Animation and Visual Effects (VFX) Careers

Animation is not the art of drawings that move but the art of movements that are drawn.” -Norman McLaren 


Films and video games have always been about presenting illusions to the audience. What has changed over the years is the nature and level of illusions that cinema and gaming can include in their narrative. This has been possible only due to the great rise of the Animation and Visual Effects industry. In films initially, visual effects would have to be painted directly on to the film reel, which was extremely difficult and risky. But with the coming of the digital age and the boom in the IT industry, Animation and Visual Effects have become an integral part of films and taken the gaming industry to a new high.

What does a VFX artist or an Animator do?

VFX artists or Animators create special effects such as making a person fly or adding an explosion to a scene. They cover up shooting mistakes and do ‘Clean – ups’, for example, a light stand visible in the shot might need to be removed. In some films like Avatar, separate worlds are created entirely through Visual effects (VFX) and Animation. In cartoons or animated films, they create a whole new world through animation and VFX. Each character and its movement, objects, effects and even backgrounds are created through special effects and animation.

How do you become a VFX artist or an Animator?

The field of animation and special effects is requires technical and creative abilities. There are many ways through which one can gain this technical expertise and become a VFX artist or an animator.


One of the most straight-forward and safest ways to become a VFX artist/animator is to complete your Bachelors in Computer Science / Animation. It’s also beneficial to have a good knowledge base in the fields of Physics, Mathematics and Engineering. Once you complete your Bachelors, you can either work as a freelancer or join a VFX studio.

Another way to become a VFX artist is to join a VFX studio as an intern while you’re completing your education. Like this, not only do you get to learn about the different techniques and types of VFX and animation, but also have a chance of landing up with a job in the same studio if you’re dedicated and talented.

There is another way of becoming a VFX artist or an animator. One can download various tutorials from the internet of software that teach VFX and Animation like ‘Autodesk Maya’ and ‘Adobe Photoshop’. Like this, you learn on your own and have the freedom to become a freelancer or join a VFX studio as well. But in this ‘self – taught’ method the level of uncertainty is high in terms of job security.


What are the skills required to become a VFX artist or an Animator?

Working as a VFX artist or as an animator is not easy. You not only need to have technical knowledge about software and related subjects, but also need to be creative enough to actually create things that don’t exist in reality. One needs to be good in sketching and drawing, and have a vivid imagination so that you can visualize and create things that match your visualization. You need to be persistent and patient, as this job requires one to work on films and cartoons frame by frame, so you may end up sitting in front of a computer screen for very long. You also need to be open to learning new techniques and software as the field of animation is changing rapidly.


Is this the right career for me?

VFX artists and Animators are required in the fields of advertisements, movies and gaming. To be a part of these industries you need to be creative and willing to work at odd hours. You have to constantly adapt your product as per the needs and requirements of the client. In case of freelance work, you need to be ready face the risk of being out of work for long periods. The life of a VFX artist or an animator can be very hectic as you’re required to work for long hours. If you’re successful, you’ll be paid well but you’ll have to work really hard for it.

Therefore if you’re looking for a job which doesn’t require long hours and if you’re looking to be a part of the glamour side of the industry, then you should probably not choose this line. But if you have the ability to be creative but still grasp technical knowledge quickly and if you like creating illusions through your drawings then this job is perfect for you. 

Entrance Exam


Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams, follow their interests & curiosities and see the opportunities in life's setbacks-- including death itself.