Frequently Asked Animation Questions
This week we've done our utmost to answer some of the most frequently asked questions in an effort to demystify animation.
Animation is like a lion on the Serengeti: alluring, fascinating but also pretty intimidating. There's plenty of interest in this profession and the industries associated with it for good reason: it's one of the coolest jobs going.
So because we love you lot so much, this week we've done our utmost to answer some of the most frequently asked questions in an effort to demystify animation. Let's crack on.
We get it, TV and film is the obvious draw for many of you who are curious about the profession, but it’s by no means the only path to becoming a successful animation professional. Video game design and development is a big sector and ever-growing and corporate animation will always be relevant and lucrative. There are also exciting opportunities for animators in architecture, medical, advertising and education.
As animation and the tools we use to create it become easier to use, more powerful and more widespread, the number of areas that we can work are expanding, there’s never been a more exciting time to be an animator!
The bare minimum is a mid-range computer (or something a bit beefier if you have your heart set on 3D animation) and some animation software.
If you’re a complete degenerate I suppose you could try animating with a mouse, or worse: a trackpad, but for the more artistic aspects of the animation process like character creation, storyboarding, background design etc. this is going to be torture.
If you’re serious then a tablet and stylus is the only way to go. We’re big Wacom fanboys and girls in this studio, their Intuos range is a great place to start.
There are some great free/cheap animation tools out there which can get you started on your way - give Synfig Studio or Adobe Animate CC a go for 2D, and Blender for 3D.
It can be tough, isolating, competitive and repetitive, but that’s exactly why you need to have a passion and a love for what you do.
Animation is also immensely rewarding and inspiring. It gives you a chance to be creative and remain on the forefront of technological development; the people are amazing and with the entertainment industry, it’s always interesting.
An animation degree in itself isn’t a golden ticket into the animation industry, but what you learn during the course of a degree can be instrumental in getting you hired at the big studios you dream of or standing out as a freelancer.
For example, the networks you create as well as the feedback you get from your mentors and your peers are hard to mimic outside of formal education. You get the chance to build up a great portfolio and it instantly proves to potential clients/employers that you have a baseline of knowledge and skill.
That being said, there are plenty of very successful folks in the industry who don’t have an animation degree. Stephen Silver, designer for big shows like Kim Possible and Danny Phantom is self taught, he actually started out as a caricature artist in shopping malls!
If you want to make it as an animator without any degree or course backing you up, you just need to make sure you have a professional, mind-blowing portfolio to show off. Well, lucky for you...
Your portfolio is you. It represents who you are as an artist so it needs to contain your very best work and demonstrate your varied skills in a short amount of time. No pressure. Here’s our quick set of tips for creating an amazing animation demo reel:
Inside, we wanna see content that contains:
Don't skimp on the music. Make it something positive or inspirational with no lyrics and a precise, predictable beat which you can map your edits to easily and effectively. You'll get hired in no time.
Not necessarily but it certainly helps, especially if you’re working for a smaller studio where lots of jobs in the animation pipeline are your responsibility. Design, character creation, storyboarding and other artistic elements of putting an animation together will be impossible for you if you can barely cobble together a stick person.
3D animators or stop-motion professionals can get away with limited drawing skill, however, in such a competitive industry, those who can draw will likely be snapped up before those who can’t. Fortunately, there are loads of roles in an animation studio that don’t involve drawing, so it’s not the be-all end-all.
In a large studio? Loads. As I said earlier, in smaller studios, distinct jobs in the animation pipeline will be covered by less people who are performing multiple roles. Some of these roles include:
Taking a walk or musing in front of a mood board is great when you have creative block, but for real inspiration: the internet is a wonderful place. Our favourite spots are: