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Animator Apprenticeships

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Helping you find a career as an Animator

Animators are responsible for making Finding Nemo, Up, Brother Bear and Monster House and you’re favourite games – they’ve made generations of people happy and that’s a good feeling.

Animators produce images that come to life and their work is not limited to feature films. They also work on computer games, websites, commercials and music videos. They begin by drawing or capturing each stage of movement by hand. An animator works with sketches, specialist software or modelling clay to bring their characters to life.

There are different types of animations, including 2D, 3D hand-drawn and computer-generated animation.

What does an Animator do?
An Animator’s job is different to any other role. They are expected to have an excellent understanding of specialist design and animation software such as Cinema 4D, Flash, 3ds Max, Maya, LightWave and Softimage. A typical day for an Animator could involve:

  • Using a range of materials such as oil paints, modelling clay, plasters, watercolours, acrylics and graphite

  • Communicating and working closely with clients in order to create their vision

  • Delivering presentations (usually presenting a board with draft sketches or frames)

  • Working as part of a production team

  • Recording dialogue and working with editors to bring animation to life

  • Working on background, special effects, characters and graphics

  • Presenting the final work

  • Creating frame-by-frame visuals

  • Confidently using specialist software such as Cinema 4D, Maya and Softimage

  • Managing timings of each frame

  • Working with real-life models to analyse and capture movement

Skills & interests required for an Animator
Animators need to have strong creative skills across a number of different media - from traditional ink on paper to using animation software packages. While creativity is extremely important, animators are often working with designs produced by others, so need to make sure that they stick to the creative direction of the projects they’re working on. Animation projects can be high profile, and often have extremely tight deadlines, so organisation and hard work are par for the course in this industry.
- Ability to Work Under Pressure
- Communication
- Creativity
- Design
- Graphic Design
- Negotiation
- Patience
- Presentation Skills
- Visual Arts
What hours does an Animator typically do?
Animators tend to work 40 hours a week and may need to work significant overtime when deadlines are approaching.
What environment is an Animator based in?
An office or studio.
How much does an Animator get paid?
An Animator will earn between £12,000 to £15,000 per annum as a starting salary.

Gaming animators will earn slightly higher, their starting salaries begin at £18,000.

Animators with a few years’ experience earn between £23,000 to £26,000 per annum.

Animators with ten years’ experience will earn upwards of £36,000. More senior-level animators can earn significant salaries, but will typically focus on managing a team and taking on commercial responsibilities for their company.
What qualifications does an Animator need?
A university degree or a Higher National Diploma is required as a minimum qualification into the (very competitive) animation industry.

Entry into the industry without higher education qualifications is unusual but possible for extremely talented applicants. Courses in Art & Design, Animation Production and Computer Visualisation have been endorsed by the industry in partnership with education providers.

Applicants must have a showreel – this is a video portfolio showcasing animation work to directors, producers, animation commissioners and media companies. Your showreel must be short and effective - companies make impressions within the first few seconds.

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