Computer Animation Job Requirements

Computer animation jobs fall into the computer graphics industry and includes artists and animators working in a variety of fields. Some computer animation jobs are for computer-generated (CG) motion pictures or television, projects with CG used for background work or special effects or video game design. Computer animators can work on online advertisements and websites, such as dancing brand mascots or sleekly designed webpage animation. CG can be used in automotive and industrial design and scientific and medical research.

Types of Work

Computer animators can be employed by film and television production companies, advertising agencies, web design firms, video game companies and animation firms. Animators could advance to become specialized in one area, such as becoming a frame designer, storyboard artist or special effects artist. Computer animators can also be freelance, most often working in web animation.

Education

Most salaried, regular computer animation jobs require a bachelor's or associate degree. Other freelance and per-project jobs only require some education or extensive work experience in the field of animation. Career and technical programs at universities (most of which have animation programs) and various classes and workshops can teach you the basic artistic skills needed and how to navigate through the individual phases of computer animation.

Portfolio/Demo Reel

Whatever path you take to gain experience, the job-getting tool used by computer animators will be a portfolio or demo reel showing examples of your work. These are traditionally developed through college coursework and internships but can also be developed from home or on the job. The portfolio or demo reel usually includes an opening title, 2D pencil sketch tests, a rendered scene with a camera move and a full scene.

Skills

Computer animators are required to be proficient in the main software programs utilized in the field: SoftImage, Lightwave, Kinetix 3D Studio Max and Alias PowerAnimator or Maya. Computer animators should be able to create models, sets, objects, characters and backgrounds. Animators should master storyboarding, layout and design, texturing, rendering, visual effect, compositing, editing and scanning. Computer animators need to develop a sense of timing, pacing, expression and character development in their work. Animation on a large scale usually requires a good amount of teamwork and communication.

Salary and Outlook

There are many opportunities for employment and advancement within the field of computer animation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Salaries for computer animation jobs depend largely on the industry, type, company, level of employment and specialization. In 2008, the average salary for animators in film and television is $60,000, while online, video game and other multimedia artists earn an average of $44,000.