An animation salary usually increases with the duration of a animators career, so while the artist may start off making only a small amount, they will usually be able to earn more once their name is established in their field of choice. Animation salaries also vary on the locale of an animator: freelance animators have the potential to earn more (but usually earn less) than their counterparts at established design firms.
Computer animators working in 3d art usually make around $39,000 per year in the U.S. 3d animators usually work in the concept design of all types of computer animation. These are the people who make the basic character concepts and backgrounds for computer animation, and usually decide what platform the games art is designed on. A concept designer usually has one of the toughest jobs, because they will decide how the designers approximations will best fit into a certain type of project. The choice between modern/abstract and traditional 3d animation is up to the 3d designer, but this choice will often make all the difference in the mood of the entire segment.
Computer animators working in compositing usually make $43,000 in the United States. Their animation salary is higher than the 3d artists because they do most of the “grunt work”: layering scenery and characters and making the different layers interact. This can be very rewarding work for the detail oriented because of the opportunity to create the mood and feel of the game. These types of designers choose the background styles as well as the color schemes for the whole project, and these projects are often influences to the composite artist’s future work.
Animation salary can be maximized in the composite sector if the animator can keep jobs lined up year round and can work in a variety of styles and on many different computer programs. Diversifying your animation product as well as taking multiple certifications can maximize your portfolio and open up many future gigs in different industries in the future.
Video game animators make around 40,000 per year. The individual animation salary for video game animators is particularly dependent on the field the designer is working in. In 2009, animation for applications for cell phones and flash games generates much more revenue than traditional console video games, but that will vary from year to year. Video game animators will work in both 3d concept art as well as composite design, making a smooth run-through for the character/player that does not distract from the story. Excellent video game animators enhance the story with their art.
If you decide to get into the animation field, figure out your best genre first. Decide what you are interested in, and pursue all forms of that art. A complete and well-rounded background in your subject matter will lend a depth of field to your designs that will not be matched by many other newcomers. Explore your options thoroughly: there is often more to seemingly normal projects than the limited job specifications provide.
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