Architectural Animation is a short architectural movie created on a computer. A computer-generated building is created along with landscaping and sometimes moving people and vehicles. Unlike an architectural rendering, which is a single image from a single point of view, an architectural animation is a series of hundreds or even thousands of still images. When these images are assembled and played back they produce a movie effect much like a real movie camera except all images are artificially created by computer. It is possible to add a computer-created environment around the building to enhance reality and to better convey its relationship to the surrounding area; this can all be done before the project is built giving designers and stakeholders a realistic view of the completed project. Architectural renderings are often used along with architectural animation.
Commercial demand for computer-generated rendering is on the rise, but three-dimensional scale models are still popular. Typically members of the AIA (American Institute of Architects) and NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) prefer to use 3D animations and single renderings for their customers before starting on a construction project. These professionals often find their clients are unable to grasp the complexity and spatial qualities of large projects without the help of computer generated visual aids. The animations and renderings are usually supplied by small animation studios.
Architectural animation is not considered to be the ambition of most small computer rendering firms because of the man hours and computer rendering time that is required to create so many single still images. Not all studios have the software to assemble and incorporate them into a moving sequence. Some smaller companies specialize in high quality single frame computer renderings. Architectural animations require a larger team of artists and animators than single renderings and a much longer time frame is required to complete an animation project. However, many architectural firms are now using architectural animation because it attracts investors and customers who may not know much about building designs and can prefer visualisation rather than technical drawings to see the buildings look and features. Architectural animation is considered to have a bright future ahead of it as more and more architects and real estate developers are including computer animations in their marketing programs.