What does a Freelance Animator do?

Recently, we’ve explored What a Freelance Premiere Editor does? and discussed the different software they use. This time we want to give you more details about animation and the role of the Animator in the production industry. This guide aims to clarify what that field actually involves, helping you to find a perfect freelance animator for your next creative project.

What is an Animator?

To understand the role of an Animator it is crucial to have the basic knowledge of animation. Animation is a method whereby multiple images also known as frames are sequenced together to create an illusion of movement when displayed in swift sequence. An Animator is an artist who either makes up the images by hand-drawing or digitally creates them. Nowadays, Animators tend to work in CGI – Computer-Generated Imagery – rather than by drawing or painting images by hand, which often is referred to as a traditional animation. Animators are considered to be a part of the art industry and often work in sectors such as film, TV, video games and mass media.

How do I find a good Animator?

Animators work in various stages and even though their job still relies on their artistic abilities, they are also required to be skilled with specific computer packages. A lot of Animators decide to specialise in one field, for example character animation or special effects, which essentially can be anything – from vehicles to natural phenomena like rain or snow.

When choosing an Animator, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of the project you wish for them to work on and the role that you wish the Animator to play within it.

What can you expect from a freelance Animator?

Some of the tasks that an Animator can be responsible for are:

  • Creating sketches, artwork and illustrations in 2D
  • Creating animation from concepts and often working on the ideas directly with clients
  • Accurate and detailed visuals created frame-by-frame
  • Working with Editors on various layers of animation, such as characters, special effects or graphics
  • Designing the whole animation environment – backgrounds, characters and objects
  • 3D computer animation
  • Using software such as: Flash, Maya, Cinema 4D, Lightwave, 3ds Max and Softimage

Animators are also often judged by their portfolio rather than how many years of experience they have. Once you decide to hire a freelance Animator, remember to pay more attention to their showreel as this is a true indicator of what they should be able to offer. To avoid any confusion before booking an Animator for a project, it is always worth speaking to them about what their specific role was on a project or visual example, to ascertain which aspect of the animation they were responsible for! We always recommend calling for a chat, so you can discuss your requirements directly with the freelancer to make sure they have the right skills and software ability.

Why should I need a freelance Animator?

Animation is a great way of producing engaging content and developing creative projects. Producing great graphics is one of the most efficient ways of communicating with the audience; you could use animation for advertising campaigns, or to create branded and promotional content for your company.

How to become a professional Animator?

There are some very relevant studies that will definitely help with learning the basics and making necessary contacts. You can choose from animation, graphic or 3D design, art and film degrees or even computer-aided engineering. However, entering the industry without higher qualification is still possible but requires a showreel, a strong artistic background and solid software and IT skills.

Building a portfolio as a freelancer is the most common path for Animators who usually decide to settle for permanent jobs only after years of working for different companies and on various projects. In the meantime, there is always plenty of opportunities for self-development – from work experiences that are extremely advantageous when you are just starting up and residencies to additional courses. A thorough list of animation-related courses can be found at the British Film Institute (BFI) or UAL.

Most Animators start as studio runners so don’t get discouraged at that point – it’s one of those job roles that have quite a hierarchical structure. You may also go through positions like ‘inbetweener’ or ‘clean-up artist’, who assist the Animator and make drawings between the ‘key poses’ and re-draw sketches. At some point you will be able to progress into a junior position and if you continue to work as hard as before, you’ll become a Senior Animator sooner that you’d have thought! From that you can work on becoming a Design Manager or even Art Director.

We would love to hear your opinion; maybe you have some valuable experience to share? Start the conversation by messaging me on my LinkedIn profile – Magda Kania.

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Yellow Cat Recruitment Ltd.
WeWork, 22 Upper Ground,
London, SE1 9PD

020 7580 7333