Where can you find free sets and props?
Let's start with Turbosquid. You will have to register first, but this is free and they don't spam you or send you endless emails promoting their products. Here you can find tons of sets, including city streets, farms, buildings and even space stations.
What is available?
The props are endless - hats, weapons, vehicles, furniture for your set, every conceivable object you could want. Not all of it is free, but sort by Lower Prices in the drop-down menu and you will find all the free stuff first.
|The Free 3D Models.com|
Also worth bookmarking is tf3dm.com, a site that like Turbosquid has tons of free assets for download.
What kind of files can you use?
For Maya users, any Maya file will do - that is any file ending in .mb or .ma. You can also use file types ending in .fbx, or .obj. Both of these file types can be imported into Maya.
How do you import these assets into your shot?
You will have to Register and Log in to Turbosquid and 3fdm.com, and then download the files you need. These will appear in your downloads folder. From there, simply open up your shot in Maya, go to file/import, and import the objects you need into your shot.
Is that it?
You will likely have to scale the objects in your shot so they match the size of your animation rig. Also you may have to do some cleanup in the Outliner, grouping geometry together or combining it into one polygon mesh under edit/combine in the Polygons menu in Maya.
So who makes all this stuff?
The answer is, mostly, students, people learning the craft of digital artwork and the creation of 3D assets. Some folks want to be paid, others are happy to release their work into the public domain. Needless to say, you should always check the terms of the license (is it for non-commercial use only?),
Should you credit the creator?
Yes. Always give credit where it's due. Professional artists always give credit.
To find out more about Animation Apprentice, click here for a link to Frequently Asked Questions. To sign up for our next classroom at Animation Apprentice, follow this link. For more information on finding work and surviving in the animation and visual effects business, read our post on how to find a job in the animation industry, and check out our post about what not to do at a job interview. Also see our post on starting your own small animation business, learn how to create an invoice, and see how we are helping our students find work through our film co-operative Nano Films. Download the free Escape Studios Careers in VFX Handbook. Take a look at how awn.com can help you find a job, and read our piece about how to survive as a freelance animator. Also, find out what Cinesite look for in a student's demo reel, and read our post on setting up your own animation business. Also see our post about freelancers and taxes.