Bringing static objects to life (animating them) is skilled and time-consuming labor. In the article dedicated to the work of our 3D animators, we looked closer into their working process, challenges, and favorite moments. Now we decided to share a comprehensive list of graphics software that would serve as an excellent toolkit for 3D medical animators.
Maya opens the list being a favorite 3D graphics application among animators due to its customizable interface. A wide variety of functions and tools has brought it to the top. The program is very flexible as it has an open source code that allows the user to make necessary changes and adjust the software according to their personal needs.
Maya is being used by 3D specialists to create visual effects for the all-time favorite films like Harry Potter, Transformers, and Game of Thrones. You may ask, ‘how is it applicable to medical animation?’ ‘In all ways,’ is the answer. The program offers a specialized tool to model complex objects like hair, organs, fluids, and even cells.
Setting up a character rig manually is often a painful process, as the weights for each bone have to be painted piecemeal. Maya relieves the user from this task and creates a sophisticated skinned and weighted rig that is ready for 3D animation.
ZBrush is a perfect sculpting program that simplifies the process of 3D graphics. Typically, ZBrush is used as a finishing tool with its necessary geometric utilities.
The usual workflow is brush-based: you brush onto a blank canvas or an existing model to add or subtract detail. One of the most exciting tools is ZSketch which provides a digital equivalent of clay modeling techniques. Sculpting in clay involves creating a wire armature to which clay strips are added, building up the model from scratch. ZSketch allows you to paint “strips” of geometry that can be attached to a ZBrush skeleton just like an armature.
With Zbrush, you can create more realistic models. The displacement map technique, allows you to reduce the number of polygons which is crucial for creating a3D animation.
Nuke is perceived as the Gold standard of compositing programs. It offers a limitless, integrated 3D environment that lets you create and render complex scenes composed of 2D footage, 3D models, cards, basic geometry, cameras, lights, and meshes. Even though it’s not that useful for editing motion graphics but when it comes to serious 3D compositing, Nuke has no rivals.
The software can create and handle huge compositing node flows and supports multiple workflows including 2D and 3D compositing with included support for importing 3D geometry. Nuke allows importing/exporting 32-bit image formats like HDR, Tif, EXR to retain the accurate color workflow through the entire node graph.
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects is an excellent tool for motion graphics. It is powerful and packed with default effects, tools, and features. When you finally get the hang of it, the only limit to the creative possibilities is your imagination (and your computer’s CPU/GPU).
You can create videos in unusual formats apart from standard HD or 4K. Using inexpensive plugins you can create 360 panorama and VR videos too. The learning curve is tough on this one. You can learn the basics pretty quickly, but there are a ton of features for the advanced user that take some time and practice to get used to.
Substance Painter is good for rendering out 3D models in real time and seeing the product. Even though Maya with photoshop can display the image in a render view, but in Substance, it’s already shown in a format that will be production ready.
The software can be utilized to create realistic surfaces for using in renders and real-time environments. Substance Painter is a crucial program for those who work in a team and need to share materials or export settings with other users.
As you can see, a creation of an immersive image takes a lot of manual labour and technical skills. Let alone, a 3D animated video. Want some proofs? Check out our CAse Studies and see for yourselves.
Year of Creation
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