What Types Of 3D Architectural Animation Exist and What Are the Advantages of Each of Them?

Architectural Animations

Animation in architectural presentations has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years. Today, there are more architects, builders and interior designers relying on the latest 3D animation technology than ever before. It is used as a way to introduce their ideas for a particular project to regular people. The animation can cover things like the interior, exterior as well as an overall view of the completed project.

Architectural animation is also commonly referred to as architectural walk-throughs. It is, for the most part, a sort of short movie of the internals of the building or structure. Most 3D model animation is produced using commercially available 3D design software like Autodesk Maya, Giza, and 3ds Max, etc. The goal is to obviously provide a visual of the inside or the outside of the building within a 3D environment, similar to how a third-person shooter works in the video game industry.

Architectural Animation

The important thing to keep in mind is that this isnít architectural rendering which provides just a single image of the model in 3D view. Architectural animation may use hundreds if not thousands of so-called still images to produce a movie which is a lot like a real movie camera. The animation will include landscaping, interiors, and even moving vehicles if it is desired. There are different types of 3D architectural animation: interior walkthrough animation, birdís eye view animation and site plan animations. And weíll go through each one below.

Interior Walkthrough Animation

When an architect or an interior designer comes up with a concept for a building that idea is often drafted in CAD. It is for the most part in 2D which makes it easy for them to convey what is required to colleagues and other professionals they may be working with on the project. However, their clients who are for the most part non-technical will not be able to make sense of the 2D CAD layouts. Thatís why they (professional architects and interior designers) often rely on 3D models of their concept.

The problem with 3D models is that most clients will not be able to thoroughly look through each floor and room. So, for larger projects, the architect or interior designer will have to make it so that their client walks through all the important areas of the building. Thatís where interior walkthrough animation can help.

architect animation

Interior walkthrough animation is often a short video made in 3D design software which walks the person watching it through a 3D building, or home. They are able to see things like windows, doors, flooring, furniture, pillars, etc. That way all the essential aspects of the building can be covered.

Birdís eye view animation

A birdís eye view or above the object view as it is also referred to gives the person watching it an overhead perspective of the landscape, building or home. This type of view is ideal for large projects, often those spanning several acres or miles.

One of the biggest challenges for city planners, urban designers, civil engineers, etc. is to showcase how the completed project will look in relation to the surroundings. While the design in 2D or even 3D shows how the finished project will look, it does not show how that will appear in the context of everything around them.

For instance, urban planners who want to build a bridge connecting lower Manhattan to Staten Island, canít show how the completed bridge will look in relation to all the other buildings, trees, water,etc with a regular CAD drawing or 3D model of the bridge. A birdís eye view animation is like flying a drone over the completed project. Those watching the animation can see what sort of impact the bridge will have on the overall surroundings.

The animation can also zoom into certain points which may be of relevance and importance to the project like in the case of a bridge its suspension points. It will also highlight the challenges and scope of the project in detail. Plus, help to get the required approvals from the relevant authorities and environmental agencies.

Site Plan Animations

Most people who have had a home or building designed by an architect will be familiar with what a site plan is. In simple term, it is the design of your home or building in a 3D space. Usually, this design is made in CAD and is meant for engineers and builders to understand how to build the structure. However, it is also important for the owner of the project to understand the plans before it is approved.

A site plan animation brings this 2D site plan to life in a 3D space. The biggest benefit is that it makes understanding what the plan has to offer easier. Anyone can watch the animated video and instantly understand what the site plan is all about. They can then choose to approve the project, ask for changes or reject the site plan altogether. Thatís why an animated site plan is so essential for architects and engineers who are working for people who donít have any technical expertise.


3D architectural animation has over the years evolved considerably. We have seen architectural animation become the go-to tool for engineers, architects, builders, and interior decorators when it comes to presenting their ideas to clients. However, when you hire a company to make such animations, it is important to always hire a credible company with experience.

Make sure that the company you hire has a portfolio of similar animated architectural designs. That way when you hire them, you can be assured of excellent quality work. A rule of thumb for any professional who is presenting their ideas to a regular person is to invest in quality architectural animation because it can mean the difference between being awarded a contract or not even being considered. The higher quality your animation is, with more detail the higher your chances of being awarded the project or at least getting it approved.

Image Credits: Architectural Animations from Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock