It gets easier and easier to get hooked on animation. So now you have an idea of getting into this business as an owner-producer. Chances are, you will succeed in any one or more of the seven basic animation categories:

  • Hollywood feature films
  • TV commercials
  • Televised entertainment
  • Games
  • Home videos
  • Business communications
  • E-media

Animation for Hollywood Feature Films

Cracking into a gig doing 3D animation for feature films is kind of like cracking into feature films as a director. You have to be really persistent, concentrate exclusively on this market, and be a bit lucky. If you have a really good show reel, particularly with regard to character animation and compositing, you might get a break. You’ll need to find a new director or producer who is looking to get some good, cheap CGI into a film and needs to find a low-budget supplier to make the budget. You can send your reel to existing shops that already work the feature film market and hope their needs and your reel match up.

Animation for TV Commercials

TV commercials are another hard market to crack, but easier than feature films. As the commercials get higher in budget, the market gets harder to crack. You can pitch your reel to advertising agencies and commercial producers. If your reel is a starter, you should still be able to get some work doing cable commercials, but if you have a stick of dynamite with a sizzling fuse, head for a top-tier market, hire a rep, and go for broke.

The top markets are dominated by the big advertising agencies that have an established custom of seeing new talent. You basically call producers or, better yet, their assistants, send your reel, and pester them a bit until they see it. It’s a hit or miss proposition.

Animation for Televised Entertainment

Televised entertainment includes TV shows that use 3D animation and composited effects as part of their weekly fare. The cost of producing a half-hour or hour-long pilot using 3D animation is rather small compared to making a filmed presentation. Your biggest expense will be the voices. Cable television, especially the public access channels, is a great place to get started. You can test your production techniques, audience response, and enjoyment for the process with little risks.

Animation for Games

Game devices, from arcades to set-top boxes (and computers in between), continually increase their capabilities to emulate real 3D animation, photorealistic action. The market for 3D animation in the gaming community is always growing and highly competitive. Skills that will place you at the head of the line include character and creature development, achieving photorealistic playback with minimum memory allocation, understanding moving camera dynamics, and, of course, good teamwork.

Animation for Home Videos

Home Videos are another outlet for creative 3D animation. If you decide to make your own televised entertainment, you can extend the selling opportunities of your work by sending it to home video distributors. You can also go to your local video rental house, look over the special interest videos section, and collect the names of key producers. These enterprising businesspeople are always looking for a way to spice up their productions, and if you can price a package of logos, graphics, special effects, and other eye candy for their productions, you will have found a friend and a long-lasting client.

Animation for Business Communication

Business communication is the largest market for 3D animation, especially videos that are made to explain the arcane intricacies of medicine and high technology. Here your market is composed of producers, marketing directors, human resource managers, venture capital entrepreneurs, and training directors, all of whom have a constant need to have their communications embellished by animation and graphics.
Many of these clients have liberal criteria regarding the quality and complexity of the animations they purchase. If you are a beginner, and your reel is not yet replete with the most original, cutting-edge work, you may still be able to make sales in this category. Your client may not have had the opportunity to see some sophisticated work or does not understand the difference between the reels of a beginner and a seasoned pro. If you are lucky to get a client after only a few months’ practice in 3D animation, don’t sit on your laurels and take your good fortune for granted. Keep pushing yourself and your skills.

Animation for E-Media

E-media presentations that appear over the web represent another large and growing market, which temporarily offers advantages to the beginner. Because most e-media is streamed to the viewer at a comparatively low bandwidth, the complexity of the animation it can play is severely limited. Beginners, whose work is limited by their level of knowledge, can exploit a medium whose resolution is limited by its bandwidth if the beginner is aware of how these two limitations overlap.
Low bandwidth means fewer colors and shading, fewer frames, simpler morphing, and less detail than full-bandwidth imagery. If you plan to get your start in this category, concentrate your initial skill set on achieving good results within the limitations of the medium and expand your skill set as the medium’s bandwidth increases. You just may get in on the ground floor of something big.

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Reference Sources:

  1. Animation World Network:
  2. Cartoon Brew – Technology:
  3. Befores & Afters – Visual effects and animation journalist:
  4. Bloomberg News:
  5. Insider: