Careers in Animation

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Graphics Tools Software Engineer

Responsible for analyzing the procedures and problems of animated film production, evaluating the effectiveness of existing systems and making recommendations to improve output, efficiency and workflow. Areas of specialty for a Graphics Software Engineer may include rigging and animation, dynamics, paint, effects, look development and/or rendering tools. They partner with production personnel to determine user needs and review system capabilities to decide what changes can be made within the existing systems and when new systems must be added. They will often work with developers and/or end-users on multiple films. Design responsibilities include the creation of new C, C++, MEL, Perl or Python code or the modification of existing code, whichever meets productions needs in the timeliest manner. Regression testing and analyzing of software, code check-in/integration and distribution are also part of the software engineer’s implementation responsibilities.

Infrastructure Software Engineer

Responsible for the development and support of productivity tools for the production of animated films. They analyze production software procedures and problems, evaluate the effectiveness of existing systems and make recommendations to improve output, efficiency and workflow. Their areas of specialty include databases, schedule and shot tracking tools, pipeline asset management tools and quality assurance testing.

Systems Administrator

Responsible for the configuration, tuning and troubleshooting of various systems in production infrastructure. Systems Administrators have a particular focus on UNIX/Linux, but also support Windows and Macintosh systems. They perform hardware and software maintenance on workstations and servers as well as data protection. Systems Administrators interact with a variety of production, systems and software teams.

Technical Support Analyst (TSA)

Provides software, hardware, systems support and customer service to the crew. Members of the TSA team require excellent customer service skills, technical problem solving abilities, an understanding of animation or visual effects production, skills in commercial graphics packages such as Maya, Shake or Photoshop; and developed Linux, Macintosh and Windows skills for navigating a heterogeneous computing environment.

Render I/O (RIO) Administrator

Responsible for understanding production’s render pipeline and supporting proprietary production techniques. They monitor and troubleshoot the render queuing system and rendering workload. Tasks include troubleshooting and correcting failed tasks, image quality control, technical advice/support and interfacing with artists, systems administrators and production management to ensure production deadlines are met.

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Storyboard Artist

Visualizes a film script in a series of panels (like a comic strip). They convey the essence of the story line, scene structure, character emotion and create action and humour in alignment with the overall direction of the film. The ability to quick sketch and a filmic sense are necessary requirements of a storyboard artist.

Visual Development Artist

Explores a concept visually, which includes Character Design and/or Environment Design, for animated films and special projects. Visual Development Artists experiment with the diverse elements of film presentation to manipulate dramatic story moments, plot thrusts, moods, character conflict and place-time motifs to capture the emotional connection to the story’s theme. A rich imagination, a sense of caricature and design, strong color sense,architecture, the ability to work in different mediums and the versatility to conceptualize in various techniques are required.


Responsible for creating complex organic models needed for character animation; prop elements for effects; and environmental sets and structures. A mastery of human and animal anatomy, perspective, weight, volume, proportion and/or architecture, industrial design or automotive design are required. Previous experience with traditional sculpting is a plus.

Layout Artist

Stages and sets up of each shot. Layout Artists demonstrate a strong sense of place and are well-versed in the principles of cinematography. For developing a variety of environments for characters to live, akills of attention to perspective and compositionare critical.

Character Animator

Brings characters to life. Character Animators have backgrounds in animation disciplines such as traditional, cg, stop motion or claymation. Training should coveranatomy, perspective and composition, including solving problems in weight, balance, movement, space, construction and proportion.Animators must be able to demonstrate their understanding ofanimation principles such as timing, clear staging, squash and stretch,anticipation and follow-through, and secondary action.

Character Technical Director

Constructs 3D character rigs, animation interfaces and establishes muscle, skin and clothing behaviours (i.e. range from broad squash and stretch to realistic physical simulations). Traditional drawing, design and sculpture abilities are applicable, as is abilities are applicable, as is knowledge of anatomy and kinematics.

Background/Matte Painter

Creates the final environment for the characters to live in. A strong sense of design and compositing,colour and proportion is essential in developing 2D and 3D backgrounds.

Look Development Painter

Works with other Look Development staff to achieve the look of complex 3D elements (i.e. characters, props and environments) in the show. This includes painting texture maps (e.g. colour maps, specular maps, displacement maps), working with technical directors to enhance the look and creating lighting setups. Look Development Painters typically have production experience and skills in 3D artwork.

Look Development Technical Director

Defines the technical aspects needed to create the look of a 3D element. This includes the development of custom shaders, applying texture maps, and developing other custom software to accomplish the art-direction goals of an element or environment.

Hair/Cloth Technical Director

Works with the Model, Look Development, Animation and Software teams to create art-directable dynamic simulations for character hair/fur and clothing in 3D. Production experience with procedurally generated objects and dynamic simulations, an understanding of 3D computer programsand artistic skills and abilities in 3D and traditional artwork are required.

Effects Animator

Adds natural, and sometimes supernatural, phenomena to an animated film. An understanding of physical dynamics and natural forces is key as it aids in producing a believable world and setting the mood for the story. An Effects Animator must take direction easily, work well with an artistic team and deliver scenes in a timely fashion.

Lighting Artist

Assembles the elements of a shot into a final composite and composing the digitallighting of the scene. They have an understanding of colour,contrast, and lighting design, along with familiarity with 3Dlighting in a production environment. They also possess a strong visual sense and the ability to distinguish subtledifferences that affect matching of elements created inmultiple mediums.

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Produces computer-generated images or animations for advertisements, video games, films and other projects. Animators have a solid foundation in fine arts, mastery of motion design and timing, and film experience utilizing both traditional and digital materials.

Assistant Animator

Prepares drawings to fill intervals between key poses or frames. Also refines the sketches, cleans and tightens up lines, and darkens shadows.


Identifies the subject of the film, defines the characters, and develops the story line and dialogue.

Project Manager

Holds a business position that organizes ananimation project, oversees the hiring, supervises the team and ensures that deadlines and budgets are met.


Responsible for the overall development of a film/project. They hire the animation team, locate investors for the projects, manages expenses and handle distribution of the final product.


Responsible for the overall coordination of all animated characters within a project. Though there is interaction with the “environment” (background), the director is primarily concerned with theactions of the characters.

Assistant Director

Works in any artistic department on a production supporting a wide range of digital artists and/or technicaldirectors. The AD must possess a working knowledge of Unix and havethe ability to work in a collaborative environment.


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