What we do

As a leading UK animation studio,  the art of animation is at the core of what we do. Our in-house studio team offers a full roster of animation services that include 2D, 3D and character animation, as well as environmental visualisations. Often combining all disciplines, Pebble’s animation studio is experienced at working on briefs of all shapes and sizes, making us an industry leader in animated video production. So whether you’re looking for a snappy social animation video, a memorable TVC or perhaps an engaging educational video, we’ll always deliver to the very highest industry standards.

Character Animation

Character animation is a great tool for communicating your brand’s personality and helping you convey your brand message in an exciting way. Pebble Studios’ animation company is focused on understanding your audience and we design characters to connect with them on a personal level. We’re at the forefront of UK animation design and pride ourselves on our ability to create 2D and 3D characters that bring your message to life. A truly international studio, we’ve been lucky enough to work with a variety of brands, including leading US TV networks & studios.

2D Animation

Our London-based studio has created a huge range of 2D work, from vector style and infographics, to original characters and cel animations. As an industry-leading animation production company, we’re stocked with some of the best artists and designers across a range of creative fields. Every one of our motion graphics designers and animators has a thorough understanding and unique approach to storytelling, meaning we can consistently deliver captivating narratives and design work for audiences of all types.

3D Animation

Whether you’re looking to build full 3D environments or to simply add some wizardry to an existing film, our acclaimed 3D animation studio can provide that WOW factor. As a specialist 3D company, we boast a wealth of expertise in creating 3D and photo-realistic VFX, from architectural visualisations and full CG landscape production to product design and replication. We’re one of the most experienced animation companies in the UK, so whatever your needs, we’re perfectly geared to guide you through the production process and leave you with stunning 3D design work that will far exceed your expectations.

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Our Complete Guide To

The Animation Process

If you’re looking for a little clarity on the production processes behind stunning 2D and 3D animations, we’ve pulled together some handy tips and tricks, plus a full rundown of the process to get you well on your way.

In this guide, you’ll find tips on:

  • Developing a script
  • Choosing the right style for your project
  • What to expect from a production partner
  • Sound design

Plus some unique insights from our in-house experts!

FAQ SECTION

Modern 2d animation is the natural, digital progression of traditional techniques that have been around for centuries.

All 2d animation is flat, with actions taking place across an x and y-axes. With 3d, the z-axis is introduced, allowing for more intricate 3d models to be brought to life.

Here’s a couple of examples to illustrate the different styles possible across two dimensions:

The introduction of 2d animation software made the once time-heavy process of crafting the illusion of movement by sequencing static images far smoother and far more varied.

Today, the spectrum of possible styles for 2d animated videos is huge, spanning simple shape-based design to incredibly detailed styles with huge amounts of layering and depth – think The Simpsons or Rick and Morty.

The key difference between 2d and 3d is simply the addition of depth. Working with a third dimension brings far more complexity to the animation process and allows animators to more closely mirror the real world, or real human movement.

As a result, 2d animation is much cheaper than 3d, and is typically used for explainer videos, projects working with lower budgets, or cartoon series. There’s nothing like a good cartoon to sell the many applications available in 2d. From brand storytelling to TV, animators continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in two dimensions, finding increasingly emotive and impactful applications for this simple yet powerful storytelling tool.

2d vs 3d 

If you’re weighing up the pros and cons, the benefits and shortfalls, or the general applications of 2d vs 3d animation, you’ll need to consider the higher price range for 3d, as well as taking into account the purpose, style, audience and desired result for your project or idea.

While 3d can do a lot of things 2d cannot, the simplicity of 2d can bring an elegance and emotiveness that is not achievable in 3d. So it’s worth weighing them up prior to getting started.

3d animation is the process of creating 3d moving images and designs in a digital environment. 3d modelling softwares allow for extremely complex, life-like and often highly strange animations to be created.

Due to the additional dimension, the number of variables you’re working with is quadrupled. This makes things far more complex and requires a more far more procedural approach.

For example, when dealing with 3d characters, it’s wise to commit a decent amount of time early on in the process to build comprehensive rigs for your characters. This will enable you to work quicker later down the line and save you a ton of time overall.

In contrast, 2d animation is more hands on. Spending the time to build a detailed rig for 2d characters is often unnecessary, as it will be far easier and quicker to just dive in and move each element frame by frame. However, attempting this in 3d would soon tie you up in knots, so it’s important to learn the many tricks and methods that will let the 3d software do the nitty gritty for you.

Increasingly, programmed simulations are becoming a large part of 3d modelling. For example, gas, water and fire are all near impossible to animate in a realistic way without simulation technology such as that offered by Houdini (a software made by Side Effects), which allows you to set a given number of variables to guide the simulation of these extremely complex features within your 3d environment (you can find a lot more about Houdini and other pro animation softwares in the following FAQ).

