The majority of prospective special effects animators attain bachelor's degrees in specialized programs that focus on the software that are the tools of the trade. Bachelor's degree programs in this field fall under different titles such as animation and visual arts or 3D imaging and may result in a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Bachelor of Applied Science or a Bachelor of Creative Media. Programs begin by introducing students to state-of-the-art graphics and editing software designed specifically for special effects animators. These programs offer internships and require a final design project. Some courses and programs are available online.
Bachelor's Degree in Special Effects Animation
A bachelor's degree program in special effects animation offers students a practical foundation in 3D and 2D animation, motion design and conceptual art. Although the balance of work is computer-related, most coursework is done in classroom settings. The courses cover topics such as:
- Drawing preparation for 3D imaging
- Conceptual art
- Character building and interfacing
- Motion physics
- Entertainment law
Popular Career Options
Graduates with a bachelor's degree in special effects animation may find employment in film, video games, commercials, web design and forensics. Many work in consulting or freelance contracts. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2012 that over fifty-seven percent of professional multimedia artists and animators were self-employed (www.bls.gov). Some special effects animator job titles include:
- 3D Artist
- 3D Modeler
- Assistant Project Manager
- Special Effects Animator
- Visual Effects Artist
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
It is difficult to calculate specific information for special effects animators due to the fact that the trade is in demand by such a variety of industries. Special effects animations are used in film, video games, commercials, web design and even many aspects of forensics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that multimedia artists and animators will have four percent job growth, which is as fast as the average, from 2018 to 2028. In May 2018, the BLS stated that these workers earned a yearly median wage of $72,520 (www.bls.gov).
One way to gain valuable experience and learn from working professionals is to participate in an internship program. Every year studios such as Pixar, LucasArts and Dreamworks admit interns into their programs where the students gain first-hand knowledge of the latest innovations in special effects and animation technology. These programs are designed to give interns a realistic and broad picture of all the facets involved in production while encouraging talent and skill development. Entry is competitive and in some cases a student must be either currently enrolled in a related degree program or be a recent graduate.
A bachelor's degree program in special effects animation equips students with the skills and techniques needed to utilize software and programs used exclusively in the field. Students and graduates take part in internship programs to gain hands-on experience.