What is 3D animation pipeline?

3D animation
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3D animation is worthless without its pipeline. You see different kinds of 3D animation mega projects every other day. It can be an animated movie or a sales video. 3D animation is everywhere around you. 

But there is a process that every 3D animation has to follow to impress its audience. In this debate, you are going to learn about it in detail. 

3D animation production is an extensive process that needs a bunch of gear. It includes experts in different domains. A wide range of premium animation tools. The corresponding jobs relevant to the 3D animation pipeline might get mangled if there is no definite flowchart for the associates. 

We will dig deeper into this particular pipeline. You will see all the 3D animators following this type of approach for different projects. But the amends they could make in this pipeline depend on the nature of the projects each time. 

How do you define a 3D animation pipeline?

You define a 3D animation pipeline as a collection of different aspects related to the 3D animation procedure. It includes artists. Animation tools and pertinent jobs of the artists are also a part of a 3D animation pipeline. 

Now that you are well aware of 3D animation pipeline, let’s discuss why it matters in the entire procedure of the 3D animation process. 

Why 3D animation pipeline is important?

If you are a beginner or a veteran, you need a proper set of instructions to bring out amazing 3D projects. The sensitivity of every project relates to its magnitude. 

Mega projects like animated movies, and 3D videos for marketing purposes need this pipeline for effortless results. In the same way, micro-projects also need this pipeline to maintain the status of quality on all counts. 

Below are some important benefits of using a 3D animation pipeline in all of your projects: 

  • More Time Efficiency: 3D production includes several such steps that demand different types of timeframes. Being a 3D artist, you can complete a job in 2 hours. While other steps would need weeks of continuous work.

A 3D animation pipeline would set these timeframes for you. So that you have this set of instructions always with yourself. Thus, making you productive in time management of different tasks is the main thing in this process. 

  • Budget Orientation: Such pipelines are important when it comes to managing the budget of many projects. One of the benefits of a 3D animation pipeline is that you can analyze the expense and returns through this.

The step takes place in the initial phase of the 3D production process. A pipeline that tells depicts you the whole budget can prove to be helpful to make further decisions regarding the matter as well. 

  • Team Coordination: Owing to the scale of 3D projects, a pipeline is important to orient all the associates. Some projects need a team of a maximum of 5 people. But due to large-scale projects, teams extend up to 400 to 500 people as well.

A pipeline is beneficial to assign them their tasks. Keep a track of their progress and enhance their team effort as well. This goes well with every type of project and reduces the risks of poor coordination among them. 

  • Improve Quality:  Since you can keep the track of the team’s performance. You can focus more on enhancing the quality of your projects. Due to a defined path that you are following, everything gets convenient for you. 

What is the average price of 3D animation?

Being a professional it is important to keep the cost of 3D animation in mind.  Such projects are much more expensive than 2D ones. You will find the average price to be ranging from $100,000 to $200,000.

Major phases of 3D animation pipeline

A 3D animation pipeline includes 3 major phases that have their own significance in the whole process. The collateral result given out by these phases determines the performance and quality of your projects.

We are going to learn about these phases individually in the further sections: 

  • Pre-Production Phase 

The pre-production phase is important to initiate making 3D animated projects. This is where you start from all the contemplation and generate an idea to work on. Two different teams work on budget and design frontiers for the production process. 

  • Generate an Idea: Everything origins from an idea. The first step is to generate an idea or take inspiration to start with the project. In this case, you can work on your client’s idea for further process. 
  • Create Script: 3D animated projects need an engaging script. After you get the idea to work on, it’s time to write the script. So that you can include it in your projects. The script is a crucial component of your projects. It provides language and voice to your characters. 
  • Develop Storyboard: A storyboard is a group of your sketches. 3D storyboards bring your ideas to existence. So that you acquire a proper sequence that will enter the production phase in this pipeline. 
  • Production Phase

The production phase involves the core steps of crafting 3D projects. It predicates modeling, rigging, texturing, and other steps that lay the foundation of the post-production phase.

Let’s discuss these steps below!

  • 3D Layout: It is important to transform your storyboard into a 3D layout. It contains all the essential properties of your 3D characters. An initial layout that has fixed color grading, the character’s outfit, and the atmosphere around it. 
  • Modeling: The next step is to create a 3D model of the layout you just created. Two of the important software that enable professional 3D modeling are 3D Max and Maya. It includes developing geometrical formations of 3D layouts to proceed with the phase.
  • Texturing: Thi step is for giving textures to 3D models. It includes enhancing the color gradients as well. Your 3D models get the surface and add the textural layer to them that helps with the next step which is rigging. 
  • Rigging: Rigging is crucial when your projects include 3D characters. Rigging gives them a more human look by working on the skeletal and muscular aspects of the character’s body. 
  •  Animation: After you develop the bony framework of your 3D characters, it’s time for animating them. Animation gives movements to your rigged characters. So that the audience can interact with them more due to the realism. 
  • VFX: You might know about VFX effects already. These are for giving extra attributes to your animated characters. It might be climatic effects like fire, water, or dust. These are improving the feel of an animated video for the audience. Natural happenings entice the audience through these 3D animated characters as well. 
  • Lighting: This step determines the surrounding of 3D projects. It varies according to your projects. Make sure the lighting corresponds with the nature and motive of your 3D characters to improve the project’s magnitude.
  • Rendering: It divides your 3D animated character into several layers to consider for the last time. Different layers including shadows, color grading, highlights, and others are the sole part of the rendering step. 


  • Post-Production Phase: 

The post-production phase comprises some last steps that wind up your 3D animated project. The post-production phase gives you the freedom to execute final amends that you feel are important for your project. 

Some integral steps of the post-production phase are: 

  • Compositing: It gathers the separated layers of rendering once again. The process can be volatile. It means composting can be mild and intensive. The number of layers you need to composite determines how much time it’s going to take for the completion. 
  • Color adjustment: It includes altering the colors of your 3D characters or projects before launching them. You can spend as much time as you want to adjust the colors of your projects by using different software. 
  • Final Touches: Make sure your projects are responsive to different devices. A glitch can make your projects lose all the impact on your audience. Different devices influence your projects in their own way. A last check on their responsiveness would be helpful to avoid future complications. 

In a Nutshell

3D animation pipeline is important to cover large-scale projects. No matter whether you are handling them individually or with a team. A 3D animation pipeline has all that you need to deliver impressive projects to your clients. 

You are now all ready, to begin with, your creativity using a 3D animation pipeline. The contribution of your ideas and a sharp eye on the steps of each phase of this pipeline matter a lot. 

The best way is to not set a proper timeframe for yourself. You never know what step would take little or no time. It’s better to spend the adequate time necessary for the steps of this pipeline for desired results. 

A 3D animation company like BuzzFlick understands this significance. Consider their experts for quality production of 3D animation videos and motion graphics services. They have a diversified portfolio with a long list of happy and satisfied clients. 

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