Photorealistic Animations

Whether it is a full CG animation, a cinemagraph or purely motion-graphics, make your design stand out from the rest with an engaging animation.

Visualise Your Design

Let the audience visualise your design down to the last detail. With cinematic compositions and bespoke lighting to set the mood and tell your story.

Property Marketing

Speed up your sales and marketing! A well crafted 3D animation will grab potential buyers' attention before construction has even begun.

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Why Should You Work with Curved Axis?

Animation is becoming an increasingly popular format in the architectural visualisation industry. There are freelancers, in-house artists and visualisation studios, all with the ability to produce some form of 3D animation. So, why should you choose Curved Axis for your next project?

What is Architectural Animation?

Architectural animation is the art of visually representing built structures and their environment as moving images. It utilises the basic principles of animation - create a series of still images (or frames) that each differ slightly. When these frames are played back in sequence, as a video, it gives the impression of motion. This movement could be clouds in the sky, trees swaying in the wind, or a camera flying through a proposed new build apartment. This is the same animation technique used in 3D animated movies, 2D hand-drawn cartoons and stop motion.

To ensure animations are smooth, multiple frames are rendered out for each second of animation. It is common for architectural animations to be produced at 25 frames per second, which means 25 individual frames are rendered for every second of animation. This smooth motion is what makes animation such an attractive and engaging format. It can bring digital marketing and social media campaigns to life and increase audience interaction. Conversely, rendering a large number of frames is one of the main reasons that animations take longer to produce and are more costly than still CGIs.

Architectural animations are predominately made up of 3D rendered images. The process of 3D rendering involves creating 3D models of buildings and environments, adding lights, textures and animated cameras, then rendering them out. We have a detailed post about our 3D rendering process here.

Rendering such a large number of photorealistic 3D frames can be prohibitive or illogical in some situations. Therefore, many architectural animations introduce another style of animation to complement 3D rendering and help tell the story. For example, using motion graphics to elegantly display information to the audience, using cinemagraphs for a tranquil closing shot or using live-action footage of people interacting to set the scene. We will describe each different animation style in more detail, and discuss where they are most suited, a little bit further down.

The Benefits of Architectural Animation vs Still CGIs

Animations and still CGIs both have their benefits. The great thing is you do not have to choose one of the other, as they work perfectly together. The work that goes into creating still CGIs can be reused for animations, which makes CGIs a great base for any project. This way CGIs can be used in static formats such as brochures and construction hoardings with animations featuring in presentations and digital marketing campaigns to attract more attention. Still CGI and animation bundles are offered at a discounted price.

Architectural Animation Workflow

Planning

The process starts with us collecting as much information about the project as possible. This step is vital for animations, as not fully understanding a project’s objectives or artistic direction can lead to hours of work having to be redone. Once the requirements of the project are established, we provide a proposal outlining our approach, costs and delivery schedule.

Storyboarding and Previsualisation

Animation production begins with storyboarding, this involves basic sketches that convey the general composition and intention of each shot. Then using the storyboard as guidance, we create a simple clay animation to understand the flow and pacing. This is called previsusalisation (or previz).

Preview Animation (with Full Quality Samples)

Each shot is then developed, refining lighting setups, adding textures, and any other required details. Once this is done, full-quality still samples are rendered out for each shot. These full quality samples are great for the client to understand the final look of the animation and provide any feedback before committing to the lengthy rendering process. An updated preview animation is also produced to showcase the motion and flow of the final production version. If amendments are required, they will be performed, then an updated animation and samples will be issued for approval.

Final Delivery

Once the updated animation and samples have been approved, the animation is rendered at full quality. The rendered frames are composited, some polish is added in the post-production stage. The final version is then delivered to the client for approval. Architecture and design changes are now considered as out of scope.

Want to discuss an upcoming project with us?

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To help us provide an accurate quote include as much detail as possible - the type of project, number of views, required deadline and 2D plans are all useful at this stage.

Architectural Animation Types

Cinematic architectural animations utilise various animation formats, styles and sometimes incorporate live-action footage. Understanding the benefits of each these options and how they can be effectively combined is useful when planning an architectural animation.

Cinemagraphs

A blend of a still image and an animation, offering the best of both worlds. Cinemagraphs benefit from the faster render times of still CGIs and have the added interest of looped movement. Cinemagraphs create the impression of an endless animation and are a great way to bring images to life. They work well as calm opening or closing shots of an animation and add an interesting element to marketing websites.

