Associate Animation Director

  • Associate Animation Director

Similar to how a film or theatrical director coaches the performance of actors and blocks the movement of the scene, an animation director working in video game development is responsible for guiding animators to create lively, expressive characters that evoke real emotion and provide the player with a heightened game experience.


Duties

The associate animation director is responsible to the animation director and creative director and supervises the larger team of animators in the process of game development. In early production meetings, the associate animation director will collaborate with game designers and lead character artists to understand the personalities and mannerisms of the characters based on final concepts and then translate that information to the rest of the animation department. In preparation for animating character rigs to be ported to the game engine, the associate animation director will communicate with the lead animator and senior animation director to cast (delegate) staff to specific characters, as per the animation director’s orders. Like actors, animators play a role when designing the movement and facial expression of a character. The way he or she walks, runs, stands, smiles, or grimaces is relevant and specific to the personality that must come through in the animation.

It is the animation director’s primary responsibility to ensure consistent quality across all animation assets in accordance with design documentation and established art direction. To this end, the associate animation director regularly reviews the work in progress by the animators, offering constructive criticisms to help staff capture the unique qualities of each character. As a department manager, this person assists in recruiting new animators and advises the team on technique and implementation of new tools. The associate is there to pick up the slack for the animation director and keep the minor issues and personnel conflicts off the boss’ desk.

Skills & Education

A college degree in computer animation, game art, or game design is recommended for this career. Courses in fine art are beneficial, as all animators should have a solid foundation in traditional art. Classes in human and animal anatomy are also useful in correctly defining movement and skeletal structures. While acting classes are not mandatory, improvisation techniques are valuable to an animator. This skill allows the individual to hone in on the personality and mannerisms of the character, giving greater realism to the game experience. The associate animation director should be proficient in the use of typical animation software like RenderMan, Flash, MotionBuilder, and Maya.

What to Expect

Employment as an associate animation director requires at least three years of professional experience as an animator in a lead position, with at least two shipped titles. He or she must also posses strong project management and interpersonal skills in cooperation with the animation department and the studio at large. Not all studios will have the same department structure and hierarchy of roles. The need for an associate animation director is generally relegated to the larger game studios. Where the animation director oversees numerous projects at once, the associate may be delegated to supervise a small section of those projects through the day-to-day activities. Similar animation positions also exist within the film and television production industry and can translate to game development.

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