Almost all small animation studios start as one-person operations. This can be helpful to teach you how to be resourceful and handle all the responsibilities that come with running an animation studio. Working alone can also help teach you important business skills to have as an animator.
To learn more about what business skills you should learn as an animator, check out our blog for advice to help you grow your animation studio.
The blog covers everything from general skills like organization and decision-making to financial skills like how to do taxes as an animator, and even marketing and negotiation skills.
While working alone as an animator has its benefits, your animation studio will inevitably continue to grow in popularity and the demand for your animation services will increase.
To keep up with this demand, you will have to take the next step in growing your small animation studio, which entails hiring employees.
Taking this next step to grow your small animation studio can be daunting, especially if you don’t exactly know what this step entails. In this blog, we explain who to hire and which job roles to fill to give your animation studio the best chance at success.
Before You Start Hiring for Your Animation Studio
Before jumping into the hiring process, there are a few things to keep in mind when searching for and interviewing potential employees.
When it comes to potential employees, you should always focus on quality over quantity. As the owner of a small animation studio, your budget might not allow for hiring one person per role. It is therefore important that you try to hire people who can fulfill multiple roles.
You should consider your strengths and weaknesses in terms of what roles and responsibilities you feel most comfortable with and which you might not be the best at. It’s a good idea to hire people who can complement your strengths and make up for your weaknesses in your animation studio.
The culture you want to maintain in your animation studio is also very important to keep in mind when hiring employees. You might come across a candidate who has all the relevant experience, great references, and the skills you’re looking for, but their personality might not align with yours.
Hiring employees whose personalities work well together is also important for keeping up morale in your animation studio.
Check out this video on important questions to ask in an interview such as “What motivates you?” to help you compile a list of questions to ask prospective employees.
Types of Job Roles in an Animation Studio
Generally, there are three types of employees to consider hiring for your animation studio: essential job roles, production job roles, and supporting job roles.
Essential job roles should be filled first as these employees are essential to running the behind-the-scenes aspects of your animation studio. These employees offer specialized skills such as marketing and client service, accounting, and project managing.
While these skills might not have much to do with the animation itself, they are still essential for running an animation studio. Ultimately, these employees will help maintain and grow your animation studio.
Production roles include everything from a sound designer to a scriptwriter. These employees are important as they will help you plan, manage and complete animation projects with an optimized production pipeline to keep things flowing smoothly.
For more information on animation job roles that aren’t covered in this blog, check out this video that explains 16 animation job roles such as VFX artists, motion graphics artists, and 3D generalists.
Supporting staff members will help make your work environment as comfortable as possible by handling tasks that might not fit into your schedule.
Specifically, IT specialists and administrative/virtual assistants will ensure that you can focus on more pressing matters in your animation studio.
Essential Job Roles in an Animation Studio
1. Marketing and Client Service Manager
Marketing and client service go hand in hand and it’s important to hire someone who can do both early on in your business.
This employee will be responsible for client relations and will focus on keeping your animation clients satisfied. A marketing manager will also be responsible for keeping up appearances by controlling how your animation clients view your animation studio and services.
A marketing manager should have excellent promotional skills and act as a community manager to maintain positive relationships between your animation studio and clients.
Without a professional handling client questions, calls, or concerns, the reputation of your animation studio will decline, so filling this role as soon as possible is essential.
Since the responsibility of the marketing manager is to generate more interest in your animation services, they should be comfortable with all aspects of marketing and be able to work with a wide variety of platforms and tools.
While keeping your blog up to date is important, it is also essential to advertise your animation services on as many platforms as possible, including social media, paid ads, and organic marketing.
To learn more about how to use social media to promote and grow your animation studio, check out this blog on creating effective Facebook ads for your animation studio that shares some simple basics like creating brand awareness and how to keep your ads simple.
Or check out this blog that teaches you how to use TikTok to promote and grow your animation business by using the TikTok algorithm to your advantage by creating short tutorials or sharing animation techniques.
2. Accountant and HR Manager
As an animator, you probably don’t have the necessary expertise to successfully manage your studio’s finances, so it’s important to have someone on your team that can.
An accountant or bookkeeper can help you develop a financial strategy to keep your cash flow consistent and know where your money is coming from and where it’s going.
Hiring and managing employees can be a difficult and time-consuming task, especially if you’re just starting with a new animation studio. In addition to managing the studio’s finances, your accountant can act as an HR manager as well. This will make the responsibility of hiring and managing employees a lot simpler.
3. Project Manager
If your role in the company is being the studio manager, you might act as the project manager as well. But if you find yourself struggling to stay on top of things, hiring someone to take on the responsibility of project manager might be a good idea.
The project manager will be responsible for initiating, planning, executing, and monitoring animation projects. This will ensure that everyone does what they need to do and that things get done on time, effectively optimizing your production pipeline.
Production Job Roles in Animation Studio
Scriptwriters are essential to the production process as their work sets the tone of any animation project your studio might be working on.
Scriptwriters will work closely with editors, directors, and animation clients during production to develop story ideas and present them in the form of scripts. Because their writing is so descriptive, the scripts produced by scriptwriters are used by storyboard artists and directors to work out the visual art style of a project.
