2.5D Animation Explained
2D vs 2.5D vs 3D
Every day at White Knight Productions we work to capture the stories of our clients. Sometimes that means putting together a video-shoot and capturing these stories on camera. But sometimes the camera isn’t the tool we need to properly convey the story for our clients. When that happens, our team of motion designers dive headlong into animating a video using typography, graphics, and images to explain a company’s business, product, or idea. But these animated videos can come in a variety of formats: 2D animation, 2.5D animation, and 3D animation. Here’s a quick breakdown explaining the difference.
In simplest terms, 2-D animation is the movement of a flat object across a flat background. In its earliest stages this was done by hand, with animators drawing each iterative ‘frame’ and creating the illusion of movement with a sequence of static images. This necessitates drawing a lot of frames for any given animation and is very time consuming.
2-D animation has evolved drastically from its hand drawn beginnings. Today, there are software and animation tools that simplify this time intensive process. Programs, like Adobe After Effects, have become the primary tool for our motion designers in creating animations and explainer-videos for our clients. The software allows them to manipulate graphics on screen without the need to laboriously create each individual frame. Despite this, hand drawn animation continues to find a place in professional settings for content creation, even within our own workflows.
What 2-D animation lacks is realistic perspective: objects are flat, and can only move in the ‘x-axis’ and ‘y-axis’ – left and right, up and down. What 2.5-D animation attempts to do is create the illusion of depth in the animation by making it look as though flat objects are moving forward and backward along the ‘z-axis’. In essence, 2.5-D animation is making 2-D objects look 3-D. This is done by adding realistic shadows and lighting that help create the look of a 3-D space; or separating elements of a flat object and moving them in front or behind other flat objects to create a parallax effect.
For example, here is an image that has been transformed into a 2.5-D animation. This was done by creating a parallax effect – separating the foreground of the image from the background, then adding a movement to each separated element. All elements of the animation are 2-dimensional objects, but using these tricks of 2.5-D creates the impression of 3-dimensionality.
Unlike 2D and 2.5-D animation, 3-D animation does not rely on tricks or illusions. 3-D animation utilizes the power of modern animation software to digitally model objects in 3-D space. This allows for highly accurate and detailed representations of objects, and for life-like movement using all 3 dimensions of movement – X,Y,Z axes. Naturally, this highly precise animation work requires a high degree technical knowledge of 3-D animation software and rendering techniques, as well as the computer hardware to animate everything efficiently.