Digital Nomad Jobs – Animator
How to become an online animator.
Animators are responsible for some brilliant things. From cartoons to computer games some of my favourite things have come from people’s fingertips and if I could draw things other than stick men I’d definitely give it a go. So if you have the necessary skills required to bring drawings or computer designed ideas to life why not give it a go as freelance digital nomad animator?
Animation is a huge field, it is used in pretty much every visual field including TV and film, websites and music videos, and uses many different techniques like 2D hand drawings (early Disney), 3D CGI (Pixar) and stop frame, stop motion or model animation (all those Tim Burton films). All of these methods are very different and have many different stages to go through, as a digital nomad animator I’m going to assume you will be working in 2D and 3D, so I’ll only cover these 2 here.
A solid start is to have a keen interest in art and design, if you’ve got that great, if not, maybe think about being something else?
Obviously the key skill that an animator needs is creativity with a pen or drawing tablet, if you can’t draw or design very well, and aren’t willing to put in the effort to learn it’s probably not for you (and me). Should you be a wizard with a pencil however you’re on the right track, but you will need a little bit more than that. Animation is a complicated business, the animator is responsible for creating a unique character that can communicate and connect with the audience, this requires a certain amount of knowledge and patience, you might not get it right first time, not all the time at least! Creativity and imagination is a must and it is a great advantage if you are someone who observes the world around them. If you’ve ever noticed someone with particular mannerisms that are unique and interesting, maybe project some of them into your work, no bullying of anyone though, that’s just nasty.
Accuracy and attention to detail are key as is the ability to communicate well, you will need this to connect with and fully understand the clients needs and requirements. You don’t want to be going backwards and forwards over one piece of work potentially missing out on other clients and new projects. Along side these communication skills you will need great knowledge of IT and how it works, this includes the basics like emails to the more advanced including all the specialist programs you will be using. You can learn most of these programs yourself, more on which is listed below. A successful animator needs to be well organised, innovative and resourceful and able to work well on their own as well as with others, you may well end up having to have your work combined with that of another freelancer to create the final piece the client is looking for.
Concentration, working well under pressure and the ability to take orders from senior animators or clients are all self-explanatory qualities needed by an animator. All in all there are quite a lot of these skills required, this job doesn’t seem to be for the faint hearted!
If you think you have the required skills then it’s time to build your website and put together your show reel. We’ve covered the pros of having your own website in previous posts but in case you’ve missed it we will briefly recap, it’s cheap, easy to make, essential to show off your skills and talents and great for advertising. That’s that covered.
For your show reel be creative, if you haven’t done much/any paid work before you’ll have plenty of room to play with, have a look at the following pages for a useful insight into making your show reel stand out from the crowd.
Once you’ve honed your skills and created your show reel your well on your way, it’s time to get out there and look for work. Advertise everywhere you can, sell yourself to everyone you meet. Be bold and take a leap.
As animation is a huge subject I can’t comprehensively cover it all here, should you think that the job is the one for you have a look at these sites for a more conclusive view of animation:
Whilst it is not impossible to get into the animation world without a formal qualification or degree if you are looking for permanent work in a studio you stand a much better chance with one, fortunately, as you are looking to become a freelance digital nomad animator you probably won’t need a posh piece of paper saying you can draw. In reality, I’m convinced that your potential on-line clients will be more impressed with your up to date and fantastic show reel, work they can physically see rather than an imaginary testament of skill from a school they probably haven’t heard of.
As an animator it is useful to have a good mix of creative and technical skills and any training/education/knowledge in the following areas could be useful to you: illustration, computer programming, graphic design, 3D design, sculpture and multimedia design (amongst others). All of these topics can be self-taught and a quick search on google brings up hundreds of free and seemingly good ways to do this. Have a look at the free tutorials aimed at your specific needs and make the most of the advice, the more effort you put in to learning these programs now the easier it will be when you’re working for money!
A few useful links:
It is possible to take on-line animation courses however I am not sure how recognised or reliable these courses are, they may be wonderful, they may be worth just about as much as the ‘congratulations, you have passed’ email you receive? I wouldn’t feel all that comfortable recommending one.
A decent computer is essential, animation software is pretty in-depth and can take up a lot of space on a computer, therefore you will need a machine capable of running the software at a decent speed. You’ll go insane if you have to wait 10 minutes to open every file you want to use. The type of computer you will need is going to be subjective to what kind of animator you want to be. A 2D animator probably won’t need a machine quite as capable as a 3D animator, either way be looking to get the best that you can for your budget. I’m reliably informed that Mac’s are fairly standard in the industry but don’t be swayed by its sleek design and little fruit logo, make sure it can do what you want. In the interests of fairness you can get an equivalent machine made by HP, here are a few to look at:
A good graphics tablet is always handy, they are small, easy to carry and lightweight. Again, there are hundreds to choose from but look to get the best you can afford, this doesn’t always mean the most expensive, more one that suits your specific animation needs.
In terms of software it’s going to vary on the type of work you are doing. Some of the most popular animation tools and software are:
3D animation; Autodesk Maya, Softimage, 3DS Max, Blender (free), and 4D Cinema.
2D animation; Adobe Flash, Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, TVPaint and Toon Boom.
These are just a few of the many programs out there but they do seem to be some of the most popular, be wary though, the price of some of these is pretty steep, you’ll need to make a fair chunk of money each month just to pay for the subscriptions. Shop around to make sure you are getting the right deal for your needs.
Where to find work on-line?
The following sites offer work for the freelance digital nomad animator.:
As well as looking on these sites consider advertising your services on the usual social media suspects, craigslist and any other listing boards you can think off.
How much to charge?
Freelance digital nomad animators can expect to earn anywhere between $10 and $50 an hour depending on your skill and experience, and between $50 – $500 flat rate per project. Competition is fierce and to start with you might need to work for slightly less than you would like to, stick with it though and provided you work hard and well you’ll hopefully soon be bringing in the big bucks. Once you’ve got the experience you might find yourself working on the next big Hollywood blockbuster, that’d be pretty amazing yeah?
How well does it suit the Digital Nomad lifestyle?
Pretty ideally really, the equipment is easy to transport, ensure you have adequate insurance though, you don’t want to end up a creek without a paddle if you drop your laptop into a volcano or something. Working as an animator on the digital nomad road sounds great, imagine all the new inspirations you will be seeing on a daily basis. The new designs for people or places you can collect to make use of later on? It’s an endless resource for you that will give you a great head start should someone want an animation of that little Bolivian village you visited last weekend.
The money available is to earn is enough to allow you to travel and stay in comfort and as the world is all inter-netted up you’ll never be too far away from the online world.