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The Breakdown

From the original Mickey Mouse cartoon to Pixar’s newest release, animation continually captures the hearts of audiences the world over. The art form can be simple or exceedingly complex, endearing or crude and it has introduced a range of characters from the adorable to the impish. If you choose to study animation, you’ll join a cadre of artists who use their talents to delight, to entertain and to educate.

As an animation student, you’ll sharpen both your creative and your technical skills. You will learn about the historical development of animation and the way painting, drawing, sculpture and video have all been incorporated into the form. You will also develop your critical eye, closely analyzing existing bodies of work. Naturally, there’ll be plenty of application as well. Indeed, most programs focus on all aspects of the creative process, from storyboarding to post production. And students typically study a variety of methods such as hand-drawn animation, 2D and 3D computer animation, stop-motion animation and under the camera animation. Importantly, opportunities will arise for you to screen your work for your peers and you will graduate with a portfolio that you can gladly show to potential employers.

We’re guessing you’ve already realized that artistic talent and creativity are indispensible for an animator. Of course, a keen eye for detail is just as essential. Moreover, the best animators have a good story sense and understand what makes for a compelling narrative. It’s also important to be tech savvy and able to withstand criticism. Finally, you’ll want to be sure you can channel the spirit of Walt Disney.

Nuts and Bolts

Animation majors should be prepared to study every possible facet of this discipline. Your coursework will likely include classes such as: History of Animation: Traditional to Digital, Anatomy, Perspective Drawing, Introduction to Stop-Motion, Storytelling, Storyboarding and the Art of the Pitch, Character Construction, Sound Design for Animation, Life Drawing: Figure, Form and Function, Drawing Animals in Motion, Miniature Sets and Action Props, Advanced Animation Workshop and Layout and Design.

Decisions, Decisions

Animation majors are drawn to fields that rely on artistic talent and visual acuity. Therefore, they are also likely to enjoy studying studio art, art history, textile design, graphic design, television/film, computer science, video game design, photography, digital media, art education, communications, advertising, illustration and interior design.

What's Next

An animation major doesn’t only (or automatically) mean that you will be drawing the latest Saturday morning cartoon to hit the airwaves. Indeed, an animator’s skill-sets are more versatile than simply sketching cells for a show like The Flintstones or The Simpsons (though we agree that would be a sweet gig). Many media companies are on the lookout for people who can translate ideas into visual representations. And a number of animators find positions within advertising, broadcast design, game design, education and web design (along with film and television of course). Potential job titles for those with animation degree could include technical director, storyboard artist, motion graphics artist, creative director, modeler or character animator. They all have a nice ring don’t they?


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Don Munce