The job of an animator is creative, involving the ability to visualise and transform plain images into dramatic motion sequences using computer tools for films, television cartoons, advertisements, computer games, website animation and even music videos. An animator displays multiple images in a rapid series of two- and three-dimensional and stop frames with the aid of special effects.
Creating animation is a multistep process that begins with directors and producers working to generate ideas and planning the project, followed by a preproduction stage wherein storyboard artists translate the script or ideas to a visual format. Next, layout artists create a shot-by-shot look of the entire story. In the production phase, animators use the storyboard or stop frame animation as their base to add movement and personality to the models, while digital painters add colours to it. Finally, the various layers of animation are joined together, incorporating light, texture and soundtrack to give it a feel of reality. Depending on the scale of the project, you could be involved in more than one step of the process or be part of an animation team that is responsible solely for one stage of the production.
To get started in this field, you could opt between a graduate degree and diploma programme in animation, which are offered by both government-run and private institutions across the country. Minimum eligibility requirement for any of these courses is the 10+2 or its equivalent.
You may even opt for short-term (one to six months) certificate programmes offered by many private institutions to add skills in specific domains like visual effects (VFX) specialisation, digital composting, video editing or after effects.
At the postgraduate level, some institutes require a graduate degree or diploma specifically in design or arts. The All India Common Entrance Examination for Design (CEED) is a qualifying examination conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay for admission to master’s and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programmes at IITs and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in various disciplines of design, including animation. The CEED score, however, is only a qualifying score and you will have to undergo a separate admission procedure to gain admission to these institutes.
The foremost skill necessary for those pursuing animation careers is a genuine interest in art and design. This will bring out the creative and artistic expression that will allow static images to develop visual graphics and movements. Sound IT skills, high attention to detail and the ability to concentrate for long periods are other qualities of a proficient animator.
As a graduate or postgraduate with a degree/diploma in animation, you can work as a part of creative teams of television channels, production houses, multimedia agencies, advertising agencies, Web design and graphic design firms, mobile application firms and gaming companies. Many animators also opt to work independently and freelance for various projects.
There are various specialisations within the animation field itself. You could work as a character designer, compositor, key frame animator, paint artist, 3-D modeller or layout artist. Higher roles like those of animation director, creative director and art director can open up as you gain experience.
A recent report by Research and Markets, titled Animation Industry in India: Strategies, Trends & Opportunities 2013 – English Speakers, Low Costs and Technical Skills, shares that the Indian animation industry currently employs 80,000 people. Currently, there are over 650 animation studios located across Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. According to estimates provided by PayScale, an animator’s salary can range between Rs. 1.04 and 6.04 lakhs per annum with variations based on work experience, location, size of company and type of employer. For instance, cities like Mumbai and Bangalore may pay more to animation professionals. Companies with a larger employee base may also provide higher compensation.
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Do I need to study science to be an animator?
No you can take up any stream after Class 10. Science is not compulsory but it would definitely help you if you have a technical bend of mind and a knack to learn new softwares.
I am not too good with colours. Can I be a good animator?
Knowing to play with colours will definitely be an advantage but even if your sense of colours is not that strong you will not lose too much.
I can draw and sketch very well on paper. But I am not too confident with computers. Can I still be an animator?
Yes, you can still be an animator and a successful one. Join an animation institute that will train you on computer animation.
Do I need to be a computer engineer to be an animator?
No. Only basic computer knowledge is essential.
“5 Steps to Becoming an Animator,” ArtBistro, http://artbistro.monster.com/benefits/articles/10876-5-steps-to-becoming-an-animator
“Animator,” AGCAS editors, April 2013, http://www.prospects.ac.uk/animator_job_description.htm
“Animator Salary,” PayScale, 24 July, 2013, http://www.payscale.com/research/IN/Job=Animator/Salary
“CEED 2013: Common Entrance Exam for Design,” 2013, http://www.gate.iitb.ac.in/ceed2013/
“Media & Entertainment in India – Digital Road Ahead,” September 2011, http://www.deloitte.com/assets/dcom-india/local%20assets/documents/me%20-%20whitepaper%20for%20assocham.pdf
“Research and Markets: Animation Industry in India: Strategies, Trends & Opportunities 2013 – English Speakers, Low Costs and Technical Skills,” 24 May 2013, Reuters Press Release, http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/24/research-and-markets-idUSnBw245430a+100+BSW20130524