What’s an Animation Career Like?
Animated heroes and heroines need more than anvils and Acme rockets to develop their plotlines. And animators need more than drawing ability and technical skill to have successful animation careers. They need to be storytellers with a flair for the dramatic.
The use of animation is more varied than ever—from special effects to video games. Animation is not just for kids to enjoy after school or on Saturday morning. Whether online or on the big screen, animation is in high demand. So if you’re thinking about starting an animation career, your timing is impeccable.
Everyday Tasks in an Animation Career
While there are many fields that have animator job openings, there are some common tasks that animators in any field do in the course of a normal day’s work:
- Drawing storyboards for key scenes and creating realistic models
- Designing an animated environment that includes backgrounds, sets and objects
- Designing characters
- Photograph actors’ movements and animate as 3-D characters
- Creating each frame
- Working out the timing of movements and making sure everything meets the script and soundtrack requirements
- Using computer software such as Modo, Maya, Lightwave and Softimage
- Working as part of a team (directors, game designers, actors) to create games, movies and visual effects
- Working with clients (pitching ideas, developing concepts and timelines, monitoring deadlines)
- Necessary Skills for Animators
- Artistic Ability – Whether you’re creating storyboards or putting the finishing touches on a series of computer generated images, you’ll need to have a good grasp on basic artistic skills.
- Storytelling Ability – You need to be a good storyteller. This includes having a good sense of timing and pacing, and knowing how to get your characters to express themselves in a believable way. As an animator, you’ll be responsible for portraying characters’ emotions—which means you need to understand character development.
- Technical Skill / Software Knowledge – With the increased use of computer generated imagery (CGI) technology in the film industry—in both live action films and animated movies—animation careers are becoming increasingly technical. You’ll need training in various software programs that are standard in the industry. In some animation jobs you may also find math and physics helpful, as well as a general knowledge of various computer operating systems.
If you want a job that will allow you to walk the line between art and technology, with a little bit of drama thrown in, an animation career could be a great choice for you. With the growing demand for animation, there’s no time like the present to find an animation school and get started today.
How Much Does an Animator Earn?
Salary can be an important issue to consider as you’re thinking about your future career as a movie or video game animator. However, it can be difficult to pinpoint your exact earning potential. There are many factors that influence animation salaries. Here are just a few things that may play a role in determining your movie animator salary:
- The kind of company you work for
- How much experience you have
- Your education level
- Where you live
- Whether you work on a contract or full-time/permanent basis
What to Expect
Movie animators are at the top of the salary chart when it comes to earnings. Here are median annual salaries for animators by industry:
Do you want to work in a large or small studio? Animator salaries will vary largely by the size of studio in which you’re employed. For example, an animator at DreamWorks Animation earned an average salary of R1089422.14, while animators at Rainmaker Entertainment, a small (mostly television animation) studio in Canada, earned R454221.12 on average annually.
You may need to join The Animation Guild to work in a big studio such as Disney, Pixar or Sony.
Salaries by Job Type
Here is 2013 median weekly salary info for different careers within the movie and television animation industries:
Animation Job Median Weekly Salary
Story artists R23618.21
Background painters R20397.54
3D animators R22544.65
Effects animators R22415.83
Lead lighters R24498.53