Senior Animator

  • Senior Animator

The senior animator works closely with the lead animator and art director to establish the overall aesthetic of a video game, as well as defining the methods and techniques to be used by animators within the department.


Duties

The primary responsibility of the senior animator is to contribute to character and prop animation, but also to support the pre-production development of the video game through collaboration with the lead animator and game designers. This will include preliminary research and prototyping of new tools to further the functionality and efficiency of computer animation, as well as the gathering of reference materials necessary to illustrate intended styles to the animation staff. In development, the lead animator is concerned both with the artistic integrity of the finished product and the technological considerations that enhance the performance of in-game animation; he or she will ensure that the senior animator considers available memory and real-time animation limitations as related to the game engine and graphics capabilities of the platform. To accomplish these goals, the lead animator participates in design and development meetings, sharing that knowledge with the senior animator, who in turn defines art direction, establishes design documentation and presents tools prototypes to the staff.

As a supervisor, the senior animator will monitor the work of junior animators and ensure the artistic integrity and quality of assets produced by the department. He or she will regularly consult with the team lead to provide mentorship and training in new tools and techniques, and be available to identify development issues as they arise. In coordination with the senior development staff, the senior animator must establish and enforce workflow procedures and effective pipeline practices. The senior animator should seek out methods for increasing productivity within the department on an ongoing basis, and communicate with designers, artists, and programmers to share information concerning obstacles in the delivery of assets through the pipeline.

Skills & Education

The senior animator should have extensive training in the use of digital art and animation software including Renderman, Maya, 3ds Max, ZBrush, and similar applications. Necessary knowledge includes all tasks related to animation, including character modeling, rigging, skins, texturing, lighting/shading, and cinematic setup. Familiarity with the practices of establishing engine parameters, compression, and optimization is also desirable. A college degree in computer animation, game art, or game development is preferred for this career. Employment will require exceptional traditional art skills, so courses in drawing, painting, sculpting, and art theory are beneficial. Study of animal and human anatomy is useful in replicating lifelike human and non-human movement, the essential focus of animation. As an animator is essentially an actor who portrays his or her characters through the control of movement and facial expressions, training in performance, such as acting, is an immensely beneficial pursuit.

What to Expect

Employment as a senior animator requires at least three years of experience as an animator within a game development studio and at least one shipped title. Advancement through the ranks of the animation department can include employment as a character artist, character modeler, or character rigger. This person must be an exceptionally talented animator as well as an effective manager, capable of mentoring a team through completion of ambitious game development projects. Individuals in this role spend a great deal of personal time researching new innovations in the area of computer animation, as they are extraordinarily passionate about evolving the field to meet the next generation of gamers. Successful employment as a senior animator can present opportunities to advance to the role of lead animator and animation director.

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