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Graphic Design Spotlight: Animation and Animators Part I

flip-bookFrom Flip Books to a Career
For some of us, the earliest memories of being fascinated with the process of animation was when we assembled our first cartoon flip book in elementary school.

It was probably a simple attempt to animate a stick figure or bouncing ball, but once the project was completed, it seemed almost magical in scope.

If you are a graphic designer or a student attending graphic design school and still have a deep interest in an animation major, you may have wondered what sorts of job opportunities are available in this industry. In this series of articles we'll explore what abilities and skills are inherent in successful animators, the different sectors animators work in, and what the job outlook is for jobs in animation.


Animation Isn't Mickey Mouse

When someone says the phrase, "Oh, that's so Mickey Mouse," what they are really saying is something is simplistic or ill conceived.

While the first cartoon with synchronized sound did star Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, the process of creating the 8-minute animation feature was far from being "Mickey Mouse."

It took six animators to hand draw more than 12,000 separate cells to complete the project. This monumental task also included pre and post production processes such as filming, sound, inking, storyboarding, and other related procedures.

Aside from producing cartoons, the services of animators are now used in business, the film industry, websites, video games, education, advertising, television and any application where the addition of animation is needed.

The Qualities of a Good Animator
While the ability to draw and illustrate is certainly at the top of an animator's skill sets, there are other qualities that a successful animator should have:

animator-clip-art* Instinctive Ability to Understand Acting and Performance - While this seems to be a rather odd set of abilities for a good animator to have, it makes sense because you are, in fact, acting and entertaining through the characters or situations in your animations.

A sense of how action flows, how characters or environments interact, and how to entertain through the imaginative use of animation techniques can be important elements in a successful animator's bag of tricks.

* Practice, Practice, Practice -- One hopeful animator was seeking employment with a major animation company. He routinely sent demo reels to the firm every year but received the same comment about his work: "You haven't got it yet, but you're close."

computer-clip-artThis cryptic message didn't quite make sense to him but he assumed correctly that his work didn't have the professional quality they were looking for.

The animator continued to practice and hone his style and technique. Several years later the firm felt that he was ready to go pro and offered him a job.

He had the basic skills but he needed to practice his craft to work out all the rough spots. Good animators aren't necessarily born, but are created through hard work and practice, practice, practice.

* Strong Computer Skills -- In the days prior to the widespread use of computers, all animations were hand drawn. Today many animations are made through the use of animation software and graphic packages such as Illustrator, Flash, 3D Studio Max, Photoshop, LightWave, and Maya.

school-chairGraphic design colleges, universities, and design centers offer programs and instruction on how to use these animation tools so you can build the skills and expertise you need to prepare for a career in animation.
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Next Time...
Do you have what it takes to be a successful animator? What is the job outlook for animators? What types of jobs are available for animators? To find out join us for part two of Graphic Design Spotlight: Careers in Animation. Until then, take care!


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Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
  • Full Sail’s curriculum combines elements of creativity, art, business and life skills, technical prowess, and academic achievement.
  • Full Sail offers accelerated programs, so a degree that would normally take four years takes 24 months on average.
  • Students work with industry-standard tools and technologies, allowing them to gain practical knowledge and real-world experience.
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Web Design & Development
ECPI University , North Charleston
  • Named a Best for Vets school by the Military Times in 2014.
  • Has specialized in student-centered technology, business, criminal justice, health science, and culinary education for over 45 years.
  • Makes it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in 2.5 years or an associate’s in 1.5 years by providing a year-round schedule.
  • Offers externships and clinical experience that help students prepare for life after they graduate.
  • Has 10 campuses across the mid-Atlantic, plus online degree programs.
  • Flexible Scheduling
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A.S. - Digital Design
Good for Working Adults

Southern Technical College provides education and training in a variety of medical and technical areas that enable graduates to obtain entry-level employment. As a student at Southern Technical College, you will have the opportunity learn in several different ways.

  • Flexible Scheduling
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Master of Fine Arts: Graphic Design
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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  • Accredited
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BS - Graphics Multimedia and Web Design

New England Institute of Technology is a private, non-profit, co-educational technical university offering over 50 Associate in Science, Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degree programs. As a leader in technical career education in southern New England, New England Institute of Technology (also known as New England Tech or NEIT) is committed to providing hands-on technological programs that prepare graduates for positions of leadership in the technical, industrial, business, and allied health communities. Most of our associate degree programs can be completed in as little as 18 months, and bachelor’s degree programs in as little as three years. Last year, over 3,000 students chose New England Tech for the hands-on laboratory and classroom training that provides the necessary skills to begin their technical careers.

  • Accredited
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