3D Rendering and Animation File Formats

STILL IMAGES

Common file formats are jpg and png. PNG has the advantage of supporting transparency, but has larger file sizes. Transparency means the image can allow for portions of the image to be see-through.

Product renderings may use transparency to place a rendering over another image using a software such as Adobe Photoshop. Both jpg and png formats are great for drafts and revisions, but when you request your final images you should make sure you receive EXR or another HDRI format.

An HDRI format allows much more information to be stored and can produce much better results when printed. Although, generally, differences between HDRI and formats such as jpg and png only become apparent if you plan on making modifications to the images it can be great to have.

Requesting the PSD (Adobe Photoshop) file in addition to the final image file can be useful if you ever foresee yourself needing to alter the image in the future. A PSD file allows a designer to separate out layers, effects, and backgrounds for easier manipulation.

If you're planning on printing your house render or any image for that matter, be sure your file is in sufficient resolution for the required print. Additionally, be sure to check on the printer's requirements for file type. One of the safer file formats for printing purposes is PDF format. Be sure to get this information directly from your printing company to ensure you can request exactly what is needed ahead of time.

ANIMATIONS

Video formats can get a lot more complicated than still images.

Frame Rate:

At its most basic form, a video is just a set of images played quickly enough that you cannot see the transition between frames. The rate at which they are shown is called the frame rate: the higher the frame rate, the smoother the video will be during fast movements. Standard frame rates are 24p, 25p, 30p, 60p, and 120p. However, there are many variations of frame rates. Click here for Wikipedia’s excellent article on frame rates.

Animation Compression:

Raw or uncompressed video files are very large. A minute of footage can take up several gigabytes. Raw footage is the best quality, but is difficult to transfer or play. If you are going to have the footage edited, you should ask for raw video, but plan for plenty of time to transfer it.

Animation Codec:

Finished videos are usually compressed using a codec (a compression decompression standard). Picking a codec is a matter of balancing compatibility, file size, and quality. We offer animation services and generally provide our clients with wmv files for Windows and mov files for Mac.

If a client is going to post the video online, we provide an h.264 mp4 file. All these can still be edited, but generally you will only experience a small decrease in video quality. It is good practice to request the raw footage just in case.

Converting raw to compressed:

As mentioned, the uncompressed footage created in an animation can often be unmanageable and needs to be compressed. On average, a 1 minute animation file in 1080P is around 55 gigs (often much too large to be transferred). We typically use Adobe's Media Encoder with H.264 in good quality to bring that file down to about 87MB, often seeing no visible compression artifacts.

 

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