A day in the life of an animator depends on certain factors like their specific role, project style and size, and type of stage of production. Animation can be stressful work with tight deadlines and lots of money involved or it can also be the opposite. Animation requires a lot of sitting, critical thinking, creativity, and long hours at work.
Nevertheless, an animator’s job can be fun and exciting, According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average animator’s salary is impressive, and the job outlook is encouraging. In this article, we break will down what’s it like to be an animator and explore all of the necessary details.
What Is Animation?
Animation is the process of creating photographic sequences, designing, drawing static images, and playing them in rapid succession to mimic real-life motion. The person who creates animation is known as an animator. Animators use several computer technologies to capture still images and generate the illusion of movement.
Animators use various types of animation such as two-dimensional and three-dimensional images, motion animation, and traditional and computer-generated animation, depending on the project. In the past, traditional animation required drawing images by hand on celluloid paper, which was then exhibited on film. Today, animation is generated through computers and other devices.
What Does an Animator Do On a Daily Basis?
A typical day in the life of an animator depends on the type of project they’re working on. An animator working on creating special effects will have a very different day than one working on a video game or feature film. Animators use computers and other electronic tools to do their jobs. Below is a list of tasks and activities animators typically carry out on a daily basis.
- Create Designs. Animators create 2D and 3D designs and illustrations for products, commercials, TV shows, films, and movies. Animators work with directors, writers, and producers to come up with a style for the project. Creating the perfect character design is part of what a motion animator does daily.
- Write Script. Animation projects usually rely on a script on which they base the story. In some cases, usually in independent productions, the animation artist will write the script for their own animation. However, for bigger projects, professional scriptwriters will be hired to write a script.
- Convert Real Images. Aside from creating their own designs, animators also convert real objects into animated objects through modeling. Static images can also be animated using techniques such as optical scanning.
- Multimedia Campaigns. Animators get involved in various multimedia campaigns by creating and designing animations on web pages, promotional products, and technical illustrations. Animators are sometimes brought on to design newsletters and slide shows.
- Editing. Animators sometimes edit their finished work, although this is more common for self-produced projects. Animators working in large studios will usually have an editing team at their disposal, with an animation supervisor responsible for cross-checking their projects. Editing animation projects like a video game with graphic color drawings can take a lot of time, although this can vary widely depending on the project.
How Can I Become an Animator?
There are various ways to become an animator. Somehow, this makes it competitive and a good career fit for most people. Unlike many other professions, animators aren’t typically required to obtain a degree to get started. Check out the various ways to become an animator below.
Formal education is a big plus for animators. Many colleges offer programs in animation and special effects, usually in the form of a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. Degrees in animation teach classes in drawing, animation, and film. Some colleges don’t offer a specialized degree in animation, but rather have degrees in other forms of art with animation offered as a one-off course.
Animation Online Courses
Several online schools offer 2D and 3D animation courses lasting from six months to two years. These institutions occasionally provide job referrals and are a great way to give your skills a boost without needing to pay university tuition.
Bootcamps are a great way for animators to work on their skills while also making great industry connections. You can enroll for full-time or part-time training at bootcamps. After your training at a top animation bootcamp is done, you can receive referrals and recommendations from your instructors, to assist you in your job hunt.
You can obtain an animation certificate from some colleges. Animation certification programs usually take between six months and one year. Certifications are mostly for professionals with experience who are looking to gain training in a specific industry style or animation software.
How Can I Get a Job as an Animator?
Upwork and Fiverr are the best websites for remote, freelance animators. Clients can hire you for animation services on these platforms. As a freelance animator, you can determine how much you earn according to your animation skills, clients, and projects.
Meanwhile, for full-time animation roles, you should visit the websites of production companies and studios. There you can find entry, mid, and senior-level job openings. Some tech giants also hire animators. These companies pay a fixed salary rather than a commission-based salary and provide you with more stability than freelance work does.
Steps to Finding a Job as an Animator
- Get Educated and Develop Your Skills
The animation field is broad as most clients want to incorporate a variety of styles into their projects. To meet this demand, you need to work on your animation skills and gain experience in various artistic styles. To do so, get a degree, take online animations courses, or attend a bootcamp.
- Build an Animation Portfolio
Your animation portfolio should be composed of your best work and should contain samples of how the project was started and finished. Your creative work process can help clients and potential employers determine whether or not you are a good fit.
- Seek Referrals
Seek referrals from your previous employers and teachers. Although your work should be able to speak for itself, being recommended by an established working professional goes a long way in an industry that is all about who you know.
- Get an Internship
Learning is a continuous process. Internships are a great way to establish yourself in the industry, build great relationships with professionals, and develop your skills. In addition, some animation companies pay their interns well.
- Submit Applications
Once you’ve completed the steps above, it’s time to submit applications to animation companies. Don’t be intimidated by their size or reputation. Big studios need big teams to be able to deliver the massive projects they work on.
What Is the Average Salary of an Animator?
On average, animators earn around $62,591 annually, according to ZipRecruiter. Nevertheless, animators with more experience and skill can earn higher, especially those working for big studios. Below are animator salaries in more detail.
Salary for an Entry-Level Animator
The yearly average salary for an entry-level animator is $43,626, according to ZipRecruiter. Keep in mind, this amount is highly dependent on the company and location.
Salary for a Mid-Level Animator
A mid-level animator’s average salary is estimated to be $62,591, according to ZipRecruiter. To earn this much, you’ll need to have a few years of experience under your belt.
Salary for a Senior-Level Animator
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a senior-level animator is $74,753, although they can earn more depending on the company they work for or the city in which they reside.
Job Outlook for an Animator
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for animators is great. Employment for animators and special effects artists is predicted to grow to 16 percent from 2020 to 2030.
It is estimated that about 7,800 openings for animators will be created every year over the decade. The increasing demand for more realistic video games, movies, two-dimensional and three-dimensional images will foster growth in the animation industry.
Should I Become an Animator?
Yes, you should become an animator if you have a passion for it. The job outlook for animators is positive and encouraging, with a 16 percent projected growth from 2020 to 2030. Additionally, animators are well-paid and can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle that is fueled by what they love.
A Day in the Life of an Animator FAQs
Staff animators work usually 40 hours weekly, but can often go over this if a project is behind schedule. Freelance animators, however, can have irregular working hours as the number of hours they work depends on the volume of jobs they’ve accepted and the complexity of the projects.
Yes, animation can be a lucrative career. All forms of media, including movies and video games, use digital animation. If you are a good animator, you can easily get steady jobs, especially if working at a big production company. A successful lead animator can earn up to six figures, annually.
Yes, animators get days off like any other professional. For a full-time animator working for a company, your days off are determined by your employer or terms of employment. Meanwhile, self-employed animators decide when they will work based on the projects at hand and their urgency.
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Yes, animation can be difficult to learn because it takes a lot of practice to master. An entry-level animator may take weeks to work on a single 10-second animation project. Animations involve creating complex graphics and technical illustrations. A good bootcamp will help jump-start your learning process in an intensive environment.
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