There's huge demand for 2D animators in Ottawa. Studios like Atomic Cartoons, Mercury Filmworks, and Big Jump Entertainment are constantly looking for new talent in the city.
In fact, some studios are having to send work overseas because they can't find enough qualified local animators.
"We're starving for talent" says Cory Morrison, co-founder of Big Jump. "And we're not the only ones. Several leading companies are having trouble filling positions."
The upside? Breaking into the animation industry has never been easier, particularly for newcomers with no experience.
The only catch is you need a specific set of skills to really capitalize on these job opportunities. Studios want new hires who don't need much training and can hit the ground running.
In this post, we'll walk you through the core skills and traits every Ottawa animation studio is looking for right now.
With these skills, you can get hired straight out of training, even if you don't have industry experience.
1. solid KNOWLEDGE OF TOON BOOM HARMONY
Learning how to use popular animation software is priority number one. For 2D animators, that software is called Toon Boom Harmony.
A.J. Cote has been working with animation studios in Ottawa and elsewhere for decades. He saw there was a serious shortage of animators who knew Harmony.
So he created Herzing College's animation program specifically to teach students how to use it.
"This is exactly what Ottawa studios need. It is what 99% of all entry-level jobs are in animation.
In Ottawa alone there are 4 major studios desperately needing animators trained in Toon Boom Harmony. They just can't find enough graduates with the right skills.
One studio quoted they could hire 200 animation graduates if we had them!"
2. A GOOD SENSE OF POSING, TIMING, WEIGHT, AND ACTING
Creating realistic movements on screen requires some specialized skills.
Animation studios want people who know how to do things like:
☑️ Position characters with different body types and emotions
☑️ Adjust the speed of the action and hold a pose just long enough to get the point across
☑️ Make the character's mouth move in sync with the audio
These are basic principles covered by all good animation courses.
3. STRONG ATTENTION TO DETAIL
You need to get the little things right. Details like the way a character walks or the way a character's hair moves in the wind can make all the difference.
Being meticulous about details can give your animation a more polished and professional look—and help you stand out among the competition.
4. THE ABILITY TO TAKE DIRECTION
Mastering the tools and techniques of animation is important, but that's not all studios want.
You also need to be able to follow instructions from supervisors and team leads. That means leaving your ego at the door.
It also means being open to constructive feedback. These traits are not specific to animation, but will definitely help you get hired (and stay hired) at an animation studio.
5. THE ABILITY TO MEET DEADLINES
Production schedules exist for a reason. As an animator, you need to organize your workflow so that you can deliver results on time.
If you can prioritize tasks and keep to a schedule, animation studios will be much more interested in bringing you on board.
6. CREATIVITY AND PROBLEM SOLVING
Thinking creatively and solving problems are key skills for animators.
You need to think outside the box while respecting the constraints of the project. For instance, maybe the audio requires a set shot length, so you don't have the option of adding extra frames.
Successful animators know how to align innovative ideas with the goals of each project. This is another more general trait studios look for when hiring new animation staff.
7. A COLLABORATIVE SPIRIT
Animation is a team sport. Studios value candidates who can communicate effectively, get along with others, and contribute to the discussion.
It's important to demonstrate a positive attitude. Be prepared to share your ideas and suggestions, but don't act like you know better than everyone else.
Basically, be the kind of animator others want to work with.
Big Jump co-founder, Cory Morrison says it best:
"In animation, it's everyone's responsibility to improve the next stage and create something memorable. You are not an island, you work with a team of people, and you must be able to collaborate, take criticism well, and never settle for 'good enough'."
HOW TO DEVELOP THE ANIMATION SKILLS EMPLOYERS WANT
Your first step is to find a quality animation program. The program should cover the essential skills studios want plus an internship.
The internship is key for students who have never worked in the field.
An internship is your chance to get mentored by industry pros. Even if you're a total beginner, you can graduate with real studio experience and be better prepared for your first job.
For instance, Herzing College animation students complete a 6-week internship at Big Jump Entertainment.
They learn from professional animators at the Big Jump studio, and get to work on real shows in various stages of development.
And many students get hired straight out of their internships. In fact, in 2020, Big Jump hired our entire graduating class. Many of those grads had no prior work experience in animation.
EXPLORE ANIMATION TRAINING AT HERZING COLLEGE OTTAWA
Herzing College's 2D Animation program takes just 12 months to complete.
It was specifically developed to teach the animation skills and software Ottawa studios so desperately need.
Students complete hands-on projects right from day one and graduate with a professional demo reel plus studio experience.
Wondering if the program is right for you? Reach out to Admissions.
An Advisor can answer your questions about training, financial aid, how to apply, and more.
Click below to explore the program in detail and chat live with an Advisor. We're here to help!