View Full Version : State of the animation career

07 July 2009, 12:55 AM
There is not one job listing on Craigslist in the Seattle and surrounding area, which includes a ton of game dev firms. Performing a nation-wide search for "animator" on Monster came up with 1 job, in LA. Doing the same on came up with just a couple, again, nationwide....most were for animation instructor....

Whats going on? Is it just dead right now. How about some real advise. I just came back from an informational meeting about a 3D animation certification course from the University of Washington. The instructor didn't show up, so the head of the UW "extension" dept answered questions and i figure i might as well have been talking to a used car salesman. I just changed jobs in preparation for this certification course, and now im learning I may have been reading sugar coated advise for months. Can someone lay the facts down straight? Will I have to move around every few years? Will I have to take a second job? Keep in mind, i think i will fit into the top 15% at the very least, but that will likely be down the road, not immediately. Can someone say whether or not this career is good for me, if its not necessarily a passion from the start?

07 July 2009, 01:20 AM - look under jobs

Those two sites are pretty good for job searching in this industry. Good luck.

Animation requires a lot of time and work, if you're talking about animation that is. Some people mistake "animation" for everything that has to do with 3d. Not that the other disciplines don't req their own time and effort, but animating isn't for everyone.

Will you have to move around? Depends on how good you are, the types of jobs you take and the area you take them in. If you live in LA, do good work, you can bounce around from Imageworks, RH, and DD pretty easily and they are all fairly close together. Plus there are many smaller studios scattered around as well as Dreamworks. Assuming the studio gets work, you can stay at one for a long time if you perform well and the timing matches. My attitude with this industry has always been, plan for the worst and hope for the best. You may find yourself not wanting to work at a place after a while anyway, most shows are almost always OT and after a few years, you might just want to move.

07 July 2009, 02:32 AM, cheer up. This very second, most places that would post at the larger job hunt places are getting ready to recruit at Siggraph.

07 July 2009, 04:54 AM
Yes, im refering specifically only to animating and maybe common secondary functions like perhaps ( I'm guessing) rigging.

Pinoy McGee
07 July 2009, 03:09 PM
Whats going on?


Real advise? Don't be picky. Apply at any jobs where you can use your cg skills. In-house, freelance, teacher's assistant, game tester, etc. Get your home studio system set up so you can practice as much as you can and get polished stuff for your reel and online portfolio. Your certificate means squat if you can't back it up with pro level content.


07 July 2009, 08:51 PM
There's plenty of work out there for people who have the skills necessary to do the job. Studios constantly battle to find staff to fill the roles they're hiring for; that really is a fact.

Having said that, it's true that you may end up moving around a bit, especially if you work in the entertainment industry side of things. If that's going to be a problem for you, then you may want to consider another avenue in the field (there are many CG paths outside of the entertainment industry).

07 July 2009, 10:26 PM
I agree in general with Leigh, but I do think the recession is causing a lot of US companies to freeze hiring and even lay people off. There are still jobs out there for the right people, but they are harder to find and there will be more competition.

07 July 2009, 11:13 PM
Like RockstarKate said, I've noticed a huge slowdown also. But it seems like things are getting better. Back in April/May it seemed like no one had open positions. Now I noticed companies starting to hire a bit more. As companies get their funding back and projects start rolling again I see the amount of hiring to continue. Just hang in there!

07 July 2009, 11:18 PM
things are pretty dire right now. My advice..learn to drink and go people, make friends. It's your best chance at getting in somewhere.

08 August 2009, 12:31 AM
I'm a depressed loner who doesn't and shouldn't drink anymore. I couldn't form a fake smile to save my life.

08 August 2009, 04:19 AM
Then you are in trouble. I suggest counciling first. Being open and friendly to people you don't know yet can be challenging, but it's not too hard. Find a local group of CG people to hang out with.

Personally I'd love to be in your shoes. You're already in a place where there's a lot of opportunities and people. Where I live, I know exactly 1 person who does this for a living.

Don't put all your apples in one bag either. All because you don't find work for a while doesn't mean you can't at least do this kind of work for fun. 3D animation is FUN... if you're not enjoying doing it on your own then you might want to think about what you're doing carefully.

