A 3D Production Pipeline in animation refers to the differing stages and tasks that need to be completed over the length of the production of an animation. The pipeline can vary in characteristics depending upon many factors including, the medium of the animation, the size of the team working on it and the budget and scope of the animation itself. The pipeline is also not as linear as the name would suggest, often elements within the production may be passed up and down the pipeline for further work before it can properly progress. Almost every production pipeline consists of three main stages Pre-production, Production and Post-Production. These stages are then further broken down into tasks that must be completed throughout the production, the typical stages in a rather large sized 3D production pipeline are as follows.
The Pre-Production stage is where the idea is first brought to life and the creative process begins. The typical Pre-Production stage consists of tasks such as concepting, model sheet creation, script writing, storyboarding and animatic creation. The concepting and model sheet creation is where the characters and world are first visualized. Concepting allows the artists to explore the ideas and designs surround the project and gain an understanding of how they want everything to be designed. Model sheets are orthogonal views of characters and set elements that are required to be modeled. The orthogonal views of these elements allows the modelers to gain an understand of how it should all come together. The script writing stage is where the story first gains a solid form. The storyboarding and animatic stages are when this story can first be seen and visualized by the whole team through the images and rough animation that are created.
The Production stage includes many stages throughout which the bulk of the animation itself is created. Beginning with the laying out of the 3D scenes, the creation of 3D assets, including their modeling, texturing and rigging. Once all the scenes and characters are created the animation itself is able to begin. Particular scenes are handed off to animators and they are able to work on only the animation within a scene that has been fully constructed. Once the animation is complete the VFX, lighting and rendering teams can begin working on making the animation ready for compositing.
After all the elements of the production stage have been completed the Post-Production is then able to bring them all together. The post production stage includes tasks such as Compositing, Motion Graphics, and Colour Correction. All these tasks work towards creating a polished final result of the animated production.
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