How Do I Choose the Best 3D Animation Software?

Alex Newth

Three-dimensional (3D) animation software allows you to make realistic or stylized animations but, before choosing a program, it may be a good idea to check some important features. An animation trail in 3D animation software may make it easier to transition slide-to-slide, because it shows you all the current slides at once. If you do not have a separate modeling program, then 3D animation software with model and skeleton development may make it easier to make characters. Many 3D animators use motion-capture technology to make character movements more realistic, and a motion-capture feature may be beneficial. You may have to animate some of the same movements over and over, and having a program with automated tasks usually makes this easier.

Animation software with automated tasks should help animators reduce their time spent drawing.
Animation software with automated tasks should help animators reduce their time spent drawing.

When you are using 3D animation software, you will be moving characters and elements slide-by-slide, similar to what is done in traditional animation. While some small movements may be simple, performing complicated movements may be difficult if you cannot see all the slides. You may accidentally move a character slightly to one side, or you may miss a planned action. An animation trail displays a semi-transparent view of all active slides, so you will know what movements just happened and where your character or object should be in a scene.

To use 3D animation software, you need a model. A model can be a character or object, and you move it around during the animation process. Getting a 3D animation program with a modeling feature may be useful for two reasons. If the program does not have a modeling feature, then you will need a separate 3D modeling program just for this. Exporting a model from the modeling program and importing it to the animation program may cause format issues, which can affect specifically placed details.

Many animators use motion-capture technology, especially for complex movements. With motion-capture data, a 3D model simply needs to be placed over the information and the model will move according to the captured motions. Getting 3D animation software with this feature may make it easier to animate, and it may speed up the animation process.

Walking cycles, facial expressions and hand gestures are all common in 3D animation, but drawing these repeatedly can take up a lot of time. To streamline these tasks and speed workflow, getting 3D animation software with automated tasks may be a good idea. For example, an automated walking cycle will make the character walk without you having to animate the walking by hand; all you have to do is tell the program where the character is walking. This also may minimize animation mistakes, because the program will rarely mess up these tasks.

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