When thinking about kitting out an animation studio, there are many things to take into consideration like price, aesthetic, practicality, usability, longevity, and the list goes on.
It can be difficult to separate the perfect equipment from the imperfect, but deciding the best pieces to fill your space with is paramount to ensuring a level of individual security and overall comfort in your animation work environment.
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned studio veteran or just getting into the animation industry, the equipment you use can and will have an effect on the work you produce. You will begin to realize that some things are a necessity, while others aren’t.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into what equipment you as an animator in charge of a studio need to consider acquiring, as well as provide a few examples to get you going.
The Evolution Of Animation Studio Equipment
Image via Cartoon Brew
The entertainment and subsequent animation industries have evolved a great deal over the years.
In the early days of claymation and puppetry, dating back to the early 1900s, animation projects would take months, requiring hundreds and thousands of photographs played back in quick succession to provide an animated experience.
The equipment was massive and clunky and stop-motion was a tiring process for everyone involved.
When Walt Disney sent into the world their 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, suddenly the industry revolutionized in an attempt to create far more realistic animated productions.
In order to mass-produce animated feature films, and to compete with rival studios, equipment had to advance with the times, and quickly.
These days, there are cameras and computers so well adapted for animators and animation, and so many to choose from, you can find yourself searching online stores for hours!
The animation processes are sometimes simpler and faster to complete, easier to learn due to the vast number of online sources, and the right equipment can really propel you forward to your end goal with ease and speed.
The Right Animation Studio Equipment Is Important
Having effective physical tools in the form of hardware, as well as the best software you can find (and afford) is often the key to ensuring a level of efficiency in any industry when applicable.
Combining great tools and equipment with hard work and determination, as well as a little talent, can help propel any individual animator or animation studio into success.
The level of entry into the animation industry may not be that high, but with more and more animators entering the scene every day, having the right tools and equipment can really do wonders both for you and your studio.
Animators and animation studio owners should try to consistently follow technological trends to stay on top of the evolving animation industry.
Types Of Animation Studio Equipment
Besides the obvious pieces of equipment which we will name here regardless, there are some not-so-obvious things you should consider when building and stocking your studio. Keeping these things in mind, consider the following hardware and software:
When we talk about “Small Hardware” we talk about the things you often will bring to work that you wouldn’t normally keep at the studio. Things you’d stock at home to continue your work if need be. These are tools that every animator should own.
Image via Amazon
Drawing with a pen on paper is timeless but unfortunately leaning towards becoming an outdated medium in some circles. A stylus pen is a tool every animator needs.
Drawing on a computer or tablet using appropriate software to make things easier is a skill you will need to acquire sooner rather than later, and having the ability to adapt to work in any studio is practically a necessity.
Graphics Tablet (Big and Small)
Graphical Drawing Tablet Image via Takelot
Graphical drawing tablets are brilliant tools for working in the digital animation scene. Using a small tablet is advised for an introduction into the world of digital animation, but once you’ve found your feet, you should upgrade to a larger tablet.
iPad Image Source via Amazon
Image Source via Amazon
Drawing gloves have proven to be invaluable tools for those who work long hours. They assist with avoiding excess sweat on equipment and reducing friction between you and your work surface.
Our skin produces natural oils that will transfer onto your working surface. Wearing gloves will help with preventing the transfer as well as ensuring a level of comfort for your hands.
When we mention “Large Hardware”, we refer more to furniture, the sorts of things you use to kit out an animation studio that the individual animator needn’t often worry about.
If you’re spending most of the day sitting you need to make sure you are comfortable. Individual animators and studio managers alike need to be thinking of the physical ramifications of working for years in an uncomfortable position.
Not only do your chairs need to fulfill the purpose of being comfortable, but they need to be built to last as well. The last thing you want to be worrying about is constantly replacing furniture, instead of finishing storyboards on time (something much more important).
Not just any old chair will do. You need to be thinking of how much the chair will move on its own, the angles at which the chair can sit, and more. Finding the best chair doesn’t have to be a difficult process, however.
There are many online stores available to search through, as well as physical furniture stores to look at too.
Desks and Drawing Tables
Image Source via Animation Desks
In the same vein as procuring appropriate chairs for yourself and your colleagues, you need to be thinking about desks and tables designed especially for animating.
Any old flat surface won’t do, so animators have over the years adapted to using raised and angled desks on which to place their paper, and their tablets.
Some modern desks are adjustable, making it even easier to manage your long animating sessions. Keep ergonomics in the back of your mind while thinking about these things, and you might find your job of furnishing your animating space a little easier.
