How to become an Animator?
Without getting too technical an animator is an artist who creates images to give the illusion of movement (animation) when played together over a quick succession. These frames (images) can be hand drawn, digital, or via models (think early Wallace and Gromit) and can be produced to watch on the TV, Internet or if you get very lucky and are skilled, for film.
Typically – and we’re generalising here – you need to be both artistic and very skilled to work in this field. If you are not at all artistic, then perhaps all the training in the world will not help any application you make to start a career in this industry.
It can take a lot of time, effort, hard work and skills to gain a full time and paid role in this industry, and many animators work as freelancers once they build up a strong portfolio of work. However the rewards and job satisfaction can be high, so keep reading if you still feel if this a job for you.
Realistically a degree in an Art related subject is pretty much mandatory. Whether this be specifically an animation / moving arts / digital arts qualification or a design / modelling or multimedia degree, you should ideally have practical and hands on experience in learning about animation. If you don’t have a strong Arts background, a more technical route to entry could be still very beneficial – such as a degree in Computer Engineering, or Web Design.
If you don’t have educational qualifications, expect a tougher route into the industry. However it is still possible that someone with no specific qualifications, but a strong level of experience, a good portfolio of work and real talent, can still make their way into the industry and progress within it too.
Building up experience and practical work experience – be that work placements, working for yourself or just making animations from home with any technical equipment you can get your hands on, can be vital. You will need to be able to produce, on request a showreel / portfolio to prospective clients, businesses or employers and this can only happen if you go out of your way to build up meaningful experience.
Short term pain in working for little or nothing at the start of your career, can mean that you become more employable in the long run and can charge a good hourly rate or expect a good annual salary in return.
If you are going to University to study animation or a related subject – see if your course offers work placements / artist in residence positions, as this will really help you going forward.
It stands to reason, but you need artistic skill and talent to be successful in this industry. You also need to be prepared to work hard, keep to deadlines and be able to communicate effectively with any clients / businesses you work with – to make sure you keep to the brief. You must also be very willing to learn new skills, upgrade your technical ability and to be able to diversify the qualifications and training you hold. This is not an industry that generally stands still so it is important that you are tenacious, committed and passionate about the work you do.
Still fancy a career as an Animator? Good luck!! We hope these basic tips help you along the way…
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