How to Become an Animator

How to Become an Animator

People around the world love to watch animated movies and television programs, play video games or surf the Internet, either fully animated, or containing elements of animation. Animation is described as the rapid display of images in a sequence to create the illusion of movement. Talented professionals called animators create these images for amusement, entertainment and education.

What does an animator do?

An animator is an artist who creates a series of still images, called frames, which when displayed in a rapid sequence, create the illusion of movement. There are 3 basic types of animators, known by their specific animation techniques: traditional animators, which include stop-motion animators, cel animators, and cartoon animators; clay animators, also called claymation animators; and computer animators, also known as computer-graphics animators or digital animators. Animators of all disciplines create images for television shows, commercials, movies, websites and video games, to name just a few examples.

The majority of modern animation artists use sophisticated software applications to create the images, called computer-generated imagery (CGI), and work in 2-D or 3-D modeling environments. A CGI artist can be found working in the motion picture and video industry, and computer systems design services, computer games companies or Internet media and advertising agencies.

What kind of training does an animator need?

Since technical expertise is essential, an animation career usually requires a bachelor degree in computer science, with a graphic arts or multimedia focus, although many professional animators will have a degree in fine arts. Appropriate degree programs will provide coursework in a variety of areas in animation training, such as 3D animation, digital animation, storyboards, set design, drawing, animation scriptwriting, special effects, digital composition, stop-motion photography and editing.

Animation internships are also available and enable people new in animation to gain practical experience and become familiar with the field. A portfolio is built over time consisting of examples of the artist’s best work for presenting to prospective employers.

What are the prospects for a career in animation?

Animation jobs and related occupations are expected to grow faster than average for all professions, increasing 16%, from 218,000 jobs in 2006 to over 252,000 jobs in 2016. (1) The demand for animators will increase as consumers desire more realistic video games, special effects for television shows and movies, and animated feature films.

Prospects for jobs in animation are projected to be good, but with significant competition. Animators with advanced education and exceptional experience are expected to have the best job prospects.

How much do animators make?

As of April 2009, the middle 50% of animators earned annual salaries between $44,244 and $60,195, with the highest 10% earning annual salaries of more than $68,133. (2)

An animation career is a natural choice for people who have outstanding artistic ability and a passion for drawing. They must also have familiarity of technical tools, including computer applications. Excellent computer skills, creativity, and a vivid imagination are also crucial. People seeking a career in animation should be self-motivated, very patient, a good communicator, be able to handle the stress of deadlines and work effectively as part of a team.

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