Facebook Twitter Google Plus LinkedIn YouTube

A07- Animation Project Pipeline: Production- Modeling

B. Production: Once the subject of our story is decided and the script or screenplay is ready, the actual production process starts. In this phase, by using different softwares and methods, the entire concept or story gets materialised. The more brainstorming and clarity is there in the pre-production, the easier it becomes at actual production. Since we will be dealing with 3D CG in this series, let’s have an overview of some stages of 3D production. This is the second and the biggest phase of the project execution pipeline.

Q: If this is the biggest phase then is it difficult to understand?

Well we can surely simplify it. In order to understand the production in 3D CG, let’s divide it further into 3 stages. Make / Move / Record.


The flow goes like this. First, is ‘Making’, all the models of set, characters are made. Then they are ‘moved’ and made to do acting. Finally the action is ‘recorded’, so that viewers can see it. In 3D graphics terms, these stages have some distinct names. The making is typically called ‘3D modeling’, Moving and acting is called ‘animation’ and the recording is called as ‘Rendering’. But don’t worry about the names yet, we will be talking about each, one by one. In this post, we will start with the Making or 3D modeling.

1. Making / 3D Modeling: The very first step in production is this, ‘modelling’. Just like we make models using clay, here models of all such characters are made, using 3D tools. The 3d models are made based on the look and feel, defined in the pre-production phase. Many photographs or hand-drawn sketches are used for reference. Similarly, models of the background sets and other things are also made. The modeling stage plays very important roll, in the entire production. Initially, some geometrical 3D objects are modelled, using 3d modeling softwares. It starts with very primary shapes or forms like, Lines, Rectangles, Circles or Boxes, Spheres etc. Then more and more details are added to make them look real. As a potter moulds and converts a lump of clay into a beautiful vessel, the 3D model gets build progressively.

Q: I am getting it, but what exactly is this ‘3D’? Can you explain it more?

No object surrounding us is just 2 dimensional. Even this screen, on which you are reading now, has got some thickness to it. It not only has some length and width, but also has some thickness. When we make models using computer graphics (CG), considering all these 3 dimensions, then it is called 3 dimensional modeling or 3D modeling for short. In CG, models can be made very accurately and made to look realistic, using such 3D techniques. Each 3D model is made, by considering positions and distances of all important points on its surface.


As you know, points define a line, lines define surface and in-turn surfaces define solids. In 3D graphics, such geometrical terms are always used. In-fact we can not define ‘3D’ without such terms. A 3D model is made using coordinates of all necessary points on the surface. These points define lines, the lines define surface and the surfaces thereby make the final form and shape of the object.

The ‘Cartesian coordinate system’ is used to calculate most of the geometrical points. This name is given after the famous french mathematician ‘René Descartes’. In this method, a point in space is considered as the central reference point or the origin and its (x, y, z) coordinates are considered to be (0, 0, 0).

Q: hmm hmm…

Now all the models and all the points on the models surface are defined or measured with reference to this origin point. Any units, like feet, inches or meters, centimetres can be used to measure the dimensions. This ensures accuracy in modeling. In this way, when all points of the surface are defined, we get the complete picture of the 3D object.

Q: Now, this seems little hard to digest.

Haahaa…Yes. You must be wondering or worrying about terms like coordinates, Cartesian system, geometrical shapes, etc. But the good news is, you need not have to worry about any of the things. As most of the calculations are done by computer, we can enjoy and entirely focus on making the model look perfect. We can either make the 3D model by taking each and every dimensions or simply can shape the model just like freely moulding a clay model. Once the model is done, we can add details like colours, textures on it or even make it glossy, transparent, reflective etc. All such surface properties can be added to it to make it look believable and real.

In future posts, we will talk about the actual modelling process and about ‘how to use the softwares?’ etc. (We will be making a film, isn’t it?) So don’t forget to continue with the next post. And yes, please also let me know your comments, suggestions or questions. You can directly write them in the ‘Reply’ section below this post.



< Back


Next >

Posted by Mahesh Deshpande

Director at Advaita Studios Pvt. Ltd. Having wide career experience in Design, 3d graphics and animation, since 1998. Actively involved in various 3d graphics programs and training.