One of the biggest misconceptions you encounter when you start working in animation is the idea that you're solely responsible for what you see on the screen as an animator. I vividly remember my first job in animation; I was incredibly naive about the industry.
I had this illusion that as an animator, my work would be the only thing defining what made it into the final film. However, the reality is quite different. What we see in an animated film is rarely the sole result of a single animator. There's a complex interplay of storyboards, pre-visualization (pre-vis), layout, and the guiding hand of directors.
Speaking of directors, that was another revelation. I was hired to animate, but the director's vision is the North Star you must follow. Your personal ideas and interpretations are important, but they must align with the director's vision.
You get cast a shot and essentially told how to animate it. You become cog in the grand movie-making machine.
At first glance, it might sound disheartening, but it's far from it. It's their movie, their vision, and your role is to help bring that vision to life. The director's notes aren't about stifling your creativity; they aim to make the movie better. There's freedom in your shots, within certain guidelines, like hitting specific story points and marks for continuity. Your task is to tell the story authentically and appealingly. You can still have fun and let your creativity flow as you animate.
My journey in animation was a revelation because, at times, it feels like you're just one small gear in a vast machine. You might be assigned seemingly mundane shots that could go unnoticed in the final cut, or face the risk of being cut altogether. Yet, you'll also have opportunities to work on fantastic shots that you can put in your reel and share with your network.
It's a delicate balance. The key is to find joy in animation. Regardless of the shot, strive to do your best. Don't overestimate some shots or underestimate others; focus on making each one shine.
You are a cog in a machine, but you're fortunate to be part of this machine. Animation is one of the most rewarding careers. You collaborate with a talented team, make great friendships, and, after a year or so of hard work, you've created a piece of art that will literally last forever and potentially change people's lives.
You get to celebrate the journey with your friends and attend exclusive conversations with industry professionals.
Awesome studios invest in your growth, which is basically free art school.
So, while you might feel like a small cog in a big machine, consider yourself lucky to be a part of this machine. Animation offers a fulfilling career where you contribute to something beautiful that will last a lifetime.