3D animation is a growing phenomenon: you’ve likely noticed all of the newest animated movies now being offered in theaters in 3D. Audience members put on the characteristic 3D glasses and get even closer to the characters, stories and landscaping the film provides: for example, the much awaited and high-grossing final film of the Harry Potter series released earlier this year. The 3D film experience improves with every new release, which proves that the 3D animation artists are hard at work behind-the-scenes perfecting their art. 3D animation is computer-generated animation that produces an incredibly lifelike multi-dimensional representation of physical objects and movement in settings that mimic reality or generate fantasy. 3D computer graphics, as opposed to 2D graphics, are graphics that use a three-dimensional representation of geometric data.
One of the very first experiments with computer animation was Futureworld (1976), which included an animation of the human face and human hand, produced by Ed Catmull and Fred Parke at the University of Utah. The process of creating 3D computer graphics is highly complex, but it can be generally divided into three basic steps: 3D modeling, which is the process of forming the shape of an object; layout and animation, which is the movement and situation of objects within a scene; and 3D rendering, which creates the image of an object.
3D animation is used in many different fields: not only in the entertainment industry, but in the education and medical industry as well. 3D animations can produce informative and educational experiences, such as when a doctor must explain a physical internal process in the human body—he can inform his patients with media that provide 3D models and videos about a medical condition that cannot be thoroughly explained using words and 2D drawings alone. It can broadcasted to an entire classroom of students in medical school, too! As 3D technology advances and spreads across disciplines, the demand for skilled animators grows.
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