Differences in 2D and 3D Animation

There are a lot of differences in 2D and 3D animation. 2D animation was widely popular during the 19th century, although, with the advance of computer technology, 3D animation soon gained popularity. Today, the use of 3D animation is common for creating special effects in feature films. Both 2D and 3D are forms of animation, but the capabilities of each and the processes for creating them differ largely. Let us look at the differences between them.

Creating Animation

Creating 3D animation is possible only on computers that are capable of using software applications such as LightWave 3D or 3D Studio Max. However, creating 2D animation is possible on most computers, using simple software applications such as Adobe Flash. Creating 2D animation is also possible using a pad of paper, with distinct hand drawings rendered on each page to stir movement.

Objects

Objects in 2D are flat, just like a photograph or painting. When viewing the front of a building in 2D, it is the only part of the building that exists in the animation. In 3D, objects are more like sculptures. They will have every aspect – front, back, sides, top, and bottom. That’s why, one can view a 3D building from any angle.

Camera

As a part of animation process, 3D animation applications use a virtual camera. This virtual camera has similar features that of an actual camera. The camera can also manipulate like an actual movie camera, which includes pans, zooms, and tracking shots. For 2D, such advance technology is not required.

Realism

Using 3D models and hyper-real textures, 3D animation can deliver viewing experience that are virtually similar to real life. On the other hand, even the highest quality 2D will still look like hand-drawn cartoon-like appearance.

Lighting

Similar to a virtual camera, 3D computer applications use virtual lights that can simulate any light, including the sunlight. With the application, multiple light sources or different colored lights can be created to deliver a variety of effects. Objects that pass through these lights project realistic shadows on other objects or the background in the scene. In case of 2D, shadows are only drawn by hand.

Special Effects

For 2D, special effects such as explosions, fire, smoke, water ripples, and so on need to be hand-drawn for each frame. In case of 3D, all these effects are created easily with the software plug-ins or filters. These plug-ins or filters will produce the animated effect automatically after assigning few parameters.

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