Animation programs attract talented artists who can work as part of a creative
team. Animation students learn drawing skills, and how to incorporate
movement and perspective. Then they must apply these skills to dramatization
Storyboarding, computer animation, 3D, animated film production and stop-motion
clay could all be on an animation student's schedule. Some programs are rounded
out with humanities classes. Some schools include a co-op program in the
industry. Co-op programs give you some real-world work experience while
you're still in school.
Successful animation students may earn a four-year bachelor of fine arts
in animation or a bachelor of applied arts in animation.
Admission to animation programs can be very competitive. In addition to
looking at your grades, schools often ask for a portfolio of 15 to 20 pieces
showing your artwork. There may also be other questionnaires or tests.
Young people interested in animation should start drawing. Angela Stukator
leaves no room for misunderstanding on this point. She is the associate dean
of animation at a college.
"Draw, draw and then draw some more: life drawing, cartooning, any kind
of drawing," states Stukator clearly. "Draw. Go to the zoo and draw.
Draw in cafes. Draw." Each year, about 900 students submit portfolios to
Stukator's program and 120 are selected for first year, she says.
Howard Beckerman teaches animation at the School of Visual Arts. During
his long career, he has drawn Mighty Mouse and Popeye, as well as done animation
for Sesame Street. He advises students to create their own thing instead of
copying popular characters. "Create characters and be aware of the planning,
study, researching, and sketching needed for animation. Explore it from all
different angles," says Beckerman. He adds that you should try watching animated
scenes on DVD frame-by-frame without sound. Study what animators are doing.
When choosing a college, look for a good reputation, good facilities and
strong faculty. You may also want a program that combines animation and film
because film techniques and storytelling are closely related.
Expect to buy lots of paper, pencils and other art supplies. A
computer with an external hard drive and related software may come in handy.
A few textbooks are required reading.
"Save your money now, because you may need equipment or to travel for work,
a course or an animation festival," advises Beckerman. He points out that
animation is an international field and that students should seek out museums,
specialty film libraries and special screenings to open their eyes to the
world of animation.
High school courses in art, film, drama, literature and the humanities
will be useful. Also, any courses that improve computing skills will help.
"We train students for a range of jobs: gaming, feature films, TV, commercials,
education, and gaming. There are a lot of options because our program is so
rounded," says Stukator.
Computer technology has added career opportunities for animators.
Special visual effects created by computer animation are often featured in
films, commercials, and on television.
When you go looking for a job, Beckerman says to stay positive and optimistic.
There are many schools teaching animation, so that means more competition
for grads. Networking will be important, so make friends with your classmates.
You can help each other later when you start looking for work.
"The problem with animation, art and acting is that it is the business
of rejection. You must look past that," counsels Beckerman.
Learn about the different styles of animation
Stay up to date on the trends in animation