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I used to ask myself "How Do I Become an Animator?", and end up getting lost on Google with articles telling me "to become an animator write letters to production companies and ask for experience", I think it's a good idea, but I don't know how much that would help in the long run. I wanted a solid training foundation, particularly in 3D art and 3D animation as that sparked more of an interest with me rather than traditional animation. One thing is for sure, I wanted to make sure I would be equipped with the animation techniques that I would need to know before I even attempted to approach a studio or company to take me on. The best piece of advice I was given (and I believe is paying off) is to network, network, network.
I didn't study Animation at uni*, so at the age of 30, I felt at a disadvantage - I didn't have a clue about any of the latest animation techniques or how to work in 3D art other than traditional sculpture. I've known about Escape studios for a while - I had a friend who studied Compositing there, and I had been to a couple of open days - so it automatically popped up in my mind. As I'm sure I've already explained, Escape couldn't help me with my dream to become an animator because they pulled the course, just as I was ready to sign up...but they did introduce me to Alex Williams...so a course in learning Maya with Escape, and a course learning Animation techniques with Alex followed.
I felt confident with Escape, the 3D art they created blew my away. But not only had I been given a personal recommendation from a friend, but the work their students is excellent - knowing Alex had connections with them, and seeing his showreel, I knew I was in the right company with him too. The animation techniques I'm learning are brilliant and easy to understand and follow (however, mastering them, is another matter). If I hadn't found either, I guess I would be looking for more schools or colleges with good reputations, good work to show for what they do and a good feel for their connections with the industry...THEN I'll approach a studio with my "let me become an animator with you" approach. Escape will help you find work when you finish a course, but I understand that they would charge a finders fee to the studio-potential-employer, which studios don't like, for obvious reasons! So, the networking approach is one I hope to explore to its full potential! It's still early days, but it's always good to be prepared!