Careers in 2D Animation
In Australia alone, there are a range of independent animation companies that produce cartoons for the local market. Head overseas and you’ll find the number of opportunities to work in a studio increases, especially if you have picked up different techniques – in both 2D and 3D – along your journey so far.
Even if your ultimate dream is to work for a big production company like Disney, there are a multitude of steps along the way that will build your skills and portfolio, as well as putting some money in your pocket and introducing you to some of the most passionate workers in the world.
As a work-intensive art form, there are plenty of positions you can tackle along the animation pipeline, from in-betweener to background artist to storyboarder, before you even get to thinking about the people who get to design characters and work out the actual plots of cartoons.
For another example you may not have thought about, the role of editor in animated productions requires a specific skill set, quite different from traditional film in that the cut has to essentially be put together before the footage is shot. Specialising in this will put you in demand when the production cycle of local animated series like Tashi or Dot and the Kangaroo roll around.
If that’s not your thing, consider that 2D artist and 3D artist are often considered completely different roles, not to mention VFX artist, compositor, 3D rigger and 3D lighter. Of course, that doesn’t stop you jumping between them if you’re interested in a more holistic view of the process.
There’s a lot of support for animation in Australia, with funding bodies encouraging the development of talent through competitions and scholarships. Screen Australia, in particular, offers production funding as part of its talent accelerator program, and there’s a push for animators to be formally represented within that organisation. More than any time before, animation is becoming something people expect from their entertainment, whether that involves creating visual effects or simply having movie credits move in an interesting way.
Beyond narrative animation, opportunities exist in the media industry for people who can bring movement to static images in online advertisements, televisual interstitials and video games. Watch a few minutes of television or visit a site that allows pop-up ads, and count the number of elements that would have required the talents of an animator. You’ll be surprised how common these frankly amazing “little touches” have become on our screens.
The future of this sector looks bright, given the amount of motion we unconsciously expect from our images – you might not notice the motion, but you notice when it’s missing, and things look amateurish or old-fashioned.
Animation is a career that requires a great deal of patience and exacting work, which means it only appeals to a certain subset of people, who have the skill and determination to succeed. While animation is a small field, it’s an exciting one – as well as one in which you will be surrounded by people who share your passion.