Animation and special effects are created using sophisticated computer software. Computer animators or multimedia artists, create the increasingly realistic images and visual effects that we see in movies, video games and on television. While natural artistic ability plays a major role in your success as a computer animator, a college program will provide you with the necessary technical skills and the opportunity to develop your talent.
A familiarity and level of comfort with computers, specifically with design programs, will provide a basic foundation. Many students are able to take computer courses while in high school and some are fortunate enough to have exposure to computer design programs. Art classes also expose students to important concepts such as perspective and composition.
Colleges offer a variety of programs appropriate for a career in computer animation. Some are certificate programs while others lead to associate or bachelor’s degrees. Many computer animators pursue a bachelor’s degree in an area such as fine art or computer science. However, there are bachelor’s degree programs available specifically in computer graphics and animation.
A certificate program will require between 30 and 35 credit hours and may focus solely on computer animation-related coursework. To complete an associate or bachelor’s degree, students will need to complete general education requirements in addition to the core subject coursework. Associate degree programs are usually designed as two-year programs requiring approximately 90 to 100 credit hours. Bachelor’s degree programs are four-year programs requiring between 120 and 130 credit hours.
Coursework for computer animation combines both art and technology skills. Most programs require a basic drawing course and a course in the theory and skills of design. Some programs require courses in specific design programs, such as Adobe Photoshop. Student will also take a series of computer animation courses covering digital imaging, 3D modeling and rendering, animation techniques, special effects and visualization. Additional courses might include video scripting and editing, history of animation or character design.
Although there is job growth in the field of computer animation, competition can be fierce because of the number of people interested in this field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as of 2013. As consumers continue to expect higher quality, more realistic animation, employers will be looking for animators with exceptional skills.
Lee Haas has been freelance writing for eight years and has been published on eHow.com, educhoices.com, education-portal.com and in "Parent to Parent" magazine. Lee specializes in writing about education programs and careers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Iowa.