Career Development

What Does an Animator Do?

Find out what an animator does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an animator.

Animators are responsible for bringing characters and objects to life in a variety of media, including film, television, video games, and more. They use their skills in animation, physics, and other related fields to create realistic movement and behavior that would otherwise be impossible with traditional live-action filming techniques.

Animators may work on a single project from start to finish or they may work on multiple projects at once. Either way, they must have an eye for detail and strong communication skills to ensure that their ideas are properly conveyed to the rest of the production team.

Animator Job Duties

Animators have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Collaborating with directors, producers, art directors, and other staff members to develop concepts and designs for characters or backgrounds
  • Watching reference materials such as video footage or photographs in order to get ideas for character movements and facial expressions
  • Preparing storyboards or animatic sequences using specialized computer software
  • Interviewing clients to learn about their needs and goals for a project
  • Determining which animation techniques or special effects will best suit each scene
  • Creating an animation sequence from start to finish, including storyboarding, voice acting, background design, and sound effects
  • Drawing sketches of characters in different poses or expressions to help determine how they should move in an animation scene
  • Reviewing the work of other animators to provide feedback as needed
  • Creating computer animations using specialized software such as Maya or 3ds Max

Animator Salary & Outlook

Animators’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of company or project they are working on.

  • Median Annual Salary: $66,500 ($31.97/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $105,000 ($50.48/hour)

The employment of animators is expected to grow faster than average over the next decade.

Demand for animated commercials and movies is expected to increase as companies continue to use social media platforms, such as YouTube, to advertise their products and services. In addition, demand for animated advertisements on mobile devices is expected to increase as more people use mobile devices to access digital content.

Related: In-Depth Animator Salary Guide

Animator Job Requirements

To become an animator, you will likely need to have the following:

Education: Animators need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in animation, fine arts, graphic design or another related field. Some aspiring animators choose to pursue a degree in computer science or mathematics, as these disciplines can provide a strong foundation for animation.

Training & Experience: Animators typically receive on-the-job training once they are hired. They may shadow other animators to learn the workflow and software used by the company. They may also work with other animators to learn how to collaborate on projects.

Certifications & Licenses: Animators do not require any certifications to earn their position. However, animators who want to increase their earning capacity or pursue advanced positions may pursue a professional certification.

Animator Skills

Animators need the following skills in order to be successful:

Creativity: Animators use creativity to develop ideas for their work. They may create characters, develop stories and design motion for their work. Creativity can also help them find solutions to challenges they face while animating.

Communication: Animators use communication skills to convey ideas and information to others. They often work with other artists and production teams to create animated films, television shows and video games. They use communication skills to convey their artistic vision to others and to explain technical details to those who may not be familiar with animation.

Computer programming languages: Animators often use computer programming languages to create their animations. They may use software to create their animations, and they may need to know how to code to create their own software. Some animators may need to know how to create virtual reality experiences or motion capture technology.

Attention to detail: Animators need to pay attention to the smallest details of their work. This is because small details can make a big difference in the final product. For example, if an animator is working on an animal character, they need to make sure the animal’s body parts are proportional to each other and that the animal’s movements are realistic.

Problem-solving: Animators often work with other artists and production teams to create a finished product. They may need to find solutions to technical issues or find ways to make their ideas work within the constraints of the production. Animators may also need to find solutions to challenges that arise during the production process.

Animator Work Environment

Animators typically work in studios or other creative environments. They may work long hours to meet deadlines, but they also have considerable control over their work schedule. Many animators work on a freelance basis, which gives them even more control over their time. However, freelance animators may have to juggle several projects at once and may have to work odd hours to meet deadlines. The work can be stressful at times, but it is also creative and allows animators to use their imagination and artistic skills.

Animator Trends

Here are three trends influencing how animators work. Animators will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Use of Virtual Reality in Education

Virtual reality is quickly becoming a popular tool for education, as it allows students to experience things that they might not be able to in the real world. This includes everything from historical events to scientific experiments.

As virtual reality becomes more popular in education, animators will need to learn how to create VR content that is both educational and entertaining. They will also need to be familiar with the latest VR technologies so that they can create content that takes advantage of these features.

The Importance of Storytelling

Storytelling has always been an important part of animation, but it is becoming even more important as technology advances. Animators are now being asked to tell stories using new mediums, such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

This trend means that animators will need to be well-versed in storytelling techniques in order to create engaging experiences for users. They will also need to be able to work closely with designers and developers to ensure that their animations fit within the larger product vision.

More Collaboration Between Designers and Developers

In recent years, there has been a growing trend towards collaboration between designers and developers. This is due to the fact that both parties have a unique set of skills that are needed to create great products.

Animators can take advantage of this trend by learning how to collaborate with designers and developers. This will allow them to create better products that are more likely to succeed in the marketplace.

How to Become an Animator

There are many different paths you can take as an animator. You could work in animation studios, creating characters and stories for movies, TV shows, and video games. Or you could work for advertising agencies, creating commercials that use animation to sell products. You could also teach animation or work freelance, creating animations for websites, advertisements, and other projects.

No matter which path you choose, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest technologies and techniques used in animation. Read articles and watch videos about new developments in the field, attend workshops and conferences, and connect with other animators online.

Related: How to Write an Animator Resume

Advancement Prospects

Animators typically enter the occupation with a bachelor’s degree in computer animation, fine arts, graphic design, or a related field. However, some animators have a high school diploma and relevant experience or training.

As animators gain experience, they may advance to more challenging projects with greater responsibility for the creative content of the animation. Some animators become supervisors or lead animators and oversee a team of animators and technicians. With further experience, animators may become independent animators or develop their own studios.

Some animators move into related occupations, such as graphic designers, multimedia artists and animators, or software developers. Others become art directors, game designers, or computer scientists.

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