Daz Studio is a powerful 3D software that enables beginners and professionals alike to more easily create realistic and high-quality 3D art. While over 20 million static images are rendered with the platform every year, Daz Studio can also generate impressive animations as well.
With Daz characters looking more realistic than ever, not to mention the ability to create facial and speech animation with more accuracy and detail than ever before using Genesis 8.1 characters, creating a quality animated short film in Daz Studio is well within reason. While some of these steps may prove difficult for a complete beginner, with dedication and the help of our learning videos, we are confident anyone could achieve amazing results.
Why Should I Make an Animated Short Film with Daz Studio?
Daz Studio will greatly enhance your ability to create an animated short film by streamlining a lot of the highly technical and skill-saturated areas of development. When tackling an original short film, you as the creator will have to consider many technical areas required such as character creation, set design, rigging, animation, cinematography, and lighting.
There are lots of programs that can help you in these areas, many of which can be very expensive and take a lot of time to master and learn. If you don’t want to create every asset from scratch, and would prefer a single program that saves you time and streamlines the more complex aspects of creating an animated short film, Daz Studio really is the perfect choice.
If you follow these simple steps, you will have single-handedly created your very first animated short film in no time!
Step One: Outline and Plan
Before we can really get started in Daz Studio, you should take the time to outline your story and plan carefully what you will need to communicate it. Coming up with an idea isn’t easy, but consider brainstorming on paper as many ideas as you can think of. Choose the idea that makes you the most excited, as this process is going to require a lot of effort, so make sure you feel passionate about it!
That said, make sure you also place limitations on yourself. Writing the screenplay for an animated short film is a lot like writing a short story. For now, consider limiting yourself to a small cast of characters. Two to three characters is probably ideal, but amazing stories have been told with just one character as well!
Don’t overlook the importance of a good hook, or theme. Something that makes your story memorable and catches peoples’ attention. Ultimately, you want people to watch your short film and — hopefully — share it with others.
Remember, in a short film you are limited in how much time you have to tell the story, so try to keep the plot simple. Create a problem that your characters will find themselves in and let that be the driving point of your story. When working with short mediums like this, it’s okay to leave things to the imagination. Your story may end on a bit of a cliffhanger, and that is okay. Try to give viewers enough resolution to feel satisfied, but don’t be afraid to leave what happens next up in the air.
Writing a good outline for a short film is difficult work. If you never considered yourself a good writer, don’t worry. Just do your best and try to stay authentic to yourself. Keep the story simple and trust in your ability to pull everything together. If you are worried about your story idea flopping, don’t be afraid to get feedback from others before you start creating the technical aspects of the story, too. In the end, trust yourself and just have fun with it!
Step Two: Setting
This goes hand-in-hand with creating your outline. As you planned your story and scenes, you undoubtedly had a few thoughts about where the story takes place. If this is your first attempt at making an animated short film, you should probably keep your set changes to a minimum. That said, don’t be afraid to make the setting as imaginative and fantastic as you’d like. 3D is perfect for bringing an imaginative idea to life.
Browse our library for backdrops and environments, and look for interesting scenes that fit the story you want to tell. Don’t be afraid to do something bold and interesting either. Many films combine different cultures or genres in interesting ways to create stunning and memorable visuals.
Once you’ve found an environment you like, create a new project in Daz Studio and load the environment into the scene. If you are new to Daz Studio, this process is easy. Inside your new project, navigate to the Smart Content Tab found on the left. Locate the environment under Environment, and simply double click it to automatically load it into the scene.
Step Three: Character Design
In truth, this step could just as easily come before step two. However, that’s up to you! Like our advice for establishing the setting, browse our catalog for a base figure that catches your eye and fits the vision you created in your outline.
If you plan on having dialogue in your animated short film, we recommend using Genesis 8.1 characters, as they have access to our latest and improved facial animation technology. This will vastly speed up your ability to lip-sync the character with your recorded audio. If that sounds overwhelming, don’t worry, we will cover that in-depth later on.
Designing characters in Daz Studio is fun. You can make your character as unique as you would like. While most models don’t come with hair or clothes, there are many that do. In the end, you get to decide what your character looks like. Using smart content, you can pick a single pre-designed outfit for them to wear, or you can mix and match. For example, you could take boots from one pack, pants from another, and a top from somewhere else. Daz Studio makes it easy to dress and design your character. Not only that, you can play with the available morphs to customize body shape, eye color, skin color, and more.
To actually put these characters together, navigate to the Smart Content tab and first place the Genesis character into the scene. Then, with that character selected, you can add any props, clothing, and hair by simply locating the item in the Smart Content folder and adding it to the character.
Step Four: Recording Audio
If you have dialogue in your animated short film, try recording it before you move on to the animation phase. Not only will things like the length of each dialogue clip greatly affect how you animate the rest of your scene, it should help you get a good idea of how your short film is going to play out overall.
Another benefit of doing the dialogue first, is that you may decide to cut things out of the story. It would be much better to make that decision sooner than later, especially if you spend hours making a line of dialogue look perfect in your animations, only to scrap it later in the process.
Ultimately, how you handle the audio is up to you. Some creators use freelance sites like Fiverr to hire voice actors and actresses to handle the lines. If you are just doing this for fun or want to keep a tighter budget, consider recording the lines yourself, or try recruiting friends and family.