5. Character Designer/Developer
A character designer or developer is another essential role to fill when starting an animation studio. This employee is responsible for coming up with the characters that will be used in any animation project your studio may take on.
Character designers or developers are also essential as they will be involved in the animation process from concept creation to the modeling process.
They, therefore, have to have a good eye for creating memorable, distinct characters that are capable of being manipulated to the degree that animation demands.
6. Storyboard Artists and Assistants
Storyboard artists are responsible for creating a visual representation of the script, thereby turning it into a story. This is done by sketching out each shot of the script exactly how the storyboard artist wants the animation to look.
Storyboard artists produce a series of panels of images to plan the shots and to ensure continuity between them. This process will form the first mock-up of the animation project to make sure that the narrative, pacing, action, and continuity coherently works together and flow logically.
7. 3D Modeler
Modelers are responsible for creating digital characters, props, and environments in a three-dimensional space. Modelers follow the concepts and references coming out of the design team and then pass their models onto the animators to start putting them in motion.
Modelers translate concept art character designs and environment designs into models ready to be animated. These employees provide feedback to character designers on whether a design is going to be possible to model and then be rigged to be animated or not.
Modelers need to work within the style of a specific animation project and meet the creative and technical requirements of the project.
8. Model Rigger
Riggers are essential in the animation process and are important employees to hire. This is because they are responsible for creating the 3D models or skeletons from which animators are then able to animate characters for a specific animation project.
Riggers create digital skeletons for 3D computer-generated characters. Animators test rigs and provide feedback to riggers who make any necessary improvements to 3D models. This process continues until both riggers and animators are satisfied with the models.
Hiring additional animators to take on some of the workloads might be a good idea if your studio has grown to the point where you are unable to meet animation clients’ expectations. This will also give you time to focus on your duties as owner and manager of your animation studio.
These guys are the backbone of any studio and come in many different varieties depending on which style of animation they specialize in.
Common types of animators you can expect to find in the biggest studios include 2D Computer Animator, 2D Hand Drawn Animator, 3D Computer Animator, Stop Motion Animator, and of course, the Assistant Animators who support them.
Using tools such as Autodesk Maya, Blender, Toon Boom Harmony, Adobe Animate, DragonFrame, etc. the animators create animation and visual effects.
They deal with everything relating to the animation of the scenes and assets they are using, all whilst maintaining consistency of design and style.
10. Voice Over Artist
These artists bring animated characters to life with unique voices and personalities by following the direction of the scriptwriter and character designer.
Voice-over artists are often freelancers who work on a job-to-job basis. That being said, it’s a good idea to have a network of talented and trustworthy voice-over artists.
11. Sound Designer
Sound designers work in post-production to create the soundscape for an animation. This also adds to the creation of the right atmosphere in a specific animation project, so having a sound designer working in your animation studio is key to producing excellent animations for your clients.
The sound designer is responsible for everything related to audio during production. This includes soundtracks, sound effects, and mixing to name a few.
Sound designers will often source the score for animation from somewhere else, but sometimes they will double as composers if an animation client requests a specific score for their project.
Compositors are responsible for the composition of images or shots, and they create the final image of a frame, shot, or sequence. In essence, the compositor is responsible for taking all of the production material and turning it into the final animation as requested by the animation client.
This is also the final step in ensuring continuity across all of the art from different sources and different artists.
Compositors also look for any minor mistakes that might have occurred along the production pipeline and ensure that these are corrected before the animation is sent to the animation client.
Supporting Job Roles in the Animation Studio
13. IT Specialist
In a company where computers are essential for providing your animation clients with animation services, it’s important to have a specialist on board.
While you may have the computer skills to fix common issues, an IT specialist might have the expertise to handle more complicated problems. This will save you time and money in the long run.
The IT specialist will be responsible for maintaining your animation studio’s server and network, your website, as well as running routine maintenance on any hardware and software frequently used by your employees.
14. Administrative/Virtual Assistant
For many, admin becomes an unenjoyable chore that can often take the focus away from animation clients and services. By hiring an admin assistant or virtual assistant, you will be able to delegate tasks that take your time away from more critical parts of your animation studio.
Why it is Important to Hire These Job Roles in an Animation Studio
Hiring these job roles can help your animation studio grow exponentially and help optimize your production pipeline, contributing to your animation studio’s success in the long run.
Remember to keep quality over quantity in mind and look for people who can fulfill multiple roles. Also, try to hire people who will complement your strengths and make up for your weaknesses.
Consider the personalities of your prospective employees and make sure it suits the culture you want to maintain in your studio.
There are three main types of job roles to look for when hiring for your animation studio: essential job roles, production job roles, and supporting job roles.
Essential job roles are important for keeping the behind-the-scenes of your animation studio in check, while production roles are mainly responsible for conceptualizing, planning, and producing animation projects.
Supporting job roles offer needed support to you as owner and manager of the animation studio and enable you to focus on animation projects and clients. You’ll want a good balance of all three types of employees to optimize your animation studio’s production pipeline.
Check out this video if you’re still unsure about how to start an animation studio. The video shares some helpful tips for animators like how to deal with project management as well as how to decide how much to charge per project.