Simplifying complex animation tasks

With top notch 3D design and animation software (like Blender of course) you have very sophisticated tools at your fingertips to accomplish even very challenging visualization tasks. While this is true, these tools may require quite some time to learn and even more time to be controlled in a way that the visualization outcome is satisfactory. For example, you can use paths, newtonian physics, collision objects and a LOT of parameters to guide particle streams in visualizations. But too many interacting effectors may render efficient control of the particles hopeless.

In many cases a great shortcut in such a situation can be carefully preparing 2D animations (videos) that can be mapped onto dynamic objects in the visualization. For instance, using this technique, complex deformations of vortices and other flow domains can be designed with relative ease.