Michael Geisler hit the nail on the head when he said, “Sound effects play an important role in conveying action. Music helps express emotion.” The fact is that feeding the auditory senses is just as important as stimulating the visual senses, with music helping to convey the animator’s intention or to serve as a premonition of what audiences can expect in upcoming scenes. What aspects of sound have an effect on mood and how can you use music to connect with your audience in a more powerful fashion or attract the attention of a studio you have been hoping to work for?

Codes of Emotion in Music

When sending a portfolio to animation studios, your animations should incorporate music as a way of enhancing the emotions and sensations encountered or expressed by your characters or illustrations. Musical expression comprises a myriad of layers, argues Juslin Patrik, in an article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology. The core layer includes ‘discrete’ emotions like happiness, anger, fear, surprise, and sadness. Patrik writes, “At the ‘core’ level of basic emotions, vocal and musical expression are fairly similar. At the additional layers that involve more complex emotions, vocal and musical expression begin to diverge from one another.” That is, while it is true that an emotion like ‘sadness’ may branch out into melancholy, nostalgia, or regret, there is a basic ‘tone’ of emotion that artists can employ to express what characters are going through or feeling in a given frame.

The Emotional Connotations of Different Musical Instrument

The pace or mood of animations and motion pictures have been ‘controlled’ by pace or rhythm since the film industry’s earliest days but the choice of musical instrument is also key. In a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, researchers found that “the timber of simple and isolated musical instrument sounds can convey emotion in a way similar to emotional speech prosody.” In other words, the brain is sensitive to the timbral vibrations of music and specific emotions can be triggered by switching instruments. Moreover, in the case of drums and other percussions, Laukka and Gabrielsson have found that by modifying tempo and sound level, different emotions (such as happiness, nervousness, anger, and fear) can be expressed. To test this out for yourself downloading percussion samples with different tempos and aligning them with animated scenes will show you the different psychological reactions that each sample elicits.

How Much Music is Required?

The brain can feel emotionally overloaded when music is present continually or almost continually. When you are applying for a job in animation, it is important to be impactful, without ‘overkilling’ the human resources team. In essence, to elicit strong emotions in your audience, selective usage of music is essential. Action scenes, emotional exchanges, and contemplative or nature-focused scenes are ideal ones that can benefit from music. However, in the same way that dialogue/scripts can benefit from minimalist or ‘less is more’ expression of emotions, so, too, can animations that use music scores or bits only when they have something of authentic value to add to the work.

If you love animation and music, then you know what an excellent marriage they can make. Prior to making your selection, research on the moods and emotions that different instruments and tempos produce, is key. So, too, is experimentation with different samples, so as to discover the myriad of emotional possibilities a scene can invoke.

Animators are highly in-demand in the digital design industry and this trend is only going up. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the overall demand for animators will generate 81,400 jobs by 2026. Due to this increasing demand, animation professionals have a pretty decent salary. They could make from $64,000 to $75,000 in an annual salary.

If you’re an artist and you enjoy animation, you may want to start learning some new skills to succeed in this career. In this guide, we’ll show you some of the most in-demand tech skills to work as an animator.

Graphic Design

Animators are still designers, so having some graphic design background is essential in the work. Having graphic design skills will help animators create figures and characters with  realistic designs. However, in the field of animation, you’ll be working with motion. So you should also know about motion design, which is a subfield of animation itself. 

The difference between animation and motion design is that motion design is all about providing movement to objects and figures. Once you add characters to create a story, that’s another type of animation. Dominating motion design skills will genuinely help you become a master in animation.

Color Theory

Color theory could be one of the most vital aspects of animation design. Knowing about color theory will help you transmit feelings, express the emotions of your characters, and even set up a proper emotional environment in every scene in a story. This could be the most basic knowledge for becoming an animator, so learn about it early in your learning journey.

Color theory is not only implemented in advertising, it is also widely used in movies. Think about it as telling a story with colors and emotions. Color is one of the most potent aspects in animation, along with sound and movement.

User Experience

Animation plays a massive role in user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design. Animation will not only attract people’s attention, but it’ll also make digital products more intuitive and easy-to-understand for users. 

If you aspire to become a great animator, it could be beneficial for you to study the essential aspects of UX and UI. Some of the benefits of animation in UX are to communicate feedback, let the user know that there has been a change in the platform, and to draw attention to something important.

Computer Literacy and Software Familiarity

Although you don’t need to know how to code to become an animator, having basic computer literacy will help you succeed in this career. Besides, you need to know how to work with specific graphical rendering software like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects, which are among other great tools. 

Having computer literacy and software familiarity is a crucial aspect of becoming an animator as you need to become proficient on these tools to start designing an aesthetically-looking and functional animation.

How to Become a Proficient Animator

  • Get the education you need. While on the path of becoming a great animator, you need to study the fundamental aspects. You can do it by obtaining a bachelor’s degree in animation or by taking a short-term course.
  • Get some experience. You can start by creating animated projects to sharpen your skills. Then, you can volunteer for an internship at a company you like.
  • Show your skills. Start posting your projects on social media and platforms such as LinkedIn or Indeed. It could also be helpful to create a portfolio website to show off your skills. This way, it’ll be easier for recruiters to find you. With an accessible online portfolio, recruiters will have a brief glimpse of what you can do for their company.
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