2.5D Animated Video: 2D… or not 2D?

A 2.5D animated video (also referred to as isometric style) is a form of video where the scenes are viewed from above and to the side, i.e. the camera angle is locked in one place, so it looks kinda like those cool city-builder computer games. Here’s an example of one we made for Riskcast.com.

 

 
 

Is a 2.5D animated video even a real thing?

Like, isn’t that a 3D video or a 2D video drawn sideways? Well, don’t go overthinking this. The term refers more to how it looks than any particular technical detail. In reality they can be executed in different ways.

 
 

How did we make the above video?

Riskcast’s video was created using a combination of techniques. We used 2D motion graphics, 3D modeling and even some frame-by-frame animation for the characters. Some of the landscapes were created in 3D and you’ll notice that we do deviate from the fixed camera angle quite a bit, e.g. sometimes we spin things around etc just to keep the video dynamic.
 

Here are some screenshots of the setup.

 
 

Frame by Frame Animation for the Characters

In the above video for Riskcast we used cel animation (frame by frame) for the characters. The reason for this decision is that the client really wanted the characters to show a lot of emotion. Frame by frame animation means the frames are drawn individually, rather than using rigged motion, and it is a very time consuming process. In this case it was complicated by the fact that it had to be done in isometric view. Therefore the layout was very important in terms of positioning the characters and the environment precisely. The characters were created as rough sketches, then cleaned up and filled, finally exported into a png sequence to composite onto the background (with layout planned carefully as mentioned).
 
Here’s a pic of one of the rough character sequences.

working sketches for cel animation
 
You can read more about frame by frame animation in our article.

 
 

Costs & Timeline

This can vary depending on the complexity and duration of the animation. Whatever the case, to do it nicely takes several weeks worth of work by several skilled creatives so you should expect to spend a few thousand bucks on it. If you want to talk about a project just get in touch and we can prepare a quick quote.