Do you often find yourself envisioning fantasy worlds? Do you love to doodle? Do you dream of seeing your creations come alive on the big screen or in a hit video game? If so, then digital animation might be an excellent career choice for you.
As computer technology continues to develop at breakneck speed, computer animation is contributing more to fields as diverse as marketing and advertisement, cinema and television, game design, education, and even the sciences. This means plenty of dynamic job opportunities to help you bring your dreams to life. Additionally, multimedia artists’ jobs are projected to grow steadily over the next decade or so, with the median computer animator making upwards of USD$75,000 a year.
Take note that animation requires much more than good ideas and decent drawing skills. While the competition for animating jobs is high, having the right education will equip you with the skills and capacities employers are looking for.
Here are six courses you may choose if you want to be a digital animator.
1. Computer Science Animation
From Toy Story to How to Train Your Dragon, more and more blockbusters rely on skilled 3-D animators to make it to the silver screen.
Many large studios expect animators to have a bachelor’s in Computer Science Animation to start out with, and choosing the right school to get your animation degree will go a long way to help you find a good job.
In addition to computer animating tools, techniques, and theory, computer animation programs often help students develop storyboarding, drawing, and design skills.
2. Graphic Arts and Design
While strongly recommended, a degree in computer animation is not the only road to becoming a successful 3-D animator. A solid background in visual and graphic arts can also prepare you well for the creative demands of animating full time.
Drawing, sculpting, and painting aptitude may prove vital to your career, and some animators even start out with a background in cartooning or graphic design. Jobs in multimedia marketing demand more animators with strong graphic design skills.
Technological advances in animating software mean that painters may get to see their works come alive in the form of animations.
3. Software Training
While the graphic arts are the foundation of any good animator’s education, digital animation software is the animator’s primary tool.
Most animating degrees will involve some Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) coursework, whether it involves architectural or character modeling. Digital animators will be expected to have some familiarity with mainstream animation software and proficiency in a few key programs.
The most popular digital animation software includes the following programs:
- Adobe software, such as Photoshop and Illustrator
- Lightwave 3-D
- 3-D Studio Max
Animators that are involved in video game design should also be familiar with game engines like Unity, Unreal, and Game Maker. Meanwhile, audio editing programs, like Audacity and Adobe Audition, could also play a role in your daily animator responsibilities
In any computer-related field, it can be difficult to stay up-to-date. Even if you already have a degree in digital animation, chances are, animation software has developed significantly since your graduation. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of online tutorials to help you learn your way around new software.
Staying at the cutting edge of the available technology for computer animation will give you a leg up when it comes to securing a job. You’re never too old to learn new skills, and the technological resources at our fingertips make juggling online learning with your career easier than ever.
4. Anatomy and Physics
Animation is the art of creating moving bodies. In fact, many animators’ portfolios emphasize key movements, such as a walk cycle. Understanding the science of movement and how the human body works are key to create realistic animations.
Many comprehensive animation degree programs will include anatomy and physics courses so that fledgling animators can develop their in-depth knowledge of naturalistic movement. Additionally, some animators find careers in scientific modeling since it requires a deep understanding of both fields.
Digital models created by 3-D animators help support scientific research in fields ranging from astrophysics to molecular biology.
5. Creative Writing
In addition to envisioning the world and characters of a new movie, television show or game animators often have to exercise their story-telling skills.
Taking coursework in scriptwriting or creative writing allows you to familiarize yourself with the key elements of a story, making your work more dynamic and well suited to fit into a compelling narrative. Who knows, your future career may involve putting on a director’s hat to bring your work to life!
6. Computer Science
It’s no secret that developments in technology are driving animation to new and exciting places. In addition to learning how to use key software, understanding the basics of computer design and programming can help you reach the next level as an animator.
Digital animation software tends to be quite powerful, and understanding how it’s made and how it works can help you get the most out of it. Especially in game design, experience with coding can help you step into more roles and act as an indispensable part of any design team.
How To Find A Digital Animator Job
As with any arts-related job, a significant part of finding a good job, whether freelance or working full time for a studio, involves plenty of self-promotion.
Develop a portfolio of your work, including key animations and designs and any collaborative work you’ve done. You can start doing this while still in school, and many degree programs may have a class specifically focused on career preparation.
Some animators also share their work via a website or social media, helping make their art more visible and attract more commissions and jobs.
Conclusion: Learn On The Job!
One of the most attractive things about a job as creative and dynamic as computer animation is that you’ll never stop learning! Freelance gigs, big studio projects, and even personal creative projects can help you try new techniques, develop new skills, and connect with like-minded people.
The future of digital animation is bright. With experience in graphic arts, animation software, sciences, and creative writing, you can build the perfect portfolio to secure your dream job and begin making your imagination into reality.