What's in a name?

Hey folks, the Butcher here.

Well, I know a lot of you are out there looking for work. And I'm sure that a lot of you are aware that in the last few years, animation has become inextricably entwined with computers. So I hope you're out getting some computer experience and not just reading my goofball articles. Surfing the web doesn't count for getting computer experience, gang.

However, you can look for work here on the web. The only trouble is, as an animator, you will find a wide variety of definitions of that word. Some companies are looking for traditional animators, some for 3D animators, some for Flash animators, while others still are looking for people to make animation for videogames which may or may not apply to the aforementioned types of animators. A big problem is that a lot of the companies that are trying to hire people have no idea what an animator does, so you end up seeing ads like this one:

Animator Wanted
Must be proficient with Unix, C++,
Java, and have at least 5 years
experience. No phone calls,

send resume/reel to....

(For actual proof search for "animator" @ DICE.COM)

Huh? That doesn't sound like an animator to the Butcher. What these people seem to fail to realize is that animation is a combination of different skills. Traditionally speaking, before one can animate, one must be able to draw. Learning to draw is a process in and of itself. Then, once you can draw, you may not necessarily be able to animate. Animation is a whole new learning process. Once you can animate, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can do it on a computer, too. Computer knowledge is yet again a whole new learning process. And if you can operate a computer or an animation software package, it doesn't mean you can animate. Making an image move is not the same as bringing it to life.

Animation is still a mystical concept to most people outside of the business. And I'm sorry, but these hot shot, start-up dot-coms are not in the business of animation. They need animators, but they are in the business of web commerce and need to find out what an animator is before advertising for one. Little do they know it, but unless that rare individual that exactly meets the needs of the above ad actually exists, they probably need two people. Oh dear, then they'd have to pay two people! But they should look at it this way - let's say you needed a liver transplant, and to get it, you had to be flown to some clinic in the mountains during horrendous weather. Would you prefer to save some money and find a surgeon who is also a skillful pilot? Also, do you want your pilot/surgeon to have at you with a knife after flying through that nerve-wracking storm? Wouldn't you rather get the best pilot and the best surgeon you could?

Well, you can span the globe, looking for that all-in-one ingenious pilot and brilliant surgeon, but your animation is going to look like shit. You get what you pay for, and while it makes sense to find someone that can wear a lot of hats, you don't want the person's work to suffer because he/she is buried under 5 fedoras, 4 yarmulkes, 3 top hats, 2 baseball caps and a big sombreo with those dingle-balls around the rim.

Know thyself, and know thy job. Happy hunting.

The Butcher