Desktop MagainzeDimension Jump

Desktop Magazine, January 2008

Jo Spurling looks at the less obvious differences between two-dimensional and three-dimensional animation.

What really is the difference between two-dimensional and three-dimensional besides the obvious visual attributes? To get to the bottom of the matter Desktop speaks to four very different studios.

Siam Studios

Jodie Heenan, director and founder of the Melbourne-based animation house Siam Studios, has a passion for animation that began with a form of creative procrastination often common amongst creatives who suddenly find themselves ‘on the wrong path’.
“I originally completed a bachelor of computer science and entered the workforce as an IT specialist. After a year in industry, I quickly discovered I was spending more time creating montages using paper clips and Post-it notes on my scanner bed instead of programming, so I decided to enrol into a masters in multimedia program and discovered my true love – three-dimensional Art. After graduating, I was contracted as a three-dimensional artist for an architectural visualisation company, and spent my time between contracts freelancing on various other multimedia contracts. Since my first experience in the three-dimensional environment, I have always wanted to create animations, but the hardest decision was which industry to choose. Three-dimensional artists can be utilised in many different industries, from games to film and TV, through to architectural and scientific visualisations,” she explains.

While personally Heenan prefers CG three-dimensional, she advises that there are obvious drawbacks when it comes to this medium as opposed to two-dimensional projects. “Though there are many more options available to the artist in three dimensions as far as creating something that feels ‘real’ goes, it is significantly more time consuming than two-dimensional. There are many instances where it simply doesn’t make sense to create something in a three-dimensional environment, when the same effect could be achieved in a fraction of the time using two dimensions,” she says.

“Three-dimensional is very expensive and render times can be excruciatingly long,” she continues. “Two-dimensional software is a lot cheaper and can be faster to create animation in. Render times on two-dimensional are almost instantaneous compared to the calculations of three-dimensional; however, the creative scope depends entirely on the project and the imagination of the artist. In three-dimensions we can work with true light calculations, shadows, depth etc. rather than trying to fake it in a two-dimensional program. The trade-off is render time.”