How to come up with great ideas for 3D animation

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How to come up with great ideas for 3D animation

Creating a 3D animation, especially in a professional 3D animation studio, follows a certain procedure that involves many interconnected steps: The 3D animation production Pipeline. By looking at this pipeline, you will find out that the starting point for every 3D animation is the “Idea” generation phase.

Idea is the pavement on which the story, script and finally the whole project will be structured. To be successful, a 3D animated video needs a powerful idea, capable of pushing the whole project towards the end and pleasing the audience.

The core idea of a 3D animated video can originate from virtually everywhere and everything; a single word, a sentence, a book, colors, smells, sounds, conversations, real-life events, anecdotes or philosophies. The most important point is for it to have enough potential to ignite a dialogue within yourself or with others. A flawed or impotent idea will lead to a defective story and ruin the entire endeavor.


Great ideas for 3D animations

The word “idea” is defined as “a suggestion or plan for doing something”, “an understanding, thought or picture in mind”, and “a purpose or reason for doing something” on Cambridge dictionary. However, the definition of an idea is slightly different in 3D animation industry.

Generally speaking, a 3D animated video contains numerous ideas in the form of sentences, character design, setting, background, camera placement, colors, lighting, pacing and so on. The directing team do not come up with ideas out of the blue; they sort through a mass of ideas to find the ones that are capable of fitting into a coherent whole. It is actually a continuous probe in which you don’t know what exactly you’re looking for at first.

To come up with creative ideas, 3D animation studios adopt different procedures based on their own considerations: organization, mechanisms, audience, product type, etc. Creative teams usually put their raw ideas or concepts into a strict manufacturing process which will finally develop into a thought-out plan with helpful insights and details, enough to take the project to the next level: Story Creation.

Defining the Characteristics of a good idea for a 3D animation helps guide the process towards the best possible outcome.


Ideas for 3D Animation; How Dream Farm Studios work it out

Here at Dream Farm Animation Studios, we usually pursue the following three-step procedure to come up with convincing ideas for 3D animated videos.


1. Idea Generation

ideas for 3D animation

In general, “the process of creating, developing, and communicating ideas which are abstract, concrete, or visual” is called “idea generation”. It includes “the process of constructing through the idea, innovating the concept, developing the process, and bringing the concept to reality”.

Idea generation for a 3D animation takes a lot of practice. As Linus Pauling puts it, “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas”. Therefore the idea person or team must be able to generate ideas quickly and intelligently.

However, “brainstorming” or creating a pile of random ideas is not exactly what “idea generation for 3D animation” means. Idea generation for a 3D animated video is more about selecting a single idea from the rest, with the highest potential for further development. During the process, hundreds of bad ideas might be generated and purged for the ideal flow to emerge.

You might be passionate to start writing the outlines and specific scenes as soon as an idea pops into your head, but too much information will limit further development; the core concept is enough at this stage. The idea must have enough space to be developed appropriately in the next steps.

At the end of this stage, you should know the following properties of your core idea:

  • The objective
  • The audience
  • The theme
  • The message


2. Idea Development

3D animation idea

After working out the basic logic of the idea you choose to pursue, it’s time to turn it into a narrative form with the basic details that you want to be included in the story, such as the characters, or some of the big moments. What we are trying to shape at this point is not a formal story, script, or screenplay; it is a basic idea of the total narrative arc.

This is a critical stage during which the concept will be developed. The main purpose of development is to find out possible limitations of the idea and devise proper ways to take it to its full potential.

In other words, the goal of this stage is to build a persuasive narrative and develop an argument to counter the opposing ideas. If the process does not go as persuasively as previously imagined, the idea will be abandoned and replaced with another one from the previous stage. But if it does, your idea will be one step closer to becoming “the idea”.

The following are the key takeaways of this phase:

  • The characters
  • The setting
  • The conflict
  • The ending


3. Idea Qualification

3D animation idea

The third and final step of the journey to come up with a great idea for 3D animation production puts you in a more strategic position. At this stage the final idea will be pitched to studio executives with more details and must be actively defended in order to get the approval. If it succeeds in providing a compelling argument, it will be tossed into the next step of the 3D animation pipeline to transform into a full-fledged story.

Defending ideas is not easy, but handling criticism or obstacles with confidence is the key. If you and your team are perceived as a credible source of innovation, the idea will be more likely to gain approval and support. The final idea should be able to influence people in a position of authority. If the decision-makers believe in in the idea, it will most likely receive the green light.

At this stage, the executive details of your idea must be known:

  • The length of the 3D animation
  • The style of the 3D animation
  • The size of production team
  • The budget of the project
  • The ROI of the 3D animation
  • etc.



3D animation studios, follow a certain pipeline including many interconnected steps to produce a 3D animated video. The starting point of the 3D animation pipeline is the “Idea”; the story, script and the whole project will be structured on this initial block.

Any successful 3D animated video needs a powerful idea to interest the executive team, pull the project towards completion and of course, please the audience in the end.

The idea can come from almost everywhere and everything. The most important point is for it to have enough potential to ignite a dialogue within yourself or with others


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