A day in the life of an animator is a day of both patience and reward, skill and expression. While creating quality, moving animations is the end goal, animators experience so much more along the way to that goal. Here is a glimpse of today’s animator’s typical duties, tools, and ways.
Goals, Tasks, and Deadlines
A day in an animator’s life is certainly a day full of artistic expression, as the core of an animator’s work is to animate. Animating can mean drawing, painting, modeling, and even simple brainstorming over a new concept. This is certainly a dream job for many people, but it’s definitely not all fun and games at every turn.
Most animators work for larger production companies. These companies work in a very competitive industry in which timelines are essential. As such, animators themselves must often work under some pressure of time constraints. Aside from this potential downside to the job, however, the only other difficulty for some is the innate requirement of patience. Animators must have the patience to see through often tedious and repetitious animating tasks to a compiled, eventual end product.
The actual tasks and activities animators tackle each day represent smaller components to a larger product. A full-length television cartoon, for example, may take numerous animators many hours to complete, with smaller components being completed every day. Eventually, all of the individual animations are compiled, some editing work may ensue for the final touches, and there is then a viewable cartoon.
Tools and Methods
Animators of yesteryear were limited in their tools and methods, but today, this has all changed. Animators now abound with tools and methods, much due to progress in computer and film-making technologies. For those interested in a close look at some tools and methods of the trade today, here are a few important ones
2D Drawn Animations
Two-dimensional hand drawing is what most people think of in terms of animation. 2D hand drawn methods are still a core method in modern animation today. Here, page after page of hand-drawn animations are compiled. Eventually they are put together to form a movable, playable animation product. Today, this usually involves scanning the images into a computer for further processing into the final product.
2D Computer Animation
Two-dimensional computer animation is much like 2D hand drawing but with a few subtle differences. Here, animators use digital drawing utensils to animate directly on-screen on a computer. The process still involves many repetitions of similar animations and scenes that must later be compiled but all in digital form.
In stop-frame animation, the animator must create individual frames using individual photos of 3D props and items. Essentially, a scene is created using 3D media, it is then photographed and then rebuilt, subtly or even drastically, for the next photographed frame. The frames are all combined later into a final product whether it be a movie, a cartoon, television commercial, or some other product entirely.
The final, commonly utilized animation technique today is that of computer-generated animation, also known as CG animation for short. In CG animation, animators utilize state-of-the-art computer programs to assist them in creating animations and a series of animations. While this method still involves manual input and creativity from the animator, the actual computer program can take over many tasks in the process, creative and productive.
Important Skills, Qualities
Much of what animators do comes from within, but there are still key qualities that make for a great animator over an average one. Along the way of natural inclination, successful animators need to be patient and able to carry out sometimes repetitive assignments. They are also artistic and apt toward the design of new artistic concepts as well as the employment of older animation and art concepts. Great attention to detail and organizational skills are also very helpful here.
As to educational merits, animators today come from many, different academic backgrounds. A Bachelor’s in Fine Arts or a Master’s of Fine Arts in Animation and Visual Effects provides arguably the most direct educational path mixing animation and computer technology learning. Many other animators yield form varying certification programs and even other degree concentrations altogether and find success in the industry. Passion and natural ability alone can potentially go very far here.
Those looking for additional resources for animators and their line of work can find plenty of great help out there. Namely, there are three great organizations built on the animation industry and its advocacy. They are as follows:
- International Animated Film Society – For nearly 40 years, the society has provided advocacy in animation via efforts in education, public awareness, recognition of excellence in the animation field, and more. Nearly anyone can join the society, and the perks gained therein are many.
- Society for Animation Studies – Founded in 1987, this group’s main focus, in addition to general advocacy, is on the preservation of animation history and theory. Membership unlocks many, additional benefits but is not necessary for many capacities.
- Women in Animation – As this organization’s title suggests, it acts as an advocacy arm for animation as well as, specifically, women in animation. One current goal of the organization is to realize an animation field that is comprised of 50 percent women. For those interested, there are several ways to get involved in this organization, with or without membership.
Animation is a large, growing, and exciting field to work in. A typical day here involves satisfying time goals, the application of personal creativity, and some very rewarding, final products for so many to enjoy. This is the life of an animator today.