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Career Connections: Animator

7 minutes

(Describer) Beside four different-size different color circles connected by lines, title: Career Connections. Surrounded by different color stripes, title: Fine Arts.

(Describer) Title: Animator.

For decades, animation involved drawing and painting single frames of artwork and photographing them one by one on a motion-picture camera. Today that's all changed. Modern animation is created on computers by artists skilled in technology-- artists like Ed Lazor. Working from home, he creates animation for motion-picture, television, and corporate clients. I solve graphics problems in motion. In the old, old days, pre-Internet days would have been print. My thing is basically motion graphics, and that involves still graphics that need to be animated in some way, but I'm also a 3-D animator. So, that could mean modeling and building 3-D models and animating them. I used to work for DreamWorks out in Palo Alto, California. And the very first Shrek film had this beautiful boiling fire effect-- that the dragon would spit out this fire. Totally realistic fireballs.

(Describer) They’re shown in scenes from the film.

Well, it took a really long time to render, and I had come up with, as an effect, a way of creating fire that rendered really fast. It was cheap to render, which means the script was small. You could place it anywhere, and it would render instantly. They needed it for the torches at the beginning of the film.

(Describer) They’re shown.

So, I wasn't on Shrek, but I had created this little script in order to solve this problem. I became the hero and able to solve this problem without having to be on the team and spending weeks developing some software. That means that a graphic animator is more than a computer artist and is often also a problem solver. So, what does it take to become a graphic animator? There are animation and graphic design schools online. There are schools that you can go to for a year. I'd always loved to draw, but more specifically, I loved to draw technical drawings. I loved to design skateboards and go-karts and things like that. I'd draw them in three view so my dad or grandpa could help me build them. In high school, I took four years of mechanical drawing. Aced all my classes. I loved doing it because I got to draw things and try to make them look real back when the VIC-20 and the Commodore 64 wasn't even around. This is before Apple existed. While taking formal classes can help you become a graphic animator, there are other ways to break in. Everything's at your fingertips with an Internet connection and a modern computer. With open-source software available on the Internet, you could create animation in your spare time. But it also requires academics, in addition to talent. Everyone, I believe, should have basic art knowledge. And I'll say this, because more and more media today is using imagery to tell a visual story. And unfortunately, and it might be some cynicism on my part, but a lot of people are being duped because the pictures are telling a story, and they're fooling some viewers

(Describer) In a 2014 commercial, old footage of the late Audrey Hepburn is used in a different setting.

in order to sell whatever they're selling. You must be media savvy. Taking art can help. Learning visual language is very important. Something else that's important-- let's say that you're not going to be on the illustrative side of the arts. If you're going towards 3-D, like I've done, you must have your math. You have to have algebra, all your basic-- unless you're gonna be an effects guy. Then you'd study calculus. But you need a math background. Like most creative jobs, the workday can be long. It's not unusual to work beyond ten hours a day. Many animators and graphic artists also work for themselves as freelancers, so you have to market yourself to clients, and competition is stiff. You can't look at the other kids in your high school classroom and think they're the competitors. Nowadays, I'm thinking there's a guy in India or China. Literally, when I do bidding for jobs, I am bidding against those people.

(Describer) On a computer, he highlights the geometry of the skeleton of a figure.

When a person is gonna hire you, you're gonna get a job because you're able to solve that problem faster and cheaper than the next guy. Graphic animation careers are fast-paced and creative ways to earn a living. The work is challenging but rewarding. If I could stress this to someone who's in high school who's looking at college that you have the opportunity to write your own deal. You don't realize that when you're young

until you're into it. [chuckles]

Working for somebody else, there's gonna be constraints. Working for yourself, you can make it as successful as you want it to be. If you can read and have basic math skills, and you have access to the Internet, you have every opportunity to do what I'm doing.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production

(Describer) Titles: For more information, visit OhioMeansJobs.com. Western Reserve Public Media, Copyright 2014. Funding to purchase and make this educational program accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Contact the Department of Education by telephone at 1-800-USA-LEARN, or online at www.ed.gov.

accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

PH:1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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Explore the field of animation with an artist who uses different types of computer software to create graphics for various companies. Animators work in a variety of fields within media, including movies, television, commercials, and video games. Part of the "Career Connections" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 7 minutes

Career Connections
Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 2
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 3
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 4
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 5
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 6
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 7
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 8
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 9
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 10
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12

Viewer Comments

  • Tiny default profile photo
    Richard B. (Salem, OR)
    May 22nd, 2017 at 08:28 PM

    This excellent short video nicely showcases what a career in Computer Animation involves.