Animators work behind the scenes in the production of every video game, and their work is visible in every frame. From the gait of the hero to the epically proportioned backdrops, animators influence every piece of visual art in your favorite games.
Though not technically "animation," most video game animators work on the overall visual style of game elements. The look of a video game character or scene represents the combined effort of designers and animators.
After initial design consultations, animators work primarily on the moving aspects of game characters and elements. They design this motion through hand-drawn sketches or computer renders, and create final digital versions for the game. During this process, game animators work closely with programmers to ensure the different elements of the game remain compatible.
Video game animators use professional animation software and 3D modeling programs to create most of their work. They commonly use Maya, Flash, Blender, and other programs, as well as a variety of programming languages.
A video game animator brings together a wide variety of disciplines and requires knowledge of computer science and technical software, as well as artistic and storytelling techniques. Many post-secondary schools offer degrees specifically tailored to the field of video game animation, including Digipen, FullSail and Tribeca Flashpoint. Developers also hire candidates with backgrounds in programming and film-making.
Career and Salary
Video games represent an increasingly large industry, and although the number of jobs remains on the rise, competition is still strong. An animator can expect to earn a salary in the range of $45,000 to $72,000 a year, according to the Game Industry Career Guide. Each video game developer employs several animators, and the largest companies employ several dozen. Work weeks follow standard full-time schedules, but animators may work increasingly long hours as game deadlines approach.
- Photo Credit cartoon alien image by Jesse-lee Lang from Fotolia.com
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