FMX, Germany’s major conference dedicated to animation, games, visual effects and immersive media, has cancelled this year’s event, which was originally scheduled for May 5-8. Many other events in the industry have been postponed, and with continual developments in the global Coronavirus pandemic, it’s likely that more will follow suit. This will certainly have an impact on those working in animation, and many are already feeling the effects of having to work from home. Here’s a look at how the industry as a whole has been affected, and how you can continue to deliver your best work if you’re not used to working from home.

How The Industry Has Been Affected

Many animators are now working from home, and some productions have been put on hold. Major Californian animation studios experienced an immediate impact on their output with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, and the closures of movie theaters has led to unprecedented events, such as ‘Trolls World Tour’ from DreamWorks Animations offering virtual on demand tickets on its release date. Walt Disney employees have been asked to work from home where possible, and animators from Pixar’s Emeryville studio are working remotely. Paramount has also instigated mandatory home working, and employees of WarnerMedia are being encouraged to stay home. With Coronavirus updates constantly evolving, it’s unclear which new releases may be postponed, but movie theater closures are sure to have a lasting impact on the industry. 

Adapting To Remote Working

If the pandemic means you’re suddenly working remotely, you may be struggling to implement a healthy and productive working regime. Constant unfolding of distressing news can be a distraction, and it may be difficult not to worry about your own health. Establishing a clear working routine and continuing to stay fit and healthy through these times of uncertainty will help you take care of yourself and continue to deliver your best work.

Set yourself a daily schedule, and include regular breaks that allow you to get up from your desk and move around. This will improve your focus and keep you from becoming too sedentary. If you live in a region where you’re not required to stay in your home and you’re not currently self-isolating, try to get outdoors to exercise each day. Whether this is a walk in the park or a jog along the river, getting outside if you can will help you keep on top of your mental health. Even your backyard will do if you have one — a 2015 study found that being in nature reduces the activity in the prefrontal cortex, lowering stress.

If you are self-isolating or are otherwise unable to go outside, try to work out at home. If you don’t have a treadmill or stationary bike, look up free walking videos and workouts online. Remember that you can also order minimal equipment for delivery, so if you usually work out at the gym, you can replace your strength training with free weights, resistance bands or gymnastic rings. Working out with gym rings is known to increase your coordination and attention span as well as helping you maintain your strength and mobility, so these are especially good for the at-home worker.

Pay attention to your diet, too. It’s important to maintain your health at this time, and eating regular, balanced meals will also help you to deliver your best work. Order groceries online if you can’t get out, and be sure to include a healthy balance of fats, proteins and carbohydrates with each meal. If you’re concerned about your health, boosting your diet with vitamin tablets will also help.

Dealing With Self-Isolation 

Working remotely can be difficult if you’re not used to it, but it’s especially difficult if you need to self-isolate. If your whole family is isolating, make sure you have a dedicated space for your work and that your family knows not to disturb you when you’re animating. If your studio has a virtual office, such as those offered by Slack, make sure you constantly check in with colleagues to help you with your work and keep you connected. While it’s important to focus on your work, social interaction is important, so make time for phone calls and virtual meet-ups. Set specific times that you’ll check for news updates, as the combination of self-isolation and constant news about the pandemic and its effects on the industry may increase your stress.

These are uncertain times for every industry, and it is challenging for anyone who’s not used to it to adapt to working remotely. Take each day as it comes, and try to stick to a regular schedule. Try to take heart in the fact that the industry is adapting with you, and animators world-over are going through the same struggles. We’re all in this together.

The demand for animators is increasing, with employment expected to reach 81,400 in 2026, which is up from 73,700 in 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals. Animation is a rewarding and exciting field that requires a big investment in time and money to develop skills and further training. It can therefore be useful to know if your personality is suited to the role before you go ahead and make this commitment.

Strong analytical skills 

Having a thoughtful and organized personality along with strong analytical skills are all important traits for animators to have. Animation requires a curious and logical mind that’s constantly observing how things work and move in order to create successful animations. The job also largely relies on technology, so it’s also important to be able to understand software and work well with desktop and online tools. Similarly, it’s important you have the ability to concentrate for long periods of time. The work process associated with animation takes hours upon hours, which means you need to be willing and able to focus easily. Although the amount of detailed and technical work involved can be intimidating to some people, animators ultimately find it rewarding and love seeing drawings they’ve spent hours working on come to life. 

Thick skin

Forging a successful career as an animator isn’t easy — you have to become comfortable with your work being constantly critiqued and picked apart. It’s therefore important you’re not overly sensitive or upset by criticism, or at least can learn to build up a thick skin. Remember, if you get some negative feedback from a director, that doesn’t mean you’re terrible at drawing. Directors have their own vision and you need to work to meet their expectations. Taking on board criticism and feedback and then going back to the drawing board is a staple part of the job as an animator.

Sense of humor

Any successful animator needs to have a great sense of humor. In fact, it’s essential in order to be able to animate funny and endearing characters. As an animator, it’s your job to weave humor into your character’s body language, movements, and facial expressions and exaggerate these subtle details when necessary for maximum comedic effect. Since children are usually the target audience, you have to be able to adopt a child-like mindset and understand what makes them laugh. So, if you love to joke around and often notice the little ways animators include subtle visual cues to heighten humor, animation is the perfect career for you.  

While there’s no set description of the ideal personality every successful animator should have, these basic soft skills are important. However, even if you don’t quite have all these exact qualities, but still have your heart set on being an animator, that’s okay — no one can be talented at everything. With hard work, dedication, willingness to learn and grown, and technical skill, you’ll be able to find success in the industry.

By Jane Evans

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