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The making of our fifth birthday animations

Interested in 3D, 3D illusion and VR techniques?

Find out how we made our fifth birthday animations below, including nice techy videos. Each animation is themed on the number five, while some narratives observe the environment surrounding the five.

Check out our Vimeo album for the final videos.

You can watch the final edit here!


Great Scott, it’s a salamander!

“I made sure that the visual elements were attractive enough to be an illustration first, before considering animating them,” said Marcus, the animator. “So, it became important that I first nailed down the composition as clearly as possible. After separating the elements into manageable pieces, it was a case of adding as much movement as possible to bring that illustration to life.

“I wanted water shimmering, leaves moving, visible humidity and characters, not forgetting the all-important salamander moving in the centre. All these things along with some glows and camera motions make it what it is.”


Hip, hip, hooray!

“When creating my mechanical number five animation, I begun with some sketching by hand, working out the best composition for the end piece,” said Emma, the animator. “Next, I modelled all of the components, animating as I went – in order to check all the pieces would correctly work together in sequence.

“Once all the basic animations were in place, I was able to refine the movement, and use a physics simulation to get realistic movements of the marbles. Finally, I added the textures, using a limited colour palette, a light wood texture, and a bit of shiny metal. When rendering out, I used a combined pass (creating the base animation) and ambient occlusion pass (to give more depth and contrast to the shadows), and composited them to create the final animation.”


We’re all about a great celebration!

“I thought half the fun and cheerfulness would be in the animation so I decided to really push the bounciness of the objects to create an interesting and upbeat final motion,” said Nicholas, the animator. “Creating realistic-looking renders was always the aim for me to make all assets look sweet and delicious.”


Our birthday, lit up!

“I built a 3D party, creating rigid bodies so the balloons interacted with each other and the environment around them,” said Sarah, the animator/our New Business Development & Account Executive. “I also had to manipulate gravity so the balloons didn’t float away or bounce too vigorously. What fun it was to play with the lights and all the bright colours within the environment.”


We’re glowing!

“In VR, I created the shape of the number five inside Quill, a 3D painting app, and on a separate layer I added various animated paint strokes to give the impression of moving organisms inside the contained number five shape,” said Fred, the animator. “I then exported the file and set up the scene to be dark and moody, allowing the bugs to glow in the dark, adding light, life and colour to the scene.”


Salamandra.uk is a visual agency with studios in Eton and St Andrews. We’re experts at conveying complex messages in animation and design on the most appropriate platform.