A Day in the life of an Animator.

A Day in the life of an Animator.

Photo by John Tyson on Unsplash

Does everybody start their day with the usual breakfast, coffee and office routine? Or are there some that do it differently? Legend has it that the ones who are creative,go about their days differently and if they happen to be in the animation industry, then they are usually not the ones who deal with the things we do in this universe. They fight dragons, go back in time, make friends with aliens and have offices in different dimensions. They eat, sleep and breathe stories and survive on smoothies made of math, science, characters and impossibility. They are a breed of their own and the usual eggs on toast simply won’t do. But then what is it? What makes the life of an animator so different from everyone else’s?
The job of an animator is – for the lack of a better expression – spellbinding. To fill in the shoes of someone who has the job of creating fantasy on an everyday basis takes a certain kind of mettle. It isn’t just about the technical skills that someone can acquire – but about how they are able to visualise a scenario, keeping in mind the characters, the environment, the story, the scenario and the context. After speaking to some of the most experienced animators in the field, here are some of the insights that we get.
  1. Every Animator is a performer. Software skills and technical qualifications are necessary, but what really makes someone stand apart is their ability to perform. It is through this vision of performance that Animators are able to bring characters to life. Unless the animator ‘lives the character’, there is no way for the audience to connect with the character on screen
  2. The storyboard is holy grail. It takes no genius to understand that the storyboard is key to every animator’s work, but the genius is seen in how the storyboard is used. Some animators merely use it as a plan of action, whereas the others, see this as essential parts of the story arc and treat the storyboard as such. This allows them to enhance their performance and as a result, give more to the character.
  3. Observation and constant learning is the only key to remain an animator. Studying people – the way they react, think, move, express themselves facially as well as through body language; the way they emote and feel – all of this is a science and art and the pillars of the animator’s life. It is with these learnings that the animator breathes life into the film.
  4. How the animator starts the day defines his career. As humans we all have complex ways of existence and we all choose to pay attention to details that are relevant to us; but being in a zone of calm – to nurture creativity, compassion, empathy while exuding confidence and the sheer joy of performance all depends on the animator. It is thus critical to enjoy one’s work as the animator and understand philosophically as to why they do what they do and how it adds meaning to their life. With this alone sometimes, magic happens.
  5. Timelines are a part of life. To deliver a performance is one, but to ensure that work happens with the deadline in mind is something else. An animator’s day will be easier if they plan how much time they would require for each piece of work given to them. It also pays off to understand how they can manage their energy for each sequence.
With experience, it becomes clear that an animator lives a complete life. A life that is rich in human and imagined experiences but also in tune with reality, emotions, learnings and satisfaction.

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