How to Make the Most of Your Animation Degree
As an animation student at The Los Angeles Film School, you have access to industry-experienced instructors and advisors, a hands-on curriculum and classrooms equipped with the same tech professionals use. While every department commits to enhancing the academic experience of its students, the Career Development team is solely dedicated to student advancement. At LAFS, we have a specialized advisor for every degree program, and they’re your go-to resource on campus for career advice.
With just over 20 members, the Career Development team helps students with career preparation. On any given day, they revamp résumés, secure internships, host job fairs and alumni events, and tap into working professionals in Hollywood—all in the name of the student. One esteemed CD member is Kevin Bannerman, a senior staffer and career advisor for the Animation and Game Production programs.
Get To Know Your Animation Advisor, Kevin Bannerman
Animation is a competitive field, without question. And as an animation student at The L.A. Film School, you’ll want to rely on the industry-experienced faculty and staff while in school. For starters, here’s what to expect and how to prepare for work in animation and game design as told by animation advisor, Kevin Bannerman.
1. I know animation is the path I want to pursue, but what are the possible fields for me?
Depending on your area of concentration (visual effects, game art or environments & character design) there’s a multitude of paths to pursue. Jobs overlap, but for the most part everything falls under the realm of animation.
-Animators can do 3D modeling, rigging, animation, texturing, lighting and shading. Many animators work in a variety of entertainment fields such as film and TV.
-Visual Effects Specialists can do particle animation, effects animation, compositing, (some) modeling.
-Game Art Specialists focus much more on environment design, but also deal with texturing, lighting and compositing.
-2D Artists focus on traditional methods of character design and concept art. Every project has a concept artist on the team.
2. What’s the toughest area of animation to break into?
This differs from person to person, and it depends on the caliber of the studio you want to work for. Typically, character animation is one of the toughest jobs to go into. Most studios look for a certain level of experience and industry credibility in character animators. The positions are limited and get filled quickly with seasoned animators.
Our animation program has students work on characters like Woody from Toy Story and The Hulk to practice creating main characters. A great way to build your portfolio while in school is to work with 3D modeling for environments and prop assets. Also, major animation studios offer internships and apprenticeships, which allow you to build industry relationships and supplement classwork.
3. Does The L.A. Film School have relationships with animation, VFX and/or gaming companies?
Animators from Disney and DreamWorks have come to our campus to speak with students about working in animation. We also have relationships with smaller VFX studios such as Backed Effects, Mammoth, Skulley Effects and Stereo D that offer apprenticeships/internships.
Other local animation studios to get to know:
Animation Supervisor Malcon Pierce spoke to students about his work on Moana.
4. Any advice for students who are on the cusp of graduation?
You need a 3-5-year plan. If you want to work at Pixar or DreamWorks, you should spend the first 1-3 years building up your skills and credibility at a smaller studio (such as the ones listed above) discovering what you’re really good at doing. Once you have a reel of your work from school projects and field work, you’ll become a more qualified candidate for the bigger jobs that are harder to obtain.