How Do I Get a Job in 3D Animation?

The path to becoming an animator takes effort, though it is a very achievable goal. By practicing animation until you develop the necessary skill level, you will start working toward a job in animation. However, never compromise when it comes to your training or career. Once you understand the process and begin working one step at a time, you will see that your gola of becoming a 3D animator is well within reach.

What Does a 3D Animator Do?

Before discussing the precise steps needed to become a professional 3D animator, we will first discuss the daily responsibilities of that role. Here are a few of the most common tasks and responsibilities you can expect once you start working as a 3D animator.

Storyboarding and Concept Work

Depending on the size of the studio you work for, you may be required to help with each stage of development. Even if you studied 3D animation, you may contribute to a few storyboards and planning phases throughout your career. Storyboards are comic strips that detail how the story is planned out. Each simple drawing is enough to convey the right meaning to every artist involved. You may also be asked to pitch ideas or submit concept art for various backdrops throughout the film or game project.

Animation and Character Rigging

Animating is the art and science of applying motion to a scene. You are responsible for all the movement that tells the story and moves events along. This includes animating characters, objects, environmental details, creatures, and everything else that compromises a digital world. To capture the intricate movements of living beings, a process called character rigging is used.

Character rigging involves simulating the interior body of the person, animal, or creature you are animating. Human bodies are the easiest example to grasp. Since audiences know what it looks like when humans do basic actions such as walking or jumping, your animations for these simple actions must be realistic. Strange and unnatural movements will throw the audience off and make the art less appealing.

Modeling and Texturing

In a perfect world, every model or asset would be complete and ready to animate. Unfortunately, animators are often placed into an imperfect scenario in which they need to help finish modeling or adding texture detail to objects before animating them. You may even need to adjust an old design if it is causing errors such as two body parts clipping through one another. Understanding how to make models is just as important as knowing how to make them move in a satisfying manner.

Environmental Art and Design

Much like incomplete models, background assets that comprise the environment may also be improved by animators with spare time. This includes designing props such as trees and foliage, as well as tinkering with lighting in a scene. Everyone on a project is tasked with filling in details when they can. Although your studio will have dedicated environmental artists on hand, it is common for animators to lend a helping hand.

Special Effects, Postproduction, and Video Editing

After the bulk of the project is complete, animators may get a say in how post-production wraps up the piece. You may create special effects or edit video for film projects. Having knowledge in these areas is excellent even if you have never used an editing booth. Knowing about post-production protocols helps you create animation material that plays well with the next phase of editing.

How Do I Get a Job in 3D Animation?

While everyone’s career path is slightly unique, there is a common set of steps that you can follow to get a job as a 3D animator. Take each of these steps, one at a time, and you will stand out when contacting employers.

Step 1: Attend a Highly Respected Digital Arts & Animation program in Silicon Valley

The first step is to get an education that explains the ins and outs of creating digital art. There are plenty of degree programs to choose from, and even ones specific to 3D animation principles. Each degree program walks you through the development process, so you know how to contribute at any level of the entertainment industry.

You will practice with industry standard hardware and software used by professionals to create your favorite media properties. Many of the classes offer an opportunity to create your own group projects that simulate what real animation houses manage every day. As modern animations employ hundreds of people at a time, learning how to communicate with a team is important. You must learn how to peacefully mediate the inevitable discussions that arise when creatives discuss next steps. The experience you gain will bolster your confidence and help you get ready for the next step.

Step 2: Use the Creative Arts School’s Career Services to Find Jobs you are Enthusiastic About

Upon graduation, you gain access to your school’s career services department. Here you are matched up with jobs that you are passionate about. By talking to the career services staff about your skills and passions, they use their network of contacts to find a suitable entry level role for you. The career services department can also help you prepare for interviews, which conveniently enough is the next step towards your career.

Step 3: Apply to the Job

Applying to a job in the game industry requires a professional approach. You must show you are serious about your worth and demonstrate that you can provide merit to the studio considering your employment. To do this, you will need to develop a resume/cover letter, as well as create your portfolio website. The resume works the same as any other job, but a portfolio is unique to an artist.

A portfolio is a collection of your past projects. The idea is to show off your skills in a concise and obvious manner. Luckily, you will be building a portfolio throughout your degree program thanks to the group projects mentioned before. Since these count as portfolio pieces, you want to do your best in class. Your instructors should also help you compile your portfolio throughout the curriculum. Since the instructors have industry experience, they know what it takes to get hired as a 3D animator.

Step 4: Network with Like-minded Individuals on LinkedIn

While you are waiting to hear back on job offers, it is always wise to keep expanding your network. You should already have your classmates and project partners networked on LinkedIn. From there, you can continue to meet more contacts by participating in groups and posts about digital art. Anyone related to entertainment is a potential resource down the line should your motives align. Each person in your network increases your chances of landing a job in the world of digital art.

The Many Organizations That are Hiring 3D Animators in Silicon Valley

Now that you know the steps needed to reach your goal, let’s examine the job outlook once you do. Silicon Valley is home to many large tech firms that require a large team of animators. Heavy hitters like Google, Amazon, and Apple come to mind first. These companies constantly push the envelope with new initiatives that require 3D animators. In fact, nearly all tech companies are willing to hire animators for promotional and advertising work even if they do not make entertainment.

Then, there are more dedicated entertainment houses such as Sony Interactive Entertainment and giant media platforms such as YouTube. A hefty sum of animators are needed to make big budget video games or create original online content. Finally, there are smaller organizations that take on contract work to save up money for passion projects. A lesser-known venture could be the perfect place to get your foot in the door and build up some experience before applying to work for DreamWorks or Pixar. Regardless of the role you desire within digital art and animation, Silicon Valley is the optimal place to get your journey started.

Want to Learn More?

If your passion is for visual effects, 2D or 3D animation, or concept art for video games or blockbuster films, this is the Digital Arts & Animation degree program for you. Gain the digital arts and animation skills you need to kick off your career in this dynamic and growing industry.

University of Silicon Valley is uniquely poised to offer a meaningful and valuable education for 21st century students. We believe in an education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing after you graduate. Interested in learning more? Contact Us today.

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