Our 3D animation timeline takes a look at the evolution of this incredible art form throughout the years. From its humble beginnings to the groundbreaking technology used today, 3D animation has remained a popular animation style. 

By definition, 3D animation refers to three dimensional objects being made to move in sequence. It creates a very realistic effect and can be used to communicate any sort of message, from marketing videos, explainer videos and conceptual shorts to entertainment films and art films made for pure enjoyment. 


3D Animation Timeline – Humble Beginnings

The very first 3D animation style was called clay animation or ‘claymation’ and came to life in the early 1900s. It involved making clay models of real life objects and creating a stop-motion film of the models being moved and manipulated into positions. One of the first claymation films was Edison Manufacturing’s trick film entitled The Sculptor’s Welsh Rarebit Dream in 1908. 

The film company Aardman became famous for their use of claymation of characters like Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep. Whilst claymation creates a really impressive effect, it is extremely time consuming to undertake. It involves moving each clay model in a long sequence of positions and taking a photo of each position. The photos are then linked together to create a single animation. 

As computers became more widely adopted in the sixties, computer animation started to take off. Computer generated imagery or CGI replaced claymation as the most common animation style. In 1995 Pixar released Toy Story, the first completely computer animated film in history. It proved hugely successful, grossing $362 million worldwide! It also exposed the enormous potential of 3D animation through the use of computers.


3D Animation Timeline – Modern Times

These days, 3D animation is a common sight across online and television videos. Companies use it to showcase their services, train staff, explain complex terms or deliver informational messages. The beauty of 3D is that anything is possible!

At The Animation Guys, we love creating 3D animation. It’s a really interesting and dynamic art style and can look really realistic or completely conceptual. Here are a few examples of past projects to add to our 3D animation timeline:

FinTech animation:

AutoRek is a global provider of financial controls, data management and regulatory reporting software. They challenged us with creating a piece of abstract Fintech 3D animation and visualisation to sit as a moving video background and be used as additional assets throughout their website.

Our animation had to fit seamlessly with the style of the rest of their website. We kept in mind throughout the design process that we were creating additional content that would be used throughout the website.


The Innovation Canvas:

We were asked to create a 3D promotional video for the Knowledge Transfer Network’s new product: The Innovation Canvas. The video would act as an entry point to prompt people to find out more. Therefore more emphasis was placed on captivating visuals; portraying the core concept of innovation and it’s challenges, rather than the specifics of the product and how it works.

When working with KTN, we helped to write a script that introduced the audience to the challenges of innovation. It focused around a series of carefully chosen adjectives that we felt best contextualised the process. This began the process and gave us a solid foundation to work from.

3D animation timeline – what next?

As CGI continues to evolve, we’re now seeing 3D animation being incorporated increasingly into gaming and virtual reality alongside classic videos. The capabilities and quality of 3D animation will only grow stronger and we look forward to adding many more exciting projects to our 3D animation timeline in the future.


If you would like to find out more about 3D animation or would like to discuss an upcoming project, do get in touch