Frequently Asked Questions

Careers in Animation : Your Questions Answered

Are you considering a career in animation? Are you unsure about what kind of skill and training you really need? Animation is one of the fastest growing career fields in film, advertising, gaming and website development. Continue reading and learn more about becoming an animator.

What Type of Degree Should I Get as an Animator ?
Prospective animators can find educational and training programs at the associate, bachelor's and master's degree level. An associate degree program offers basic instruction in animation computer software, while the bachelor's degree program includes a broader introduction into the animation field.

Bachelor's degree programs require you to take more liberal arts courses involving art history and drawing. The program also tackles issues in writing for animation, narrative structure and design. In the 3-year degree program, you have an opportunity to develop an extensive portfolio of work, which is required for graduation.

What Do Animators Do ?
Animators create visual effects in a variety of industries from film to video games and commercials. As an animator, you are responsible for creating realistic effects for films and animate characters in 2D and 3D for websites, commercials and advertisements. This requires a specialized knowledge of film, computer animation and editing techniques.

What Skills Do I Need ?
As an animator, you need excellent knowledge of animation software programs. Depending on the field you specialize in, you can expect to work with a number of animation programs, such as Nuke, After Effects, Adobe CS4/CS5, Maya, 3D StudioMax and MotionBuilder. These programs assist you in the technical production of animation and prepare you to perform tasks such as modeling, rigging, texturing, shading, and creating a UV layout.

You may also serve as a technical consultant for image processing and need to know how to upload animations onto a website, film, or into an existing animation file. It's imperative that you have a firm knowledge of the technical aspects of animation in order to convert 2D drawings into 3D stereoscopic animations.

What Do Employers Look For ?
Employers look for animators who have a good knowledge of animation programs and a strong portfolio of work. It's often recommended that you create a website that houses your portfolio in order to demonstrate your technical abilities and showcase your knowledge and skills. While an advanced degree in animation is not necessary, it could make you more attractive to prospective employers and help develop your abilities in the field.

How Much Can I Expect to Earn as an Animator ?
In 2009, animators and new media artists earned a median salary of $58,250 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Typically, animators who work in the film industry earn more than animators who work in other industries. The BLS also reports that animators in the top 10% earned a median annual salary of $99,130.



Careers in Visual Effects : Your Questions Answered

When you watch a film, do you find yourself spending as much time focusing on the Visual effects as you do digesting the plot? Would you like to work behind the scenes of a movie, television show or video game creating animated characters, juxtaposed action and optical illusions? If so, a career in visual effects may be ideal for you. Read on to learn more about common visual effects job duties, working environments, training requirements and salary potential.

What Training Do I Need ?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), bachelor's degrees are required for multimedia artists and animators, who often work in film, TV or other theatrical departments. They're also highly beneficial for visual effects professionals in the video game design industry. You can earn a B.A. Degree in Visual effects & Animation (Provided by Arena Animation). These programs provide theoretical instruction and hands-on studies in the creative, historical and technical aspects of visual effects design.

What Do Careers in Visual Effects Entail ?
Visual effects professionals create animated images and other visual illusions for movies, television, and computer or video games. These may take the form of cartoon characters, images and optical illusions. Action shots or scenes that can't readily be captured live for safety or logistical reasons are also considered visual effects. A heroine floating in the sky above the Eiffel Tower, a protagonist leaping out of a burning building, and a collapsing interstate bridge are all examples of live-action visual effects. Many special effects are multimedia in nature, with their creation requiring the use of both computers and other media formats.

What Might I Do On The Job ?
Whether you work in movies, TV or computer-based animation, a career as a visual effects professional typically requires involvement in numerous stages of the production process. When a project is in its initial stage of development, you may be responsible for brainstorming visual effects concepts or hand-drawing animated characters. You may create digital or manual storyboards to help directors or producers visualize how your proposed visual effects fit in with their complete production concepts. For live special effects action, you'll typically use computer programs (After effects, Nuke, Maya etc) or other digital imaging to add in visual effects after a movie or TV show has been filmed or a game has been programmed.

How Much Could I Earn ?
Salary potential for visual effects professionals may vary greatly depending on job type. As of May 2009, the BLS reported that multimedia artists and animators in the film and video industry earned a median hourly wage of $34.12. Those working in all other industries earned a median rate of $28.01 per hour. The BLS also reported a median annual salary of $58,250 for multi-media artists and animators in all industries.

Payscale.com, a salary information website, broke down pay ranges for visual effects animators by specific job type. As of January 2011, video game designers in the 25th-75th percentile had a salary range of $43,141-$68,585. As of the same time period, 3D film animators earned a national median salary of $48,938, compared to $56,498 for 3D film artists and $75,000 for visual effects compositors.

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