The other week I was talking to several people about animations and moving image art projects. The topic of using 3d computer generated imagery came up almost straight away. If you didn’t know already I tend to gravitate towards using 3d CG for a lot of my art. The people I were talking to were pretty heavily against computer graphics for several reasons.

The first point they raised against 3d CG was that it’s not at all intuitive and therefore something spontaneous is lost, unlike older or more two dimensional animation mediums. I completely agree with this. The first time I ever opened up a 3d computer graphic program I nearly cried. It blew my mind how complicated it was, how many things you could change and tweak not to mention the insane amount of jargon specific to just that program. 3d programs are completely anti-intuitive and difficult to grasp for years and years after you begin to use them. They aren’t like a camera that you just turn on, off, move and repeat, like a ball of clay or like drawing an animated sequence.

They also stated that because there are so many options it’s easy to get bogged down in minor tweaks and little details that don’t have much effect on the major outcome of your piece. This is something every artist working with 3d must not fall into, I agree. However on the other side of the picture, because 3d visuals are so customizable and tweakable it offers an amazing amount of freedom. It’s something no other form of animation or moving image can do as well. You want ninjas flying through the air with toasters for legs while getting blown apart by babies with laser eyes?! You’ve got it! However it is very hard to make it not look like it’s 3d or hide the fact that it was synthesised in a computer. This is why lot of artists who have used 3d will not be happy with the outcome of the format. If using 3d computer graphics don’t try to hid it, embrace it, in your concepts AND in your practice.

Make the polygons say something, don’t try to hide the fact that they ARE polygons! If you want your visuals to have an older mise en scene DON’T use CG. It’s as simple as that folks.

One thing that can hinder an artist using 3d cgi is the fact that there is too much freedom. Any artist can tell you, it is hard to think of a good idea or create something when there are little to no limitations to work within. That is why artists and especially artists working with 3d cgi must create there own limitations and blocks. Through adversity comes creativity.

One major mistake I’ve made with my narrative 3d computer graphic pieces so far is an overuse of special camera moves. When using a real camera; tracking, sweeping or shots with a lot of camera movement can be difficult or impossible to pull off. Instead filmmakers tend to use editing and cutting techniques which in the end make the film much more cohesive than any fancy camera move. In 3d programs it so easy to tell the camera to do fancy movements, so animators tend to over-use them. I am guilty of this. That is why I think my ‘Cogs'(2d cut-outs) is more a effective and better animation than my ‘Jiri'(3d cgi).

All in all I would like to encourage any moving image artists out there to at least try 3d Computer graphics even if it’s not to your liking. But if you do, embrace the polygonal facade of the medium and never forget what you have learnt with using a ‘real’ camera in ‘real’ 3d space.

Keep creating!