Animated Films

by Au_Ga_m on March 21, 2017 - 4:02pm


3 dimensional (3D) animation is used in many films and appreciated by people all over the world. Young or old, anyone can enjoy a good animated film. As simple as it seems, one will be surprised by the complexity of its making, take Pixar, for example, their process of creating a 3D animated film requires several steps. The following explanations describe how they work their magic.


Beginners may find it scary upon their first look, but some detailed explanations can make it simpler.


First of all, every good movie needs a good storyboard, it is like the blueprint of the future actions and dialogue. A storyboard is a drawn version of a movie, on which we show the main emotions and changes of the characters that will later, transpire on screen.


The team creates the reel. It is a video that shows every picture of the storyboard, alone, with no voice to narrate the story. This step is intended to see if the timing of the film can help people understand the story.

Colour scripts

Afterwards, artists create illustrations of the characters, sets, props, world and surfaces to show the colours and light, that the film will present, all in pastels, in order to represent the light of the screens later. At this point, this step is called: “colour scripts”, it is used to portray what the film will feel and look like.


From the colour scripts created, Pixar’s software creates 3D models in the computer for everything needed in the film, it will help define the shape and motion controls[1] of the objects, the movement and the expressions the characters will possess.


After that, sets are created, they are the environments where the story occurs. This step require a close interaction with the director, since it is here that his vision is realised. Once they are done, the characters are placed on the sets and animators star creating key[2] positions for the characters in every angle needed for the movie.


The shots are 3D scenes created by the layout[3] crew, they choreograph the movements the character will make and create shots that show the emotion and the story point of the scenes. At this point, the film is not fluid yet.


Now it is time to animate the movie! Where traditional animation includes drawings and painting of each frames, the animators at Pixar can be considered puppeteers. Needing the key frames[4] and poses. Then the computer creates the frames “in-between” each pose which the animators adjust them when needed.


Next step is the shade, where the textures and colors are created to give a realistic look to the film. Details like wrinkles and tiny movements are added, from a breeze in the hair or fur, to a movement in the clothing, nothing is left behind!


Once it is finished, animators start lighting the scenes with digital light, the scenes with digital light the same way a stage is lit. This creates a room ambiance and emotions to a scene.


Then it is time to render the whole movie! This is the action of translating all the information into files in order to create only one single image of film. Pixar uses a powerful computer for this part and it can take up to 6 hours to render 1 frame!

Final touches

Finally, the effect animator adds special effects if necessary. Otherwise, the final step is only to add final little touches.


In conclusion, making a 3D animated film is complex and can easily become complicated. So beginners should use softwares that make the task easier. But it is always recommended to start with small projects of a few seconds only. And never forget, to become an expert, the secret is to practice!

[1] How the object moves.

[2] Important and principal images.

[3] Image in the movie (item)

[4] Image in a movie



I think for a moment that I was dreaming by reading this! This is the definition of perfection!

You chose a complex subject, and explained it well. I think there were some words I would have wanted more explanations on, cause for someone that does not know anything on the subject, it can easily be confusing. But you did a very good job, recognizing the the complexity of the subject.

I love your text and your subject! The technical words are well described, I easily understand what they mean. Moreover, I appreciate the manner your text is divided, because it is easier to follow with subtitles. However, I notice in the conclusion of your text that it is written "fil is comples", but I understand you mean film is complex and it was just an inattention mistake. In brief, despite this, your text is just excellent!

Thanks for telling me, about the conclusion! Now it is corrected.

About the author

Adopted at the young age of one, Aurélie Gagnon-Morin, 19 years old, lived her whole life in Alma (Quebec, Canada).