Aspiring forensic animators often wonder what part of the country will be the easiest to find a job as a forensic animator. There are several types of animation, and individuals interested in working with law enforcement and solving crimes often choose to become forensic animators. Most individuals who choose this career crave excitement and stimulating career. Here is some career information on forensic accountants as well as information on the actual position.
What Forensic Animators Do
Forensic animators are professionals who assist investigators by reconstructing incidents or accidents. They do the reconstruction using a variety of tools, including audio/visual aids, simulations stills and computer animation. We typically think of cartoon characters when we hear the term animation, but it involves so much more. In addition to the various animation tools, forensic animators also use data and engineering calculations.
Forensic animation is widely used in insurance and court cases because the demonstrations and simulations can take complicated evidence and portray it in ways that jury members and others can easily understand. We’ve all watched court cases on TV and seen lawyers show the jury drawings and exhibits as evidence. These exhibits are usually forms of forensic animation.
How to Become a Forensic Animator
Most forensic animators have a bachelor’s degree in computer animation or animation with a minor or double major in criminal justice. Some forensic animators may advance their education and earn master’s degrees, but the majority start their careers with bachelor’s degrees. They also are required to have a couple of years of experience working in this field.
All animators, including forensic animators, must be proficient in various software programs, including Photoshop, Adobe Premium, PhotoModeler, 3DS Max, AutoCad and After Effects to name a few. Many animation programs also require the student to complete a portfolio of their work and complete an internship to obtain hands-on training.
Skills Used in Forensic Animation
Forensic Animation is a specialized field that’s often used alongside video footage and witness descriptions. It may be used to prove or disprove what appears to be compelling evidence. Here are some of the artistic skills used by forensic animation and what they involve:
- Image modification – This involves enhancing or enlarging a photograph to help an attorney or investigator determine things like age progression or to help identify an individual.
- Image identification – This involves recording someone’s distinguishing features for future identification. This is helpful for when suspects may have changed their appearance.
- Composite drawing – This involves having a forensic animator manually draw a picture of a suspect or victim based on a description given by a witness.
- Crime scene sketching – This involves the animator drawing or sketching a crime scene using dimensions and measurements so law enforcement can see the layout of a crime scene.
- Age progression/regression – This involves using animation to determine someone’s in appearance in the past or the future. This is very helpful in missing person cases.
- Postmortem drawing – This involves viewing a deceased individual’s picture or remains and drawing what the victim may have looked like before his or her death.
- Collaboration – This involves the forensic animator working together with anthropologists, forensic artists and other professionals looking at an individual’s skull to determine his or her gender, age and race.
Best Geographic Location to Find Work as a Forensic Animator
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not give specific career information on forensic animators but does provide it for multimedia artists and animators, a category in which forensic animators belong. Multimedia artists and animators overall are expected to see job growth of four percent during the 2018-2028 decade. Animators with specialized skills, such as forensic animators, will typically see better job opportunities.
In the world of art and design, multimedia art and animation is the third-largest career field in the United States. The states with the highest employment level for multimedia artists and animators are California, Texas, New York, Georgia and Florida. The salaries for multimedia artists and animators can depend on many factors, including experience, level of training, specialization, company and geographic location. Connecticut offers the highest annual wages ($102,630) for multimedia artists and animators, while the lowest wages ($36,270) for these professionals are earned in South Carolina.
A state may not offer the highest wages but may include cities known for higher wages. Here are some of the top-paying metropolitan areas for forensic animators according to a 2018 BLS report:
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
- San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clare, CA
- San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
- Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
- New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ and PA
- Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA
- Savannah, GA
- Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade, CA
- Raleigh, NC
- North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, FL
Forensic animation is a field that’s in demand throughout the entire nation. It can be an exciting, lively and very rewarding career. It’s also a field where, because of its popularity, professionals who aren’t bothered by relocating can choose to work in the parts of the country that offer the best wages and jobs.