Computer Animation: The Art of Becoming an Animator

by Damian McKnight
Computer Animation: The Art of Becoming an Animator

The success of James Cameron's blockbuster film Avatar has elevated the status of computer animation and visual effects to an entirely new level. With the aid of computers, Cameron has showed us that it is now truly possible to visually recreate the unimaginable depths of the human imagination.


Computer Animation is the art of creating moving images through the use of computers and is generally regarded as a subfield of computer graphics, visual effects, and animation. A computer-animated film commonly refers to feature films that have been computer-animated to appear three dimensional on a movie screen. While traditional 2D animated films are now done primarily with the help of computers, the technique to render realistic 3D computer graphics (CG), or 3D Computer-generated imagery (CGI), is unique to using computers.

CGI short films have been produced as independent animation since 1976, though the popularity of computer animation (especially in the field of special effects) skyrocketed during the modern era of U.S. animation. The first completely computer-generated television series was ReBoot, and the first completely computer-generated animated movie was Pixar's Toy Story.

Visual effects (Visual F/X or VFX)often involve the integration of live-action footage and computer generated imagery (CGI) in order to create environments which look realistic. Most often creating these environments would be dangerous, costly, or simply impossible to capture on film. Visual F/X have become increasingly common in big-budget films, and have also recently become accessible to amateur filmmakers with the introduction of affordable animation and compositing software.

Computer Animation Degree Programs

Computer animation schools train students to work in film animation or specifically in the digital field with computer animation and visual effects. Top computer animation schools offer a variety of 2-D and 3-D animation courses, which may allow students to find work as an illustrator in many different types of media. Schools for animation are available for students with all levels of experience, so be sure to explore your options. All the computer skills in the world can't mask a bad artist, however, so make sure that you find a program where you'll spend the long, necessary hours to hone your craft.

Computer Animation school graduates can choose to focus on classical animation, film animation, digital animation, or specialize in a specific area of computer animation. Some arts and animation programs are offered online and these courses can be a great option for students that are self-motivated and are able to manage their time and make course work a priority in their lives. While in school, your goal: build a compelling digital portfolio that shows exactly how skilled you have become in bringing your characters and storytelling abilities to life.

Related Articles