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Why You Should Learn 3D as a Motion Designer

By EJ Hassenfratz
Cinema 4DUnreal EngineBlender

If you’re looking to stay at the forefront of motion design, it might be time to learn 3D

Motion graphics and design is a reflection of the current styles and trends, evolving and changing with the times. As a designer, it's important to stay on the cutting edge of these trends and recognize them, so your work is always fresh and contemporary.  
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In this moment, 3D is hard to ignore; it’s being used in so many areas and is only going to get more popular. So let’s kick this off with why we are experiencing a 3D Renaissance, all the places 3D is being used, and why it’s important for anyone in design or motion graphics to learn it.
In this article, we are going to explore:
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Why is 3D design so popular?

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If you’ve never used a 3D app before, you might not understand the hype. Let me tell you a little bit about how I fell in love with 3D!  
At the beginning of my career, I mainly did 2D motion graphics for a local news station using After Effects. Around 2006, 3D animated logos started becoming more and more common in broadcast, and that look was increasingly in demand. Soon my boss wanted me to animate our station's logo in 3D and do a total broadcast package redesign! That was no small task.
We had purchased Cinema 4D due to its tight integration with Adobe products. On Monday, I was tasked with learning C4D and animating a fully 3D logo animation...by Friday.  Yikes!
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Re-enactment of EJ's reaction on that fateful day
I read a bit of the thick instruction manual and nervously jumped into C4D. Within a few hours, I started to get my 3D legs under me. Once I was past the small learning curve, I started modeling, texturing ,and animating the ABC news logo!
Look ma, I’m doing 3D!
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Archival footage of EJ's boss's reaction
I can’t tell you how incredible it was to work in 3D for the first time. It felt incredibly freeing. For most of my career, I had been limited to 2 dimensions. Now I could utilize the full freedom of working in 3D space, and the toolset in Cinema 4D allowed me to work so much faster than I could in After Effects.  Procedural animation, cloning objects, real-world physics simulations...playing in C4D became like playing a video game and just fueled my creativity and pushed my passion for creating to a whole new level!
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Soon after I started using 3D, I discovered how it is really a combination of so many disciplines. Where is 3D being used, you may ask?

Where is 3D design used today?

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Simply put, 3D design is everywhere. Artists and designers have jumped into the third dimension with a furious passion, and this has led to an explosion of incredible animation.
Today, 3D can be found across many traditional and emerging media:
  • 3D animation (broadcast and motion graphics)
  • Previsualization 
  • Product design
  • Architectural Design
  • Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
  • Live post production
  • Virtual Sets (Hello, Mandalorian)
  • Virtual Reality (VR)
  • Multimedia for event spaces, conferences, and concerts
  • Live interactive experiences
  • Game development and design
It’s incredibly exciting to see how much 3D is being used across the spectrum of visual arts! Learning 3D greatly expands your skill set, opening you up to all types of new markets and clients. When I added 3D to my tool belt, it felt as though I immediately became more attractive to prospective clients because of how in-demand 3D had become.
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And the future is only going to be more and more dependent on 3D artists as the need for content explodes. In the past, the only way brands could reach customers was via television screens. Now everyone has a tiny computer in their pocket. We are just now scratching the surface of what’s possible as far as content goes. All this without really talking about the affect 3D has had on the art world, with artists from around the globe minting NFTs in a digital revolution.
The future for 3D is clearly bright, so how can you keep up?

Where can you learn 3D motion design?

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Learning the basics of 3D is easy, but it can have a learning curve depending on which software you’re using. At School of Motion, we believe the easiest way to learn 3D is with Cinema 4D. 
C4D is very artist friendly. It’s intuitively made and gets out of your way, not bogging you down with overly technical workflows.  It allows artists to do what they do best - create! 
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Making art is messy enough without software getting in the way
3D is an expansive and deep discipline, so it’s best to discover how to integrate 3D into your current workflow and then decide which parts you want to explore further.
You can discover motion graphics, character design and animation, modeling, VFX, VR/AR, experiential design...and the use cases will only grow in the future!
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Image from Jonathan Winbush
Searching through YouTube and trying to learn piecemeal can be very confusing and overwhelming. There are so many things to learn, but there are some core foundational concepts that are key to building a solid understanding in 3D.  We believe the best way is a guided curriculum taught by industry pros. This way, you’re learning the important foundational concepts of 3D in a structured and effective format. And wouldn’t you know it, here at School of Motion we designed a course just for folks wanting to take their first steps into the world of 3D!

Learn with School of Motion

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Cinema 4D Basecamp is our intro course where you can learn Cinema 4D from the ground up, taught by Maxon Certified Trainer, EJ Hassenfratz. This course will get you comfortable with the foundational aspects of 3D, such as modeling, lighting, animation, and many other important topics for 3D Motion Design.
You’ll learn basic 3D principles and best practices, laying the foundation to tackle more advanced subjects in the future. Beats the heck out of trying to learn 3D watching random YouTube tutorials with obnoxiously loud EDM music.
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Unless that is straight up your jam
And at School of Motion, you won’t learn alone! We believe the best way to succeed is in an active learning environment! Each of our courses include industry-pro teaching assistants who will help guide you through your learning journey. They’ll offer homework critique, answer questions, and encourage you throughout the entire process!
Check out this insane piece from alumni Deanna Reilly:
So if you’re ready to dive into the world of 3D and expand your career horizons, check out Cinema 4D Basecamp!  And don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any questions!