Special Effects Artists and Animators
Create special effects or animations using film, video, computers, or other electronic tools and media for use in products, such as computer games, movies, music videos, and commercials.
Sample of reported job titles: 3D Animator (Three-Dimensional Animator), 3D Artist (Three-Dimensional Artist), Animator, Artist, Digital Artist, Graphic Artist, Illustrator, Motion Graphics Artist, Multimedia Producer
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Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Design complex graphics and animation, using independent judgment, creativity, and computer equipment.
- Create basic designs, drawings, and illustrations for product labels, cartons, direct mail, or television.
- Participate in design and production of multimedia campaigns, handling budgeting and scheduling, and assisting with such responsibilities as production coordination, background design, and progress tracking.
- Create two-dimensional and three-dimensional images depicting objects in motion or illustrating a process, using computer animation or modeling programs.
- Make objects or characters appear lifelike by manipulating light, color, texture, shadow, and transparency, or manipulating static images to give the illusion of motion.
- Apply story development, directing, cinematography, and editing to animation to create storyboards that show the flow of the animation and map out key scenes and characters.
- Implement and maintain configuration control systems.
- Script, plan, and create animated narrative sequences under tight deadlines, using computer software and hand drawing techniques.
- Develop briefings, brochures, multimedia presentations, web pages, promotional products, technical illustrations, and computer artwork for use in products, technical manuals, literature, newsletters, and slide shows.
- Create and install special effects as required by the script, mixing chemicals and fabricating needed parts from wood, metal, plaster, and clay.
- Assemble, typeset, scan, and produce digital camera-ready art or film negatives and printer’s proofs.
- Convert real objects to animated objects through modeling, using techniques such as optical scanning.
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- Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk 3ds Max Design; Autodesk AutoCAD Civil 3D ; AutoDesSys form Z; solidThinking (see all 6 examples)
- Configuration management software — Perforce Helix software
- Desktop publishing software — Adobe Systems Adobe InDesign ; QuarkXPress
- Development environment software — Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Suite; C; Unreal Technology Unreal Engine; XML User Interface XUI (see all 12 examples)
- Document management software — Adobe Systems Adobe Acrobat
- Enterprise application integration software — Extensible markup language XML
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Creative Cloud ; Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator ; Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop ; Trimble SketchUp Pro (see all 71 examples)
- Object or component oriented development software — C++ ; jQuery ; Object-oriented programming languages; Python
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Operating system software — Apple macOS ; Microsoft Windows ; UNIX
- Platform interconnectivity software — Adobe Systems AdobeMlashMX
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Process mapping and design software — Microsoft Visio
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Video creation and editing software — Adobe Systems Adobe After Effects ; Apple Final Cut Pro; Pixar RenderMan Studio; YouTube (see all 10 examples)
- Web page creation and editing software — Adobe Systems Adobe Dreamweaver; Google Sites; Social media sites
- Web platform development software — AJAX ; Cascading style sheets CSS ; Drupal ; PHP (see all 11 examples)
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
- Communications and Media — Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Sales and Marketing — Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.
- Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
- Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
- Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
- Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
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- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
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- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
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- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Create computer-generated graphics or animation.
- Develop artistic or design concepts for decoration, exhibition, or commercial purposes.
- Coordinate logistics for productions or events.
- Draw detailed or technical illustrations.
- Construct distinctive physical objects for artistic, functional, or commercial purposes.
- Prepare production storyboards.
- Convert data among multiple digital or analog formats.
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- Electronic Mail — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 73% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 69% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 87% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 72% responded “Extremely important.”
- Time Pressure
- Frequency of Decision Making — 18% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 71% responded “Some freedom.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 15% responded “More than half the time.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 60% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 58% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Contact With Others — 58% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Telephone — 39% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Level of Competition
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 55% responded “Important results.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 32% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Deal With External Customers — 30% responded “Fairly important.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 42% responded “Very important.”
- Consequence of Error — 28% responded “Fairly serious.”
- Physical Proximity — 26% responded “Moderately close (at arm’s length).”
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|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor’s degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include real estate brokers, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|Not available||Bachelor’s degree|
|Not available||Some college, no degree|
|Not available||High school diploma or equivalent
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Interest code: AI Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
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- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
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- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
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Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$37.36 hourly, $77,700 annual|
|Employment (2020)||62,400 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Much faster than average (15% or higher)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||7,800|
|Top industries (2020)||
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
- ACM SIGGRAPH
- AIGA, the professional association for design
- American Film Institute
- Association for Computing Machinery
- Comic Art Professional Society
- Game Career Guide
- International Cinematographers Guild
- National Association of Schools of Art and Design
- National Cartoonists Society
- Occupational Outlook Handbook: Special effects artists and animators
- The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
- The Animation Guild
- The One Club for Creativity
- Visual Effects Society
- Women in Film
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