No one can deny that computer animation in movies has come a long way since 1995’s Toy Story. Aside from looking more realistic by itself, today’s 3D animation is often tough to distinguish from the live actors, props, and sets with which it shares the silver screen.

Marvel’s The Avengers has already earned a huge $185.1 million internationally, and it opens in the United States tomorrow, May 4. The formula for the summer blockbuster goes something like this:

  • Lots of action
  • At least a few gorgeous stars
  • Dazzling special effects

Flying metal-suited billionaires, shape-shifting vehicles, and giant explosions are easy to see, but professionals like to say that the best effect is the one you don’t notice. Ignore his size and color for a moment and see if anything tips you off that the Hulk is largely computer-generated in this still:

Avengers 3D Animation Characters


Even more impressive? That’s Mark Ruffalo under there. Rather than completely constructing characters, animators now use actor’s real movements to shape the character’s performance.  Probably the best-known example of this motion capture technique is Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, played by Andy Serkis.

If superheroes aren’t your style, you can still appreciate this kind of 3D animation in Men in Black III, coming out on May 25. There it’s aliens and time travel, but the principle is the same: computer animated characters interacting with – touching, pushing, pulling – live actors. Watch some of the videos Sony Pictures makes available to see the pretty much seamless combination.

Both films make use of practical effects as well – miniatures and models, people in suits and masks, that sort of thing. But dynamic, kinetic motion is best achieved with a 3D animation studio. While there are challenges matching the lighting and atmosphere of the scenes the 3D effects are used in, it’s much faster to build, animate, and correct a digital model than a physical one.

Are you looking forward to seeing these 3D films?

Tags: 3D Animation, 3d animation software used in men in black, 3D effects, 3d effects avengers, 3d effects in avengers, 3d movie animation software in men in black, 3D Technologies, animation software creating avengers