Explainer Animation Made in Blender 3D

By Kevin Grinder

I made this explainer animation about one year ago. It’s used to explain a process, and it’s supporting equipment called pigging.

I modeled, animated and rendered in Blender 3D. Editing, compositing, effects and motion graphics I used Adobe After Effects.

While the animation isn’t perfect (“tweaky” things I’d change as an artist, animator), it worked great for the client. Plus, this is a 5.5-minute animation, and I was a one man team on a tight budget and timeline! Add to that this was the first time I used Blender 3d minus a few tutorials online. Here are some of the details of what I did.

* I did not model everything (general list below), some models I had to purchase, or I brought in from the clients Solid Works.
* I modeled and/or remodeled or retopoed many of the objects. (Pig (red thing), ball port valves (in and out), pipes, 3-way valve, nuts, bolts, round rotating release and more)

* I did all of the textures, shading, and lighting

* Cinematography (camera, movement, focus, timing)

* Rigging (simple rig on the pig and shape keys)

* Animation (pig, fluid, camera, valves, knobs)

* Technical (path configuration and animation to move the pig, move the fluid with the pig, reverse the pig back to the start, all while staying in the pipe)

* Rendering Setup: This was a tough animation to render. It had many objects (faces), many materials, several lights, I used Cycles renderer, transparent objects, and changing depth-of-field. Some frames were going to take up to 18 minutes a frame. That wasn’t going to work for timeline or budget. Therefore, I ended up baking the textures into the surrounding building. That took renders down to between 4 and 5 minutes per frame.

* Editing, compositing, effects and motion graphics I did in After Effects. I’ve used it for way too many years, since it came out, to also try to learn Blender’s video sequencer and compositing. Time didn’t allow.

Now to what I didn’t do myself. This was just too big of a project to model every single object, so I purchased one tank, tanker truck, tote and surrounding building. I still had to texture and shade all of them. I did not have to change a few of the Solid Works objects: actuators, one of the tanks, and small valves (black ones with the knobs that turn) I still shaded and textured them. Music I bought online.

I rendered on both my machine and at Render Street. There was no way my one machine could render all scenes and still meet my deadline. Thank goodness for great and reasonably priced services like Render Street. https://render.st However, I was able to render a lot on my machine.

While this was a challenging and tedious project, I still loved doing it. I’ve been piddling with Blender off-and-on for a couple of years. Always starting over because I would let too much time lapse between tutorials. Therefore, I decided I’d get a project that someone other than me was dependent. That worked. I’m back at learning Blender in a more systematic way using Blender Cloud service. Check it out if you haven’t. https://cloud.blender.org and CG Cookie is another great service too. https://cgcookie.com Of course, Blender Nation is an excellent source for Blender artists. I visit it all the time. http://www.blendernation.com. Now I’m committed to that process. It will help me put together in a more fundamental way of what I hacked together with tuts from here-and-there.

I am working toward a personal project, so I needed to get more comfortable and efficient with Blender. This project certainly kicked that into high gear. The foundations and advanced learning support will help get me to that point very soon. My personal project will be character and story based, not an industrial explainer.

Enjoy. We’ll it’s not that exciting of an animation in itself, so how about observe instead? 🙂