Art: A Career In Animation - What To Do? Where to start?
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Thread: A Career In Animation - What To Do? Where to start?

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    A Career In Animation - What To Do? Where to start?

    Hello all!

    I've been interested in animation and art since I was a child. Originally this is the kind of career that I'd had hope to pursue but at some point in high school I became discouraged and gave up on the idea of it. Even though I had encouragement from friends and family to pursue my art I brushed it off and got caught up in the idea that if I didn't have a natural talent for art I'd never make it in the industry. As silly as it seemed it never occurred to me that art is a skill and with practice, dedication, and time it is in fact something that you can become successful at. So here I am now majoring in Media Studies, which is not a bad subject to study mind you, with only a few more months left until graduation and I'm just now realizing that I do in fact want to pursue and study animation and art. At this point though, I'm not looking to go back to a four year college but I'm a complete newbie when it comes to animation, though I have tried my hand at stop motion a few times. So what would you recommend be my best course of action? I'm already making an effort to draw everyday and to study other artist's work. I'll be done with my major this semester so next semester I plan on taking as many art classes as I can. As far as animation go, I already downloaded Blender and am trying to work though a few tutorials whenever I have time. I'm also in the process of buying a tablet so that I can try my hand at 2D animation. Is this a reasonable path to take? Should I be looking at graduate schools or art classes at community college? Are there any animation/art mentor programs available? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. I really am serious about this but I'm not looking to get into any more debt, if that can be prevented. I'm 21 going on 22 by the way, if that makes any difference. Haha! Thanks guys!

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    I've tried to reply yesterday but something is not working. Okay, trying again.

    Go read wannabeanimator.tumblr.com I'm sure a lot of your questions are answered there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twilightmoon777 View Post
    Hello all!
    At this point though, I'm not looking to go back to a four year college but I'm a complete newbie when it comes to animation, though I have tried my hand at stop motion a few times. So what would you recommend be my best course of action? I'm already making an effort to draw everyday and to study other artist's work. I'll be done with my major this semester so next semester I plan on taking as many art classes as I can. As far as animation go, I already downloaded Blender and am trying to work though a few tutorials whenever I have time. I'm also in the process of buying a tablet so that I can try my hand at 2D animation. Is this a reasonable path to take? Should I be looking at graduate schools or art classes at community college? Are there any animation/art mentor programs available? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. I really am serious about this but I'm not looking to get into any more debt, if that can be prevented. I'm 21 going on 22 by the way, if that makes any difference. Haha! Thanks guys!
    It depends on what you want to do; if you want to do anything but animate 3d models, you need to improve your drawing skills. I can already see the improvement over the year in your sketchbook - but you're not there yet. Take more life-drawing classes; especially if you can find one that focuses on construction and gesture, rather than sight-sizing. Keep drawing from existing artists - get Preston Blair's Cartoon Animation book and start drawing what's on every page.

    If you want to animate 3D models, you can worry less about drawing - take an acting class; pick up the Illusion of Life, and Timing for Animation (recommended anyway) download free models and start moving them around! (I believe Maya's educational license allows you to use the program for three years, non-commercial, for FREE.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by piskorz View Post
    I've tried to reply yesterday but something is not working. Okay, trying again.

    Go read wannabeanimator.tumblr.com I'm sure a lot of your questions are answered there.

    Thanks for the link! I'll make sure to check it out.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alice Herring View Post
    It depends on what you want to do; if you want to do anything but animate 3d models, you need to improve your drawing skills. I can already see the improvement over the year in your sketchbook - but you're not there yet. Take more life-drawing classes; especially if you can find one that focuses on construction and gesture, rather than sight-sizing. Keep drawing from existing artists - get Preston Blair's Cartoon Animation book and start drawing what's on every page.

    If you want to animate 3D models, you can worry less about drawing - take an acting class; pick up the Illusion of Life, and Timing for Animation (recommended anyway) download free models and start moving them around! (I believe Maya's educational license allows you to use the program for three years, non-commercial, for FREE.)
    Thanks for the advice! Do you also recommend studying animated films? If so what's the best approach to doing so?

