Overview - Animation
The animation industry in the UK consists of a workforce that stretches across many of the sectors in the creative media industries. You will find animated content on television, in feature films, commercials, websites and computer or video games. Just over 2000 people work in animation in the UK, nearly half of them freelance, and there are currently more than 300 companies producing a range of work.
Animation is a relatively small sector that is growing in success and popularity. More flexible scheduling by broadcasters has increased opportunities for animators and the internet provides another platform for short and experimental work. Big-budget features such as Toy Story have enjoyed great commercial success and 2002 saw the introduction of the first ever Oscar for an animated feature, won by Dreamwork’s Shrek.
The Animation Sector can be roughly divided into four main disciplines:
- 2D drawn or traditional;
- 2D computer generated
- stop frame; and
- 3D computer generated.
There are a wide range of freelance, some contract, and some more permanent jobs in animation. These can be found at small production companies, larger studios, computer generated post production facility houses and at computer games developers or interactive media designers.
Animation is extremely costly to make. Labour-intensive and time-consuming, it can take up to two years to produce just 30 minutes of animation. This has placed a heavy emphasis on good project management and good teamwork; the skills shortages in this sector reflect the need for people who can adapt to busy production schedules.
But balanced against this is the popularity of animation and the fact that it can easily be translated into other languages, for worldwide sales. Budgets for animated features may be in excess of $60 million, but the sale of products, such as books and toys, plus the potential for high box office returns, can usually more than compensate for the initial investment.
The UK has an excellent reputation for creativity and technology, but high production costs mean that less than 5% of the animation currently seen on our TV screens originated here. But unlike some other sectors in the creative media industries, animation has a number of distinct and highly successful centres of excellence outside London; including Bristol, Manchester and Dundee.
Most of the money spent on animation is associated with the advertising industry and competition for commissions is fierce. But the UK also leads the world in the production of pre-school storytelling and design, and this area continues to attract investors. Other products include:
- feature films
- children’s programmes
- music promos
- titles and idents
- CD-Roms (for educational purposes)
- adult comedy and drama