I would say that I'm fairly new to the modeling and animation field but I'm not a complete beginner. I'm trying to create a cinematic for a program, just don't exactly have the time to go through all of the steps of creating my own assets...not to mention I don't know the entire pipeline. I was thinking that maybe I can purchase some completed 3D Models that are already rigged, textured, have materials, and some UV Mapping. Import them into a program like Unreal Engine and set up a few scenes.

  1. Is this possible and could I achieve good results?
  2. How do I know what the 3D Model I purchase must have in order to work with the program I choose?
  3. Anything that stands out screaming "DON'T DO THAT"?

I hope this isn't a silly question -_-

I'm sure this gets asked all the time and I'm going to go look it up right after but if someone could shed some light on what a good pipeline for creating a good looking model would be?

Example: If I create a mesh in blender, what are the next steps to get some good textures on it and materials and rigging?

The basic pipeline

  1. Pre-production
  2. 3D Modelling
  3. UV Mapping
  4. Texturing and Shaders
  5. Rigging
  6. Animation
  7. Lighting
  8. Rendering
  9. Compositing

I guess what I'm really wondering is what program workflow is ideal for someone on a budget? I know people use all kinds of programs but any recommendations would be extremely appreciated.

  • 1
    Are you talking about placing a mobile app on a phone screen and animating that? – Joonas Oct 11 at 6:35
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    To be fair, for modelling you can't go wrong with Blender - it's free and does everything you need. Try looking at this demo. There's loads of stuff on YouTube, especially from the likes of the fantastic Blender Guru. You may want to take a look through the help center and take the tour. – Paul Oct 11 at 6:40
  • As for UV Mapping, there's a brilliant web-page that will take any photo/texture you care to throw at it and produce your maps: cpetry.github.io/NormalMap-Online. – Paul Oct 11 at 6:43
  • If you're planning on using a game engine as the lighting/animation/layout/rendering environment, be aware your time hit isn't then in the actual straight line render time, but in baking time - you bake as much of the lighting as you can, leaving only specific lights for realtime, then set up your camera moves and capture. If you end up using Blender 2.8, you could do a lot of this in eevee, the new Blender realtime rendering engine, then you could even composite in Blender. – GerardFalla Oct 11 at 15:28
  • Thank you for taking the time to share that information with me. I'm thinking that a standard rig would work for most of what I want. Lets say that the hands and face don't really hit the mark for me, I can go in and add some rigging to the model right? – Miguel Fasa Oct 11 at 22:45
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Realistically speaking you can't do this on budget, yourself. Even with free software it is still not doable without a significant commitment of resources.* In other words your own time and effort.

Personally, I can only afford to do even short (3 minute) productions if somebody is ready to pay my day to day salary for doing that. Since even with all the production assets it can easily take a week or two to get even 3 minutes produced. But then working without a client is relatively panless and there was a time i could do this.

1: Is this possible and could I achieve good results?

Yes, if you have the time to spare. Knowing what you are doing would be a plus but not necessary. I would triple my timetable if you aren't familiar with animation (say less than 100 hours), or drop my expectations to minimum.

I would try to recruit somebody who has done this as this would be cheaper.

2: How do I know what the 3D Model I purchase must have in order to work with the program I choose?

To be honest, you don't. And unless a standard rig works for you then you generally cant buy these assets. I would probably rig the characters myself anyway, as i would get a wider range of options and its easier to art direct these.

Anyway look for models that are allready textured, as this will save you a lot of time and effort. Shading is also usually very easy, unless you go for something highly nonstandard for art reasons.

3: Anything that stands out screaming "DON'T DO THAT"?

Well what can i say. Simplify, simplify, simplify. The biggest problem is to try to attain too high quality production. The risk is then that you get nothing out in the other end. So take a good look at what you actually need, not necessarily everything you want.

Students around me who fail to complete the animation course (most do!) fail because of lack of project management skill. It comes down to:

  1. Not being ready to realistically allocate resources to each given task is one thing. See, most people disbelieve the time commitment needed.

  2. Not being flexible enough to compromise in order to save time at certain tasks. Having a vision is one thing, not having anything to show for it is a failure.

* I fact the cost of the 3D application is neglible, since even a small production time saving will reap huge gains every DAY.

  • This is really neither here nor there, but when I saw this question my mind went to... There are Hollywood movies out there that cost millions to make and the 3D graphics they used still looked terrible... and that was probably not their first time touching a 3D application... I have to wonder if it's worth it. – Joonas Oct 11 at 9:32
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    @Joonas to be honest quality is not related to amount of money but art direction. – joojaa Oct 11 at 9:37
  • I think it may have a little to do with money... If I went to a movie studio like "Hey here's an idea, let's make the next Toy Story for 0 moneys. We'll just herd a bunch of homeless into a room full of computers so they can work on the graphix." I think they might say no. – Joonas Oct 11 at 9:43
  • @Joonas yes effort is money. But i mean quelity does not really have a direct correlation with cost. It has some but not a correlation of 1. What it really comes down to is much more nuanced than that. Anyway making a new blockbuster film is quite a lot also dependent on PR and marketing, which you dont get for free. So of the million dolllar movies most of the money does not go into salary of animators – joojaa Oct 11 at 10:10
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    There goes my dream of working as an animator in Hollywood. I wonder if Bollywood is hiring... – Joonas Oct 11 at 10:12

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