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    I am currently an animation student who has taken the "affordable" route. I started in Community College and then Transferred to a University for my last two years and I have to say it was the best decision I made, especially because I feel a lot of the teachers at the Community College care more about the students then the University. What ended up happening is I found some fantastic professors at community college that really helped me hone my skill and become good at animation, then when I transferred I was actually ahead of my of the students in my class, and so with that I was able to become top of the class and make some great connections with the professors there who have now offered me internships and work. I dont have my bachelors yet, I do have my associates and I swear by this process.

    I also agree with Alice but she forgot to mention the most important book of all "The Animators Survial Kit" Also there are some great character design books written by Tom Bancroft you should check out. Otherwise just keep drawing, drawing is a necessity for both 3D and 2D in my opinion. Nowadays the two are blended more frequently then we realize, for "Brave" Pixar was doing Pencil Tests. Speaking of Pixar if you are interested in 3D animation their Internship Age Cap is 25 I believe, but not to worry companies like Cartoon Network Require a minimum age of 25 for there Internship.

    If you are just getting started check out community colleges in your area. Speak to the head of the Animation Department if they have one, they will get you on the right track. Draw everyday, start with maybe a page a day of just drawing things in your home, move up to 2 or 3 when you feel comfortable drawing objects realistically work on people, on the train in restaurants just random people, if you can sit in on a life drawing class great. I know my university has free life drawing for artists every now and then. Once you are comfortable drawing people turn them into characters, exaggerate their features, give them a backstory.

    My little tips from an Animator currently in school. It is a fun career filled with fun people.

    If anyone reading this or the poster has any questions regarding animation schools I have done a fair amount of research on them both affordable and non-affordable routes. Also if you live in the Chicagoland area I know a lot about the schools and intenrships out here!

    P.S. to be a true animator you need an awful Hawaiian Shirt.

    A Cartoonist is just a lazy Animator.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcky Marq View Post
    I also agree with Alice but she forgot to mention the most important book of all "The Animators Survival Kit"
    I didn't mention that book because for beginning students, I think it's a fucking awful book. The most important book? One with blank pages. So you can draw and study and make observational notes to fucking learn, instead of relying on a book to tell you the answer.

    Look. If you want to learn how to animate? You have to actually understand the principles being used - so Timing for Animation is much better. It doesn't try and hand you a chart on how to do tons of walks, or actions - it just talks about what the principle is, shows a brief example, then moves on. Then it's up to you to try and apply it. You will never understand how to animate if you don't animate. Oh! Eric Goldberg's book is pretty good too, but it outright assumes you already understand a bit of animation.

    What do students do with the book? They follow the examples exactly. They don't learn what the principles are or how they are used, other than the textbook definition. You cannot rely on a book to tell you how to animate - explain the principles and how they can be applied? Yes. But the survival kit reads like a technical manual. (Which is ironic that there is a short story in the book about Williams talking to an experienced animator about how to do something, and he's effectively told there's no manual for it. What does Williams do? Write a freaking manual.)

    That being said, I do think once you have some animation understanding under your belt, it can be useful (although the video lectures are much better.)

    You do NOT need to know 2D to animate 3D. Do I think there are some strengths you can have by learning 2D? Absolutely - but it's not strictly necessary.

    Edit: apparently I have some unrelenting rage when it concerns the Animator's Survival Kit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twilightmoon777 View Post
    Thanks for the advice! Do you also recommend studying animated films? If so what's the best approach to doing so?
    Sure, you can. Just don't limit yourself to animated films. Well shoot, depends on what you're trying to learn. You can do small silhouette thumbnails studying the composition breakdown, freeze the image on a key pose and redraw it trying to capture the nuances, or look at small clips of the acting and study the spacing, arcs, anticipations, follow throughs, etc. You can take a slightly longer section and study the timing - how long it takes for the character to go through a series of actions or movements, and look for the patterns and contrast. It's even fun to try and figure that out in live action (although the poses will be much less exaggerated.)

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    Not sure it's been mentioned yet, but take some time to learn basic film language. Looks at shot composition and where people are in the frame, and what that tells you about character. Look at lighting, mood, contrast, and colors. Look at story, pacing, and theme. Know the difference between a camera dolly, pan, and zoom. I recommend "Prepare to Board" and "Animated Performance" for beginners, it teaches a bunch of that information from an animation perspective.