Full CG Animations

This type of 3D rendered animation makes up the majority of architectural animations. It involves a fully 3D modelled scene, a moving camera and animated elements such as people, water, sunlight, etc. It offers complete flexibility and creative freedom. Full CG Animation can be a great way of showcasing design features or transitioning between spaces. It has endless story-telling possibilities to evoke an emotional reaction.

Camera Tracking

The animated equivalent of photomontage CGIs. Tracking real-world video footage, allows us to understand the 3D motion of the camera and composite models into it, creating a photorealistic animation. This technique is perfect for drone footage as it allows proposed developments to seamless be brought into reality from any angle.

Time-lapses

Quickly and effectively showcase a development in different conditions. Time-lapses are useful for storytelling and they can be used to signify transitional periods e.g. day to night or summer to autumn.

Vignettes

Vignettes are close-up animated shots that focus on detail, they can highlight specific elements to the audience and showcase a particular design feature.

2D Motion Graphics

Animated text, icons and other graphical elements allow for information to be quickly portrayed to the viewer. 2D motion graphics are useful for branding, infographics and transitional screens. As they are not produced in 3D, they much faster to render.

Live-Action Footage

Sometimes nothing beats getting a camera out and capturing real-world footage. Showing a time-lapse of the skyline or a couple out for coffee can help tell your story. Live-action footage can either be purchased from a stock video website or captured for a specific project and purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the price of an architectural animation? And how long do they take to produce?

It varies greatly. The main factors that determine the price and timeframe are the animation length, number of shots, modelling complexity and animation types. Please contact us for an accurate quote.

How can I reduce the cost of an animation?

The simplest way is to reduce the amount of 3D rendering. This can either be done by reducing the overall length of the animation or by replacing 3D rendered scenes with another animation type. In some cases, 3D rendered scenes can be effectively swapped for motion-graphics, cinemagraphs or live-action stock footage. Doing this reduces the amount of work required and the costs.

Why should I work with you instead of a freelancer?

Although a reputable freelancer can be an effective solution for smaller still visualisation projects, they are unlikely to be able to produce animations promptly to a high-quality. This is because animations are much more work, they have a higher number of shots and are more complex. Freelancers are also unlikely to have a powerful enough in-house render farm to effectively produce the animation.

Whereas working with us gives you peace of mind and consistent quality throughout your project. You are guaranteed to receive a professional service with effective communication throughout, allowing you to only be involved when required and focus on other important tasks. Once the work is complete, you will receive a breath-taking animation delivered in accordance with the delivery schedule.

Is there a difference between an architectural fly-through and a cinematic animation?

Yes, architectural fly-throughs are more limited and typically involve a camera moving through a static 3D model. They are great for showcasing designs but may not be as suitable for marketing purposes. Cinematic animations take this a step further incorporating 3D animated models, a soundtrack and other animation types to improve upon the storytelling and marketing potential.

What resolution are your animations?

Our standard animation resolution is Full HD (1920x1080 pixels), but we can produce animations at any reasonable resolution. Rendering at 4K Ultra-HD (3840x2160) can be selected as an optional extra.

Is it helpful to provide our 3D model?

Definitely, 3D models minimise the amount of modelling work required when compared to 2D plans. These 3D models will require optimisation to get them ready and make them look photorealistic, but they will speed up production. We are typically provided with 3D CAD models from Revit or Rhino, and less frequently with architectural models created in SketchUp or 3ds Max.

Can you add in animated people?

Yes, animated people can be added to our animations in a variety of ways:

Each option has its benefits and which one is selected depends on the needs of a project.

Do I need to buy still renders as well as an animation?

No, you do not. However, still renders require a lot of the same modelling, lighting and texturing work as an animation, so they can be a useful addition at a discount bundled price. They also can be combined effectively in marketing campaigns, with CGIs being utilised on static formats and animations driving the digital marketing.

Do you provide multiple rounds of feedback?

Yes, we offer two rounds of revisions on standard projects, before considering changes out of scope. We will ask feedback once full quality samples and a sample animation have been produced. Rounds of revisions can be increased or decreased, depending on the requirements of a project.

What information do you need to get started?

We need the following information to get an understanding of your project and its objectives:

If you have a question that we have not answered, please contact us via email at info@curvedaxis.com or call us at +44 (0) 20 3870 4385.

Find out about other visualisation services we offer.