Career Interview Questions For Animation

Animation Career Advice


Someone asked in a Facebook animation group if their son could interview a professional animator. He is interested in a career in animation and as a school project he had to ask some questions about the animation industry and what the job is like. I thought it might be helpful for others, so here are his questions with my answers:

1. How hard is it to be an animator?

Animation takes a lot of studying and hard work to learn the craft. It is a subject that you continue to learn throughout your life. The deeper you get the more you understand. I think that makes it a rewarding thing to pursue.

Having said that, you don’t require any particular qualifications to start your career in animation. It is entirely judged on talent and skill.

If you are studying art and doing life drawing you will have an easier journey.

I’ve resisted that advice for too long myself.

2. What is your favourite part of being an animator?

I love getting assigned a shot that really excites me. Often there is a piece of dialogue, or something in the storyboard where I know I will be able to get a laugh from my co-workers when we review the episode.

That really fires me up!

3. What is your least favourite part of being an animator?

In my animation career I’ve had to move around a lot. It can be tough starting from scratch in a new place, not knowing anyone.

4. What is the average animations you get done in a day?

In TV animation the daily quota is usually around 10-15 seconds of finished animation a day. The bigger the budget the more time there is to work on a shot.

Generally a shot isn’t finished it’s just taken away from you.

5. How does your job affect your personal life, like family and social activities?

Apart from having to move around which I’ve mentioned, I generally work 9-6 and I can switch off quite well outside of work.

You hear horror stories of “crunch time” in the animation industry. People work lots of overtime for months on end. I’ve experienced short periods of that towards the end of a production, but I’ve always been payed for extra hours so I didn’t mind.

I do work on my own comics and animation in my spare time which probably affects my family and social life more. As a hobby it can be quite consuming so I try to balance it with playing some sport/going to the gym to keep my body healthy since I sit down all day.

6. Do you get some attention when you go in public?

Umm. No. This is a career for people who don’t want to be noticed or seen! Ha ha.

When I tell people what I do for a career they are usually interested. It’s more exciting than some jobs.

7. What is a typical work day like?

It varies a little depending on whether there is an episode briefing, where we watch the animatic (a video edit of the storyboard) and the director gives notes. Or if we have a review where we watch our animation and get feedback.

Otherwise I am left to get on with shots alone and will usually sketch thumbnails of acting/pose ideas whilst listening to the audio, then I block my keyframes. I work through blocking all my shots then get feedback. Make corrections, and fully animate the shots. Then repeat the feedback process and onto the next episode.

I work from home at the moment so I walk my dogs on my lunch hour. I don’t have to commute so I use the extra time in my day to draw comics and spend time with my son.

8. If I graduate college in 2030, will there be any open spots for me?

Animation is a very cyclical industry and it’s going through a boom at the moment but there’s no way to tell when it will decline again.

It’s a very competitive industry so be prepared to start at the bottom and work upwards. Try to get an internship whilst still at school and look into online courses as they are often better than traditional schools.

9. If you won the lottery, would you quit your job even if you love the job you have right now, and why?

I can’t say I love my job right now, but if I was working on a show I really loved I don’t think I would quit, it really is a fun job when you are excited by the thing you’re collectively making.

I expect I would set up my own studio after that production finished though.

10. Is there anything else you think I need to know?

Read The Illusion of Life and The Animator’s Survival Kit.

I would mention that learning a musical instrument, taking up a sport like gymnastics/martial arts/dance, and taking acting classes can all help you to animate better. You pick up things from other artforms, and life in general that you can put into your work.

Always be a student, keep learning.

Good Luck 😀

Career Interview Questions For Animation