As the cost of computing power continues to drop, and quality of renders and high power graphic cards continue to increase, simulations will come to affect the way 3d animation is approached across advertising, motion graphics and film. So watch this space!

Since the humble days of traditional animation, a vast array of animation software and programs have been created to enable and support the varying approaches and styles.

Here we’ll run through the best softwares (as used by the pros), covering our favourites across 2d and 3d as well as some more niche 3d modelling software that is well worth a play.

First up – 2d. The three most popular softwares for 2d design are:

For cell-based 2d animation (where each frame is worked on individually) and specific character animations, Toon Boom is very effective, as is Animate CC (still regularly referred to as Adobe Flash or Flash). For a first timer, Animate CC is probably the most basic and most intuitive as a frame by frame design software.

In 3d, it’s all about modelling.

For example, Adobe After Effects is a 2.5d programme. While not a proper 3d modeling software, it can be used across 2d and 3d projects.

The most popular programs for 3d animation are:

While you can do pretty much everything you need to do in 3d with all of these programs, each has its own specialty.

Every professional animator will use aftereffects. This is a given. Beyond this, Cinema 4d offers a shallower learning curve when starting out in 3d and offers crazy good results, so many animators have turned to Cinema 4D to progress their skill-set.

Regarding feature film design (or equivalent), many people ask about Blender vs Maya. While Maya is aimed specifically at feature film design, the functionality of Blender holds up just as well and it’s free (which is nice). Meaning this is an ongoing debate.

3ds max is aimed more specifically at product design, architectural modelling or advertising-oriented modelling. However, we will have to wait and see how long 3ds Max sticks around for. It’s common for more niche programs to be taken over by larger offerings who then incorporate their best bits and dismantle the rest. So if you’re thinking about investing in a program as a first-timer, this is something you’ll need to consider and research around.

Finally, (as discussed in the previous FAQ) Side Effects Houdini Software is becoming more and more common among pro animators after a period of being exclusively used across big-budget blockbuster projects. Bringing variable-oriented simulations more firmly into the fray, Houdini is beginning to open up the realm of what’s possible in 3d.

If you’re still wondering which software is best for you, you need to think in more depth about the styles you want to get involved with, and the purpose behind the things you will be making.

Again, here’s the full list of programs we recommend:

Many people still ask for recommendations on the best animation software for Mac and PC. Fortunately, those days are now behind us. All of these programs work brilliantly on both, so no need to worry about a specific programme for your specific hardware setup.

First up – What is a storyboard for?

A storyboard is a way to bring your animation script to life for your client above and beyond the VO and visual descriptions, showing off the visuals within each individual scene and explaining how key or complex transitions will work.

While the function of your script is to layout, and align, the audio and visual elements of the story, it’s important to remember that the function of your story board is to:

  • Establish the visual atmosphere / mood / tone of each scene
  • Share and explain your creative vision / treatment
  • Streamline the animation process
  • Save time and money

As the visual possibilities can be literally endless, it’s important to keep these elements in mind and be super specific to properly get your ideas across.

How to storyboard for animation

Your storyboard should include three (or six) 16×9 panels, with space left beneath each for the accompanying script section, notes or captions. There are many free storyboard templates out there, however, this is the essential structure you need to follow.

Often, your storyboard layout will need to reflect the specifics of that project. For example, if you’re creating something for Facebook or Instagram, your storyboard drawings may need to be presented in a square aspect ratio rather than 16×9.

Your video storyboard should include the key visual elements of your treatment, ensuring that whoever looks at it understands what form the final product will take.

To do this effectively, there are a few different approaches. however the more detail you can add, the better it will be for the fresh eyes of your client and the designers taking on the digital side of the creation process.

When adding detail to your storyboard, think about:

  • Directional arrows to indicate transitions
  • Key script elements or captions to highlight cross-over with the script
  • Style References that you can add to the text area to further illustrate how transitions will look
  • Colour, style & depth of each scene

Knowing how to create a storyboard is a huge part of the design and pitching processes as it allows you to properly sell in your vision. So make it count!

We always get asked how much 2d and 3d animation cost. Unfortunately, this is a tricky question to answer without delving into a bit more detail about your project.

Animation costs (across both 2d and 3d animation) are dependent on many factors, including:

  • Whether you’re looking for creative support?
  • Whether it’s a 2D or 3D project?
  • Whether you require photo-realistic CGI?
  • How long the animation needs to be?
  • Whether it’s for use online or for TV?
  • Whether you need a voice over and music?

So that we can give you accurate proposal, we ask that clients fill in our online proposal document, once completed a member of our team will be in touch with a proposal.

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Location of Pebble Studios
Pebble Studios, The Frames, Unit 113, 1 Phipp Street, EC2A 4PS