An artist creates a snowy landscape on a computer

A multimedia artist or animator could...

Help develop a full-length 3D, animated motion picture, like UP from Pixar®. Screenshot of two characters attached to a floating house from the Pixar movie UP Create the characters for a new Saturday morning cartoon. Photo from behind of a boy watching cartoons
Animate avatars, like those on the Mii Channel of the Nintendo® WiiTM. Screenshot of Mii's gathered in a plaza on the Nintendo Wii videogame console Design an animated Super Bowl commercial, like this one from Coca-Cola®. Video thumbnail of two inflatable characters fighting over a bottle of Coca-Cola
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Key Facts & Information

Overview If you've ever watched a cartoon, played a video game, or seen an animated movie, you've seen the work of multimedia artists and animators. People in these careers use computers to create the series of pictures that form the animated images or special effects seen in movies, television programs, and computer games.
Key Requirements Good observation skills, attention to detail, and the ability to take direction
Minimum Degree Bachelor's degree
Subjects to Study in High School Physics, algebra, geometry, drawing; if available, computer graphics, computer animation, computer science
Median Salary
Multimedia Artist or Animator
U.S. Mean Annual Wage
Min Wage
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) More Slowly than Average (3% to 6%)
Related Occupations
Source: O*Net

Training, Other Qualifications

A few entry-level multimedia and animator positions are accessible with an associate's degree, but a bachelor's degree from an art school, college, or university is usually needed. Before searching for work, multimedia artists will need to put together a portfolio of their work to show to prospective employers. In addition, animators will need to create demo reels with footage of characters and objects they have animated.

Education and Training

At minimum, an associate's degree is necessary, but most positions require a bachelor's degree. Classwork will focus on basic art concepts, technology, and computer graphics. Internships will help build an artist's portfolio and give him or her a competitive edge when seeking employment. Degrees can come from either a traditional college or a university, or a specialized art and design school.

Other Qualifications

Evidence of appropriate talent and skill, displayed in a multimedia artist's portfolio, is an important factor used by art directors, clients, and others in deciding whether to hire an individual or contract for his or her work. A portfolio is a collection of handmade, computer-generated, photographic, or printed samples of the artist's best work. Assembling a successful portfolio requires skills usually developed through postsecondary training in art or visual communications. Internships also provide excellent opportunities for artists to develop and enhance their portfolios.

In addition to a portfolio of still work, animators will also need to provide potential employers with demo reels containing clips of animations they have made.

Nature of the Work

Multimedia artists and animators work primarily in the movie industry, computer and video games, advertising, and computer systems design services. They both draw by hand and use computers to create the series of pictures that form the animated images or special effects seen in movies, television programs, and computer games. Some artists draw storyboards for television commercials, movies, and animated features. Storyboards present television commercials in a series of scenes similar to a comic strip and allow an advertising agency to evaluate commercials proposed by advertising companies. Storyboards also serve as guides to placing actors and cameras on the television or motion picture set and to other production details. Many multimedia artists model objects in three dimensions by computer. Some artists, usually animators, work with programmers to make their three-dimensional models move.

Work Environment

Many multimedia artists and animators work in studios that are located in office buildings, at desks with computers. Others, usually those who do contract work, operate out of private studios in their homes. Most artists employed in the movie, television, video game and advertising industries generally work a standard work week. However, during busy periods or close to the end of a long project, they may work overtime to meet deadlines. Self-employed artists can set their own hours. They may spend much time and effort selling their artwork to potential customers or clients and building a reputation.

On the Job

  • Design complex graphics and animation, using independent judgment, creativity, and computer equipment.
  • Create two-dimensional and three-dimensional images depicting objects in motion or illustrating a process, using computer animation or modeling programs.
  • Make objects or characters appear lifelike by manipulating light, color, texture, shadow, and transparency, or manipulating static images to give the illusion of motion.
  • Assemble, typeset, scan and produce digital camera-ready art or film negatives and printer's proofs.
  • Apply story development, directing, cinematography, and editing to animation to create storyboards that show the flow of the animation and map out key scenes and characters.
  • Script, plan, and create animated narrative sequences under tight deadlines, using computer software and hand drawing techniques.
  • Create basic designs, drawings, and illustrations for product labels, cartons, direct mail, or television.
  • Create pen-and-paper images to be scanned, edited, colored, textured, or animated by computer.
  • Develop briefings, brochures, multimedia presentations, web pages, promotional products, technical illustrations, and computer artwork for use in products, technical manuals, literature, newsletters and slide shows.
  • Use models to simulate the behavior of animated objects in the finished sequence.
  • Create and install special effects as required by the script, mixing chemicals and fabricating needed parts from wood, metal, plaster, and clay.
  • Participate in design and production of multimedia campaigns, handling budgeting and scheduling, and assisting with such responsibilities as production coordination, background design and progress tracking.
  • Convert real objects to animated objects through modeling, using techniques such as optical scanning.
  • Implement and maintain configuration control systems.

Source: BLS

Companies That Hire Multimedia Artist or Animators

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