3D Computer Graphics;

The term ‘Computer Graphics’ was being used as far back as 1960 by a man named William Fetter. He created the first film that uses computer animation called “Futureworld” in 1976 at the University of Utah and was produced by Ed Catmull and Fred Park.

3D Computer Graphics are similar to that of 2D graphics. They both use lighting, shading and dimension. 3D however, is a mathematical representation that makes the objects (living or inanimate) look more real to the viewer. They can not only be confined to a blank mid-air position with nothing around them, but they can also be places in scenes that look much like our own like living rooms, backyards or even places of fantasy. Such movies like Monsters Inc., Shrek and Toy Story were all created using 3D Computer Graphics. Today even a few 2D movies have a touch of 3D animation in them.

3D Computer Graphics have a handful of steps to go through before becoming a model or animation.
3D computer graphics use algorithms much like 2D computer vector graphics in the wire-frame model and raster graphics in the final 2D rendering. Not all 3D computer graphics use this wire-frame technique. Some use photorealistic effects and are sometimes indistinguishable in the final form.
3D computer graphics are also called ‘3D models’ which is contained within the graphical data file, and will not become a graphic until it is visually displayed. A 3D model can be displayed as a 2D image by 3D rendering or be used in calculations and non-graphical computer simulations.

There are colleges you can go to that teach their students and even websites that help you to create 3D computer graphics such as Renderosity that gives advice, tips, tutorials etc.

My reference : www.reference.com/browse/3D%20animation