Computer animation can be in form of either 2D or 3D. Two-dimensional animation or simply 2D animation is somewhat traditional form of art. It makes use of drawing created on paper, celluloid transparent sheet, or recently digitally, and works in a two-dimensional environment. In case of any problem is found in the drawings, it is corrected by hand drawing techniques. Probably this is the reason why it is sometimes referred as hand-drawn animation.
3D animation or three-dimensional animation is the modern form of animation that entirely relies on computer technologies. All the objects and characters are created on computer and are manipulated using various software applications. In order to create 3D objects and 3D animation, various 3D software packages and computers are essential. Although, most 3D animation studios today are using custom software, there are still many commercial off-the-shelve software available in the market, through which animators can create amazing 3D animations. Let us briefly look at some of the commercial off-the-shelve 3D animation software that are largely used by some 3D animation studios.
Autodesk Maya or simply Maya is a powerful 3D computer graphics and 3D modelling software application. It is commonly used in film production and TV industry, as well as for making video games. Maya is available in single suite as well as in standard and premium suite. Standard suite includes Maya, MotionBuilder, Mudbox, and SketchBook Designer. Premium suite include all that is in standard suite plus Softimage software package. One can purchase Maya single suite for £3,200, Maya standard suite for £5,000, and Maya premium suite for £6,000.
Big in European countries, 3ds Max is a full-featured 3D graphic software package developed by Autodesk Media and Entertainment. It is one of the widely used commercial off-the-shelve 3D animation applications. 3ds Max is largely used by video game developers, although, it is also used for pre-visualisation such as special effects, movies, and architectural visuals. 3ds Max is available in four versions i.e. 3ds Max, 3ds Max design, 3ds Max standard suite, 3ds Max premium suite. Their prices are £3,200, £3,200, £5,000, and £6,000 respectively.
Blender is open-source and free 3D animation software that is as powerful as some of the high-end 3D software applications are. Blender is actively developed by the Blender foundation. The software is widely used in media industries in several parts of the world. It has the capability to create animatics and pre-visualisations for TV commercials as well as for films.