5 Steps To Creating Your Own Cool 3D Animations

5 Steps To Creating Your Own Cool 3D Animations


If you want to create your own cool 3D animations, and don’t really know where to start, or want to improve what you already have, then the following 5 steps have helped me a lot, and I’m sure they will push you in the right direction as well:


1. Software

The first step is the software. Sounds pretty straight forward, doesn’t it? But it’s not “software” in that sense. It’s the ability to know various applications out there, what they do best, and use them, or not use them when needed. For instance, DAZ Studio is a wonferful 3D software with cool 3D animation possiblities.

But it renders slowly compared to the “big” boys out there. You can then use my own DAZ Studio plug in called Movie Maker for DAZ Studio 4.6, which speeds up the workflow up to 10 times, by surrounding and immersing your characters with pre-rendered 360 degree backgrounds with full light and shadow matching.

There are applications that render a LOT faster, such as Lightwave 3D. If you can afford graphic cards that support Octane render engine (available for DAZ Studio and other applications), you can get very quick rendering too. What DAZ Studio does really best in the industry, is animating characters. Just such a breeze using aniMate from GoFigure, adding an aniBlock to a figure and just seeing them move flawlessly.

Maybe you can use Photoshop to add something, or fake something instead of doing it in real 3D. Like I’ve said, software means understanding your entire arsenal of tools in front of you and using them for what they do best. Software includes also knowing how to tweak surfaces, materials and make things look the way you want.


2. Story telling

Another aspect is using story telling. Some stories can be told with a narrative or voice over. Some can be told via the animations you provide for the viewer, for instance how you move the characters, their expressions and body language.

There is this cool way of using time references, like going backwards in time, revealing pieces of the story. Almost the most important aspect is to provide some kind of character development. That is, a bad guy that shows emotion. Or an underdog that succeeds. Those things, where people change, are very emotional and work really great in 3D animations.

If you want to learn story telling, watch other people’s animations and movies. Look for emotional moments, and understand WHY you’re feeling that way. For instance, girl meets boy. Classical scenario, but it’s delayed, that is, they don’t fall in love right away. But you can feel the tention. Then, after a long wait, you finally see them kiss. And WOW… That’s delayed gratification, and it’s very effective and emotional in story telling.

I’ve also created 3D Animation Master, that goes through a great deal about and all other components of 3D animation HERE.


3. Camera

Camera work is the third component and it’s one of the most creative ones. Not only because it enables you to tell the story, show important details, and choose where the focus is, but also because you can hide errors, what doesn’t work and things that don’t need to be seen. Ever seen the old western movies? They could showcase entire cities, but in reality, they were only flat facades, fronts with nothing behind.

Same goes for the camera, you can show what needs to be seen, and hide or even remove stuff from your scene, to save memory, and reduce the workload on your system. Best tip to learn the 3D camera? Go out with your own digital camera and take 1,000 photos of similar subjects. Really, that’s how I’ve learned to master the 3D camera, by mastering a real world camera that gives you instant feedback.

A very cool camera effect you can use, is to make it less static and more “hand held” or less precise. Like using a real world camera, you wouldn’t have the reflexes to follow a fast moving car EXACTLY… You would miss it a second or two and frame it in the view slightly off at times. I’ve also created 3D Camera Master that walks you through this step by step HERE.

I wents nuts with some of the camera movements in this zombie video, made in DAZ Studio 4.6 and edited in Sony Vegas Pro 8:

To Get Movie Maker for DAZ Studio 4.6 go HERE:


4. Lighting

Of course, lighting plays a huge role. Lighting in it self, and the way you play with shadows, can at times BE the story. A long dark shadow can be perceived as someting scary. A dark spot in a bright environment can become the focal point. White is pure, black is evil. Red is dangerous or hot, blue is trustworthy or cold.

The amount of effects you can do with lighting alone, is breathtaking. I often say that lighting is 90% of your work. It’s just that powerful. It also happens to be the most misunderstood and most difficult one to master. Therefore, I’ve created 3D Light Master, that has been teaching lighting to thousands of 3D artists. You can get a free trial HERE.


5. Editing / Postproduction

Editing your 3D animations is where the fun really begins. That’s where you trim your animations into smaller pieces, so that they fit together. That’s when you add additional visual effects, overlays, layers, filters and other effects like slow motion or fast motion. Editing is really where the magic happens, since you can virtually take anything and create something cool with it. Editing also encorporates audio, sounds effects and music or score. In fact, sound is 50% of the final effect, so put a lot of effort into that department.

The software I’m using is Sony Vegas Pro 8, but there’s a lot to choose from, including Microsoft’s own Movie Maker.


6. Bonus

I’d like to add one more bonus step here, and that is using ready to use animation clips out there. On places like www.istockphoto.com or www.pond5.com, you can buy video or 3D clips and use them in your own work to save time, or to spice them up.

Be creative and have fun!

– Val Cameron, Dreamlight


P.S. Get started with 3D animation in DAZ Studio HERE


Happily sharing how to create great 3D & 2D art in DAZ Studio, Lightwave and Photoshop, Val Cameron, CEO and founder of Dreamlight, has been coaching and mentoring hundreds of thousands of artists since 2005. Bestselling DAZ 3D vendor with over 230+ video tutorials, plug ins and light sets.

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