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Films like Finding Nemo, Toy Story and The Lion King are all responsible for gifting viewers with the moment they knew they wanted a job in animation. And of course animation isn't solely creating Shrek into the princess rescuing Ogre we all fell in love with. Animation is at play in live action films, commercials, web sites, tutorials and can be incorporated into any visual moving medium. The allure to work in this fanciful world is usually suited for a specific kind of creative.

Animators in film and TV create entire worlds full of fictional characters who have jobs and families and journeys that we can relate to but we've never seen in real life. This requires an innate curiosity for how people and animals move in their day-to-day interactions. The reason why audiences connect to animated narrative content is because there's so much humanity in the characters, regardless of whether they are cartoon people, animals or aliens. Animators are obsessed with detail which is why the posture, the facial expressions, the manner of walking and talking in animated content is so emotionally powerful. A command of movement is a must for animators as the characters these creatives are artistically manipulating have to show internal thoughts through physical external motion.

Animators who specialize in motion graphics that are offering animation to other fields outside of motion pictures need to have that same skillset of understanding movement and the eye's reaction to it.

Animation teams are constructed of a web of highly skilled and specialized creatives. Here's a look at some of the jobs you could be doing in animation:

(reference: CreativeSkillset.Org) (AnimationCareerReview.com) (Glass Door)

Art Director - Art directors are usually at the helm of the ship of visual direction. Art directors develop design concepts and review material that will appear in digital media, newspapers, advertisements, books, magazines, and more. This animation position requires years of experience, advanced technical skills, and considerable knowledge in the areas of art and management. Annual salaries for this position can be as high as $120K and average at $72K according to Glass Door.

3D Modeler - This type of specialist creates characters and environments for video games and 3D movies. They also make images for websites, graphic design, animation, film effects, simulations, broadcast design, special effects, characters and props for film, television effects, and location-based entertainment. The average annual salary: $50K according to Glass Door and PayScale.But in more expensive areas like Los Angeles, that salary can jump to $80K.

Animator - This position entails making animation and visual effects for films, video games, television, mobile devices, and other forms of media using illustrations and software programs. Some of the leading programs that animators are proficient in: Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere, Autodesk3ds Max, and Autodesk Maya. Animators plan, create, and script animated narrative sequences, and help with background design and production coordination. Many animators have become freelancers in recent years so the range of salary is pretty broad. On the very low end, animators will get paid $35K and on the highest $120K, with location being a big determining factor according to Glass Door and PayScale.

Render Wrangler - A render wrangler monitors the computers to ensure input and output of data across various file systems and initiates data moves to distribute disk space appropriately. The render wrangler communicates with animators, producers, supervisors, resource managers, coordinators, and other artists across various departments. The average salary for this position is $35K according to Glass Door but again can vary based on location.

Character Rigger - These animators are experts at manipulating the geometry of characters in their movement within environments. Character riggers have an extensive understanding of physics and anatomy, operating systems such as UNIX, and software such as Autodesk Maya, Motion Builder, 3D Studio Max, and XSI. The average salary for a character rigger is $35K according to PayScale.

Here's a look at what the Hot Jobs in Animation, according to the Animation World Network (AWN):

  • Federal UI/UX Interaction Designer
  • Interaction Designer, 2-3 years experience, $45K-$65K
  • Senior UX Designer, 5-7 years experience, $85K-$120K
  • Entry Level Animator, 0-2 years experience, $75K-$120K
  • Senior Level Animator, 3-5 years experience, $130K-$200+
  • Senior Interaction Designer, 3-5 years experience, $110K+
  • Senior Graphic Designer, 3-5 years experience, $110K+
  • Video Editor, 2-3 years experience, $85K-$120K
That's a quick snapshot at some of the jobs you could be pursuing or making a lateral move to in the world of animation. Now let's look at the job landscape. The top five sectors of work for animators:
  • Professional, Technical and Scientific Services
  • Educational services
  • Insurance Carriers and Related Activities
  • Publishing Industries
  • Motion Picture and Sound Recording Industries

While Pixar and Dreamworks have been the juggernauts to work at in motion picture and sound recording, there are hundreds of other animation-based studios. Laika, based in Oregon, is known for stop motion, and is responsible for such offbeat films as Kubo and the Two Strings, Coraline and Paranorman. Bento Box is a younger studio based in California with a satellite office in Atlanta, but has already won an Emmy for its work on Bob's Burgers. Blue Sky, located in Greenwich, Connecticut, turned heads with their breakout Ice Age, and its 2015 debut of Peanuts. In the gaming world, EA, headquartered in Redwood City, put out Madden and The Sims, and Ubisoft, the genius behind Assassin's Creed, has locations all over the world including San Francisco.

These are a just a few examples of places to work in one sliver of the marketplace of animation. Corporations need animation all the time for internal presentations and in-store videos. Web designers work with flash animators to give a dynamic energy to a site their creating. There are so many ways to dive into this world of whimsy.


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  • 3D Generalist / VFX Supervisor

    Encore, Los Angeles, CA

    Listed 11 Days ago
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  • Max Lighter

    Synchrony Studios, Los Angeles, CA

    Listed 11 Days ago
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  • Modeler / Texture Artist

    Luma Pictures, Santa Monica, CA

    Listed 11 Days ago
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  • Post-Viz Animator

    Proof Inc, Los Angeles, CA

    Listed 11 Days ago
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  • Compositor

    Luma Pictures, Santa Monica, CA

    Listed 11 Days ago
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