What Does a Character Animator Do? Where Do Character Animators Work? ACR Takes a Look.
|Ball State University||Muncie||Indiana|
|California Institute of the Arts||Valencia||California|
|LA Fillm School||Hollywood||California|
|Massachusetts College of Art and Design||Boston||Massachusetts|
|School of Motion||Sarasota||Florida|
|Southern Adventist University||Collegedale||Tennessee|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando||Florida|
|USC School of Cinematic Arts||Los Angeles||California|
|Vancouver Institute of Media Arts||Vancouver||British Columbia|
What Does a Character Animator Do?
Character animators create and design characters using animation software, 3D modeling, 2D animations, and even puppetry. These creative professionals develop characters that use movement to tell a story, whether it’s for film, television, video games or mobile applications.
Character animators create then manipulate animated characters to interact in digital environments by using computer software such as MotionBuilder 3D, Flash Professional, LightWave, Maya and other programs. They also draw storyboards, create models, and design environments. Character animators work with sound engineers to make sure movements are in harmony with sound, and they work with clients to help pitch ideas and develop concepts.
Where Do Character Animators Work?
Character animators work in film and video production studios, advertising agencies, and public relations firms, and for software publishers, computer systems design firms, graphic design firms, game design firms, and web design firms. They also work at colleges and universities and many other areas.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a hefty 57% of animators worked independently in 2012. This is the most recent figure for self-employed animators. These professionals often work from home.
Other Schools to Consider:
- Atlanta, Georgia; Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and SCAD eLearning
What is the Job Outlook for Character Animators?
The BLS reports employment and salary information for the broad group “multimedia artists and animators.” The U.S. is currently home to 73,700 multimedia artists and animators. For the 2016-2026 decade, the BLS projects an 8% increase in employment, which is as fast as average for all occupations. An 8% increase means the industry will add more than 6,000 new jobs by 2026.
Per the BLS, projected growth for multimedia artists and animators will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television. Job growth may be slowed, however, by companies hiring animators and artists who work overseas. Studios may save money on animation by using lower paid workers outside of the U.S.
However, consumers will continue to demand more realistic video games, movie and television special effects, and three-dimensional movies, which will create demand for newer computer hardware, enhancing the complexity of animation and visual effects. Additional multimedia artists and animators will be required to meet this increased demand.
Further, reports the BLS, an increased demand for computer graphics for mobile devices, such as smart phones, will lead to more job opportunities. Multimedia artists and animators will be needed to create animation for games and applications for mobile devices.
How Much Do Character Animators Make?
The median annual wage for multimedia artists and animators is $72,520. The BLS reports that the median annual wage nationwide is $38,640, meaning animators earn nearly double the national average. The highest paid animators average $97,100 to more than $124,310 annually and the lowest paid average $54,400 to less than $40,870.
It is important to note that these figures do not show the whole picture. Individual salaries may vary greatly based on a number of factors such as geographic location, industry, type and size of company, education, experience, and more. For example, the highest paying states for animators are:
- Connecticut - $102,630
- Washington - $90,700
- District of Columbia - $89,210
- California - $87,960
- New York - $86,490
And in California, animators living in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward and the San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara average $91,840 and $91,850, respectively. Those living in the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA metro area average $87,320.
Some of the lowest paying states are South Carolina ($36,270), South Dakota ($44,340), Montana ($48,900), Nebraska ($50,650) and Oklahoma ($53,640).
The top paying industries for animators are:
- Professional and Commercial Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers - $99,790
- Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing - $90,960
- Motion Picture and Video - $86,080
- Software Publishers - $85,270
- Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing - $83,050
Salaries for the top five industries with the highest levels of employment for animators are:
- Motion Picture and Video - $86,080
- Computer Systems Design and Related Services - $78,850
- Software Publishers - $85,270
- Advertising, Public Relations, and Related Services - $73,780
- Other Information Services - $80,070
How Do I Become a Character Animator?
Employers prefer to hire animators with at least a bachelor’s degree in animation, computer graphics, fine arts, or a related field from an accredited school. Animators seeking advancement may opt for a master’s degree. However, those who show “strong teamwork and time-management skills can advance to supervisory positions, where they are responsible for one aspect of a visual effects team,” says the BLS. “Some artists might advance to leadership or directorial positions, such as an art director or producer or director.”
What are some of the top schools for aspiring character animators?
Some of the top schools for aspiring character animators are:
- Animation Mentor, Character Animation (Six 12-week courses culminating in a demo reel)
- Ball State University, BFA Visual Arts/Animation (modeling, texturing, lighting, character animation, visual effects)
- California Institute of the Arts, BFA Character Animation
- LA Film School, BS Animation, Concentration Character Animation
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design, BFA Animation (documentary animation, character animation, stop motion, experimental video, digitally generated animation, and other emerging technologies)
- Southern Adventist University, BFA Character Animation
- School of Motion, Character Animation Bootcamp
- University of Central Florida, School of Visual Arts and Design (SVAD), BFA Emerging Media, Character Animation Track
- USC School of Cinematic Arts, BA Animation, MFA Animation & Digital Arts, Minors 3D Animation and Animation & Digital Arts
- Vancouver Institute of Media Arts, Diploma 2D/3D Character Animation
For graduate programs, check out our Animation MFA rankings here.
Awesome Animation Fact: Did you know that the next Pixar movie is always hidden in the previous one? To name a few: Nemo from Finding Nemo (2003) made a few early cameos in Monsters, Inc. (2001) and the new character of Finn McMissile from Cars 2 (2011) was featured on Andy's wall in Toy Story 3. -Source: Quora.com