3D Computer Animation – It’s All About Realism
By Justin L Sternad
Realism in 3d computer Animation has a huge impact on whether an animation production is a success or a failure. With the advance in technology, has come the expectation of the audience to have an experience where the animation is more alive. This can be achieved by producing character whose movements mimic those of real people. Technology has brought into play various software packages and devices for movement tracking that allow characters is film are video games to come to life before the audiences eyes.
The first way to create realism in 3d computer animation is to produce characters that can mimic actual facial movements. Let’s face it, when we communicate or look at one another we focus on facial features and their movements. Everything from the blink of the eye to the flaring of the nostrils creates life like movements in characters. Another facial movement that creates realism is speech movements. The characters mouth should form specific shapes with each syllable spoken. If careful attention was not placed on speech patterns and movements, the outcome would appear like some old martial arts film with English language dobbed over the original language.
The second way to create realism in 3d computer animation is to create realistic characters and objects. The more realistic a car appears in an animated film, the more the audience can put themselves into that car. Feature software has also brought a variety of palettes with varying colors and textures that simulate real life people and objects. For the car I mentioned earlier, which creates a more real experience for the viewer? Would you feel like the car is real if you were to get into the care with brown colored seats or brown leather seats that show the grain of the leather when the lighting is focused correctly off them? Lighting and shadows can also create realism. Caution should be used however as over use of any of the above items can really kill the effect you’re trying to achieve.
Above all, what really makes this all come together is believability. In order to make anything believable, you need to be able to take a step back and observe a character or object in real life. Then simply recreate whatever aspects of it you need. Believability becomes realism simply because as humans we live in reality. We tell stories based on our reality inclusive of the elements that surround us. The primary protagonist of a story is human or human-like and we relate to the character because of the human element. From there we surround the character with the elements that make sense and hence we believe in the realism of that story.
In 3D computer animation it is all about the realism. However, this is but only a small taste of what can make a 3D animation realistic. There are far many more techniques and tools that can be used than can be mentioned in this one article. There are literally millions of publications on the internet alone on this topic. Here is more recommended reading to start with: Implications of 3D Computer Animation.
Justin L. Sternad
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