What Does a Character Rigger Do? Where Do Character Riggers Work? ACR Takes a Look.
|Digipen Institute of Technology||Redmond||Washington|
|Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Games & Animation||Los Angeles||California|
|LA Film School||Hollywood||California|
|School of Motion||Sarasota||Florida|
|Shinobi School of Computer Graphics||Vancouver||British Columbia|
|University of Advancing Technology||Tempe||Arizona|
|University of Central Florida||Orlando||Florida|
|University of Texas at Dallas||Richardson||Texas|
What Does a Character Rigger Do?
Character riggers are experts at manipulating the geometry of characters in their interaction with environments. Character riggers accomplish this through a thorough understanding of physics and anatomy, operating systems such as UNIX, and software such as Autodesk Maya, Motion Builder, 3D Studio Max, and XSI.
Character rigging is a very tedious process. It requires creativity, precision, and an eye for detail. As such, character riggers are responsible for using computer programs to form skeletons by creating a series of bones that deform and animate specific parts of the character. Character riggers may also help develop tools for animation production processes, collaborate with modelers and animators, and develop new techniques to solve character production challenges.
Where Do Character Riggers Work?
Character riggers work in animation, games, advertising, specialized design services, the TV and film industries, computer systems design and related services, and software publishing. While job opportunities in these areas can be found across the U.S., some of the top states for character riggers are California, Washington, Texas, New York, Oregon, Georgia, Florida Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Virginia.
Other Schools to Consider:
How Much Do Character Riggers Make?
Salaries for character riggers depend on the industry, experience, geography, and the nature of the position. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not report average salaries for character riggers, but several sites such as PayScale and Indeed.com list average salaries based on reports gathered from job sites and employees from various companies. Average salaries for character riggers, as reported by PayScale, are between $25,585 and $71,415 per year. Indeed reports that the average salary for character riggers is $46,000 per year.
Other sources say the range is between $48,000 and $60,000 per year for three to five years’ experience, and $84,000 per year for six years’ experience or more. According to some sources, a lead rigger can earn as much as $108,000 per year.
What is the Job Outlook for Character Riggers?
While the BLS does not report employment information for character riggers, information for animators will give you a good idea of what to expect regarding growth and stability. Employment for animators is expected to grow 8% from 2016-2026. This is about as fast as average for all occupations. Projected employment growth for animators and multimedia artists will be the result of increased demand for animation and more realistic visual effects in video games, movies, and television. However, job growth may be slowed by companies hiring artists and animators who work overseas for lower wages. The increasing demand for computer graphics for mobile devices may counter slow growth by creating more job opportunities in the massive mobile industry.
Despite slow job growth, competition for job opportunities in animation will remain strong. The BLS says, “Opportunities should be best for those who have a wide range of skills or who specialize in a highly specific type of animation or effect.” Still, the U.S. is home to an impressive population of 73,700 multimedia artists and animators, making it the third largest career field in the world of art and design.
How Do I Become a Character Rigger?
The most common degree path for aspiring character riggers is a bachelor’s degree in computer animation. Students may concentrate in character rigging or choose a program with heavy character rigging coursework. Many certificates, workshops, and single courses are available that can help students hone their character rigging skills. However, many employers prefer to hire candidates with a degree and experience in the field.
What are Some Top Schools for Aspiring Character Riggers?
- DePaul University, BFA Animation, Cinema Animation Concentration with traditional animation (hand-drawn, stop motion, and hybrid), 3D character animation, 3D modeling and rigging, motion graphics animation, and CGI effects animation
- Digipen Institute of Technology, BFA Digital Art and Animation (modeling, texturing, rigging, and more)
- Gnomon School of Visual Effects, Games & Animation, BFA Digital Production or Certificate in Digital Production with Character Rigging Coursework, Character and Creature Animation with Technical Character Rigging
- iAnimate, Rigging Workshops (four workshops, 11 weeks each)
- LA Film School, BS Animation, Concentration Character Animation (emphasizes rigging and character motion)
- School of Motion, Character Rigging Courses
- Shinobi School of Computer Graphics, Character Rigging Courses
- University of Advancing Technology, BA Game Art and Animation (prepares students for rigger, jobs character artist modeler, texture artist, and character artist animator jobs
- University of Central Florida, BFA Emerging Media, Character Animation Track (rigging, modeling, animation, texture art)
- University of Texas at Dallas, BA Arts, Technology and Emerging Communication (ATEC), Animation Pathway (emphasizes 3D animation, which includes various artistic and technical disciplines such as character rigging, lighting and composition, modeling and texturing, computer programming and scripting, and character movement and acting)
Awesome Animation Fact: For the Oscar winning, computer-animated film Brave, the team at Pixar came up with a computer simulator named Taz (after the wild Looney Tunes character) to make Merida's curly mane look real. Because of the infinite number of curls that had to move naturally in every frame, this was a tremendous task. It took six Pixar research engineers and artists more than three years to bring the landmark strands to life onscreen. –Source: Quora.com