Computer generated images (known as CGI) have become very popular over the past two decades, and their importance and use will increase even further in the future because of their wide applicability in various fields. In the area of movies and films in general CGI has become an essential tool for filmmakers to bring their visions to the screen, be it by creating computer generated characters, props, sets, or just simplifying the process of image and sound editing. Film production (“Filmproduktion”) has been made faster and more efficient in the post production phase, offering an unprecedented level of freedom and quality.

The success of 3D computer animation and CGI in general started in the early 90s, when software bundles and processing power got more affordable even for smaller companies, and since then it turned into an accepted art form by itself. Over the years the technology evolved further and further, lowering the barrier between art and technology, and even allowing these two extremes to blend seamlessly.

Creation of 3D graphics

The creation of CGI and computer animation requires the use of specialized software products. Several bundles have established on the market, and it is mainly a question of personal preference which one to pick. After all the biggest factor in creating convincing digital worlds is the artist himself, whereas the software is merely the tool to transfer his creativity onto the screen.

As graphics software became more user-friendly and intuitive, the process of creating CGI started to resemble its real-world counterparts, like painting, sculpting, photography and filmmaking. The area of computer animation for example requires the same steps of “real world” filmmaking, with the addition of modeling sets, props and characters first. Bringing a mass of “digital clay” into shape to form a convincing character (or any other object or location to be shown, for that matter) is the initial step. Then cameras, lights and other entities are arranged in the virtual space, and animated if necessary. Computer animation might be called the digital successor to the classic Harryhausen-type stop-motion animation, although many other ways of animating virtual objects and characters (like physical simulation or motion-capturing techniques) have evolved over the years. The last step is called “rendering” and describes the process of collecting all information of the scene and light setup to process and output the final image through the lens of a virtual camera, either in the form of still frames, or a series of frames which create the illusion of movement.

Television, film production and commercials

Computer animation and three-dimensional visualization (“Visualisierung”) is widely used in television, commercials and film production. The “small screen” has proven to be the perfect field for experimenting with newly developed technology and concepts, and many artists working in the area of television and commercials have made their way to the movie business. With software bundles getting cheaper and more accessible, independent artists and filmmakers seized the opportunity to create their own films and short films, a development which gave the visual quality of films an enormous boost in the mid 90s. In the area of film production computer animation slowly started replacing hand-made models and puppets, and even the genre of animated films has gotten a digital counterpart.

The area of commercials has grown into other branches like industrial documentations (“Industriefilm”) and corporate video (“Imagefilm”), and besides entertainment computer animation is also used in the fields of education, interactive media (“3D Online“) and military application.

Scientific visualization

Computer animation produced to present meteorological data, medical imaging, industriefilm, architecture and technology.

Product design and engineering

Designers and engineers use special CAD (computer aided design) software for designing, developing and manufacturing consumer and industrial products. Product visualization extensively uses modern graphics technology and with the help of computers, designs can be rotated, cut and manipulated even before getting manufactured. This greatly helps engineers visualize the product that they are designing.

About the Author

The article is written by REBUS Team specialized in Computeranimation, Visualisierung, Filmproduktion, Industriefilm, Imagefilm and 3D Online Products.
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