The Computer Graphics and Animation industry is full of promise. Every year the biggest movies tend to have the biggest effects. Movies that are fully computer animated, once a far-off dream are now playing at your local movie house. Television commercials use more cinema effects than ever before, and the gaming industry is busting with computer graphically created products. Colleges and universities are offering degress in computer graphics and animation, and are turning out tens of thousands of graduates eager to work to next major blockbuster.
When most people think of computer graphics and animation they think of cartoon movies and animation. But film effects are only a part of the computer graphics and animation industry. Computer Graphics and animation are used in broadcasting, games, theme parks, industrial animation, virtual reality, and scientific and medical research. Here more focus is on the animation side of the industry, but it’s important to note that there is a very heavy use of computer graphics in the design sector 100 (automotive design, consumer products, industrial design and interactive design).
When someone is thinking about getting into the computer graphics and animation field they need to understate that there are many kinds of jobs working in many different industries. To say that you want to be a 3D animator is like saying you want to be a musician. You need to make choices. Certainty there is an overall level of understanding, but beyond that you need to choose your interest area and your style.
After getting a formal training in computer graphics and animation one could be a modeller, an animator, a character animator, a lightening specialist, a compositor, a texture artist, a computer graphics programmer, a technical director or an art director. Each of these jobs is different. You may be interested in all of them and your training institute may be teaching the basics, but the earlier you can focus on an area that you are particularly good at, the better off you will be once you get out in the working world.
Computer graphics and animation is a big business. Like any other business, graphics companies need to be profitable. It’s a common misunderstanding that the companies that do effects make a lot of money. But, many film effect house have closed in the past few year because they have not been able to produce a steady profit. Many of them have turned to doing commercials to make money, and they do film effects to build their prestige.
The Computer graphics and animation industry is project-oriented. The people in working in this field are creative and they are working in the entertainment industry, which is a highly competitive field.
The skills required in this field are your creative approach and good working knowledge of various softwares and hardware components. Talent comes with practice and experience. And jobs come from having a good portfolio and demo reel that show an employer what you can do.
The Formal Education
All the good institutes offering degree, diploma or certificate programs in computer graphics and animation will teach you both technical and design skills along with working concepts which may help you to develop yourself to be an animator and computer graphic artist. But the real work depends on your concrete design skills and conceptual thinking. To be proficient in this field, one should know how to draw and how to tell a story. These are the critical skills for an animator and computer graphic artist. A degree, diploma or certificate in graphics, animation, design, drawing, scriptwriting or production can make you to stand out in this field.
After getting a formal training in this field, generally it takes two to four years to build a good, solid foundation of knowledge. Then it will take additional time to hone your particular talents. So beside the institutional infrastructure, if you have a computer with all the necessary software and hardware components required for this field at home, then you are in great shape.
The softwares and packages generally used in this field are – Alias Power Animator/Maya, Kinetix 3D Studio Max, Soft Image, Lightwave etc. Beside this many companies uses their own softwares and tools. Beside this many private institutions like Tekno Point Multimedia, Maya Academy of Advance Cinematics (MAAC), Zee Institute of Creativity Arts, National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT), Toonz-Webel Academy. Whistling Woods International etc, also offers various diploma and certificate courses in animation and computer graphics.
After completing your formal studies from an institute, the best thing what you can do is to get an internship. An internship is essentially a low-paying job (sometimes, there’s no pay at all) where you do all the grunt work in exchange for valuable experience. Many schools have internship programs already running so you could start there. You may have to take an internship in a company that may be related to the computer graphics and animation industry.
What matters here is the experience you are going to gain. Consider it “paying of dues” or “doing an apprenticeship”. Either way, it can be important to your success. There’s no academic education or self-study that will teach you how to actually do the work- you need to learn from others in a production environment. Make sure your apprenticeship is relevant to your career goal. You could work for a video company, a television station, a theatrical agency, an advertising agency, a photo studio or a printing or publishing house. All of this apprenticeship/training can give your valuable production experience.
During your apprenticeship or training you can develop your own portfolio and a demo reel which may feature the samples of your work whatever you had done. A basic portfolio will include character sketches, storyboards, painting, illustrations, figure drawings and motion studies that you have done. It could also feature other work you have done in photography or design, if it showcases your talents well.
A demo reel is a video tape that shows off your best work. They key here is your best work – not all your work. Even if you have only a few projects under your belt, it’s still critical that you carefully select what you are going to put on your reel. Remember: an employer is expecting to see your best. If you “throw it all in”, you won’t come across well. Here, you need to keep in mind that there are thousands of other job hunters out there taking the same courses and often producing portfolios that look pretty much alike. Your goal is to stand out- never forget that. In the end, the best way to create a great portfolio and demo reel is to follow your own judgment and emphasize the areas in which you really shine.
List of Institutes offering courses in Computer Graphics and Animation are as follows:
- National Institute of design, Ahmedabad
- Birla Institute of Technology (Deemed University), Mersa, Ranchi
- The Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
- Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai and Guwahati
- AJK – Mass Communication Research Centre, Mania Millia Islamia, New Delhi
- Centre for Development of Advance Computing (C-DAC), Mohali
by Dr. Pradeep Nair