What Can You Do With An Animation Degree?

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Are you fascinated by the design of video games, television cartoons, or animated movies? Then perhaps you should consider exploring the magic of animation. There are plenty of jobs for people who have studied animation, and a few of those career paths are described in this article. In order to decide what career path is right for you, however, you first need to recognize the basic types of animation and do some research on schools that offer the best animation degree programs to help you prepare for the type of career you choose.

Types of Animation

Within the mystical world of animation lie various realms of creativity waiting to be explored. The different types of animation can be rather complex, so in order to familiarize yourself with the basics, a few of them are briefly broken down here.

Mechanical animation – use of mechanical engineering or mechanics in order to make a stationary object move

Computer animation – use of computer-generated images (CGIs) and graphics to develop a sequence of movements

Stop frame animation – manually adjusting and taking photos of an object to create a series of frames that when put together make the object appear to move on its own (i.e., claymation)

Traditional animation – drawing each frame by hand; most popular technique of animation before the invention of computer animation

Animation Degree Programs

Colleges and universities around the world offer degree programs in animation. Choosing one that best suits your career goals isn’t always an easy task. Consider consulting your guidance counselor for tips on courses to take in high school that will help prepare you for enrollment in an animation degree program. Your guidance counselor may also be able to assist you in your search for the school that will help you put your best foot forward in the world of animation.

Founded by Mr. Walt Disney himself, the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) is located in Valencia, California, and its School of Film/Video offers four programs useful to students interested in pursuing careers in animation. The two main animation programs are Character Animation and Experimental Animation. Students earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts through the Character Animation Program focus their studies on using various animation techniques to create characters and tell stories, adding dialogue and sound as their education progresses. Students enrolled in the Experimental Animation Program can earn either a Bachelor of Fine Arts or a Master of Fine Arts. The Experimental Animation Program consists of courses on the history of animation, 2-D drawn and direct animation, 2-D and 3-D computer generated animation, and more. Students at CalArts work with faculty members to help hone their skills in order to gain the best education possible to prepare themselves for careers in animation.

Located in the former military barracks in Viborg, Denmark, The Animation Workshop offers three degree programs for students interested in pursuing careers in animation: a Bachelor of Arts in Character Animation, a Bachelor of Arts in Computer Graphic Arts, and a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Storytelling. Students studying character animation focus on how to create characters that audiences can connect with, characters with motions that flow easily and accurately. They design characters that display realistic emotions with the intent of capturing the hearts of audiences everywhere. Students invested in the computer graphic arts at The Animation Workshop learn how to create three-dimensional characters, scenery, and more in order to provide audiences with animated entertainment that appears much more realistic than traditionally animated forms of entertainment. The graphic storytelling program is designed to educate students on how to work with manuscripts to develop matching animated story lines. It is possible for students to focus on multiple areas of animation, as some courses fall under more than one degree program.

Located in Washington, D.C., the Corcoran College of Art + Design gives undergraduate students the chance to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Digital Media Design, which includes education in 2-D and 3-D animation and motion graphics presented by professionals who specialize in these areas of design and more. Students also learn the basics of storyboarding and narrative structure in order to bring their creations to life in stories of their own making. These skills are particularly useful in the animation industry, as animation is all about creating and developing new characters and stories for entertainment purposes, whether for the television, film, or gaming industry.

Colleges and universities all across the globe also offer excellent online animation degree programs. There are also quite a few online schools with animation degree options.

Corcoran College of Art + Design
Corcoran College of Art + Design

Careers in Animation

If you possess a particularly creative imagination and you enjoy the visual arts, you may find pleasure in the world of animation. While you’re studying any or all types of animation at a higher education facility, you should begin formulating ideas of what type of career you plan to pursue once you earn your degree. This section contains just a few types of careers you could qualify for once you earn a degree in animation.

Entry Level Careers in Animation

It is not uncommon for students to include work they created while earning their bachelor degrees in animation in their professional portfolios. With a bachelors degree in animation and a well-put-together portfolio, you may qualify for one or more of the positions described below.

Storyboard Artist

computer animation degree
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A storyboard artist creates a visual interpretation of a script for anything from a computer game to a television commercial. Storyboard artists may work together in teams and with producers and directors to develop visual concepts for movies. Their visual creations may be done by hand or through computer animation. A storyboard artist may possess a bachelors degree in animation with a concentration in one of various animation techniques. He or she is also capable of working in teams and meeting deadlines in a timely fashion and has a particularly creative imagination with excellent problem solving skills.

Storyboard artists may earn an annual salary anywhere from around $20,000 to over $80,000, based on education and experience levels in addition to whether they are self employed.

Digital Designer

A digital designer works with computer programs to create graphics and special effects for websites, television shows, or movies. He or she often sketches ideas and then further develops them with the use of computer programs. Digital designers typically have at least bachelor degrees in subjects that range anywhere from animation to graphic design. They pay close attention to detail and are highly skilled in working electronic technology and meeting deadlines in a timely fashion.

Entry level digital designers may earn around $34,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.

Advanced Careers in Animation

Upon gaining a few years of experience after obtaining your bachelors degree in animation or earning a masters degree in a field similar to animation, such as digital media or graphic design, you’re sure to gain even more impressive pieces for your portfolio. With a particularly impressive portfolio that displays the development of your talents over years of experience may help you qualify for one or more of the career opportunities described here.

Storyboard Revisionist

A storyboard revisionist works closely with storyboard artists to help create a smooth-running and accurate animated portrayal of a storyline. He or she reviews increments of the finalized project to ensure all dialogue is included, character movement flows naturally, and that there appear to be no gaps in the storyline or frames missing. Storyboard revisionists may work on commercials, television shows, or films. Most companies require or highly prefer storyboard revisionists to possess a bachelors degree in animation or relevant field as well as a few years of experience working with storyboards. Some companies accept applicants with experience gained through internships or work study programs. Strong portfolios are also highly beneficial, as are well-developed communication and teamwork skills. A storyboard revisionist also has an outstandingly creative and analytical mind.

Storyboard revisionists may earn anywhere from $32,000 to over $100,000 annually, depending on the companies they work for in addition to their education and experience levels.

Movie Editor

A movie editor for animated films works with various departments in order to ensure the production of top quality films. Movie editors are knowledgeable in multiple areas of production from creating storyboards to the business end of production. They converse with directors in order to better grasp storylines, which allows them to more easily assist other departments with developing films around those storylines. Movie editors of animated films typically possess bachelor degrees in subjects ranging from animation to film production along with a few years experience in the film industry in addition to that gained from work study programs and internships. They pay strict attention to detail and possess excellent communication and analytical skills.

Movie editors may make around $50,000 a year, based on education and experience levels.

Companies that Hire People with Animation Degrees

Because the animation industry is highly competitive, many people who have earned animation degrees start out as freelance artists. This helps them gain experience while building connections which may ultimately result in permanent employment. Some examples of places that search for people with animation degrees to help them produce top-quality entertainment are listed here.

DreamWorks Animation – headquarters in Glendale, CA; hires positions for storyboard artists, storyboard revisionists, digital editors, digital writers, etc.

Red 5 Studios – computer game company; hires positions for 3D modelers, concept artists, VFX artists, digital designers, etc.

SOS International, LLC – locations across the globe; hires positions for graphics illustrators, production creative managers, etc.

The entertainment and advertising industries are always in search of people with artistic talent, so people with animation degrees need not fear a decline in the job market. If you have the drive to learn how to bring stories to life on the big screen or help with the development of video games, consider earning a degree in animation after high school.

Author: Rose Boettinger

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