A Closer Look at How 3D Animation Works

We’ve seen the Pixar and Dreamworks movies, and we’ve fallen in love with the characters, but have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “How do they make these films?” Yes, 3D animation is just as mysterious as the Philosopher’s stone to some people. It’s almost like magic.

How can something come alive from nothing at all? It creates this wonderful illusion of real life that we get so enraptured with it. For a moment we forget that they’re not really real people.


You can see here some examples of 3D animation. Yes from small dots they’ve actually come alive into real shapes with a form. How wonderful that process must be.

Below is an infographic showing how hair and fur goes through a whole process before it turns lifelike.

We can see the details really make it seem real. The details also make hair one of the most challenging parts of 3D animation. Movies like Brave, Tomb Raider, and Monsters Inc., show just how painstakingly detailed these bodily elements are.

In 2001, Aki from The Spirits Within had 60,000 hair strands. 1 second of film took about 36 hours to render at 24 fps. To think how many seconds the whole film holds.


In 2012, Merida from Brave had 111,700 hair strands. 1 second of film took 8 minutes to render at 24fps.

Merida’s fiery red hair represented a new breakthrough in digital hair because curly hair takes even longer to render. Each curl interacted with the other curls in her hair, which took even longer to process. Brave was truly a digital masterpiece. And a good movie too!