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.
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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