The world around us is a 3D one. However, the development of multimedia has brought us an incredible number of circumstances that unravel in 2D. Every time we watch TV, surf the web or watch a movie at the cinema, we look at images that solely have two dimensions: height and width. The technological development of the last decade has brought to the movie industry the magic of 3D, however. It is no longer unusual to sit in the theater, put on a special pair of glasses and see the third dimension reveal itself, in the most common way, now. Animation movies widely use such technologies, to give a new and fresh perspective to the entertainment industry.
But how does these images trick our eyes into thinking that the screen manages to extend way deep into a series dimensions? How do programmers that create games manage to persuade us that we’re seeing characters that move around like real creatures in a real landscape? Some of the visual tricks 3-D graphic designers use, and the way hardware designers make the tricks happen so fast involve a great amount of technology and imagination at the same time. It is both artistically and scientifically skills that make this possible.
Firstly, we need to understand that the animator uses a computer instead of the traditional pen, ink and paper combination. In order to generate a still image that repeats itself in a time sequence, as to give the illusion of motion, several images are created using computer software of the latest generation. The final result makes the images look as if they were three dimensional, when you play them. The 3D animation software used, such as 3DMax or Maya, requires plenty of knowledge, patience and a good computer.
Drawing every detail in each frame by hand is no longer a practice. Instead, the animator draws every frame using the computer. The software is given a set of parameters that describes how the elements must look and move, in order to obtain the visual effect of animation. The task is not one done by the computer, as this is only a tool the animator uses in order to get extra help in filling in the in-bet weens, handling multiple characters and crowd scenes, simulating materials or complicated lighting setups, integrating live action with virtual images in order to create the perfect 3D illusion.
The amount of work that is put in an animated movie nowadays is, therefore, huge. Just like the old days, when frames were drawn by hand. The result however is a whole different thing. Going to the movies is now just like being inside the screen and taking part in the action. The virtual tour that you take, simply by sitting in your chair, with the glasses on, meets the real experience.