Top 5 Applications of Physics Engine in the Animation Industry

Updated on :June 23, 2024
By :Mehroz Khan

The animation industry has been exponentially growing ever since it first started spreading to other industries like health and education, to name a few. Many factors have added to the charm and appeal of animation, like its engagement rate, unlimited imagination, and a wide range of applications.

What we don’t know is the real heroes behind the success of animation. There are a variety of tools and software programs that made animation what it is today.

One of these said tools is Physics Engine! They have completely revolutionized the way animation is modeled and created. Though initially designed for animated video games, the applications of the Physics Engine have considerably widened.  

Why Physics Engines Are Important

Did you know that the video game industry is projected to hit $300 Billion by 2025? Crazy, right? With over 2.5 billion gamers around the world, the video game industry is nowhere near done.

To meet these crazy demands, developers turn to their trusty Physics Engine to create mind-blowing games each year. Without industrial-grade Physics Engines, video games wouldn’t be at the place they are now.

video games

As technology advances, the need for high-quality and realistic animations also rises. People want intricate details in their backgrounds and characters, smooth transitions, and high-resolution. If software programs for animations stopped evolving, the animation industry, as well as the video game industry, would have been long dead.

Physics engines have made it possible to meet the crazy demands for gamers from interactive games, complicated details, 3D finish, and smooth interactions between characters and other elements.

Developing animation isn’t as hard as it was years ago. It took a crazy amount of time just to create a 2-minute animation. However, that depended on the type of animation. Stop-motion animation was way more complex than a 2D animation.

Physics animation has cut down the work required by developers through their coding environment, artificial intelligence, and the ability to reuse components.

The Physics Engines these days are intelligent enough to fill in the gaps during animation to make it as smooth as possible. So developers don’t have to animate and design redundant actions. This is actually the reason why 3D modeling is relatively easy and fun through a Physics Engine!

The best part is that even beginners are welcomed to this platform! The learning curve varies between different software, but it’s never too steep that it acts as a blocker from new developers to give it a go at 3D modeling and animation. Moreover, many Physics Engines also offer tutorials and step-by-step guides to break the newcomer on their platform.

So, why are Physics Engines so popular? Because they match the exploding need for quality animation, make developing easier and quicker, and can even be used by beginners!

Top 5 Applications of Physics Engine in the Animation Industry

Sure, Physics Engines were originally created for the purpose of video games, but they are more dynamic than you think! Just like animation, they have also dipped their toes in multiple industries, hence expanding their niche.

Even though Physics Engines can be used in many ways, let’s look at the top 5 applications of them in the animation industry!

Video Games

As discussed earlier, video games thrive on the use of Physics Engines. Some of the most popular video games to ever come out of them are Temple Run, Assassins Creed, and Lara Croft. A Physics Engine is a perfect environment to breed and nurture both 2D and 3D video games.

Visual and responsive effects like collision, explosion, and other forces are easily simulated to make the game look and feel the most realistic.

Physics engines have also grown to adapt to the demand for mobile games. Video games are played on mobiles the most, leaving game consoles like Xbox and PS4 behind. A Physics engine usually focuses on one game type, but others focus on game deployment on multiple platforms.

Explainer Videos

Ever since the rise of explainer video, people have been looking for newer and simpler ways to implement them. 2D and 3D explainer videos are some of the most effective marketing tools out there.

But to maintain high engagement and conversion rates, the property for which explainer videos are known for, animators expanded the different types of explainer videos and stepped-up their quality.

However, animation software programs, as good as they are, don’t give room for detail and interactions. A 3D explainer video is highly demanded, but animators are often held-back of their creativity because of the limitations of animation software.

This is where Physics Engines come in. They support animators with tools to create detailed backgrounds and characters, along with realistic interactions. An explainer video that looks like a video game is bound to go viral!

Architecture and Engineering

3D modeling and animation are ever-changing, and the demand for them is increasing as we speak. There is always room for improvement, as 3D concepts are a relatively new thing.

Architecture and engineering rely heavily on quality 3D modeling to visualize a new structure or concept. Stakeholders and engineers often need to see proof of concept and understand the scope of a new project before it’s built.

Extensive and detailed 3D tools can fulfill all their engineering requirements in a Physics Engine.

Animated Movies

Animated movies are climbing a never-ending ladder to popularity, and Physics Engines are there to help them! Gone are the days with solid colors, poor lighting, and rough transitions.

Since Physics Engines were originally created for video games, they specialize in character interactions and movements. Animated movies like Klaus and Frozen 2 are the perfect example of how much thought and details are put into animation these days. You can even tell what texture the cloth is!

Physics engines, for example, Unity, are an all-rounder when it comes to creating animations. From making 2D and 3D characters to lighting and other visual effects, they have it all!

The movements are realistic and smooth thanks to the artificial intelligence that comes embedded in Physics Engines. A developer just has to design 3-5 frames for one action instead of 50+, hence cutting down their time drastically.

You can even add layers upon layers of scenery to give it depth and give the viewer an immersive and mesmerizing experience.


Simulations these days hold significant importance, especially since there are new concepts each day that need testing and improvements. They are necessary for almost every industry, space, architecture, VR games, automobile industry, and many more.