    Another thing: It's easy as a young animator to get caught up with mechanics and ignore acting. I highly recommend taking an acting class, being in an improv group, or just watching and analyzing your favorite movies. When you understand why a movie is emotionally effective, you can start bringing those techniques into your own work.

    I agree with the advice here so far. There are many, many paths to becoming an animator, but the one factor that all successful paths share is hard work. Study, practice, blood, sweat, and tears. There is no substitute.

    (As a side note, I happen to think the Animator's Survival Kit is a perfectly fine reference book for learning to animate. It can be dry and rote, but as a reference guide, I think it has plenty to offer. Just don't let it be the end-all be-all of animation knowledge.)

    Last edited by Melete; October 21st, 2012 at 07:12 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melete View Post
    (As a side note, I happen to think the Animator's Survival Kit is a perfectly fine reference book for learning to animate. It can be dry and rote, but as a reference guide, I think it has plenty to offer. Just don't let it be the end-all be-all of animation knowledge.)
    rage, Melete. RAGE. Although I totally second the last part of the comment.

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    Haha, if I had a penny for every person I've run across that treated that book as gospel... I can definitely see where you're coming from.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melete View Post
    Haha, if I had a penny for every person I've run across that treated that book as gospel... I can definitely see where you're coming from.
    I will totally admit to being just slightly irrational when it comes to that book. My main gripe though is that just I think it's awful for someone who has no experience with animation; not because the information in the book as bad or misleading, but because then it's used exactly like gospel, rather than a guide.

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    Count me among the other "irrational" people when it comes to that book -- I simply hate it. There are some valuable things to be found in it, for sure, but the attitude and approach is clinical and soulless. I don't accept the idea that you have to meticulously plan out your extremes or break down the aspects of all your movements. There is something to be said for spontaneity, going off-model, and proceeding without planning. Williams makes a few cursory mentions of straight-ahead animation, but it's little more than lip service.

    The antidote to Williams' approach is found in the work of someone like Mike Nguyen (link), who animates straight-ahead and lets his characters breathe and come to life as if by their own inner spirit. He refers on his blog to his process as "unfolding," which is a very different mental approach from the detached mathematics of Williams' proposed methods. Glen Keane, too, animates from the gut.

    Williams is a "technical master," I get it. I also don't care. For all the skill and precision which Williams put into Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, it's a rather grating film. The Disney "Old Men" hated it (not that they were the final arbiters of anything, but it just goes to show that technical mastery isn't everything). Likewise, I sat down to watch the restoration project of Williams' The Thief and the Cobbler, and after two hours of being wowed by visuals, I felt nothing for any of the characters. All it seems to say is, "Look how good I am at this!" I would rather watch limited animation like The Flintstones, where at least the characters seem to have their own personalities.

    It wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't hear everyone recommend The Animator's Survival Kit like a Bible. I see a lot of people do the first couple of exercises from it, but I've never seen anyone come away from it with much. Eric Goldberg's book and the original Preston Blair book are much better.

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    Well that escalated quickly.....

    Were are supposed to helping this guy not arguing which book is the best to use. All of the books above are great resources and you should at least look at all of them to see what suits you personally the best.

    First off never said it was the bible. I just find it a fantastic tool for animators and it is what I started with.

    As Angry Alice Cooper up there stated somewhere up there or someone... You dont need a book really, they are just reference and guides. I merely stated what guides helped me become fairly successful so far. 3D doesnt need 2D but I have seen the work of 3D animators who cant draw, most of them cant animate either. If you dont understand how the body works and where muscles are and what pulls what, a lot of it learned from drawing and studying anatomy, then your animations may turn out goofy.

    The most important thing and I will argue this to the ends of the earth and back are the 12 principles of animation. Without knowing and using these points your animation will look robotic. You may know a lot of them already and use them but being aware of what they are and where they are applied is essential. Obviously you dont use all 12 for every action, I just mention this because it seems from before my opinions are analyzed word for word and taken as my absolute belief.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcky Marq View Post
    If anyone reading this or the poster has any questions regarding animation schools I have done a fair amount of research on them both affordable and non-affordable routes. Also if you live in the Chicagoland area I know a lot about the schools and intenrships out here!
    I am actually! I'm about an hour outside of Chicago. I've been looking for internships in the arts and animation for forever now and have been very unsuccessful. However, I'm also a beginner when it comes to all of this stuff so I don't even think I'm quite ready to apply. Still, it would be good to know my options. Know any places? Also, have you heard of the School of Representational Art (SORA)? It's an atelier school in Chicago. It may not help me with 3D animation but going to the school would certainly help me with my drawing skills. I was thinking about applying after graduation.

