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3 Types of 3D Animation and the Best Time to Use Each

What do you think of when you hear 3D? The Matrix, video games, Pixar movies, weird glasses? Those are all 3D. Each example is using a different type of 3D with varying levels of complexity.

We have found that 3D is becoming more and more common in corporate training and selling, so I wanted to share my insights into what 3D animation is so you can determine what type might work best for your project.

1. 3D Film/Video

Think Pixar's Toy Story. As a user you're passively watching (3D) toys moving around in a 3D world. There is nothing interactive about this type of animation; it is purely visual. While it is still a significant amount of work to create a quality 3D video, this is the least complicated 3D animation to create, relatively speaking.

For example, Stryker produced a series of motivational and educational motion graphic videos to assist sales reps in effectively communicating the value in their technologically advanced support surface product lines.

Using 3D modeling and animation, Stryker could showcase the differentiators for the surface products and quickly convey the value in front of clients and potential clients. The videos are short in length and chose compelling onscreen motion graphics to assist reps in communicating features and benefits in a way most conducive to their selling environment.

2. Interactive 3D

Think video games. Interactive 3D allows the user to be in first person and move around the 3D space while actively deciding what actions they want to take in real time.

Cubist revamped their lab safety training through engaging courses and true-to-life custom animations and simulations to ensure their employee's safety in the lab and aligning with Cubist's corporate values.

Cubist eLearning courses with true-to-life custom animations and simulations

3. Virtual Reality 3D

Think Google Glass. This type of 3D requires an input/output device–such as Google Glass, Oculus or Microsoft's HoloLens–that allows you to interact with the physical space around you. This type is fully immersive and also the most complicated to create.

However, virtual reality is opening up an entirely new world for sales and training in particular. Think of training fighter pilots for the military–instead of sending them up in a multi-million dollar aircraft to train in, they can be placed in a flight simulator on the ground as they prepare for situations they may encounter in the air averting catastrophic and costly situation.

Similarly, think of surgeons honing their skills or learning how to operate with a new tool. Virtual reality environments allow them to practice in a very life-like, sandbox environment without the risk of losing a patient.

While virtual reality is certainly the most significant investment of the three, the benefits and pay-off in the long run may well be worth cost. Especially if it means saving a patient’s life or not crashing a military jet.

Check out Microsoft's HoloLens website for some interesting images and videos that depicts what virtual reality 3D can really do.

Keep in mind that the examples provided are just a glimpse into what you can do with 3D and I have a lot more to share. Stay tuned for my next post that covers why and how to use 3D animation for training and selling content.

Have you thought about 3D animation for your learners?

Learn about the 3D animation we made for Schlage!

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Doug Eklund

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