Architectural 3D Animation and Fly Through Buyer’s Guide

About This Guide

We, at Realspace, created this guide to help you understand the architectural 3D animation process and the 3D animation industry. 3D animation can be a somewhat confusing process and we hope that this guide supports you to make better informed decisions by understand the options available.

Reading this guide can help better equip you to understand what animation best fits your needs, how to use animation to showcase your project, what styles are available to you, and how to use cinematography techniques to showcase and enhance your project. This guide brings you through the process of animation and how animation is priced.

This guide is informed by our experiences as a 3D animation firm working with companies ranging in scale from independent architects to Fortune 500 Companies.


Who is This Guide Intended For?

We hope that this guide helps anyone, whether you are looking to hire a 3D animation firm, or just interested in 3D animation.

Understanding the 3D Animation Process as a Customer

The following is an outline of the animation process from a clients perspective:

1.) Conveying your ideas and vision.
The first step in any 3D animation process is to convey your design, idea, development, invention or concept to the 3D animation company. You may choose to provide architectural drawings, plans, engineering plans, sketches, an architectural 3D model, an engineering 3D model, or a similar video or animation. The key is to clearly convey what you want the animation to showcase.

2.) 3D model preview.
The 3D animation company creates a few rendered images from the materials you provided. These images are presented to you as either a series or storyboard to show you what the animation might look like. This step allows you to provide feedback prior to making the animation.

3.) Storyboarding (not always necessary).
Depending on the complexity of the animation, your project may or may not require a storyboard. For example, architectural fly throughs tend not to require storyboarding, since the path is usually linear from the perspective of a person walking from room to room. If you are envisioning a more dramatic cinematic experience, storyboarding can be very useful to get everyone on the same page and to direct the animation properly.

4.) Low resolution drafts and refining.
The 3D animation company will send you low resolution drafts for feedback to refine the animation. The draft is done in low resolution to drastically cut down on the time it takes the computer to create the animation. Low resolution drafts will be provided to you that incorporate your feedback until you are satisfied with the animation.

5.) Full resolution final animation.
Once you have signed off on the animation the full resolution final draft is computed. Generally, any changes needed at this point, other than issues that are made visible by the higher resolution draft, are considered a change of scope. Therefore, it is very important to make sure you are completely satisfied with the low resolution animation before signing off.

Understanding 3D Animation Pricing

There are two major costs to a 3D animation project, the modeling and setup labour and the time it takes to compute the animation. Please see our animation pricing guide for more information on the pricing of 3D animations.
Understanding the Timeline: Turnaround Time

3D Animation projects generally take 4-6 weeks to complete. This time frame is generally due to the computing time for drafts. Updating part of an animation can take several hours an upwards of several days to compute. To make even minor tweaks can have a long turnaround time.


3D Animation Quality

‘Quality’ in 3D animation is defined by two components: resolution and realism. Resolution is pretty straight forward. Simply put, it is the dimensions of the animation: the difference between DVD quality and HD quality and now as high as 4K. The general rule is the higher the resolution of the animation the crisper and clearer the image quality will be and along with that the longer rendering times.  Having high resolution can impact the overall price of your project.

Realism is somewhat more complicated and it might help to first explain how it is created. Realism is achieved through a combination of the 3D rendering software settings, along with the setup of the 3D scene. In other words, realism really depends on the setting utilized, and the skills of the artist, to create the desired realism of the scene. Putting aside the setup of the scene, one thing to keep in mind is the more realistic the settings, the longer it will take to compute the animation. The software is simulating real world flow of light, which is extremely complicated. Simulating the interaction of light between objects takes very complex calculations and takes the the computer a long time to complete.

3D Rendering Example

Click To Watch

Animation Style

3D animation is an extremely versatile media. The artist has control over almost all aspects of the 3D scene, which makes the possibilities almost endless. In the case of architectural animation, realism is generally the main goal. Although, some alternative styles can be used to enhance the experience. Generally, the best way to communicate to the 3D animation company the style you would like to see for you animation project is to find an example you like of an animation style.


When to Use Animation VS Still Renders

Still renders are a great way to showcase rooms and their features. Animations are a great way to tie those rooms together and bring the space to life. It allows you to show the viewer the flow of the space. Moving through a 3D model can bring it to life and give the used the experience of “being there”.


Our 3D Animation Services

We at RealSpace offer professional, high quality, 3D animation services. We understand that it can be a difficult process and we do our best to make is as easy as possible for our clients. Our philosophy is to make every project we do a new centerpiece for our portfolio, showcasing your project and our skills as a 3D studio. Please click here to learn more about our animation services.