PRODUCTION DESIGNER

DEPARTMENTS
2D COMPUTER ANIMATION | 2D DRAWN ANIMATION | 3D COMPUTER ANIMATION

OVERVIEW

  • Creating the ‘look’ of an animation project, developing the characters, environments, props, color schemes and any other design elements
  • On some productions, also undertaking the role of Art Director

For this role, you will need to:

  • Have imagination, artistic flair and talent to produce the best design solutions for a project
  • Be able to understand what is going to be achievable further down the line by the animation and post production teams
  • Be able to work to a schedule and budget, and prioritise their own work and that of others
  • Have good people management and leadership skills
  • Have good communication and presentation skills
  • Be able to take direction, give direction and work as part of a team
  • Be able to work without supervision
  • Be able to receive and address constructive feedback
  • Be able to interview and assess work of potential art department member
  • Be able to work long hours and, if required, work calmly under pressure
  • Have knowledge of the requirements of the relevant health and safety legislation and procedures

WHAT DOES A PRODUCTION DESIGNER DO?

Production Designers create the ‘look’ of an animation project, by visually interpreting the script, developing characters and environments that will both illustrate the narrative and enable Directors to realise their vision.
In the early stages of a project, they are likely to work in close collaboration with the Director and, sometimes, in conjunction with the Producer and/or client.

They start with the script/treatment, and any other form of brief, when producing the original designs. For most types of animation, they develop designs in a 2D format initially and present then as drawings or paintings regardless of the final technique, even for projects that are destined for CGI. Either alone or with a team, they will establish the environments, characters, props, colour schemes and any other design elements required for the production.

While establishing the stylistic theme, they also consider the technical resources available on the production and any budgetary and scheduling restrictions.
On some smaller productions, the Production Designer’s role may be combined with that of Art Director which means they have an on-going involvement with the project. They may also function as the character designer and/or background designer.

On some projects, they may also be the creative head of the art department, supervising the work of a team which may include art directors, concept artists, character designers, sculptors, prop designers, background artists, set designers, model makers, set builders, set dressers and pre-visualisation artists. It is likely that the Art Director, together with the Production Manager and/or Co-ordinator, will run the art department.

Will I need a qualification?

To be a Production Designer you will generally need to have an established track record. You will be selected on the basis of the suitability of your style and work. You will usually need an art-related or design degree but may or may not have any experience of animation.

WHAT’S THE BEST ROUTE IN?

There is no typical career route you can follow into the Production Designer role in animation. You don’t need an animation background, although an understanding of animation in general, and the technique of a particular project, will be extremely helpful.

If a project is based on an existing book or comic strip, the creator of that original work may become the Production Designer.
Another route could be that you move into this role having been an illustrator or graphic designer who is ‘cast’ as Production Designer based on previous work, regardless of the medium that work was created in.

Ideally, you will have worked your way through the art department, possibly starting as character or set designer and working your way up to Art Director. The experience you gain via this route will enable you to appreciate more than just the design aspect of the project. In this way, you will make a greater contribution to the technical realisation of the project and the efficient running of the art department.

RELATED JOB ROLES

COMPOSITOR
Compositors construct the final image by combining layers of previously-created material, including computer animation, special effects, graphics, 2D animation, live action and static background plates

ANIMATION DIRECTOR
Have overall responsibility for the quality of an animated product

2D COMPUTER ANIMATOR 
Animators animate scenes, including plotting the camera moves and charting information on dope sheets

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