Consider A Meeting Room Away From The Workspace
Meetings can sometimes be a tedious part of any work experience, but in a professional studio environment, having a space to brainstorm and discuss clients, pitches, and briefs can really help smooth out the process.
Meeting spaces are often used to showcase the project’s progress and allow for a place to show off the animated segments of the project, the animation concepts, and animatics as well as many other things related to the current project.
Having clean and spacious meeting spaces are thus paramount in ensuring people are at the very least content with being there, and able to voice ideas and contribute in a secure and comfortable environment.
With the world moving closer to hybrid and entirely remote working situations, the need for meeting spaces may begin to decline, but until you find yourself working entirely away from other human beings, don’t throw away the meeting room just yet.
Large Clean Tables
Tables don’t need to be fancy and expensive, but they do need to last. Rounded tables are also great for sharing storyboards and scripts as it allows everyone to be able to see each other while discussing the direction of the project.
They don’t need to be ergonomic per se, but they do need to be comfortable. Meetings already have a chance to be taxing, the last thing you need is an uncomfortable seat.
TV’s And Projectors
Having electronics in the room can help a great deal with moving swiftly and effectively through the meeting. A television with the right ports that can hook up to a laptop, or a smart TV that you can sync to your iPad or Tablet can really help in sharing progress made.
Computers and their individual parts have over the more recent years gotten so incredibly powerful that even a decently priced piece of hardware can give you more than you need to get some great work done.
At this point choosing between laptops and desktops comes down to personal preference, although having a single large monitor, or multiple monitors can help a great deal with an animator’s setup.
When choosing a decent computer though, consider the following:
- RAM, and plenty of it. More and faster RAM helps boost system performance. You’re going to want a minimum of 8GB, but 16GB will definitely suit you better.
- A good graphics card can be expensive, but if you’re looking to work for a while, spending a little bit of extra cash isn’t a bad idea.
- Having a good processor is extremely important because the rendering process alone will tire out your computer very quickly.
- Some operating systems can only utilize certain software such as Final Cut Pro for Macs so figuring out which programs you’re certain about using is important.
- Storage space is also incredibly important to consider as the files that you’re going to be using will end up being very large. Consider having external hard drives for the current project and backing projects up using online cloud storage facilities such as Dropbox.
Image Source via Blender
Animation software has improved dramatically over the years in efficiency and usability. Finding the right software for you and your colleagues has also become much easier.
There can be a lot to consider however when choosing applicable software such as animation style, the available features, compatibility, ease-of-use, amongst many other things.
Consider the following programs and applications for your animation studio:
- Adobe Animate
- Adobe After Effects
Managing meetings, syncing calendars, and organizing workflow between several animators can be tough if you’re not using the right tools.
The days of physically distanced working conditions can make such things even more difficult and so having effective project management tools can really benefit teams and individuals.
Consider the following management programs and applications:
Where To Find Animation Studio Equipment And Assistance
Most if not all of the equipment mentioned in this article can be found in online stores. Sometimes you’ll need a professional opinion, which can very often be found online too, but talking to someone in-person and testing hardware in-store can also be incredibly helpful.
Bigger pieces of equipment like chairs and desks can often be found in general furniture stores but for specialized equipment, you should consider doing some research and consider spending a little extra while sourcing the very best.
One thing is consistent and for certain though: you need to do your research! You should never rush headfirst into purchases, and now that we have such an incredible world of online purchasing, you really don’t have to.
A saving grace in this huge world of equipment is that you’re not alone. There is any number of animation studios that would be able to assist in providing information and even point you in the right direction.
Networking is key to building communities and is a must for any studio owner; you can’t drift all alone in the ocean of animation.
Networking can be tough though, especially if you’re starting out and if you’re really stuck, consider taking a look at Business of Animation’s Accelerator Program. You’ll be learning the skills of networking in no time!
The Right Animation Studio Equipment Is A Must
The animation process has evolved drastically over the years and the equipment has come a long way with it. Considering the right animating tools for the job can be difficult but remember that you’re not alone in this journey.
If it feels like you’re pulling out your wallet for some insanely big purchases, don’t be afraid! You’re committing to an artistic industry and working with the wrong tools can quickly be to your detriment. Remember to stay strong, stay smart, and do your research.
For more info and help with identifying the right tools for the job and how to effectively kit out your studio, be sure to follow our blogs, check out our free masterclass, and grab a copy of our free marketing handbook.