CGI animation, or computer-generated imagery animation, is the use of computers to create animated graphics for special effects and video game graphics. CGI animation is used not only in films like "Toy Story" and "Finding Nemo," but also in virtual reality, theme parks and scientific research. For those looking for a career or those who simply want to acquire a new hobby, CGI animation is an interesting, exciting field with lots of room for growth and innovation.
Become active in a CGI community. There are several communities online, such as CGSociety, where CGI animators gather together to share resources, advice, help and updates on the latest trends. Since CGI animation technology is constantly changing, it's vital to become an active participant in the CGI community so that you aren't learning outdated methods of CGI animation or inadvertently picking up bad animating habits.
Obtain a 3-D software package. There are four main software packages that animators use to create CGI animation: Maya, Kinetix 3D, SoftImage and LightWave. Most of the basic components of each package are similar, so you need to obtain only one package to learn the basics of CGI animation.
Do some research. There are several books and online tutorials in media libraries available that teach different CGI animation skills. Online communities often offer advice on the best books, manuals and online articles to choose from. Make sure that the resources you use are up to date, at most 2 or 3 years old, so that you don't learn outdated information. Keep looking for new information as it becomes available to stay up to date on animation techniques.
Attend 3-D animation school. If you want to become a professional CG animator, attending a 3-D animation school might be a better option than independent research. The best schools have successful graduates, good teachers, well-rounded degree programs with courses in traditional animation and photography, and accessible, up-to-date computer labs.
Keep practicing. Learning CGI animation is a difficult, laborious process that on average takes up to three or four years. Avoid becoming discouraged, as many beginners find learning CGI animation overwhelming at first.