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Animation is the production of a sequence of images and frames that altogether give the illusion of movement. Images used can be hand-drawn, digitally created and models or puppets can also be used to create sequences.
Animators are the people in charge of creating animations, seeing the process all the way from the concept to the finished moving sequence. Animation is a global market, with an estimated worth of about $50 billion per year (Skillset). The UK has an important position in the animation industry, relying heavily on highly-skilled workers.
As an industry, animation has developed enormously over the last 20 years with the advancement of technology and increasingly computerised animations seen in film, television and on the internet. There are different types of animation such as 2D and 3D model-making requiring artistic talent, but with the increased prevalence of computer generated imagery (CGI) there is a growing need for more technical abilities in animation.
Animators need to have a creative and artistic flair, as well as being capable with CGI but there are number of other skills that animators require as the process of animation is long and intricate.
Typical tasks of an animator include:
Competition for work in animation can be fierce, as the roles are quite specific. Most animators have a degree or similar in an Animation or Design discipline. Building up a portfolio of ideas and previous work is crucial in this career path, whether wanting to work in film or television.
Animation is a global industry with many countries specialising in a different area so many animators look into moving abroad to specialise in a particular type of animation. The UK has a strong children’s animation market for television, and a growing games industry. The USA has a huge CGI special effects industry and is home to the big film animation houses such as Dreamworks and Pixar.
Quite often, the way into television or film animation is through working as a runner or a junior design assistant, starting at the bottom and making contacts. Animators can also work in advertising, or creating animations for the internet.
There are many areas of work in the animation industry and, as with any artistic career, success relies on innovation and versatility, so building experience in a range of areas is key.