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This is not a 2D world
In recent years, producing a high quality 3D image has become easier and more affordable. Film, commercial and broadcast production houses are using 3D imaging more and more frequently to create more realistic and exciting graphics, both to entertain and to educate. Post production houses and producers are now geared toward 3D imaging and are hiring people specifically for 3D work.
“It’s no longer an abstract thought for you to have 3D in a post production piece,” says Robert Anderson, CEO of LFHP Productions, a fledgling post-production and 3D animation studio in New York City. "For years TV has used 2D graphics and now they have added 3D to that for a more impressive look."
3D images have been increasingly popular in the film industry. Originally used as special effects, now entire movie sets are completely computer animated. Movies such as Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Sin City and the newest installments of the Star Wars franchise were shot entirely on green screen sets with amazingly detailed backgrounds added in post production.
On a much smaller scale, television and commercials are also using 3D animation. From show promotions by the networks to sport broadcasts, the technology available today has created a more exciting image, geared toward enticing the viewer to watch their programming. Watching a baseball game on television only a few years ago, you would see 2D graphics showing statistics on players and teams. Now there are fully animated 3D images of a baseball showing how a slider moves or the “12 to 6” movement of the perfect curveball. It is not just the major networks using this technology either. Local and regional networks are taking advantage of this technological boom as well.
Commercials, too, are using this technology, with artists creating exciting, new looks to convince viewers to purchase products. Want to show the effects your aspirin has on headaches? With 3D computer animation you can show the effects in incredible detail, making it easier to educate your audience.
"Look at a show like House," says Anderson, referring to the hit FOX medical drama. "How many hospital shows have there been over the last 10 years?" As good as many of them are; the medical jargon used often gets tedious or confusing. In House, they use 3D animation to show the progression of a character’s disease – making it both interesting and easier for the viewer to understand. It’s the old adage: "Show, don’t tell." Well, with 3D imaging, we are able to do just that, in an exciting and creative way."
The entertainment and advertising communities are not the only ones using 3D imaging. Corporate videos, medical and prescription drug companies and even architects are using 3D images and animation for training and educational purposes. The presentation values are such that the creation of virtual blueprints gives photorealistic models of the structures, letting the clients see what the project will look like in the future.
You don't have to be George Lucas to create high quality 3D imaging. Over the last few years the technology has become more affordable and more user-friendly. Programs like 3ds max, Cinema 4D, Poser, Maya and Softimage have been used for the creation of video games and in the film and media industries for years. Much like in editing software, these products range from low to high end. The difference is that the various 3D software available on the market has virtually the same definition and quality, no matter the cost. The user is more able to work with the program to get the best possible image, whereas with editing software, the key to getting the best possible quality lies almost exclusively in the program quality.
The advances in 3D computer animation have made it a must for film, television and commercial producers to add 3D artists and editors to their productions, in order to hold customer interest and remain competitive in this increasingly more technology-minded industry.
"The entire landscape of multimedia has changed over the last few years," says Anderson. "3D images are everywhere, from corporate videos to feature films. It truly is an exciting time."
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