08 August 2009, 05:00 AM
Can someone say whether or not this career is good for me, if its not necessarily a passion from the start?

All I can say is this- there are a lot of hungry people out there, and if you're not competetive someone else will get the job. Unless you've got some kind of out-of-this-world demo reel that is..

Even if you're not passionate about your work, you need to at least appear to be, because if you come off as ambivalent, people are going to pass you up (unless, as I said, something else is carrying you). just my two cents.. if you honestly think that you are or will be good enough to be in the top 10% of all the existing talent, then I'd say it's a career worth pursuing, though I would be asking myself how I came up with that idea in the first place :)

08 August 2009, 01:19 AM
Im not an artist, is there any related 3d activity I can fall back on in the same position like rigging or......maybe mapping??? What percentage of the time are secondary skills called for? Anyone have facts?

08 August 2009, 04:02 AM
Im not an artist, is there any related 3d activity I can fall back on in the same position like rigging or......maybe mapping??? What percentage of the time are secondary skills called for? Anyone have facts?

Maybe programmer, render farm rangler, or runner (production assistant)? There's probably a few opportunities for you still.

08 August 2009, 09:28 AM
problem is, a lot of those hungry students I mentioned are taking the secondary jobs as stopovers to the jobs they actually want. I know of a guy who graduated from VFS and had to babysit renders at ILM for a whole year before he got bumped up into actual production... and his reel was awesome. I honestly don't think there's a consistent way to half-ass your way into the entertainment industry... many have done it i'm sure, but it was probably luck.

08 August 2009, 04:04 PM
Here are some animations i've done. Do they tell anyone anything? Thats pretty much all i've done except for a little dabbling in the game Operation Flashpoint and all of the tutorials in the Maya 2009 trial software.

08 August 2009, 07:14 PM
it's actually pretty decent for someone who's just starting out- but you're missing some fundamental concepts that are going to be obvious to anybody that knows what they're doing- for example, most of your movements happen simultaneously. in reality, all of our motions are offset by some degree or another. even when we blink our eyelids are slightly staggered. another fundamental that's missing is movement from the core. And also- getting the entire body involved with the animation. when you shift your weight, you feet will usually move at least slightly. With some of these movements, the legs and feet should be much more involved. If you want a challenge, try some of the fundamental concepts of animation like a box push, box lift, box pull, a run, a walk, and a jump. It's hard to tell exactly what concepts you understand from a few upper-body animations, but if you attempt one of the ones I just mentioned we can tell you exactly what you need to work on. Not to mention, until you can do those things at the very least- you are not an animator and will have a very difficult time getting a job.

but like I said, it's actually pretty decent for somebody who's just starting out with no training- if you find some sort of motivation to improve, then you could do well.

08 August 2009, 07:47 PM
Hey, thanks for taking the time to critique that, I appreciate it very much. I'm also happy to hear its over-all positive because those were specifically meant to be satisfactory, not high-quality, because the mod team its for is trying to meet a deadline for 1.0 release. I think i'll have the perfect thing for you to analyze coming up soon. I'm half-way through a drunk_idle animation which is ruffly 500 frames long. I have some bow and arrow animations to i'll also put up. I've got a deadline to choose whether or not to enter into a certification course, so I really appreciate the feedback!

08 August 2009, 07:56 PM
Cool Libertine. The animation is a bit robotic, but I thought it was funny to see a medieval knight take a bottle out of his pocket and throw pills in his mouth.

08 August 2009, 08:13 PM
pretty much what others have been saying is on target.

as far as job hunting (especially on craigslist) i found a few gigs through there in the past and none of them were on the "job" board. My wife ended up finding her full time job there doing flash animation and design and this was all within the last few months.

try expanding your search a little bit. when i hammered it hard on the slow days I would search multiple things in multiple fields. animation, animator, maya, 3d, modeling, modeler, texturing, texture, rigging, etc etc. often times people would have vague adds that you wouldnt get any info out of and they would often times mean something else than what they wrote. Also search in gigs and etc sections. I would search outside of my area too, often times people in other states would be looking but they would be fine with people who tellecomute. its not full proof and its a lot more work to look but it paid off several times for me.

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