There are several animation techniques, including 2D, stop-motion, 3D hand-drawn, and computer-generated animation, but all professions need a high level of creativity and passion.
An apprentice animator helps generate a series of images known as frames, which provide the illusion of movement combined – this is known as animation. For example, graphics might be computer or hand-drawn pictures, models, or puppets.
Animators often work in two dimensions, three dimensions, stop-frame animation, or computer-generated animation.
Computer-generated animation is commonly utilised in film (for special effects or as a standalone animated feature), television, the internet, and the computer games industry.
The essential skill of animation continues to depend heavily on aesthetic aptitude, but there is an increasing need for animators to be skilled with technical computer programmes.
Throughout your apprenticeship, you may help:
- visualise how to animate storyboard and script ideas
- draw by hand or use animation software to create characters and scenes
- add lighting, shading, colour, texture and special effects
- use motion capture methods to create expressions and movements that are lifelike
- use stop-motion techniques to film 3D models
- combine several layers of animation to create the final product.
- Entry salaries are in the region of £12,000 to £15,000 for apprentices. Salaries in computer game animation start higher at £18,000, rising quickly with experience.
- Experienced animators can earn around £23,000 to £26,000.
- Salaries for animators with at least ten years’ experience are around £36,000.
Working hours are regular office hours (approximately 35 to 40 hours per week), but as deadlines approach you may need to work overtime, including at the weekend.
You could work in a creative studio, in an office or from home.
Qualifications you can achieve as an apprentice animator include:
- Level 4 Junior Animator – Entry requirements for this level include 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship. This qualification takes 18 months to complete.
On an animation apprenticeship, you’ll learn:
- knowledge of media production and communication
- design skills and knowledge
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- thinking and reasoning skills
- the ability to use your initiative
- the ability to work well with your hands
- to be flexible and open to change
- knowledge of the fine arts
- to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently.
In general, animation studios work in various industries (television, advertising, feature film, etc.), while computer game companies tend to specialise in just one.
The United Kingdom also leads the world in pre-school storytelling and design, and investment in this subject is increasing, ensuring employment availability.
Many animators work as independent filmmakers, making their own short films and seeking to secure commissions from animation commissioners at television networks such as Channel 4, the BBC (particularly BBC2), or the internet.
Having a short film screened may generate a commission for a short series, a longer film, or attention from music company advertising agencies (for music videos) or commercial and business businesses.
Most animators learn on the job, but attending seminars and taking courses might help you refresh or improve your sketching, modelling, or software skills.
The British Film Institute offers media and multimedia courses (BFI).
Larger businesses may provide a more organised training programme. This might include studying for a Masters degree in animation or obtaining a professional certificate in a more specialised subject.
There are several short courses and master classes covering specific animation themes that vary in duration from a few days to several weeks.
Local audiovisual industry skills councils are useful when researching short courses or opportunities to develop more particular topics. Find out which organisation services your area of the United Kingdom by contacting Creative Skillset.
Starting as a junior animator, you’ll progress to senior animator and ultimately to design manager or art director after a few years.
Additional paperwork, staff management, and the production of new ideas are all responsibilities of senior roles. Therefore, freelancing employment is commonly used to enhance a career since it improves the animator’s reputation and assures a consistent supply of work and more senior responsibilities.
The United Kingdom is well-known for stop-motion and children’s animation and has a major computer gaming industry. However, animation is a global profession; you may need to go abroad to specialise in a specific style.
The United States is home to some of the world’s largest animation, CGI special effects, and gaming firms. East Asia also generates a substantial amount of 2D animation. As a result, animators are increasingly looking for work outside of the UK to broaden their client base.
Versatility is essential in development, and if you can work with puppets, models, and drawn and computer-generated animation, you may have more options.