Associate's degree programs in animation teach fundamental drawing techniques and include introductory storyboard and animation coursework. In addition to completing capstone courses, students must put together portfolios as they progress through an associate's degree program. Applicants may find it helpful to have an art background.
Students of bachelor's degree programs have opportunities to explore more advanced animation, design and video post-production principles. They may create their own animated films. A portfolio could be required for admission to a bachelor's program.
Master's degree programs allow students to explore sound effects and create advanced 3D models. Computer programming and video game animation are some areas of emphasis. Master's programs of this kind involve research, as well as film production. Similar to bachelor's programs, master's program applicants must submit a portfolio.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required for both associate's and bachelor's degree programs, while a bachelor's degree is required for a master's program.
Associate of Applied Science in 2D Animation
Animation that is 2-dimensional creates the illusion of movement by displaying a series of images, each one slightly different from the last. Students in an associate's degree program are introduced to the hand-drawing techniques and computer animation software that bring these images to life. Students also take courses stressing character expression and movement, the development of scenery and video production.
Courses for this 2-year degree provide students with basic skills in drawing and animation techniques. Some programs offer capstone courses to help students build their portfolios or explore career options. Courses include the following:
- Character creation
- Digital video
Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2D Animation
Colleges and universities that offer four-year bachelor's degrees in animation often include a major or concentration in 2D animation. Initial coursework covers animation in general, much like the course requirements for an associate's degree. However, advanced courses taken during students' junior and senior years allow them to study advanced concepts such as sound design, dialogue or video post-production. Students also learn how to create sets, puppets and figures for stop motion animation or use experimental forms such as mixed-media animation. Often, students complete degree requirements by creating their own film.
Fine arts students spend a great deal of their time in the studio. In addition to scheduled course meetings, students must complete projects outside class on their own time. Potential course offerings may include the following:
- Character animation
- Special effects
- Stop motion animation
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Master of Fine Arts in 2D Animation
For those who want to continue their studies in 2D animation, the Master of Fine Arts (MFA) offers students the opportunity to further hone their skills. Students learn advanced techniques for creating particle effects such as snow and rain, dubbing sound effects and dialogue and creating advanced 3D models during the initial stages of character creation. Special elective courses are also available for degree candidates who want to focus on the business aspects of animation production or the computer animation software used to create video games.
Coursework for the master's degree is typically completed during students' first two years of study. Students' third and final years are spent completing self-guided research or putting the finishing touches on a film of their own.
- Animation history
- Particle effects
- Stop motion animation
- Computer programming
Popular Career Options
An associate's degree prepares graduates for entry level positions in the motion picture industry or with advertising and design firms. Some of the most common jobs are listed below.
- Visual effects designer
- Storyboard artist
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Multimedia artists and animators earned a median annual salary of $63,970 in May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS predicted an average growth of 6% in jobs from 2014 through 2024. The new jobs are due to an increase in demand for graphics for computer and mobile device applications, video games and the Internet (www.bls.gov).
Graduates of an associate's or bachelor's degree program in animation are eligible for entry level positions as storyboard artists, animators and visual effects designers. Master's degree students learn more advanced animation techniques and are able to specialize their study on subjects such as animation software for video games or the animation business.