How To Get Started In Computer Animation
October 11, 2013
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It may take years of schooling and experience to master computer animation, but all you need to break into the field are a few great tools, a little research and plenty of practice. Whether you hope to become a professional animator or just a hobbyist, you can get started from your very own home. So how do you do it?
Immerse Yourself in the Basics
First, you need to understand the basic principles and terminology of animation before you can delve deeply into the art. For instance, there are two main categories of computer animation: two-dimensional (2-D) and three-dimensional (3-D). Two-dimensional animation can be created in programs such as Macromedia Flash and Macromedia Director. Three-dimensional animation is rendered in a virtual 3-D space and can be used in various applications, including video games, animated films and special effects. Both types of animation require very different tools and processes. The best way to become familiar with them is to head to your local library or bookstore and check out a few how-to books. You can also find numerous online resources.
Determine Your Main Area of Focus
Do you want to animate in 2-D or 3-D? Do you want to eventually make live-action special effects or would you rather stick to 2-D animation on Flash websites and multimedia applications? Some animation students focus on one discipline; others dabble in different specialties. You'll want to take a good look at where you want to go so you can make the best choices when purchasing the necessary software.
Select Your Tools
Two-dimensional animation requires software specifically designed for basic vector animation. Check out software staples such as Adobe Flash for a free trial. Alternatively, three-dimensional animation requires complex animation software, such as 3ds Max or Maya 3D. These software programs also offer a free trial. If you plan to attend school for computer animation, ask your professors or advisors for recommendations before committing to purchase a specific software package.
Get Ready to Practice—A Lot!
Once you make your software purchase, do view some tutorials, but then open your program and try to create something. After all, you can only learn so much from tutorials—you need to do it! Don't be afraid to dive in and make mistakes. Your first animation won't be anything to brag about, but don't give up. And remember that computer animation is a complex, evolving art. Even the best animators never stop learning.
Photo source: Flickr