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Animation and CGI in Documentary films

Things have come a long way since walking with Dinosaurs? 3d animation, motion graphics, CGI and visual effects are now a regular part of many documentary films. , As well as historical reconstructions and informational motion graphics, computer animation and CGI is now routinely used in almost any situation where shot footage isn 't available. ,




What's more, costs have come down and quality of visual effects has gone up in recent years, so even a documentary film with a modest budget can now afford to use compelling and stylish computer graphic animations. ,


But as a documentary filmmaker, how do you go about adding visual effects and 3d animation to your productions?


Motion graphics and animation tips


Don 't be afraid to approach a video animation design or visual effects artist early on in your production. They be able to let you know immediately what's possible and how to get your animation done in the most effective way.


Give your animators as much detail as you got -. 3d animation studios are used to doing research, but if you can give them access to your research, experts or helpful interviewees, you get a much more unified view of the subject.


Use animation shots that tell a story: animated sequences and visual effects shots tend to be some of the more expensive shots in your production, so choose them well. Nobody likes re-using shots, but with an impressive 3d animation for example, it often works well. If you have several visual effects shots that work together to tell a story, using them separately earlier on in the documentary can increase their impact.


Types of visual effects and 3d animations in documentary films


Explanation graphics: Motion graphics are a great way to explain a complex idea or present information, if shot video footage can 't do it. These can be 2d or 3d animated graphic representations and often include text, but equally consider presenting them as cartoon animations or sequences with animated characters. Whatever the style of your piece, the animation can fit in with it.


Animation for colour shots: Colour shots are general cut-aways that can be used almost anywhere you need them. They purposely generic but relevant. A 20 second 3d animation in which the camera rushes through the bloodstream of a patient as blood cells fly past can be used pretty much anywhere in a medical documentary without looking out of place. A couple of colour animations of this kind can save your skin in the edit when you run end up with more narration than shot footage.


Visual effects reconstructions: animated reconstructions are often the hero?shots of a documentary. If you don 't have the footage of the most important events or moments in your documentary film, an animated reconstruction is often the way to go.


Title animations: An animated title sequence is a good way to open your documentary, and it will set the tone for your entire documentary film, so it's worth dedicating a little time to making sure that tone is spot on for the style and content of what comes after.

How to reduce your documentary film's motion graphics costs

The quickest way to reduce cost is to talk to the 3d animator or visual effects studio about how the production can be simplified without affecting its overall look. For example, to animate a camera flying through a static model takes a lot less time (possibly weeks less) than animating every detail of the model itself.


What if I really can 't afford animation and visual effects?

Go graphical: Reconstructing the siege of Troy with every soldier animated in authentic detail is going to be a big job. But animating the strategic turning points of the siege replacing battalions with chess piece style graphics on a stylised representation of the battlefield is within the budget of most productions. Thinking of a stylised motion graphics look rather than a realistic 3d animated one will you your documentary film tonnes of cash. Going for still illustrations rather than motion graphics will save still more.



October 28, 2011 at 2:18 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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