture can be thought of as a number of thin pieces of texture used to generate a three dimensional image map. 3D textures are typically represented by 3 coordinates.

    Generally, 3D textures are packed into a rectangular parallelepiped with each dimension constrained to a power of two. A rectangular parallelepiped is a 3D figure or 3D box space, of whose face angles are right angles (also known as a cuboid). Therefore, all of the faces of the three dimensional figure will be rectangles while all of its dihedral angles will be right angles. This type of 3D texture mapping occupies a volume rather than a rectangular region and is usually accessed with three texture coordinates.

    Similar to 2D textures, the coordinates of a 3D texture range from 0 to 1 in each dimension. The filtering process in a 3D texture is also controlled in the same way as in a 2D texture, that is, with the help of texture parameter and texture environment.
    Before the release of Microsoft’s Direct3D 8.0, 3D textures were not widely used in game programming mainly due to their overwhelming cost. A good 3D texture also consumes huge amounts of video memory. But these shortcomings were addressed by Direct3D (D3D) – a part of the DirectX which allows one to draw 3D shapes with smooth shading and scientifically correct lighting – and it is now possible for game programmers to include 3D textures in games without having to use huge amounts of video memory.

    3D textures have been used in high-end graphics for nearly a decade now. Thanks to new technology, the possibilities in this field are endless and they will only be amplified in the future. This is great news for game programmers and avid gamers around the world.

    Textures are applied to surfaces to give them a realistic appearance. Can resemble wood, marble, or any other interesting material or pattern. The process of applying or mapping a texture to a surface is known as texture mapping.

    Video of how to learn to texture a surface with an image (such as an image of grass for a grass slope) for realistic visualization in TBC. *View in HD*

  7. The main difference between the 2nd and 3rd dimensions is depth. Think of a drawing on a flat piece of paper, you can see the width and length of the drawing but when the drawing is turned, all you can see is a line. This is where the 3rd dimension comes in; a 3D drawing has depth to it, thus fulfilling all the characteristics of the 3rd dimension (length, width and depth). The same principle applies to animation.
    Keeping the above in mind, two dimension images are drawn using the help of two geometrical co-ordinates, these being x (width) and y (length). The third dimension makes use of yet another co-ordinate, this being the z co-ordinate which adds a sense of rotation and depth. As explained here; http://ezinearticles.com/?Difference-Between-2D-and-3D-Animation&id=3593593 (2nd paragraph) the basic difference can be illustrated by drawing a rectangle (2D) and a cube (3D). The rectangle will appear as a flat drawing whilst the 3D cube can be viewed from several different angles, just like in real life.

    The process of creating a character in 2D involves sketching the character from different angles using onion skinning (a 2D animation technique) whilst creating a 3D character involves digital modelling and is more similar to sculpting rather than traditional drawing.

    To view a 3D model the viewer would be able to simply rotate the camera and the model can be viewed from the different angles. “Moving the camera” in 2D would require the artist to draw the object from different angles (as mentioned previously). As always, there are pros and cons to both types of animation techniques. These are weighed out when deciding what type of animation is required; for example a simple animated banner for a website as opposed to a modern animated film, the former could be achieved using simple 2D animation techniques whilst more complex 3D animation techniques would normally be used for the latter.

    Different techniques are used in both 2D and 3D animation. 2D animation can involve morphing, twining and onion skinning, as well as other techniques whilst 3D animation involves the actual creation of character models. These 3D character models are based on 2D character sketches but require texturing, lighting and make use of a virtual camera to capture the model from various angles.

    In conclusion; we believe that the essential difference between 2D and 3D animation is the element of depth (although animation techniques also play a role). Without this element the animation would be classified as 2D whilst if depth is added, the animation is classified as a 3D animation.

    Related articles;

  8. Andrew Pirotta & Maria Cauchi (Group D2)

    The character animation and advanced modelling procedures

    Character animation:
    – A Specialized area of the animation process concerning the animation of one or more characters featured in an animated work.
    – It is usually as one aspect of a larger production and often made to enhance voice acting.
    – The primary role of a Character Animator is to be the “actor” behind the performance, especially during shots with no dialog.
    – In Hollywood animated movies it has also become practice to record the actors as they perform, for reference.
    – Character animation is artistically unique from other animation in that it involves the creation of apparent thought and emotion in addition to physical action.
    – Character creation includes a number of technical tasks, such as modelling, texturing, and rigging.
    – Simple Characters are drawn from primitives – basic shapes and other objects that you can add to a scene

    Animators working on Shrek Forever After https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoqiFfArXAE

    The Twelve Basic Principles of Animation:
    1.Squash and stretch
    4.Straight ahead action and pose to pose
    5.Follow through and overlapping action
    6.Slow in and slow out
    8.Secondary action
    11.Solid drawing

    Types of advanced modelling:

    Hierarchical Animation: linking objects together so that they can either be animated as a group of nodes or individually. In order to animate a hierarchy of objects, key-frame animation and an interpolator (method of constructing new data points) is used on each node in the hierarchy to be transformed.

    Inverse Kinematics: this is a variation of the hierarchical animation – animation is bottom up. In inverse kinematics, the problem is stated as, “Given the desired position of the robot’s hand, what must be the angles at all of the robot’s joints?” as opposed to “Given the angles at all of the robot’s joints, what is the position of the hand?”

    Particle Systems: the technique used to simulate certain fuzzy phenomena, which are otherwise very hard to reproduce with conventional rendering techniques. Examples include simulating rain, water, fire, sparks.

    It involves
    Source: particles emitted from a specific source
    Number: determining number of particles – is it raining softly or pouring?
    Geometry: what are the particles made of? Are they primitives?
    Colour: particles given a colour

  9. 1. What are the Transformations into the 3D World Space? Give practical examples.

    Transformations allow the developer to reposition, resize, and reorient models without changing the base values that define them.
    -Merging physical representations into the virtual world
    -Being part of another world apart of reality
    -Not being bound by the laws of physics
    -Stimulating different kinds of emotions if senses which are not present in reality are induced in virtualisation
    -The ability to have different senses which are not available in reality ex: infrared sensing

    • 3-D Coordinate Space
    3-D graphics content in Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is encapsulated in an element, Viewport3D, that can participate in the two-dimensional element structure.

    • Transforming Models
    When you create models, they have a particular location in the scene. Each model object has a Transform property with which you can move, re-orient, or resize the model. When you apply a transform, you effectively offset all the points of the model by whatever vector or value is specified by the transform

    • Translation Transformations
    3-D transformations inherit from the abstract base classTransform3D; these include the affine transform classesTranslateTransform3D, ScaleTransform3D, andRotateTransform3D.

    • Scale Transformations
    ScaleTransform3D changes the model’s scale by a specified scale vector with reference to a center point. Specify a uniform scale, which scales the model by the same value in the X, Y, and Z axes, to change the model’s size proportionally.

    • Rotation Transformations
    You can rotate a model in 3-D in several different ways. A typical rotation transformation specifies an axis and an angle of rotation around that axis. TheRotateTransform3D class allows you to define aRotation3D with its Rotation property.

    • Using Transformation Collections
    • Animating Transformations

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