Did you grow up watching your favorite Disney animated productions or anime shows, mesmerized by the artistry of Woody Totoro, Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, and friends? Imagining what it would be like to spend your days bringing your own characters to life in an animation studio?We live in truly exceptional times when you don’t need to be Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, or Emma Watson in Beauty and the Beast, to make your mark. You can be anyone you want to be…if you want to be a Rockstar – start a YouTube channel; if you want to be a Writer - start a blog; if you want to be an Animator – buy a computer and start animating!
Meet Animator Eric Goldberg in conversation with Wacom
Eric Goldberg is best known for his work with Walt Disney Animation Studios. In this video Eric shares highlights from his long and wonderful career as an animator and director. Naturally, one of the highlights of his career was working alongside Robin Williams on the film Aladdin. Being able to animate the Genie to the comedic genius of the late Robin Williams was truly a dream come true. Even today, Mr. Goldberg continues to delight us with his animations.
Becoming who you want to be…or rather you want your characters to be… is entirely up to you!
Whether you turn Aladdin’s Genie into Pinocchio or turn a box of cereal into a delightful animated character, the world is your oyster.
It comes down to equipping yourself with the right tools, laying the foundations with a short course in Animation and getting started.
Becoming a professional animator is a journey you follow, honing your craft day by day, hour by hour, developing the fundamentals and your unique style until you become a master.
What is an animator?
An animator creates digital characters from drawings, or models by transcribing what they see in their imagination onto the screen. Just like a puppeteer who breathes life into innate objects by giving them personality, expressions and movement.
As an animator, you need to be multi-skilled and multi-talented. An artistic flair isn’t all you need, you need to be an actor too, even though you don’t physically appear onscreen, you need to have an intimate understanding of what makes a superior performance.
Your role as an animator is to bring together the performance of the character and the words of the voice-over artists into a magical, seamless and mesmerizing production to entertain people from a diverse audience of varied ages and different cultural backgrounds.
PRO TIPS FOR STUDYING MOVEMENT:
- Watch video footage of interesting movements frame-by-frame, learning the mechanics of the body, what moves and in what sequence to produce that movement.
- Record yourself performing the action you want your character to perform, so you feel the movement and get a spatial understanding of the movement.
Decide what kind of animation
There are so many different mediums you can explore with animation. Generally, the same fundamental principles apply to all of them, but each medium has its own specific workflows and challenges. Find the one or two areas that interest you most. You can choose from 2d animation; computer animation; stop motion animation; or even pixel animation. You can also choose the industry you would prefer to work in, whether film; games; visual effects; employed or freelance.
Knowing what kind of animation and what medium you want to pursue will ensure you equip yourself with the necessary skill set and give you direction in everything from what equipment you need to what course to choose.
Choose your path (course)
You can either follow a 3-year Bachelor of Animation (available at SAE) to build your expertise in all facets of Animation or if you’re not sure that's the route for you, but you know animation is what you want to pursue, then we highly recommend starting with one of the short courses offered by SAE.
Whichever course you choose it’s important to find one that will help you to develop the fundamental skills and knowledge you need to succeed in this exciting industry. Some of the areas you will cover in your course are: fundamentals of drawing, character design, digital painting, 3D modelling, character animation, rigging, textures, project management, teamwork, lighting, rendering and compositing.
Developing a solid understanding of these areas provides students with a solid foundation and context for further study before exploring in detail the specializations.
Whichever course you choose, it gives you the opportunity to participate in simulated real-world projects. This unique teaching style, will help you demonstrate your skills and technical knowledge in a collaborative and creative studio-based learning environment, giving you the best preparation for real-life work.
Your Show Reel
Whilst you are studying and learning your craft, it is important to start building your Show Reel. It is your key to landing your first job and all subsequent projects from that point onward. Animation is a very competitive industry and you will be competing with artists with varied skill. So, the quality and the creativity of your work needs to stand out from the rest.
Look up the reels of some of your favourite animators to gain an understanding of what you need to include in yours. This will also give you a great benchmark to work towards, don’t stress too much about how you measure up just yet, everyone has to start somewhere and before you know it, you’ll be right up there with the best of them.
How to Become a Better Animator
Make a habit of studying live action performances in the film, you can learn so much by watching and drawing actors who perform. A great idea is to build an ever-expanding library of inspiration that you can study and turn to when you need a little inspiration injection. This can be a folder on your computer, it can be categorised or not, the most important thing is that you have somewhere to turn to when you need a boost.
Daily work is a vital component to improving and mastering your craft, aim for volume not perfection. Getting caught-up in perfection will stunt your development and drastically slow your progress. It is far better to get better through repetition and observation. In saying that though, it is just as important to take a break. Step away from a piece and come back to it in a few days to gain a fresh perspective. With fresh eyes, you will almost always see something you missed earlier that takes your work from mediocre to exceptional.
Most animator’s own the ‘Animator’s Survival Kit’ by Richard Williams, it is a manual of methods, principles and formulas for classical, computer, games, stop motion and internet animators. It is a fabulous book to help you learn the fundamentals and principles of animation.
Don't be a Copycat, be Extraordinary!
It is essential to study other animator’s work, listen to podcasts, watch YouTube interviews, find out about their life, their work, their trials and tribulations.
Learning from the greats is essential, but if you are only ever copying, you are doing your creative self a grave disservice. You’ll miss the unique opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Studying another animator’s processes and interpretations, helps you to learn, but if you find yourself unable to find your own unique inspiration, you will fade into the background and never be known for your own vision and talent. Don’t be a copycat, be Extraordinary, be YOU!
Everything is AWESOME when you're part of a Team!
Walt Disney had the right idea, everything is better when you work as part of a team! That means you need to be able to get along with the team, participate, give feedback and take feedback gracefully. The animation is a highly collaborative craft, and the more you can understand the greater context of your part in the production process, the better. You need to understand the purpose of the shot you’re working on and how it relates to the overall story, context and flow of the film. If you can train yourself to always see the more interesting shot, rather than the most obvious one, you’ll become an invaluable member of the team and you’ll see your career grow from strength to strength.
To become extraordinary, you need to push yourself all the time, whether you’re just starting out or you’ve become a seasoned animator with years of experience. Always aim to be better than you were yesterday. Some say it takes 10, 000 hours of focused practice to become a master, start clocking up those hours!
Hardware & Software
If you want to be an animator all you need is a computer and access to the internet and an eye for detail. Many of the various software suites, are now available in cloud format through paid monthly subscriptions. Just make sure you have a computer with an entry-level graphics card.
At SAE you have the opportunity to learn industry standard software such as Maya, Autodesk3D Max and the Adobe Creative Suite. Making sure you are industry ready when you graduate.
Are you ready?
You don’t have to be Walt Disney or Steven Spielberg to make your passion your profession. You can carve out your dream anyway you want to, whether you want to work for PIXAR or build your own brand, whether you want to make YouTube animations or work in advertising, the possibilities are endless and simply waiting for you….
All you need to do is START…
Pick your course and this time next year you could be on your way to becoming the next Eric Goldberg!
- 27 Jul 17
- SAE Creative Media