Multimedia artists and animators create animation and visual effects for television, movies, video games, and other media. They create two- and three-dimensional models and animation. Although most multimedia artists are self-employed, some work directly for the motion picture and video industry. They often work long hours, especially when deadlines are approaching.
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Multimedia artists and animators typically do the following:
Multimedia artists and animators often work in a specific medium. Some focus on creating animated movies or video games. Others create visual effects for movies and television shows. Visual effects, also called computer-generated images or CGI, include creating animation from images of actors performing or designing scenery or backgrounds for locations. Artists and animators can further specialize within these fields. Within animated movies and video games, artists often specialize in characters or scenery and background design. Video game artists may focus on ‘level design’: creating the look, feel, and layout for the levels of a video game.
Usually, animators work in teams to develop a movie, visual effect, or electronic game. Each animator works on a portion of the project, and then they put the pieces together to create one cohesive animation.
Some multimedia artists and animators create their work primarily using computer software or by writing their own computer code. Many animation companies have their own computer animation software that artists must learn to use. Other artists and animators prefer to work by drawing and painting by hand and then translating that work into computer programs. Some multimedia artists use storyboards, which look like a comic strip, to help visualize the final product during the design process.
Many multimedia artists and animators pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer graphics, fine are, art, animation, or a related field to develop a good portfolio of work and learn the strong technical skills that many employers prefer. Employers typically do not require a degree, but they look for workers who have a good portfolio of work and strong technical skills. Programs in computer graphics often include courses in computer science (such as programming) and graphics. Bachelor degree programs in art include courses in painting, drawing, and sculpture. Degrees in animation often involve classes in drawing, animation, and film. Some schools have specialized degrees in topics such as interactive media or game design.
Some animation studios have their own software and computer applications that they use to create films. They give workers on-the-job training to use this software. Animators may be hired for a probationary period while they prove that they have the skills and talent to become a permanent employee.
Animators and artists should have artistic ability and a good understanding of colour, texture, and light. However, they may be able to compensate for a lack of artistic ability with better technical skills. Many multimedia artists and animators do most of their work using computer programs or writing programming code. However, those with artistic talent may be able to find work without strong computer skills.
Artists and animators must be able to think creatively to develop original ideas and make their ideas come to life. Multimedia artists and animators need to work as part of a team and respond well to criticism and feedback.
Multimedia artists and animators held 66,500 jobs in 2010. In 2010, 59% of workers were self-employed. They often work from home. Some work in motion picture or video game studios.
In 2010, the industries employing the most multimedia artists were as follows: Motion picture and video industries 11% Software publishers 5% Computer systems design and related services 5% Advertising, public relations, and related services 5%
Multimedia artists and animators often work long hours; it is not unusual for them to work 50-hour weeks, particularly when there are tight deadlines. Artists and animators need to be able to keep up with the long hours and challenging work. When deadlines are approaching, they may work nights and weekends.
The median annual wage of multimedia artists and animators was $58,510 in May 2010. (The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.) The lowest 10% earned less than $33,840, and the top 10% earned more than $99,830.