While the quality of the recording equipment you use will play the largest factor in the quality of the result, there are a few tips you can follow to help your audio sound the best. Consider recording in your closet if you can with a microphone hooked up to a laptop that is placed outside of the closet. Closets are great for low-budget home recording because they are usually quiet, and the presence of clutter and clothes will provide great acoustics and will hopefully eliminate unwanted echoing.
You can record all the lines in one file and then splice them into individual pieces later in a free editing software like Audacity, or you could simply record each line within its own clip. Having them separated will be necessary during the animation phase, as we later cover. It is best to export the audio files in the .wav format.
Step Five: Animate Your Characters
This is where things may start to get difficult. Hopefully, you have a solid script that has taken into account your abilities and tried to keep things simple. Depending on the complexity of your story, you may be able to animate the entire script using pre-made animation sequences found in our storefront. In other cases, such as lip-syncing, you will have to do this yourself.
If the actions you need are relatively simple and standard, there is a fair chance you can find preset animations already designed that can be applied to your characters. Take your time and be selective in this step, as animation is crucial to making your animated short film look real and lively.
By using the Timeline feature, you will be able to place animation blocks across the timeline for a character creating a sequence of events you will export into clips. For now, prioritize getting your animations lined up just right. In the next step, we will start setting up cameras and lighting.
Also, depending on the complexity of your scene, it may be best to break these animations up into smaller pieces, or separate things one action at a time.
There is a very good chance that the story you would like to tell in your short film is going to require dialogue. While it is possible to tell a story without using words, telling these types of stories can be difficult. If you are still learning and growing in your storytelling abilities, incorporating dialogue is likely the safest way to go. That said, dialogue also highly increases your workload in regard to animation. Unfortunately, Daz Studio doesn’t have a built-in lip-syncing solution. That said, there are several ways you can add this feature.
There is a free solution, but it only works using the 32-bit version of Daz Studio. If you use a 64-bit system, we don’t recommend taking this route as it can lead to bugs while running the software that can negatively impact your project. If you want to use it, simply install the 32-bit Windows version of Daz Studio. You will find the plug-in under Windows > Panes > Lip Sync.
For the best results, we recommend the paid solution Anilip 2. This route is compatible with a wide range of characters, has detailed documentation and video tutorials, and is maintained constantly by the developer. Anilip 2 supports various input sources such as speech recognition, text to speech, and cloud service solutions.
Once you have chosen the route that you want to use, you can easily upload your own voice overs, or ones you acquired from outside performers, and use them in Daz Studio to create awesome animations of your characters mouthing the lines!
Step Six: Lights, Camera, Action!
This step is an important one. We recommend starting with lighting first and worrying about camera placement later. Lighting is a massive topic, and unfortunately, there are few shortcuts to doing it right. If you really struggle with creating proper lighting, consider searching for lighting presets within the Daz Store.
There are a lot of variables that go into lighting, and the governing rules or recommendations change depending on the type of scene you are setting up. Compare an outdoor scene during the day versus night, or a dark basement versus a well-lit room. In each of these scenarios, the quality, color, and amount of light present in the scene will change drastically.
If you are confident in your abilities to set lights in your scene, experiment with different lighting styles to amplify the emotion and drama of your scene. Lighting can be a powerful component of storytelling, albeit a subtle one. Not only that, proper lighting technique is crucial to getting the most realistic results in the end.
Once your lighting is set up, it is time to start placing cameras in your scene. This is another technically difficult step, but a very important one for bringing everything together. Our advice is to place multiple cameras in your scene. Play your animation in Daz Studio, and experiment with different camera placements. Don’t be afraid to get creative and vary the angles and how you capture each shot.
With everything set up properly, we recommend rendering and exporting each animation clip using several different camera angles. While this will take extra time to do, it is well worth the investment. By having multiple angles for each animation, you will have a much easier time during the editing phase. Be sure to carefully name each file so you have the easiest time managing and sequencing all the clips.
Step 7: Making the Final Cut
Last, but not least, comes editing. There is plenty of free or affordable video editing software available. You will have to do some research to find one that fits your needs and your budget. Take comfort knowing that in the end, pretty much all of these programs work about the same, even if they have differences in how they approach the same task.
Once you’ve found a program you like, start assembling your story! Most editing software is going to be based around a timeline upon which you can line up and sequence your clips. Carefully place each clip, making sure that you don’t separate the video clip from its associated audio if you recorded voice-overs.
This is the time to add sound effects, background music, and even a title or end credits. You can use transitions such as fades to cut between major scenes and watch your animated short film truly come together. If you use a lot of different camera angles, you will be able to piece together the events of your short film in interesting and engaging ways that help tell the story and keep viewers hooked.
When you are satisfied with everything, be sure to share it online so others can appreciate your creativity and enjoy the fruits of your hard work!
Making animated short films with Daz Studio is an enormous endeavor, but we believe Daz 3D makes it possible for anyone, regardless of skill level, to achieve this dream. Hopefully, this list has given you an idea of the tasks required to create your project.
Before you get started, check out this amazing “In the Studio with Daz 3D” training session led by WP Guru, Jay Versluis, where he covers many of the ins and outs of animating in Daz Studio! See you there!