When Disney closed their Florida animation studios in Orlando in 2004, many thought that the animation industry was dead in Orlando. Disney's animation studio was a satellite of Walt Disney's original California studio from 1988 through 2003.
It was here that the feature films Mulan, Lilo And Stitch, Brother Bear, three Roger Rabbit short features, the short film John Henry, and the musical segment "I Can't Wait To Be King" for The Lion King were produced.
The Orlando animation unit was first established with approximately 40 employees as part of the Disney-MGM Studios complex (now Disney's Hollywood Studios). Visitors to the park were able to take a tour of the studio and actually observe the animators at work.
In 1998, the unit moved into a new $70 million state-of-the-art facility. At the studio's height in the mid-1990s, it employed approximately 400 artists and technicians.
Brother Bear, was the last animated film to come out of Disney's Orlando animation studio. The staff was laid off as the film was coming out.
Approximately 250 animators, technicians and other personnel were suddenly out of work. However, Disney's closing only made Orlando's animation community hungrier for more!
While Disney as a company seemed interested in getting out of the traditional animation business, many of it's now-former employees were not. Several animators who were let go joined forces to form their own animation studios.
Project Firefly Animation Studios is a talented group of animation veterans from Walt Disney's Feature Animation Studio in Orlando who joined creative forces to form a new animation company. Project Firefly is a full service animation studio providing 2-D and 3-D animation, artwork for theatrical and video releases, high-end Flash animation, television series, commercials, interactive/internet media, children's books and educational products. They also worked on a large part of Universal's Curious George.
Other former Disney animators have gone on to work for over 200 production companies located in the Orlando area. These include Mighty Mojo Studios, EA/ Tiburon (animation for video games), Full Sail University, and EFX Creative Group.
Animation Degree Programs
Orlando has some of the top animation schools in the country. Orlando's animation schools train students to work in film animation, or specifically, in the digital field with computer animation and visual effects. They offer a variety of 2-D and 3-D animation courses, which will allow students to find work as an illustrator in many different types of media.
Orlando's animation school graduates can choose to focus on classical animation, film animation, digital animation, or specialize in a specific area of computer animation. Some arts and animation programs are offered online and these courses can be a great option for students that are self-motivated and are able to manage their time and make course work a priority in their lives.
Outlook & Salary
Growth in the multimedia industry has been brisk in recent years as more and more people are playing video games and watching computer animated films. Meanwhile the internet, cable television, and other emerging media continue to drive demand for multimedia entertainment. Most animators start out as assistants on their way towards a successful career in computer animation.
The salary for a student with a bachelor's degree in Computer Animation can vary depending on the size and location of the company. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, www.bls.gov, animators can expect to earn a yearly salary between $29,030 and $94,260 in Orlando.
Films such as Avatar and Toy Story 3 prove that the computer animation field is growing need more qualified people than ever before. According to Cameron, Avatar is composed of 60% computer-generated elements and 40% live action, as well as traditional miniatures. Avatar and Toy Story 3 have since gone on to break several box office records during their release.
Top Orlando Schools Offering Computer Animation Programs
If you want to pursue an exciting career that is in high-demand, consider a Computer Animation Bachelor's Degree. Here are a few of the top animation schools now offering computer animation programs to students in 2D Animation, 3D Animation and Video Game Design.
- Full Sail University
- International Academy of Design & Technology
Computer Graphics, Game Design and Development, Multimedia Design
- Keiser College
Computer Graphics and Design
- ITT Technical Institute, School of Drafting & Design
Digital Entertainment and Game Design, Computer Drafting and Design, Multimedia
- The Dave Animation & Visual Effects School (at Universal Studios Florida)
- University of Central Florida, School of Film & Digital Media
- Valencia Community College, Humanities, Modern Language, Visual & Performing Arts