Computer graphics is the process of generating, storing and manipulating geometric objects, and subsequently rendering or generating a scene into an image.
Computer graphics has its foundations buried deep in the 1950’s when Ben Laposky manipulated the analogue beam of an oscilloscope to create an image and record it onto highspeed film. Ivan Sutherland formulated ideas for the basic shapes and processes now used in computer graphics and he is considered the founder of computer graphics.
As computer technology has developed, the computer hardware became more and more capable of performing the basic processes at greater and greater rates, eventually enabling people to create 3D graphics.
For years, 3D graphics has been confined within the computer and only able to be viewed via 2D screens. This limitation has restricted the virtual 3D world to something that looks tangible but can never be touched until the invention of the 3D printer.
3D printing is an extension of 3D graphics which allows a 3D model to be printed out into something that can be touched, held and moved around. This can help film makers and animators to see set layouts and character designs, and in some circumstances create stop motion animation that can simulate the likeness of CGI.
Recent advances in 3D printing have enabled doctors to print living body parts opening new opportunities for the medical practice. This is, to date, one of the best uses of 3D graphics, and will continue to develop and improve as techniques are refined, and could one day save lives.
Lighting in animation is like lighting in film, except your light source is simulated and produced by the computer over physical light sources. To understand how to make your lighting work in your animation you first have to understand how light reacts to everything in the real world. Lighting can create atmosphere and add realism to an animation where it would otherwise be flat and dull. Animators will often use many different light sources to create the lighting and shadows of an animation.
Rendering builds output files from animations, taking all the compnents, variables and action sequences and turning it into the final compilation. The render can be sequenced images saved singularly or video file. The rendered project can then be displayed using whatever 2D output devices you have.
Rendering is also done to make rough test animations to ensure that character models, environments and other assets and their effects all work in the way they are expected to.
And lastly; Compositing is the compiling of multiple renderings to create the final scenes in an animation with all their effects in place. It takes all the character models, assets and environments and puts them together in a way that makes it look as if they are all a part of the same scene. This also includes overlaying text and titles.
UV Mapping in a nutshell is creating the net shape of a 3D object to place a texture or skin on the mesh to give the object a more realistic appearance. The UV Map takes all the planes on your 3D object and lays them out on a flat 2D plane, creating the unwrap which will allow for seamless texturing if made correctly.
Textures and Shaders give a 3D model their form and colour and shadows and highlights. Utilising the UV Map, texturing adds detailed graphics to a net shape that folds around the 3D object. A Shader applies a set off instructions that tell the computer how to display the 3D model, dictating how the model reacts to light, affecting the opacity, glossiness and more.
Rigging a 3D model creates a digital skeleton that allow animators to mould the model into the different poses for an animation. The rig is bound to the 3D mesh, and is made up of many “bones” and joints, like a real skeleton. The character rig is usually compiled by the character technical director.
Animation uses frames with successive pictures or puppet positions to create the illusion of movement. Animation has a series of keyframes, which mark the important poses in the animation loop, and transitional frames, that fill the gaps between keyframes, making the animation run smoothly. There are three main types of animation, traditional, stop-motion and computer generated (CGI), which can either be 2D or 3D animation.
Pre-Production is the term used to describe the steps taken to prepare everything for a film’s production. This includes scouting for shoot locations, wardrobe preparations (including props), identifying special effects, drawing a production schedule, constructing sets, and finalising and looking over the script.
It gives a look into where the directors want the project to go, giving them clear goals and letting them plan to fit their budget and timeframe.
3D Modeling is just making a figure in a three-dimentional form, but the term is used only when refering to computer generated models. 3D Modeling is the process that turns a primitive object, for example – a box, into a more complex object, such as a castle fortress. It relies on wireframes and polygon faces to create and hold the object’s shape.
Programs, such as 3DsMax by AutoDesk, are built for 3D modeling and rendering, with simple, easy-to-learn interfaces, letting animators create their models, rigs and animation loops with ease.