A Day in the Life of an Animator

From my own experience, the actual day-to-day of being an animator is slightly different than what I imagined. There are certainly aspects that are close to what I pictured, but also many things that I didn’t expect to be part of my daily routine!

My Day-to-Day Routine

I usually arrive at the office around 9am. My day-to-day schedule varies depending on what's in the calendar. Probably the one constant is that every morning starts with a coffee to get me fuelled up.

When we're storyboarding the day is broken down into idea generation, reviewing our ideas with the project manager, then putting the storyboards together using Photoshop, After Effects and Boords. If we're animating, we check in with the project manager every day or so.

Before I became an animator, I didn't expect to have any real contact with clients. Now it's part of my job nearly every day. Most often it's discussing video amends or clarifying points in a script.

Working at Dead Ready is great because while there is support if you need it, there's a lot of trust to simply get on with your day without being micromanaged.

But what about other studios? I reached out to a few people to share their experiences.

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Dev Joshi, Animator at Animade

I’m at the studio from around 9am, Animade recently introduced flexible working hours which allows us to come in anywhere between 8 - 10am which has been really nice. I have a bad habit of going to bed far too late, like 1-2am, so a lot of my morning is spent cradling a coffee and lying to myself about how I’ll go to bed early today.

It’s a really well organised studio so most of the time I already know what I’m working on for the day and can just crack on with it and share WIPs on Frame.io with my project managers, other times I’ll start the day with a quick catch-up with a producer and senior creative and go through client feedback and deliverables. I mostly use After Effects, Photoshop and Cinema4D.

At 1pm we’ll break for lunch, we like having lunch together at Animade and it also means we can play some games afterwards; there’s a foosball table, a Wii U and some Nintendo Switches, and a chess board; we have some very competitive people too, so it can get intense. I absolutely suck at chess.

After lunch, it’s more animation and on Fridays we’ll have snacks and drinks and then go to the pub after work.

All in all a day in my life is pretty sweet right now, it can occasionally be a little draining but that’s just full-time employment for you, it’s so easy to forget what I do is a job because I find it so fun, I love the work, my colleagues are amazing and good friends, and we have a coffee machine.

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Samantha Jones, Freelance Animator

I usually aim to be sitting at my desk by 9am. I'm a terrible alarm snoozer, so I usually have no time for breakfast at home and instead eat it whilst reading emails/scrolling twitter/instagram and Pinterest for a bit of inspiration to get me rolling.

I've found being freelance you're usually juggling a few different things, from scenes to be animated to responding to emails and enquiries on social media. I like to write a list the start of each day to for what needs doing, otherwise procrastination can really hit if I'm not as structured, and this helps me get focused.

I can either be working as part of a team for a few weeks, or dealing directly with a client. For team jobs, I'm employed solely as an animator and my day consists of working in Animate or Photoshop. Whereas working direct to client I'll be a generalist, starting at concept ideas through to the compositing in After Effects and delivering the finished film. I take on the role of production too, and quite a lot of the day can be filled with emails and catching up with the client to make sure the project is on track.

I like to finish around 6pm. I try to stick to similar hours that my friends work to, so this means I've evenings to hang out with people, go out for food or play netball. I can easily work through lunch and end up missing those gym classes I convince myself I'll make but never do, so keeping my work hours more routine helps me keep sane.

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Mai Atzmon, Animator at Blue-Zoo

I usually get to work at around 9:30 and hang around the kitchen area with my fellow team mates over morning coffee. Once it hits 10, we all head over to our desk and start working. I tend to make a to do list in the morning and go through all my work emails to check if I have any fixes for previous episodes as I like to get those done first.

I then spend a solid 3 hours animating with Maya until lunch and ask my animation director to have a look if I am unsure about something. If it’s layout week I will spend the week laying out my shots according to the animatic, the following two weeks I will either be blocking or splining them. After lunch I continue animating for another 4.5 hours until 6pm. Some days (usually Fridays) we will have a review with our animation director during those hours to brief a new episode or go over layout/blocking.

Before I became an animator, I didn’t realise just how social my job would be. I thought I would just be animating all day and mainly interacting with my director, but I spend a lot of time interacting with my fellow team mates and take part in a lot of social activities after work as well. I also found that I have quite a lot more creative freedom than I expected, and I am free to experiment and try new things which is great!

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