What Does An Animator Do?

"I’m now taking up a degree in computer graphics and I plan to work in an animation film studio as soon as I graduate. I am now looking for more information about what the job of an animator, particularly his day to day tasks, is. What does an animator do?"

asked by Dennis L. from Bar Harbor, Maine

Animators are professionals who are tasked with making multiple images that would create an illusion of movement such as those that are see in animated films. These images, which are referred to as frames, are run in quick succession in order to make them come to life. Animators can either draw, use computers or utilize puppets to produce these images.

They can work in 2D animation, 3D animation or computer-generated animation and may be self-employed or salaried workers. The latter mainly work in the motion picture and video industries although there are others who work with computer systems design firms, software publishers and advertising companies.

Although animators need to be very artistic and creative, they also need to be at home with new technology, especially with software for computer-generated imagery. There are various computer packages that animators need to have technical knowledge of so they can enhance their work. These include:

Even 2D animators who traditionally do their work using pen and paper also need to learn how to manipulate these computer programs so they can produce better quality work.

Aside from computers, animators need to be nifty with their hands as they will also be utilizing other materials to come up with their characters. These materials include plasters, modeling clays, watercolors, acrylics and oil paints. They also need to have good research skills as they need to look into the background and other details of a project before starting to work on it.

One of the tasks of animators is creating storyboards that illustrate the key scenes and flow of the story. They do this in collaboration with their clients, with animators coming up with the key events of the story from the ideas conceptualized by their clients. They then develop the characters, scenes and backgrounds as well as the movements of the characters in the frame sequence. They also work on the voices or audio and the soundtrack for the project.

The process of making the animation is painstakingly detailed as animators have to make sure that the frames produced are precise and that the dialogue is appropriately recorded. They also have to work together with the editors to ensure that the special effects, graphics and other animation elements are correctly integrated into the visuals.

If the editor or client wants a part of the project redone, animators have to ensure that the necessary edits are made in order to satisfy the client.

Aside from the immediate members of the production team, animators also work together with a broader team to comprised of photographers, printers, website designers, account executives and marketing specialists to ensure that the needs of the client are met and the project is finished on time.

Career Spotlight: Animator

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