An animator produces multiple images called frames, which when sequenced together create an illusion of movement - this is known as animation. The images can be made up of digital or hand-drawn pictures, models or puppets.
Animators tend to work in 2D, 3D model-making, stop-frame or computer-generated animation.
Computer-generated animation features strongly in motion pictures (to create special effects or an animated film in its own right), as well as in aspects of television, the internet and the computer games industry.
The basic skill of animation still relies heavily on artistic ability, but there is an increasing need for animators to be familiar with technical computer packages.
Producing animation involves a number of stages including generating ideas, building models and rigging lighting.
Computer animation uses software known as CGI (computer-generated imagery).
Tasks typically involve:
Much of the work involves pitching and being proactive in selling your ideas and work to prospective customers and clients. This applies whether you're self-employed, working freelance or employed within a company.
For information on animation freelance rates, see the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU). Starting salaries are low, but it's important to build up experience and contacts to secure future work.
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Working hours are regular office hours (approximately 40 hours per week), but as deadlines approach you may need to work overtime, including at the weekend. Flexitime is quite common.
What to expect
Although this area of work is open to all graduates, the following degree or foundation degree subjects are particularly relevant:
Entry without a higher education qualification is unusual, but not impossible. Exceptions may be made for very talented candidates. Many animators consider having an artistic background just as important as having skills in IT.
Although not essential, a relevant postgraduate qualification in animation may enhance your employability. Search for postgraduate courses.
You'll need to show:
In character animation, specialist talents may be required - such as in comedy, dialogue, action or singing and music.