If you’re passionate about getting exposure for your animated film, chances are you’ve already submitted to major film festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, Berlin, and Toronto. While there’s nothing wrong with aiming high right out of the gate, narrowing your focus to film festivals dedicated exclusively to animation will increase your chances of acceptance. Fortunately, opportunities for today’s animated filmmakers to get their masterworks in front of a captive audience are endless. You see, there are hundreds, if not thousands of animation film festivals and competitions around the world that welcome first-timers and veterans with equal enthusiasm!
Though established film festivals such as Sundance and Tribeca welcome animation submissions, chances are slim that you’ll get in. Each year, Sundance receives more than 12,000 submissions for 118-125 feature film slots, 60-80 short film slots, 5-10 episodic project slots, and 20-40 virtual reality project slots. Tribeca receives more than 3,000 submissions for around 90 slots. Fortunately, there are ways to increase your chances of getting into a film festival. One way is to target festivals that have a specific animation category or those dedicated entirely to animation.
You’re probably thinking there’s no way an animated film could cost as much as making a live action movie. After all, animated films don’t require building elaborate sets from the ground up, travelling with cast and crew to exotic countries, designing hundreds of intricate costumes, or hiring the highest paid actors in the world, right? Wrong! For every costly component of creating a live-action film, there’s a pricey one for animation too. And an animated film could take even longer to complete—even with talent working around the clock.
Animation is one of the most exciting career fields in the art and design industry. It also offers one of the highest salaries. Animators earned a median annual wage of $63,970 in 2015, with top earners averaging more than $113,600. Certain industries, specialized areas or high-level positions could pay even more than the median. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists software publishers and other information services among the top five highest paying industries for animators. Average earnings are $76,920 and $82,940, respectively.
The size of the global animation industry was $244 billion in 2015. Major contributors are the U.S., UK, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, and Korea. Besides being home so some of the world’s largest animation studios, these countries are known for their exceptional art and design schools.
So you’re heading into the home stretch and it’s time to gain some real-world experience before you graduate. Good news. Your degree program will likely include an internship component that could easily lead you to any number of major game design or animation studios.
Just about every degree program available offers the opportunity to enhance the degree by adding a minor, concentration or electives to match students’ career goals. For example, students interested in cinema and computer animation rather than traditional animation might choose a degree in Cinema Art and Science with a Concentration in Animation.
Our 2017 rankings of the top 5 animation school programs in Washington. For an explanation of the ranking criteria, click here.
1. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
University of Washington (UW) offers several programs for aspiring animators through the school’s Computer Science & Engineering Department (UW CSE). Options include BS degrees in Computer Science or Engineering, and a PhD or Professional Master’s Program (PMP) in Computer Science & Engineering (CSE). All programs offer heavy animation coursework and access to the department’s three main labs (The Graphics and Imaging Lab (GRAIL), the Center for Game Science, and the Animation Research Labs) dedicated to research in the areas of Animation, Computer Graphics, Game Science, Vision, and Visualization.
Our 2017 rankings of the top 5 animation school programs in Texas. For an explanation of ranking criteria, click here.
1. Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
Texas A&M University is home to the College of Architecture, which offers programs for animators at all degree levels. Options include BS, MS, and MFA degrees in Visualization. According to the school, “Animation studies at Texas A&M are part of a broader curriculum offered at the Department of Visualization that produces graduates who prepare for success in a wide range of visualization-related fields by developing artistic and technical expertise.” These interdisciplinary programs focus on the processes of “creation, design and development of the visual experience,” and prepare students to work in animation, technical animation, illustration, and many other areas.