The field of animation is an exciting place to seek a career, and is particularly enticing to those with a passion for art and the desire to tell a story. However, the ever changing medium has grown significantly from its humble two dimensional origins into an enterprise requiring multi-disciplined individuals capable of keeping up with its constant and on going innovations. Many who are curious about a job in the field are not fully informed of what the outlook for a contemporary animation position consists of, nor the background needed to make an entrance into the business.
A career in animation will first and foremost require creative abilities. To complement an individual’s personal passion and talents, an education in the arts and proper artistic training is important to all aspects of a career in animation. The capacity to draw and compose images is a necessity to clearly expressing the emotion of characters along side their larger physical actions, and understanding how to represent movement will make a basic understanding of physics essential. Additionally, knowledge of presentation techniques from other forms of media, such as photography and live action film, would also prove invaluable in the creation of environment and character designs during preliminary planning of a project.
Animation is most commonly used as a vehicle for telling a story, be it a short, a feature length film, or even an animated commercial. This means that a career in animation also demands that an animator understand how to express a narrative. Study of, or a background in, creative writing can be particularly useful in this regard towards the end of creating story boards and accurately matching the visual action to the directions of the script.
The continuing march of technological evolution effects everything, and careers in animation are no exception. Aside from the obvious talents and passions, a career in a modern animation studio will require a number of associated skill sets and abilities. Both two and three dimensional, as well as special effects, animators need to be comfortable with current animation software, some of the most popular programs being Flash, Maya and Lightwave. Software is not the only tool a modern animator must be acclimated to; tablets in particular are a staple of every animation studio and, though simple to use, they can be difficult to master. That said, they have not replaced traditional equipment entirely, rather there is a melding of the old and new in contemporary animation. Very often the equipment used will depend on the particulars of the project.
Finally, it is important to keep in mind that, although an animated piece usually appears to have a smooth, coherent appearance and style, it is actually the product of a team of animators. Knowing how to work and communicate well with others is as important in an animation career as any other field. This means being able to follow directions from clients and directors, and coordinating with fellow animators to achieve a polished end product.
Any given day in an animator’s job requires the use of these skills in some way or the other; for a flexible individual, able to multitask, it is a fascinating career to pursue.