Is technical animation the field for me?

Aspiring young Technical Artist here.

I’m searching for input towards weather Technical Animation is the field for me.

Some background:
A while ago, I discovered an intersection between my dream field (3D Modeling & Animation) and my most skilled field (Computer Programming): 3D graphics programming. Since then, I’ve improved my competence in the aforementioned fields along with my mathematic and artistic abilities. I recently created my first graphics project: a minimum-functionality ray-tracer from the ground up. Over the years I’ve gained general competence in areas ranging from cybersecurity to webdev to gamedev to scripting. I’m planning on going to uni for Comp. Sci R&D, thus maintaining as many job options as possible.

My issue:
I’ve romanticised Technical Animation into an interdisciplinary field where I get to assist in most areas of the pipeline and meet highly skilled artists, animators, simulators, directors, etc; a field where I’m surrounded by specialised or inter-disciplinary, passionate, intelligent, international people. I dream of switching between tasks which require artistic ability (like shaders) and programming ability (like scripting). However, considering my eagerness to enter the field, I know surprisingly little about what Technical Artists / Animators actually do. Some sources claim the job is purely rigging; others claim it’s technical support for animators; the general consensus is ambiguity – the job title is so vague, job responsibilities will vary greatly based on the workplace. This post compiles most descriptions I’ve seen around the web.

My questions:
What does the job typically contain?
Does my idealisation of the field compare with reality?

Apologies if this is an unusual or unwelcome post.

Thanks in advance,
- Riley

Hey Riley,

you seem to have a great background to get into Technical Art and Technical Animation roles.

What a TA does at any given studio or on any given project can vary greatly. There’s (sadly?) not one true job definition out there. It does help to have a clear vision of what you want to do and the direction you want to grow in.

The advantage of not one true job definition is that you can pick and chose the studios and projects that sound interesting to you. Be sure to bring up what you like doing during job interviews and ask what other responsibilities a studio will ask of you.

The best way to get to that point (knowing what you like and don’t like as well as being invited to those interviews) if you start working on a portfolio of personal and educational projects.

Your ideal of what a TA should do and in what environment they work definitely doesn’t sound too far from reality. Keep in mind though that most of the time the work that TAs do is not in a vacuum but meant for shipping a project at a certain date with certain quality standards. There is a lot of creativity there, but it also is - in the end - a job that needs to get done on time.

Keep it up - you seem on a good trajectory!

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