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Animator - Career Profile
What does an Animator do? Where does an Animator work? ACR takes a look:
Animators create 2D and 3D images in motion for animated films, video games, commercials, and music videos. They create images, as well as special effects and other visual images, using video, film, or computer software. Some of the most common technology used by animators includes Adobe, AutoDesk 3DS Max, VectorDesigner, and Ability Photopaint.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “animators make objects or characters appear lifelike by manipulating light, color, texture, shadow, and transparency, or manipulating static images to give the illusion of motion. They “create two-dimensional and three-dimensional images depicting objects in motion or illustrating a process, using computer animation or modeling program and design complex graphics and animation, using independent judgment, creativity, and computer equipment.”
Animators also design animation and graphics, create storyboards, and create designs, drawings and illustrations. They create, plan, and script animated narrative sequences, develop multimedia presentations and technical illustrations, and assist with background design and production coordination.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, animators work primarily in the following industries:
- Motion Picture and Video Industries
- Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services
- Computer Systems Design and Related Services
- Specialized Design Services
- Technical and Trade Schools
- Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing
Animators work in environments such as animation production studios, film and video production facilities, gaming companies, cartoon networks, advertising agencies, web design firms, graphic design firms, and mobile technology companies, to name few.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2009, the mean annual wage for animators overall was $62,810 per year. The lowest paid animators earned $32,360 per year. The highest paid animators earned $99,130 per year.
It is important to keep in mind that animator salaries vary by experience, type and size of company, and geographic location. For example, according to Glassdoor.com, a senior animator working at DreamWorks Animation SKG in Glendale, CA could earn anywhere from $86,000-$115,000+ per year, while an animator working at Blue Sky Studios in Greenwich, CT might average $58,000-$85,000 per year. Many animators are self-employed, so they might earn more or less depending on the factors listed above and many others.
The top paying states for animators are California (average annual mean wage $74,560), New York ($66,340), Oregon ($62,690), District of Columbia ($62,670), and Connecticut ($62,410).
Becoming an Animator
Most animators hold a bachelor’s degree in fine art or animation. Essential courses such as 2D and 3D animation are included in both degree programs. Animators also study anatomy to study how animals and humans move in order to make character movements more realistic.
In addition to a degree in fine art or animation, most employers look for at least 2 years’ experience in the industry, plus advanced technology skills. Entry-level positions may require only a degree and experience through an internship or other support position. Senior level positions may require at least 5-7 years’ professional experience in the industry and possibly an advanced degree.
Job Trends for Animators
The Bureau of Labor Statistics combines multimedia and animator careers into one. According to the Bureau, “demand for multimedia artists and animators will increase as consumers continue to demand more realistic video games, movie and television special effects, and 3D animated movies. An increasing need for computer graphics in the growing number of mobile technologies will present additional job opportunities as well as the demand for animators in alternative areas such as scientific research and design services.”
There are 79,000 multimedia artists and animators working in the industry today. These professionals are the second largest group of artists in the art world. At 84,000 strong, art directors are the largest group. However, the job outlook for multimedia artists and animators is better than any other art-related field. Employment for multimedia artists and animators is expected to grow 14 percent through 2018. Between now and 2018, employment for multimedia artists and animators in the U.S. will increase from 79,000 to 90,200.
Although animator positions can be found all over the U.S., five states have the highest employment levels. California has the highest level, followed by New York, Washington, Texas, and Illinois.
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