An animator is an artist. They use artisitic techniques and technology to give life and movement to inanimate or created characters. They also create the backgrounds and environments in which these 'characters' live and interact and work closely with voice artists and musicians.

Animators create films for production companies, major animation studios and computer games companies. Typical responsibilities of the job include:

  • working creatively to produce original and aesthetically pleasing designs/solutions
  • using specialist computer generation software such as Maya, Flash and After Effects
  • presenting designs to customers for evaluation
  • promoting and running the business
  • negotiating contracts
  • liaising and working effectively with other design and production staff

Animators only make the key drawings referred to as 'extremes'. These drawings on the animator's drawing board are necessary for showing the action-spacing instructions that guide the animator's assistant in doing the intermediate drawings needed to complete the depiction of the action.

When all the drawings have been completed and assembled, the action is checked. Flipping through the pages will reveal any error in the action sequence, and the relevant drawing can then be corrected. The drawings are then photographed in sequence. Sound effects are mixed with speech on the dialogue track and combined with the optical negative for the final composite print.

When making job applications, you will need a ‘showreel' of animated work that demonstrates your abilities to potential employers. It is vital to be proactive when seeking opportunities as vacancies are rarely advertised, so speculative applications, including direct approaches to companies by telephone, are essential.

Key skills are creativity, artistic talent, a knack for story telling, attention to detail, ability to work under pressure and the abiility to meet tight deadlines.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution has its own entry requirements.


What to Study

There is no recognised academic training course specifically for an animator. Most of the actual training is gained in-service with a practising animator. This may take up to three years depending on the individual’s interest in his work, his diligence and talent.

Degree: BA (Fine Art) - RU, UJ, US, UFS

Diploma: N.Dip. (Fine Art) - DUT, TUT, VUT


  • film production companies
  • animation studios
  • television companies
  • advertising agencies
  • self-employed, as freelance animator

Further Information

Any of the above potential employers, for example:

The Head
Personnel Services
Private Bag X 1
Auckland Park, 2006
Tel: 082 230 CALL / 082 230 2255
Fax: (011) 388-1045

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in an art or film company or an advertising agency
  • make an appointment to speak to an animator about this type of career.

Programmes by Study Institutions

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