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    Things got a tad bit intense in here eh? You animators have got some very strong opinions about things. XD Anyway, I'll probably check out all of the books mentioned in here and run through them all at least once, it certainly couldn't hurt. As a beginner I'm sure I need all the help I can get and if I can just pick up a little bit of useful information from any of the books It'd be worth it. I'll probably dabble in both 3D and 2D initially to see which one I really like the most though I'm already leaning towards 3D. I like to draw and always have though so even if you don't necessarily need fantastic drawing skills to be a 3D animator it couldn't hurt, and like some members have already said it could make my work that much better in the long run. I appreciate all of the advice and will definitely start incorporating it into my daily life. School is kind of a bitch right now so I barely have time to draw let alone animate but I'll keep trying. If you guys have any other suggestions let me know! Thanks again!

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    In todays world animation has spread rapidly..From movies to cartoons to novels everything evolves around animation..There is a lot in this field if you have good hands in 2d 3d...You should have a sense of where to use these and where to not...so best of luck and this is the best career for anyone who has some visual and artistic mind.

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    dear anyone/everyone in his thread: THANK YOU for more book recommendations! my perspective would have been quite narrow if I have not read this.

    okay, going into animation, here's my plan: continue my undergraduate degree, then either finish my major in communication or ship straight out to the animation department at Sheridan. thoughts/insight? I'm sketching, dabbling, and experimenting with art when and where I can. video tutorials/demonstrations/advice, reference books, practice exercises , hours under the belt... anything on top of that??

    take a peek at my SKETCHBOOK?

    die angenehmen Ungeheuer
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    Speaking as someone who's a bit farther down the path but still studying, as you're going to have a degree already you might look into some of the online animation programs. It's tough to beat the bang for the buck when you look at the caliber of instructor you can get for a pretty nominal cost through iAnimate, AnimSchool, or Animation Mentor, though an online program does require a lot of self discipline and personal motivation.

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    I'm a feature film animator, I think one good thing to do is find a good school. Calarts, Gobelins, Ringling, and Sheridan are excellent programs. Other options are now available online. Studio Technique trains students to professionals (www.facebook.com/studiotechnique) and ianimate.net is another great option.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Artgeek16
    I'm a feature film animator, I think one good thing to do is find a good school. Calarts, Gobelins, Ringling, and Sheridan are excellent programs. Other options are now available online. Studio Technique trains students to professionals (www.facebook.com/studiotechnique) and ianimate.net is another great option.
    between Gobelins and Sheridan, which one would you recommend? for each of their best features?

    Calarts i'm worried about the big competition and the high cost of living there :/

    take a peek at my SKETCHBOOK?

    die angenehmen Ungeheuer
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    Animation industry has boundless scope for those who love to create magic.
    The best way to pursue a career in animation is by getting a graduate degree or diploma in animation. But aptitude in sketching, drawing and deep interest in computers is always considered essential to gain entry into the animation industry.
    f you have oodles of creativity, then yes, this is the right career option for you. For being a good animator you need to possess a great deal of zeal and imagination. You must be good at drawing and sketching.
    Hope it helps!!

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    artgeek16 oooo a feature animatior O_O - i'm just a TV animatior lol.

    AngeUnge - Gobelins imo is the best school on the planet- but they seem to exclusively take post-grads or people who have worked in the industry already.
    I work with lots of Sheridan grads and I've heard overall good things about the place. - You really need to take your own initiative wherever you go, and push yourself beyond the expectations of the program. take advantage of any extra lab time, or when teachers offer extra curricular stuff- sketch groups - whatever.

    You don't need a big fancy degree to be an animator, I went to Max the Mutt in Toronto, which is a private school- so no degrees. I have a small stack of certificates and diplomas that add up to 4 years of schooling in another format. I've been working since 3rd year - so a lack of degree has never hurt me.

    Studios just want to see a solid demo reel. so what ever path leads you to that is good.

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