Animation gives life to ideas and images. Even though most people think animation is a modern medium, it has been around for about a century. The tools, formats, and techniques might have changed, but the principles of animation remain largely the same. Being an animator is an amazing career option because the demand for animators has remained high over the last three decades or so. So, what do you need to do to become an animator?
Complete a Course or Earn a Degree
Going to school is the most common first step to becoming an animator. While some employers will accept those who have completed animation courses if they have a strong portfolio, many studios and production houses expect animators to have at least a bachelor’s degree.
The main difference between animation degrees and non-degree options like certificates and diplomas is that degrees provide much broader knowledge, covering more areas, while non-degree options focus on a specific specialty within the larger industry.
Develop Your Skills
Animation is one of those careers where you need to practice a lot because theoretical knowledge will only take you so far. Although your instructors will tell you to push yourself, that will only get you so far.
Once you have the foundational skills, you need to hone them by doing some animations on your own. For this, you will need the right tools. Buying a desktop computer for animation is a great first step, but you might also need other tools like tablets and digital pencils.
As you practice animating, you will also need to develop your observational and acting skills. Doing so will help you understand body movement and body language, both of which are crucial to helping bring your characters to life.
Lastly, you need to learn teamwork. Large studios rely on collaboration between team members to complete larger projects. You will need to be a team player who can accept critique and feedback and work towards bettering yourself.
Create a Portfolio That Includes a Demo Reel
Having a portfolio is crucial in the animation industry, and you need one if you are to find a job. Many universities and animation schools will help you work on a portfolio while you complete your degree or course, but you need to show that you have worked on something else by yourself beyond these basics.
Once you have enough pieces or a portfolio and demo reel, create an online portfolio. This is easy to do with tools like WordPress. Have sections for the larger demo reel and a section of smaller projects you have completed.
Remember to keep updating your portfolio as you create new and better animations so employers can see you are open to improving.
Get Work Experience and Grow Your Network
Internships and freelance work are both great options for getting work experience. Once you graduate, you will likely get an entry-level position. Keep freelancing and volunteering to build a professional network that will be key to your career’s progression.
Animation is a great career, but it can be hard work to get into it. You need to have a passion for bringing ideas and images to life, a thirst for knowledge and learning, the need to continually improve, and a stellar portfolio so large studios notice you.