Everything to Know about 3D Animation Techniques

Video is all around us. You can find it in the corner store windows to your own laptop screen. Making one takes weeks, months, or even years. However, have you ever wondered how the videos you watch daily are made? In this article, we’ll go through the most popular 3D animation techniques used to create marketing material, animated films, and other motion-based materials.

Although we can trace 3D animation or computer animation back to the 1960s, the first television series made with computer-animated images was called ReBoot. Today we have a dozen of different techniques to make such films, so let’s see what those are and how you can implement them in your marketing strategies.

Stop-Motion Technique

First of the 3D animation techniques is the stop-motion animation method. The animator makes it by manipulating the objects and individually photographing each frame. The frames are then successively combined and played fast (10 to 12 frames per second) to create a video.

Filmmakers originally started using stop-motion on paper at the end of the 19th century and from there it developed into a few subcategories, such as claymation, computer-generated stop-motion, and pixilation.

Stop-motion technique is great to show the technical aspect of a product, especially when there are a few steps needed to get it to work. Moreover, it looks exciting and fun to your regular customer. Nonetheless, the process of making such videos is arduous and takes quite some time (and money).

  • Claymation

Claymation or clay animation technique includes using plasticine objects as models. Animators can easily mold these figures to speed up the photographing process. Unlike the traditional stop-motion technique, claymation uses real-life 3D objects to portray a scene.

To put it into perspective, you need to change a model twelve times to get one second of the film. It is one of the most laborious 3D animation techniques to date. On top of that, the models mustn’t be altered in any way except for the intended motion.

  • Computer-Generated Stop-Motion

Computer-generated stop motion, on the other hand, is a method where animators use photography but with computer-generated imagery (CGI) and special visual effects.

The technique uses chroma key or green screen along with real-life objects and later alters them with the help of special effects and CGI.

  • Pixilation Technique

The last of the stop-motion techniques is the pixilation technique. It is another frame-by-frame method. However, instead of clay, plastic, or paper, the animator will use live actors.

Actors in the pixilation animated video move minimally between frames while the animator takes the photos. Again, the number of photos depends on the length of the video.

Motion Capture Videos

Motion capture video is the final product of the 3D animation techniques where real-life actors play a character, only to later be digitally animated. One of the most popular examples is Gollum from the Lord of the Rings.

You can find the technique in the minority of high-budget marketing campaigns due to its cost and no difference between a regular digital 3D animation technique and motion capture. If you own a small business, motion capture is probably out of your budget, so if you have the time, it’s best to do digital 3D, about which we’ll talk later.

Non-Photorealistic Rendering

As the name says, non-photorealistic rendering (NPR) is a 3D animation technique that makes videos which aren’t realistic. When an animator creates an NPR video, it is in 3D space but without resembling reality.

In other words, the finishing product looks like a moving painting, drawing, or sketches. Even though you might get an impression it’s regular animation, it is, in fact, made with CGI effects and is, thus, quite expensive. If you own a small business, it could be out of your budget and most of the times fails to depict functions of a product.


The paint-on-Glass is probably the most interesting from the 3D animation techniques bunch. Animators take oil paints to paint on a piece of glass. Since the paint dries slowly, the artist can easily remove the parts he needs to modify while changing the frames.

Paint-on-glass allows for the use of other materials, such as sand or watercolor. Paint-on-glass can look effective if your product is in the hobby niche, such as paintbrushes, paints, or other art material.

Stereoscopic 3D Videos

The stereoscopic 3D method enhances the sense of the viewer’s depth perception. The animator uses the principle of stereoscopy, or binocular vision to create a greater illusion of depth. A person sees two different two-dimensional photographs with each eye, making them look like they’re in 3D.

With videos, an animator should use two cameras to film two separate films. Although a cool way to engage the viewer, they have to wear filtered lenses to be able to see the effect. It’s not appropriate for standard marketing practices where the viewer sees the video from the comfort of their own home. However, you can implement it in events and distribute the props (special glasses) to the people so they can see the 3D effects.

CGI Cutout Animated Videos

CGI cutout animated videos use flat objects, like cardboard cutouts to move characters and other things. It is similar to stop-motion since the images between frames have to change. Nonetheless, the use of CGI can speed up the process immensely, and today, we have one of the most famous cartoon series, South Park, using CGI cutout animation for their videos.


These videos are fun to watch and work well with simple products that don’t require much technical explanation. Therefore, they’re not perfect for technical animation videos. You might use it in email marketing campaigns and similar channels where a video is meant to entertain the viewer.

Digital 3D

The last of the 3D animation techniques we’re going to explain is the one you can encounter everywhere. Animators make digital 3D animation with the help of specialized software, where they can use CGI effects for a more convincing 3D imagery than with stereoscopic 3D methods.

Digital 3D videos use polarized lenses instead of color-filtering lenses, making the 3D experience more natural. Still, the viewers have to wear glasses for the effect to take place.

If you want to exclude the glasses part out, think about 3D modeling and the videos that require no glasses for the 3D effect. You can find such examples at PinkSquare.

Are 3D Animation Techniques the Right Choice for Your Business?

Every business markets their product in a different fashion. Let yours shine through the video marketing technique of your choice.

Contact us to know more about 3D animation techniques and the ways to incorporate these types of videos into your marketing strategy.