3D CGI Animation Production Process

3D CGI Animation Production Process

One of the most common questions I receive from prospective clients is: “What does the 3D CGI animation production process entail?” 3D CGI animation has become so widespread these days that people sometimes think it is a quick and simple process. They often have no idea about what it really takes to produce a professional quality 3D CGI animation.

The entire 3D CGI animation production process can include up to 25 or more individual steps depending on the size and scope of the 3D animation project being considered. A simple one shot 10-20 second 3D product animation clip may only include a few of these steps. But a more substantial animation of a minute or more may include all these steps and more, including multiple rounds of proofs, reviews, changes and approvals. Sometimes the steps may be rearranged to suit specific projects as well.

The process is generally broken down into three distinct phases: Pre-production, Production and Post-production. Each of those stages is comprised of a number of distinct steps. Each one of these steps requires special talent, software and equipment. On very small projects some of these steps may be eliminated or combined. On very large projects that may need substantial development work each phase may be broken out as a separate project if necessary.


  • Client Idea
  • Client Outline
  • Estimate
  • Scripting
  • Storyboard
  • Changes
  • Animatic
  • Design


  • 3D Modeling
  • Scene Layout
  • Texturing
  • Lighting
  • Rigging
  • R&D
  • 3D Special Effects
  • 3D Animaton
  • Rendering


  • Compositing
  • 2D Titles & SFX
  • Voiceover
  • Soundtrack
  • Video Editing
  • Final Proof
  • File Delivered
  • Client Results

The process can take anywhere from a few days for a very short simple clip to a few months for a more substantial 3D animation project. One of the greatest determining factors for the overall timeline is often client input. The number of proofs, reviews, changes and revisions necessary as well as any delays waiting for client reviews or approvals often determines the overall timeline more than the raw production time.

Over three decades we’ve refined our own version of the 3D CGI animation production process that while similar to the process other studios use is tailored to our own unique production process and animation pipeline. I created the following map breakdown of the 3D CGI animation production process – DreamLight Animation Process.

3D CGI Animation Production Process

This graphic is included in our DreamLight Client Proposals. It may be downloaded and printed for future reference. Simply right-click on the DreamLight Animation Process link or image above and select “Save Link As…”

For a More Detailed Description of the 3D CGI Animation Production Process Read Our 500+ Page Book: Creating a 3D Animated CGI Short

Creating a 3D Animated CGI Short - The Making of The Autiton Archives - Fault Effect - Pilot Webisode, Book on Amazon.comIf you found this brief breakdown of the 3D CGI animation production process interesting you’ll love my book: Creating a 3D Animated CGI Short, The Making of The Autiton Archives, Fault Effect – Pilot Webisode. This book is over 500 pages chock full of detailed examples and insights from the production of my 3D animated CGI short film – Fault Effect. It includes examples of every step of the production process; from initial concept through character design, set design, 3D modeling, texturing, lighting, camera animation, 3D character animation, lip sync, 3D rendering, post-production, compositing, and all the way to film festival submissions and online web distribution.

This comprehensive book also includes a companion CD-ROM with full color high resolution images from the book as well as many animated samples along with two of my full 3D animated CGI short films, Fault Effect™ and the award winning BlastOff!™ which screened at over 15 US and international film festivals.

This book is available on Amazon.com where you may browse it online.

DreamLight Constellation Network Render Controller

DreamLight Constellation 3D Icon LogoDreamLight® Constellation is our cross-platform network render controller that combined with DLI_SNUB-Launcher™ makes configuring, launching and controlling LightWave 3D ScreamerNet LWSN for standalone, batch, network and internet rendering, drag-and-drop-dead-easy™.

Created by Michael Scaramozzino - LightWave 3D Artist Profile
Author of Creating a 3D Animated CGI Short & Mastering LightWave ScreamerNet

DreamLight wrote the book: Creating a 3D Animated CGI Short. See what we can do for you.

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