Data visualization is becoming increasingly popular, meaning open-source tools like Python are more widely used by data scientists and other computer science professionals. A specific type called 3D animation makes information accessible, visually attractive, and appealing to users.
Powerful Python libraries enable you to create unique 3D animations and visualizations. In doing so, you’re providing viewers with an attractive way of understanding data compared to a text-based document or presentation.
Here’s which Python libraries are best suited for 3D animations and other tips to help with these types of projects.
The Role of 3D Animation
There are several applications for 3D animation. It’s prevalent in film, education, medicine, gaming, engineering and architecture. Another area where Python could grow is in the home automation market, which will continue expanding in the coming years.
Python has hundreds of thousands of libraries to choose from, making it challenging to decide which is best for your project. However, learning which tools are most effective for programming 3D animations is important.
Other technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and extended reality (XR), will power the future of business. Take manufacturing, for example. Companies are leveraging augmented reality (AR) to improve training — PBC Linear conducts 70% of its employee training through a headset. Without essential 3D animation tools, these technologies would not improve over time.
Best Python Libraries to Use for 3D Animation
Below are three of the best and most popular Python libraries to create your own 3D objects, models and animations.
VPython, also known as Virtual Python, is a good choice for beginner programmers looking to create 3D displays and animations. However, experienced programmers will also benefit from VPython if they’re well-versed in using Python.
Matplotlib is known for its object-oriented visualization programming among Python libraries. It’s a helpful tool if you need to create static, animated, and even interactive visualizations for a project. Matplotlib allows you to zoom in and out, pan, update, and customize designs and styles on your projects.
Plotly is another great Python library to use for 3D-related projects. Its roots are in the open-source community, and major companies — Colgate, Aetna, Campbell’s — use Plotly. The tool was created using the Python and Django framework and is compatible with other languages like R, Perl, Julia and Arduino.
3 Tips for Python-Based 3D Animation Projects
Check out some of the helpful tips below if you’re looking to get started or improve your 3D animation project with Python.
1. Research Prerequisites Before You Begin Using Python Libraries
It’s important to research which prerequisites you need before starting any Python-based projects. Depending on the format you use for your animation, you’ll have to download and install the appropriate versions of external programs or solutions, like FFmpeg, before you begin. This will set you up for success when you start your animation projects.
2. Understand the Basics of 3D Animation
There are a few basic steps you must follow to create a 3D animation:
- Import the necessary programs and libraries
- Generate data for your animation
- Define three core elements for your frame: figure, axis and properties
- Build a function to update and create frames
- Create the animation object
- Sync the object with the plotted figure
This list of steps provides a basic overview of animation, but there are numerous other features you’ll need to know to create a successful animation.
3. Experiment With Various Techniques
Various techniques are at your fingertips when working with data and graphics. Rather than use the features or methods you know and love, try experimenting with others to grow your skill set.
For example, blitting is a Matplotlib technique that offers faster rendering for animations. You can use this method to speed up the timeline of your animation project. Be willing and open to discovering new features and ways to create the best results for your animations.
Leveraging Python Libraries and Tools for 3D Animation
Beginner programmers will have a lot of fun learning about Python and using the three libraries outlined above to create 3D animations. 3D visualization is expected to become more popular in the next few years, so developing this skill could help you launch a lucrative career. Have fun using 3D animation to build stellar projects.