A career in animation requires strong artistic skills and a solid familiarity with the latest in computer animation technologies. It also requires the ability to turn creative thoughts into compelling images, using them to effectively communicate an idea. Is this industry right for you? Could you become an animator?
There are a number of different career paths for animators. We often think of animators as the talented artists who create the cartoons we love, either for film or movies. Animators continue to work in these areas, but increasingly, many are employed creating animated graphics for a variety of projects.
This can include websites, online advertisements and video games. Animators can find full-time employment with movie or television production companies, with advertisers, web design firms, video game companies or with animation firms. Free lance work is another option for animators, particularly those specializing in web animation. Most entry-level positions will require an animator to have a bachelors degree in a related field such as fine arts or media. There are a number ofanimation schools that offer course work specifically in computer animation and associated technologies. In addition, a strong portfolio of work, which a training program can help you to develop, is an essential part of landing a job in computer animation and becoming an animator.
Video Game Animation: The video game industry is just exploding right now, with no slowdown in sight. Nearly all games will need a team of animators to bring the games to life. Motion capture often is being used here as well as in movies to nail down convincing character animation. But there is still a lot of work involved obviously. This is where you could come in. : ) But this of course is one narrow example. Texture mapping, lighting effects, and other special effects are just as important to the success of a video games attempt to draw you in and immerse you. It might sound like many of the same elements in a feature film. That's because technology is closing in the gap, and the paying consumer demands more.
There is an obvious bridge between animation and video game design. This connection is often reflected in video game design programs and degrees that have strong elements of animation in their coursework.
Movie & Television Production: The full spectrum of animation in these areas is quite large. Jobs may include character animation in the form of a cartoon, logo, special effect and more. In case you haven't noticed, 3D really has taken off in the realm of computer animation and animation in general.Movies such as Lord of the Rings, Finding Nemo, the latest Star Wars prequels are all relying extensively on 3D computer animation. What would have looked fake and rigid a mere 6-7 years ago now looks photo realistic and seamless for 3D rendering and animation. A program like Maya can spit out amazingly detailed and convincing characters like Gollum (seen below), Ring Wraiths, and an insane amount of fighting, screaming Orcs. Exciting techniques involving motion capture can really add to the realism of characters. It really is an exciting time to be in the industry. Texture mapping, lighting effects, collision detection and special effects also need to be covered.
TV also offers a fair amount of opportunity in computer animation. Commercials are littered with animated logos, cats that sing, and bottles that dance. : ) Local News always has an animator of some kind doing the logo fly in or that kind of thing. There are also TV movies, and obviously shows that rely on a computer artist to do some digital special effects. Some may start their animation career this way.
The Internet: More and more, you are seeing animated advertisements dance across your screen as you're on the Internet. You go to a movie site or a band site, and you have a very good chance of seeing a flash animation. Much like other media industries, the Internet is expanding at a mind boggling rate. And with it comes new websites and advertisements that need a way to stand out. Static images don't always cut it, so why not get the attention of the viewer with animated characters or text?
An Outlook on the Computer Animation Industry
Salaried animators and multi-media artists (grouped together) are earning an average of about $44,000. In the video and motion picture industry the median salary is higher, at around $60,000. As with every career, the salaries animators earned varied greatly with their employer and their region.Computer animation, like many creative fields, is fiercely competitive. As the web, the entertainment industry, and other multimedia outlets continue to grow, there continue to be opportunities for talented artists to work as animators. But you really need to get the proper training at a strong computer animation school to be on that cutting edge that these employers seek. Not only do you get hands on training with the best equipment, but you also rub shoulders with those who know the industry well. This is just as important as the training itself.
If you are artistic, have an eye for detail, can meet tight deadlines, then maybe an animation career is what you have been waiting for. Do YOU have what it takes to become an animator?