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Creature Animator

What does a creature animator do?

Creature animators specialize in animating real-life and fantasy creatures for films, TV shows, and video games.

They use their expertise to recreate the movements and behavior of animals, insects, and birds in a virtual environment.

These animators imagine and design creatures that don't exist in the natural world, often combining human and animal traits to bring them to life.

Creature animator job description

Creature animators are responsible for creating animations of non-human characters. These characters may belong to the natural world, such as animals, reptiles, bugs, or dinosaurs, or they could be fantasy, mythological, or alien creatures.

Although these creatures are not human, they may sometimes require human-like qualities. In these cases, the creature animator must be able to give these imagined beings a distinct personality while also rendering their non-human physical characteristics.

Role & responsibilities of a creature animator in film and games:

  • 'Breathing life' into 3D rigged creature models

  • Researching visual style, genre, and technologies to produce each project

  • Applying motion capture to enhance performances

  • Identifying key scenes and sequences

  • Transforming storyboards into animated sequences

  • Managing files, animation libraries, and updating procedures documentation

  • Integrating sound and syncing dialogue

Skills required to become a creature animator

This is a highly specialized role and not typically an entry-level animation job. If you want to pursue a career as an animator, it is advisable to take a 3D animation course to acquire the skills needed to get started. After that, it is recommended that you narrow your focus and build up some experience by working on high-quality character animation projects to showcase your abilities to potential employers.

Film and game studios may look for the following skills in creature animators:

  • Understanding of movement of limbs, the effect of weight, and the behavior of skin, fur, feathers, scales, flesh

  • Ability to visualize 3D iterations of two-dimensional storyboards and artwork

  • Great instinct for timing, movement, and editing cuts

  • Highly experienced working with 3D models and rigs (provided by 3d modelers and riggers, respectively)

  • Understanding of acting techniques, cinematography, and visual storytelling

  • Knowledge of film and animation genres, and ability to work within these styles

  • Advanced concept of visual language - perspective, point of view, proportion, color, composition, framing, etc.

  • Working knowledge of the laws of physics - gravity, acceleration, and the laws of energy

What software and tools do creature animators use?

Creature animators work with computer software. Some studios work with their own customized software, so animators must be fast learners. 

Creature animators may need knowledge of a combination of the following software:

  • Maya

  • Unreal Engine

  • Substance Designer/Painter

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