Digital content is ubiquitous in today’s world and can refer to any moving or still images, audio, and text created and distributed using computer equipment and the internet.
The term digital content creation has proliferated in recent years to have divergent meanings. For quite some time, the 3D animation and VFX community has used digital content creation (DCC) to describe the work they do and DCC tools to refer specifically to the software that contributes to 3D effects and animation production, such as Maya, 3ds Max, Arnold, Bifrost, and other tools in the Autodesk Media & Entertainment Collection.
However, with the explosive rise of social media, podcasting, e-commerce content sites, and influencer culture, digital content creation has come to refer more commonly to those smaller-scale pursuits. And digital content creation tools can range from freeware to a suite of high-end software programs to hardware such as a laptop webcam or an 8K cinema camera. The software is easier than ever to use, with the associated costs of storage, processing, and distributing content falling all the time because of technologies like the cloud.
Whether digital content is the work of hundreds of VFX artists on a Hollywood blockbuster or a social media post from an influencer, technology that takes advantage of advances such as connected data, artificial intelligence (AI), efficient workflows, and cloud computing continually change and improve the way content is made.
As the technological infrastructure has expanded, video, vlogs, animation, visual effects (VFX), and other moving-picture art forms have come into their own. The tools have brought the barrier to entry for artists way down, and the low cost of mass distribution gives creators potential audiences that even professional studios in the pre-digital era could only dream of.
With digital content creation tools’ ease of use, creators—even independent VFX artists and animators—can promote their brands by staying visible to audiences, creating and posting often to stay top-of-mind in a crowded marketplace. And if artists hope to make a career in media and entertainment (M&E), there’s no better calling card to studios and producers than a portfolio full of eye-catching work.
Acquiring, collecting, processing, and encoding footage or raw material comprises most of the digital content creation process. However, modern digital content creation tools automate repetitive tasks so artists can focus on being creative and meeting deadlines.
Digital content creation tools can connect with each other, and when users host and work on projects in collaborative environments like the cloud, that means stakeholders across the process can access and take action on the final product in real time.
To handle huge projects in the Marvel, DC, and Game of Thrones universes, Pixomondo streamlines procedural simulations of elements like smoke, fire, sand, and snow using the Bifrost visual programming environment for Autodesk Maya.
The world’s first fully cloud-based creative studio collaborates using Autodesk’s platform, which includes Maya for character animation, Flame for finishing, Arnold for rendering, and ShotGrid for production management.
This veteran production company takes on diverse projects, from large stop-frame jobs to full CG and commercials to full features. Delve into its process and pipeline, which relies on Autodesk Maya for CGI and Arnold for rendering.
Image courtesy of Passion Pictures
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Digital content creation tools such as nonlinear digital editing software can be used to cut, mix, and assemble raw footage with animation, VFX, and more. Software for audio editing and postproduction processes provide aspects such as color grading and sound mixing. Artists in VFX or animation benefit from using digital content creation software such as Maya and 3ds Max for 3D modeling, MotionBuilder for 3D animation, and Arnold for rendering.
Most movies and shows these days are captured digitally, so their footage is stored digitally in cameras and external storage systems. At the same time, VFX and animation studios work on sequences or shots, and Foley artists capture sound effects digitally—all internal and external teams are working with the production to execute the director’s vision.
Every element is then imported into editing software, where it’s assembled into the most effective cut using a digital content creation process. Because everything is digital, every shot (down to individual frames), sound, and postproduction treatment can be altered or removed before rendering down to a finished product.