Since simulations are used for testing purposes, they must be carried out the right way by taking into account different things like aerodynamics, fluid motion, collisions, and weight, to name a few.

Fortunately, Physics Engines can take care of all these factors. It can test concepts for different things, for example, how much stress a car can withstand before it finally dents, or how a new design of an airplane will work under different intensities of turbulence.

Simulations are also very popular in VR games. Although integration is difficult, the final result is worth it.

These applications are only proof of how well Physics Engines work across all industries. 

physics engine simulation software

Top 5 Physics Engine Software

So, now that you are excited to try the top simulation software, do check this list of open-source options too. And, if you don’t have much time to explore, start with this list of the best simulation software.


Erin Catto created Box2D back in 2007, but the software still manages to stay relevant even now, years later. Box2D is as fundamental as Physics Engines can get. It mainly focuses on collision detection in video games.

The platform is used to create games on Nintendo DS, Wii, to name a few. Box2D is free to use; the developer just has to include the copyright of license in their projects! What makes this software so sought-after is its versatility. It’s easily portable to programming environments like Java and even mobile phones.

It comes with complete and detailed guides on how to use the platform, which is honestly like a breath of fresh air to developers as other engines rarely do this.

Other features of Box2D include collision group and categories, dynamic tree broad phase, multiple shapes per body, and contact callbacks (begin, end, pre-solve, post-solve), etc.

Unreal Engine

Formerly known as Epic Games Engine, the Unreal Engine was the first engine to create shooter games back in 1998. Founded by Tim Sweeny, this Physics Engine has won several awards, including a Guinness World Record for the most successful video game engine in 2014.

Unreal engine is also home to one of the best high-tech Triple-A games on the market. The fact that this engine has ready-made programming blocks for beginners makes it a very popular choice among developers. A few examples of this are landscape creation and atmospheric skies in just a few clicks.

This physics is fast to use and comes fully equipped with tools and functionality that challenge the developer to the best of their ability.

Other features of Unreal Engine include strand based hair and fur, new tools to simulate natural light and shadows, enhanced multi-display rendering, static mesh editing, etc.


Erwin Coumans, the creator behind Bullet Engine, made this platform to target the fundamentals of physics, “Collision”. This engine is a treat to physics enthusiasts as it has comprehensive simulations of collisions and different forces acting on a body.

It’s free and easy to use for those who are already familiar with physics and want to experiment with collision detection before moving on to animation or game development.

What’s more, it also comes with detailed documentation and tutorials on how to use the Bullet Engine effectively. Erwin Cowans is a man of science and is always looking for ways to improve the engine from a technical point of view so that developers can get collisions and other actions as close to reality as possible.

Other features of Bullet include rigid and soft body simulation with discrete and continuous collision detection, soft body support like rope and cloth, and plugins for Maya, Softimage, Houdini, Blender, and Godot, to name a few.


John Riccitiello, the CEO of Unity, said that people download almost 2 billion copies of Unity games every month! He also said that 60-70% of XR platforms and AR/VR programs are built in Unity. This is huge!

This engine even has some pretty viral games under its belts such as Pokemon Go, Assassins Creed, Angry Birds, and Temple Run, to name a few. It’s also used by 45% of all developers.

Unity’s easy installation, usability, and flexibility make it the third world-leading engine on the market. It lets you import game assets and even allows you to deploy the program once it’s completed.

Unity is an all-rounder when it comes to its applications. It has environments for animations, AR, VR, UI system, and particle systems making it a flexible platform and go-to engine for developers across all fields.

Other features of this software include detailed documentation, built-in analytics, twitch integration, Physics oriented events, etc.


Cevat Yerli is the CEO of Crytek, the company which developed this engine. It was developed back in 2002 but is here to stay and compete with other game engines in the market.

CryEngine is a very powerful engine that matches graphical abilities with the top Physics Engines on the market. It’s a platform that supports programs for PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, PC, iOS, and Android.

It provides intricate details like realistic water effects in which waves respond to wind, rain, light, and other atmospheric factors. It’s things like realistic vegetation and landscape with depth, weather effects, and smooth, satisfactory transitions that have increased its popularity among developers and companies.

CryEngine also provides an easy environment for developers to create their animations, games, and other programs. It allows integration with C#, has built-in Artificial Intelligence, and versatile flow diagram script model where the boxes visually connect the programs. This makes it easy to code, organize, and make changes wherever needed.

Other features of CryEngine include resource compiler, real-time dynamic global illumination, multi-core support, performance analysis tools, track view editor, and Uber shade technology. 


So there you have it, the top 5 applications of the Physics Engine in the animation industry. The animation industry has grown ridiculously huge and has integrated well with other industries to give even better results. Because animation itself has so many applications, technology has been fast in adapting to the demand, which is why efficient tools like Physics Engines were created.

As you can already tell, Physics Engines have contributed a lot to the animation industry. From games to movies, to simulations, you can develop it all. What’s more, is that the learning curve isn’t tricky for the new animators or beginner developers. Have you tried the top simulation software such as Simio, Anylogic, SIMUL8, Arena, etc.? Post a review here!

Mehroz Khan
Mehroz Khan

Mehroz Khan is the CEO of VideoExplainers, the number one rated explainer video company, and founder of 6 other companies as well. He is known for driving sales and conversions through his tried and true marketing practices.

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