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Job Photographs

  • Two men are sitting on sofas chatting and looking at two books.  There is a table in front of them.

    Meeting with a client, to discuss the computer animations for a film.

  • A man is sketching in a notebook.

    Animators often produce rough sketches of their ideas.

  • Somebody is pointing at a series of small images, placed on a wall.

    Showing the sequence and story of a piece of animation on a 'storyboard'.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using graphic design software on a computer.

    Using a graphics tablet and pen to draw images on the computer.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Producing 3-D images by using a computer-aided design software package.

  • A man is sitting at a desk, looking at a book containing colourful images.  There is a computer on the desk.

    Researching ideas for animations.

  • Maxwell is an Animator

  • Animator

Animator

Introduction

As an Animator you will create imaginary worlds for film, television and computer games. you'll use drawing, modelling or computer graphics to make pictures and models come to life to entertain and/or inform people.

Also known as

  • Modeller

Video: - Simon: Animator

Video: - Tim: Episode Director

Work Activities

As an Animator you will make pictures and models come to life to entertain and/or to inform people. There are three main types of animation:

  • drawing/painting
  • modelling
  • computer games graphics

Usually you'll work on one project at a time. Each project can take anything from a few weeks to more than a year to complete, depending on how complex it is.

The amount of involvement and creative input you have on each project will vary. For example, an Animator who is an employee of an animation studio will work for a Director and the work will be a team effort.

You'll usually follow a 'storyboard'. This is a series of rough sketches/images, which tell the story that you are bringing to life.

The story isn't always fiction - it could be a documentary or a game, for example. In some cases, the characters in the story are based on real people or animals, but in others, you use your imagination to invent characters.

Computer animation has a wide range of uses, including computer games, websites, film and television. It is used not only to make cartoon images, but also to put 'real' people, animals, buildings and machines in films. For example, you might be asked to create a whole crowd for a film scene.

As a Model Making Animator you'll use plasticine, fabric and a wide variety of other materials to make models of characters. You may just work on the characters, but you could also be involved in designing and making sets for the models.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become an Animator, you will need:

  • a creative mind and a strong visual imagination
  • an eye for detail and good colour vision
  • the ability to draw, make models and/or use computer graphics software
  • patience and stamina - the work is painstakingly detailed and you may need to work long hours to meet deadlines
  • the ability to take direction and accept constructive criticism
  • good interpersonal skills, if you have contact with clients
  • some acting skills, or knowledge of acting - to help with character movement

Some Animators work freelance or set up their own companies. To do this, you will need substantial experience as an Animator, as well as good business sense.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £24,000
  • With experience: £25,500 - £30,000
  • Senior Animators earn £31,000

Hours of work

Late finishes and work at weekends may be required, especially as deadlines approach.

Where could I work?

Opportunities for Animators occur with employers in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Employers include:

  • computer games companies
  • broadcast production companies
  • advertising agencies
  • design studios
  • firms involved in electronic publishing

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for experienced Animators to work freelance or set up their own companies. Consultancy and fixed-term contract work may be available.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised on job boards, Find a Job and employers' websites.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

There is no set entry route into this job, though many new entrants have a degree, foundation degree or HND in animation. You could study pure animation or consider alternative courses including:

  • computer games animation
  • animation production
  • visual effects

The industry body, Creative Skillset, has a list of accredited university courses on its website.

An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start.

You will need to build up a portfolio , including a showreel of your work, whichever route you choose.

With some experience or qualifications under your belt, you could apply for a trainee placement through Creative Skillset (www.creativeskillset.org).

A first job in the industry may be as a runner, assisting at an animation studio.

A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article 'Internships', for more details.

Work Experience

Relevant skills and abilities, gained while working at a studio or in a production company, will be an advantage.

Training

Once you are working, you will develop your skills by learning from other animators or attending training courses.

It is important to keep up to date with developments and new techniques used in the animation industry. This might include learning the software packages that are commonly used.

Progression

With experience and business skills, animators become directors or set up their own business.

Qualifications

The usual requirement for entry to a degree course in animation is:

  • 3 A levels
  • 5 GCSEs usually including English and maths

Qualifications in art, design and technology, and technical subjects such as IT are useful.

Other qualifications might be considered, such as:

  • BTEC level 3 - animation
  • BTEC level 3 - game design and animation
  • BTEC level 3 - games art and animation
  • City & Guilds level 2 - art & design 2D and 3D techniques
  • International Baccalaureate Diploma

Entry requirements for degree courses vary; check college/university websites carefully.

Entry to degree courses can also be gained through successful completion of an arts foundation course.

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

You will normally need to submit a comprehensive portfolio/showreel that shows your potential.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Experience

Relevant skills and abilities, gained while working at a studio or in a production company, will be an advantage.

Courses

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Art and Design) could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.

Further Information

British Film Institute (BFI)

Website: www.bfi.org.uk

National Film and Television School (NFTS)

Tel: 01494 671234

Email: info@nfts.co.uk

Website: www.nftsfilm-tv.ac.uk

National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA)

Tel: 01202 961916

Email: askBUenquiries@bournemouth.ac.uk

Website: ncca.bournemouth.ac.uk

ScreenSkills

Skills for the creative industries

Email: info@creativeskillset.org

Website: www.creativeskillset.org

Creative Choices

Publisher: Creative & Cultural Skills

Email: info@creative-choices.co.uk

Website: www.creative-choices.co.uk

Creative & Cultural Skills

Skills for craft, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing arts and visual arts

Email: london@ccskills.org.uk

Website: ccskills.org.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

Wales Screen

Website: www.screenwales.com

Ffilm Cymru Wales

Address: S4C Media Centre, Parc Ty Glas, Llanishen, Cardiff, UK, CF14 5DU

Tel: 029 2076 6931

Email: enquiries@ffilmcymruwales.co.uk

Website: www.ffilmcymruwales.com

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