What Is A 3D Animator? (Job Description And Requirements)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 January 2023

Published 15 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

3D animators illustrate professionally for industries such as television, cinema, commercials and video games. This job may require you to possess a specialised illustration skill set to join and contribute to an animation team successfully. Learning the details of a 3D animator job description can help equip you with the skills necessary to realise your dream job in this increasingly popular and rewarding industry. In this article, we outline what to include in a 3D animation job description, list the recommended skills and requirements, describe how to become one and provide an example of a 3D animator job description.

What Is A 3D Animator Job Description?

A 3D animator job description details what skills or experience an employer may require an animator to have for an upcoming 3D project. Animators specialise in creating various types of 3D graphics of animated images, objects, human renderings, animal renderings, landscapes and more. These 3D animations are then used to create stories and visuals to entertain and inform audiences. Animators are both a part of the planning and execution of the animation process. Although there are several types of specifications of 3D animators, here are some of the common attributes to 3D animator job descriptions:

  • Research and propose ideas for new animations.

  • Create 3D animations and graphics using illustration software programs based on design briefs.

  • Build and design storyboards by creating and animating a working model of scenes.

  • Develop time and pace of motion graphics based on music and voice requirements.

  • Work with animation editors to merge layers of 3D animation.

  • Constructively receive feedback from the team and clients to alter and improve 3D animations.

  • Provide constructive feedback and recommendations to the team about projects.

  • Collaborate with a diverse team of animators, designers, photographers, art directors and music composers.

Related: What Is An Animator? Definition, Qualifications And Skills

Useful Skills For 3D Animators To Have

3D animation requires special skills to perform the required daily tasks. This includes a strong understanding of current computer animation programs. As the job tasks the animator with creating new visuals daily, being creative is the most important skill to possess. Analytical skills are also important, as understanding complex mathematical equations can help you render 3D animation sequences and perform tasks on complicated computer software programs. Below is a list of some of the essential skills for becoming a 3D animator:

  • Being artistic: Having strong drawing skills and being able to conceptualise 3D renderings of various subjects are critical to becoming a 3D animator. Becoming an avid fan of the various types of media can also help develop your art skills and inspire new ideas.

  • Skilled in animation programs: 3D animators use several, specific illustration computer programs to accomplish almost every daily task. Some of the most commonly used computer programs include Java, LightWave, Premier, MotionBuilder and Adobe programs.

  • Advanced knowledge in 3D modelling: 3D modelling requires high-level knowledge of textures, shadows and lighting. It also consists of understanding illustration fundamentals like perspectives, points of view, colours, compositions and knowledge of how various objects move.

  • Excellent communication skills: As 3D animators work in larger teams and work with many types of clients, being able to communicate effectively with others is imperative. Employers request effective communication skills in both written and verbal forms.

  • Work well in teams: Teamwork is crucial for developing animated media. Being able to share ideas, collaborate on projects and have experience working in teams are helpful skills to becoming a 3D animator.

  • Ability to work under pressure: The media industries operate with tight deadlines and require animators to abide by these timelines. This can entail high-pressure work environments and even working overtime occasionally.

Related: Communication Skills: Definitions And Examples

3D Animator Job Requirements

A career in 3D animation requires a combination of education, training, work experience, a portfolio and even relevant certification. Below is a description of each requirement:

Education

As a highly skilled job type, employers usually require 3D animators to possess a bachelor's degree in fine arts, illustration, graphic design or animation. These courses train the candidates in advanced levels of visual effects, including illustrating, modelling, rendering and animating in 3D using the latest software. Some employers may also accept an associate's degree, especially if the candidates present a high-quality portfolio of work.

Training

Since 3D animation is an emerging field, employers require candidates to update themselves consistently on the latest technologies. Often, candidates can train themselves through self-study. Training can also include learning new animation programs and more basic artistic skills like drawing, painting, sculpting and graphic design. Another important form of training is through interning. Internships offer a valuable setting for being able to contribute to projects and learn how the animation process works.

Work experience

Having actual work experience as a 3D animator proves to the employer that the candidate has actual first-hand experience at the job. Some employers may require you to possess a certain number of years of experience if they are hiring for a higher-level position. Employers seek relevant work experience on the candidate's resume, outlining details such as the position title, employer's name, when the candidate worked at that position, and the description of the role with any accomplishments. The candidate can also outline the relevant work experience in the cover letter of their application.

Related: How To Write Work Experience On Your CV

Portfolio

An example of various projects can help prove to the employer that the candidate can produce quality work. A portfolio is more effective when the candidate presents it professionally as a website. Adapting the portfolio to showcase the most relevant work to a certain position can also be an effective strategy. Showing a broad range of skills and specialties in a portfolio is another way to prove to an employer that the candidate can learn new skills.

Related: How To Make A Portfolio: A Step-By-Step Guide

Certifications

Although many employers do not require certifications, having them helps advance certain skills and helps the animator become more competitive when they are searching for new career opportunities. Many software programs offer certifications to help 3D animators prove their advanced acknowledge in the programs. Other certification opportunities include attending courses for particular types of animation to upgrade the animator's knowledge base.

How To Become A 3D Animator

There are many ways to pursue a 3d animator career, from teaching yourself how to use animation software, to pursuing an education in animation or a related field. Below are four recommended steps to follow to start a career in 3D animation:

  1. Receive a relevant education: Browse and select programs that cater most to your goals for becoming an animator. You may choose to begin with an associate's degree to see if the field of study is of interest, before pursuing a 4-year bachelor's degree.

  2. Choose a specialisation: Find a specialisation in animation that matches your creative interest, either before your studies, during your studies or even during your career. This helps set you apart from other candidates and gives you focus for your career path.

  3. Pursue relevant experience: There are many important ways to gain relevant experience before applying for your career in 3D animation. These opportunities include interning, doing freelance work and even entering industry contests or attending industry seminars.

  4. Create a portfolio and apply: With all the experience you are accumulating, create an engaging portfolio, resume and cover letter. Then you can begin sending out applications to employers.

3D Animator Work Environment

The entertainment industry is the primary employer for 3D animators. This industry includes film, movies, television, video games and special effects studios. Animators can either work directly for the industry companies, work for a contracted company or work as a freelancer. Other related industry work environments that 3d animators can work in include public relations offices, graphic design firms, advertising and marketing agencies, web development firms and can even teach at colleges and universities.

3d animators usually work full-time hours in a fast-paced environment with ongoing strict deadlines. Often, employers may make animators work overtime and weekends to meet these deadlines. The physical work environment includes a small private workstation with a large drawing board, high-speed internet and advanced computers and software. If 3d animators work as contractors, they can work from home or rent an office space and have flexible working hours as long as they meet project deadlines.

Related: How Much Does An Animator Make? (With Job Duties And Skills)

3D Animator Job Description Example

Below is an example of a 3D animator job description:

Ocean Studio Productions is seeking an eager, talented and enthusiastic 3d animator to join a team of creative professionals at our studios. Our 3D animators immerse themselves in the creative process, collaborating with producers, writers and directors to develop and create engaging characters and exciting storylines for a new adaption of a Japanese anime series. We're looking for a candidate who can work with our animation team to draft character designs and is eager to collaborate with storytelling team to bring the look, movements and realism of the characters to life.

The qualified candidate should possess a bachelor's degree in animation or a bachelor's in other fine arts with a demonstrated knowledge of animation software and applied techniques. We prefer candidates with at least two years of animation experience that can include internships and freelance work. Please send us your 3D animation portfolio, preferably a website or landing page, of your best work in a variety of artistic styles in the anime realm. We also require the candidate to have a passion for Japanese anime media.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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