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The Best and Worst Aspects of Working in Animation

Written by Robin WildingFebruary 28, 2012
The Best and Worst Aspects of Working in Animation
Did you know.... In 2013 every movie nominated for an Oscar Award in the Best Visual Effects category had graduates from The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School at Universal Studios Orlando) in the credits. This year (2014), four of the five nominated films - The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger, and Star Trek Into Darkness- included DAVE School graduates. Those 4 films alone employed nearly 70 DAVE School graduates last year.
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If you've ever talked to a real live animator—just kidding, they don't really walk among us, they are far too busy working their 14-hour+ days—then you've likely heard the ups and downs of working in the animation industry. As a part of our Interview Series we asked animation executives around the country what are the best and worst aspects of working in the animation industry—to help paint a realistic picture for our future animator readers, exactly what its like to be an animation professional.

For those of our readers interested in knowing exactly what an animation career entails here is the good, the bad and the ugly from people with more experience in the industry than most of our readers have on this earth:

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Richard O'Connor, Owner of  Ace and Son
The parties, the women and the non stop excitement--which is to say, the opportunity to constantly engage your imagination and create artificial worlds ranks amongst the best.
The worst is, like most crafts in a crass age, aspiring to make high-quality work in a field dominated by garbage.

Arthur Kautz, Aniben
The raising of capital is an entry barrier, particularly for studios that want to produce theatrical content. Software and hardware are expensive. Venture capitalists don't see the benefit of films and would rather invest in the latest internet 'thing' than movies. 

We need to shape their expectations to realize the next Pixar or Dreamworks can be created by one single animated film from a new studio doing well at the box office.

Paul Kakert,  Effective Digital Presentations
The best aspect is that tools today (software and hardware) are so advanced compared to 10 years ago, that we have reached a point where you are limited only by your imagination (it wasn’t always that way as hardware was once a huge hurdle). 

The worst aspect is that animation and motion graphics has become so commonplace that its value (by clients) is often overlooked, or taken for granted. Clients see so many amazing effects and animation that they undervalue the creative effort that it takes to create something incredible. It’s a conundrum that plagues every aspect of computer design and it is evident as we look back at industries such as desktop publishing, which gave the illusion that anyone with the right software could suddenly produce beautiful graphic designs for print. We cannot loose site of the creative talent it takes to use the amazing tools available today.

Chad Briggs, Creative Director at  Element X Creative
Best aspect is that you can pretty much create anything these days. 

Worst thing is that you pretty much can create anything.

Sean Hutchinson, 3D Technical Director & Kate Ertmann, Producer at Adi
Best: Creating awesome imagery that appeals to your personal taste and style (and the worst is doing the opposite of that). The best is complete control of production in a desktop environment: No rain dates, missing crew, pick up shots, etc. Another best is Just about anything is possible, if given the time, budget, and allowance for creative control.

Worst: Complete control of production in a desktop environment: We have sole responsibility for delivering compelling visuals from scratch. Sitting in front of a computer, time waiting on computers, explaining technical terms to the layperson, clients who like to noodle things just because it is digital. Another worst is that clients know anything is possible, but don’t always understand the direct correlation of that to time, budget, and creative control and know-how. Also, being a newer, creative, ‘hipper’ profession, people presume work is always fun and therefore don’t always get that this is a job and we need to get paid for it – even if it is a cool animation to produce.

Ian Johnston, Owner of  Too Many Legs
The best aspect of working in animation is of course the fact you are working in animation! Animation traverses many forms and is useable in every medium, even audio. Sometimes the money dictates how creative you get to be. Balancing budget and creatively is a fine art.

Joe DiDomenico, Applehead
Probably the best aspect of working in the animation field is being able to bring things to life. The artists at Applehead Factory take pride in knowing that a little piece of themselves can be found in each project we work on.

One of the worst aspects of being an animator these days is that people assume computers do all the work. Although the computers and the software we use aid in the creation of the animation we produce, they are still simply tools in our tool kit. The tools are only as good as the craftsman behind them.”