Lesniak Swann, Marketing Agency | 3D Animation | Reels In Motion


Written by Nick Butler , Head of Animation at Reels in Motion

With animation, anything is possible, and it doesn’t just have to be 2 dimensional! 3D animation is another way you can wow your audience as well as portray a strong company message. Let me tell you a little bit about a recent 3D project we have done here at Reels.

Lesniak Swann, a creative marketing and digital agency we work with, were approached by a leading gas company to create this video. The brief we were given by Lesniak Swann, was to produce a fully 3D still image and fly-through animation based on future gas pipeline developments in the North-west area of the UK.

3D models are, in short, a computer-generated version of an object that you can use for all kinds of videos and animations. The example below shows a 3D model of a turbine, what it looks like in a 3D software package and what it looks like within a 3D scene.

3D models are the one thing that is always needed when taking on a 3D project. 3D models can either be purchased online or can be created from scratch. The advantage of purchasing models online are that they are already made, can cost very little and you can find almost anything you need. However, if you want a specific model of your office for example, you will not be able to find this. This is where creating models from scratch come in handy. Creating 3D models give you the ability to create anything you need for your project; the downside however is that it is very time consuming and this means the cost is often quite expensive.

Turbosquid.com is a great online source of models that are available to everyone. You can get 3D models for almost anything, but more detailed and specific models will attract a higher price. An example I will use is of a car. If you need a generic hatchback car, you can probably find a suitable model for around $10. However, if you needed a specific 2016 Ford Fiesta, let’s say, then it might not be out there, or if it is it will most likely be a very high price and you would also have to buy a specific license to use the ford branded vehicle in your project. Another consideration when choosing 3D models is if you need any movement in them. Going back to the car example, if you need the car to animate on and off screen, then the wheels need to be turning to make it look realistic, in some cases this is doable, but it is dependent on the model and what program it was modelled in. If creating a model from scratch, any movement needed can be planned for within the modelling process which can give you more control and more detailed movements.

For this specific project, a model of a fueling pump was needed. By searching “fuel pump” in Turbosquid, you can see a range of different models that vary in price, detail and software compatibility. As the 3D software “Cinema 4D” was used for this project, it was essential that the model chosen was compatible for this software. None of the models used in this projected needed to move so that was a consideration that didn’t need to be taken into account. By choosing a model that was created in Cinema 4D it gave me more control than if it hadn’t. I was able to edit the textures and colours of the model as well as remove some detail the client didn’t want.

There are a lot of possibilities in 3D animation. You can place a camera into the 3D scene and get close up to the models as well as fly around the scene. An example of how this could be used is if you wanted to show around a new housing estate. You can set up your 3D scenes with the models of the houses and then use the camera to fly around each house, street, estate and pretty much do whatever it is you imagine! Obviously the longer the animation and the more complicated the movement the longer it will take to create! For this project a fly-through of the map was needed by stopping at each model, then moving onto the next.

A consideration that needs to be thought of, especially with 3D animations are the rendering times (amount of time it takes to take the animation and put it into a the video file format). This will need to be addressed in the planning stage of the project. When setting out the deadlines and schedule for this project, this was accounted for. An example of this is when animating the fly-through section of this project. Due to the amount of power it takes to run Cinema 4D, it does not always play back animations in real time. This means that it can appear slower than it actually is. The problem with this is, if the speed isn’t correct and the camera is moving too fast or too slow, this needs to be re-animated. A good way to solve this problem is to split the animation into sections so that if there is an issue with only 1 section, then you don’t have to redo everything. This 40 second animation took around 18 hours to render out in full resolution.

Below you can see the still images at different stages from the project, how they developed and how the map became increasingly populated.

The result of this project was a fully 3D still image of the proposed gas development cluster in the North-West, as well as a fly-through of the map focusing on key areas. Overall, I was very happy in how this project turned out. I feel like it was planned effectively, and we were able to produce a still image and video that the client was very happy with.

The final video can be found here: https://youtu.be/11NircxEWXY