Foundations of 3D Graphics

Last Stages of the 3D Production Pipeline-Scene Assembly, Lighting, Rendering & Compositing

Scene Assembly

Scene Assembly is the process of laying out the 3D elements together in their desired positions to create a scene. Ideas for lay out don’t necessarily only start at this stage (Kerlow), it can begin during previous production stages including during the story board creation stage. Scene assembly occurs through 2 stages: Rough Layout, simplistic versions of character and objects used, animation blocking is used to depict basic movement, body language and posture etc. Final Layout, involves all the final and detailed characters, props and environment scenery are arranged into their places.


“Lighting is the placement and refining of all the light sources throughout the entire film” (Kerlow, 2000, p 83-84).

There are various steps that need to be undertaken to ensure the lighting in the digital scenes is appropriate.

  1. Decide the intended style and mood of the scene so that the lighting reflects and adds to the scene.
  2. Analyse suitable reference materials, to see how the desired lighting effect can be created.
  3. Design a simplistic plan for light placement in setting.
  4. ‘Block and Refine’, involves the addition of lights into the scene, going from low to high intensity. Adjustments are made until the lighting creates the required effect and then it is ready to be test rendered. (Cantor & Valencia, 2004, p 375-377).



Rendering is the process of the analysation of all the factors (including lighting, shadows, effects of shadows, camera placement and the geometry of scene) of a final shot and putting them together (Cantor & Valencia, 2004, p 370).

Significant aspects to assess when rendering are;

  • Quality of the images, the selection of rendering methods and attributes can affect the image quality.
  • Optimisation, only rendering what is necessary, as the more elements or the higher the complexity of them the longer the render time.
  • Resolution, the number of pixels per side of the final image. The size will depend on the intended platform.



Compositing is the last step of shot production in CG. It involves editing the final images in 2D only, as it involves combining layers of a single image, back together after rendering (Cantor & Valencia, 2004, p389). Compositing isn’t always essential it depends on the rendering process, if a complete shot can be rendered as a complete image, if not it is then split into layers e.g. character, foreground, background or object. (Cantor & Valencia, 2004, p391).


Kerlow, Isaac Victor. The Art Of 3D Computer Animation And Effects. 1st ed. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley, 2009. Print.



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