5 Common Questions About Going to Animation School in Canada
The global animation industry is already worth hundreds of billions of dollars. And the demand for animated movies, television shows, and digital entertainment continues to expand around the world. As a result, artists like you often think about pursuing careers as animators so that they can add their own creativity to this industry and earn a living by doing what they love. So it's common to have questions about what following this path might involve. These answers can help:
1. Do I Need a Degree in Animation?
Most employers in the industry do recommend taking art and computer animation courses. However, in Canada, you're more likely to find diploma programs than those that award degrees. In animation studios throughout the country, the feeling is that between one and two years of formal training is enough to qualify for many entry-level positions. And that's generally the length of time it takes to earn a diploma at a Canadian animation school, although some programs can take up to four years.
2. What Will I Learn at an Animation College?
Most schools with programs in this creative field focus on teaching students how to elevate their artistic and technical abilities through hands-on practice. And that usually involves a combination of both computer- and non-computer-based classes. For example, depending on the particular program you choose, you may have the opportunity to learn relevant skills such as:
- Drawing human figures based on anatomical rules and real-life observations
- Drawing objects and physical landscapes in proper perspective
- Applying colour theory to different projects based on specific goals
- Sculpting physical 3D objects and human figures
- Developing cinematic stories
- Designing characters and environments
- Creating useful storyboards and conceptual art
- Applying 2D or 3D animation principles to various types of projects
- Generating believable character and object movements that are grounded in the laws of physics
- Using motion-capture technology
- Producing computer-generated imagery (CGI) and 3D models
- Creating and applying 3D textures
- Applying virtual lighting and camera techniques
- Producing digital visual effects (VFX)
- Rendering final animations
Plus, computer animation classes are generally designed to help students become proficient at using software that is commonly used by today's professional digital artists and animators, which can include examples like:
- Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator
- Adobe Flash Professional, Premiere Pro, and After Effects
- Autodesk 3ds Max, Maya, Mudbox, and MotionBuilder
- Pixologic ZBrush
- Maxon Cinema 4D Studio
3. How Much Do Animators Make?
In Canada, the average computer animation salary is about $49,780. But some experienced animators are able to earn salaries close to $80,000.* And it's possible that you may be able to earn even more someday by starting and operating your own animation studio.
4. How Strong Is Canada's Animation Industry?
This country has some of the world's best animation and digital art talent. As a result, Canadian animation and VFX studios continue to reap many benefits from the growing international popularity of animated films. And new opportunities emerge every year in the market for independent productions since the Internet keeps spurring additional ways to find audiences and deliver animated content to them.
Plus, animation and digital effects are often major aspects of the many films, television shows, and video games that get produced in Canada each year. And even many Hollywood productions utilize the talents of Canadian animators. In fact, several of British Columbia's animation companies are highly prolific contributors to all kinds of American film and TV projects.
In addition, check out these relevant facts:
- In BC, Canadian production companies and studios can often qualify for a refundable tax credit of 16 percent that helps them cover the costs of hiring skilled digital animators and VFX artists.** And the government of Ontario offers similar kinds of tax credits.
- Independent television production is a multi-billion dollar industry in Canada. During the 2013-2014 period, it generated close to $2.3 billion.***
- Vancouver, BC is home to the world's biggest collection of VFX and animation studios.**** They help produce animated and CGI content for everything from films and TV shows to video games and interactive educational products.
- In 2014 alone, Canada's film and TV industries produced computer animation worth nearly $280 million and VFX worth about $435 million. Roughly $87 million worth of that animation was produced in Toronto.†
- Canada's video game industry directly employed about 16,500 people (including computer animators) in 2014.‡
5. What Are Other Good Reasons to Get an Animation Education?
For starters, having formal training can really separate you from other aspiring animators. In fact, many employers will only consider hiring animators who've gone to school to refine their talents. It can make the difference between being considered a true professional or merely an amateur.
Also, going to a computer animation school can be a powerful way to become part of Canada's enthusiastic community of digital animators, which has a terrific international reputation. And most animation programs provide built-in guidance and mentoring with a focus on helping students develop effective career strategies along with great portfolios and demo reels. That way, you can attain confidence and tangible evidence of your skills, which are necessary for landing roles such as:
- 2D animator
- 3D animator or modeler
- Character modeler
- Lighting artist
- Texture artist
- Digital illustrator
- Storyboard artist
- Junior production manager
- Assistant project manager
- Effects animator
- 3D environmental artist
Begin Your Own Fun Journey
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* PayScale, website last visited on October 30, 2015.
** Province of British Columbia, website last visited on June 27, 2016.
*** Canadian Media Production Association, website last visited on February 19, 2016.
**** Vancouver Economic Commission, website last visited on August 31, 2017.
† ACTRA Toronto, website last visited on October 30, 2015.
‡ Entertainment Software Association of Canada, website last visited on October 30, 2015.