Working as a Freelancer

To animate means “to bring to life” and is what I would like to specialise in once I have finished my education. For this unit, I will be looking into working as a freelance animator.

In the industry, animators at work will often be managed by a director or key animator and supervised by animation assistants or “in-betweeners” while the animators refer back to established designs, models or layouts to keep work consistent with different artists and their varying styles. In 2D animation, animators will produce a series of static drawings that will create a sequence of movement or the illusion of movement. In 3D the process is very different; 3D models will be created, rigged and then manoeuvred through keyframes in its software in the timeline. As a freelance animator, I would be able to work independently on my own projects and take briefs from other companies for things like models, small animation sequences etc.

To be a freelance animator I would need to have my own equipment, such as:

  • A computer/ Mac (with a good graphics chip and memory),
  • A lightbox,
  • A printer and scanner,
  • Reference models and books,
  • Tablet and drawing software,
  • 3D modelling software,
  • animation software
  • A website to advertise myself to other companies.

While working for another company, there are a number of contracts I could be employed with e.g.

  •  The Contractual: this is legally enforceable and is created with both the client and employee involved,
  • The co-operative brief which is shared with everyone, with different employees given different roles,
  • The competition brief which is typically open to the public will tell the employee what their project or task is.

There are also unions which are able to protect me and my rights like the Animation Guild, where the basic purposes are:

  1. “To assist each other in every fair and constructive way to secure uninterrupted work int he Producer’s place/ places of business and the general stabilisation of working conditions therein.”
  2. “To provide methods for fair and peaceful adjustment of all disputes between the Producer and the Union or members of the Union for mutual benefit.”
  3. “Both parties hereto agree that these fundamental purposes shall serve as a guiding influence in the settlement of all problems.”
  4. “The Union hereby warrants and agrees that it is not under any disability of any kind, either arising out of the provisions of its Articles of Incorporation, Constitution, By-laws or otherwise, that will prevent it from fully carrying out and performing each and all of the terms and conditions”.

To look after myself, my work and my assets it is important that I am up-to-date with my tax, that I have insurance and know my legal obligations.  Even as a freelance animator, of course, I will still have to pay tax though not immediately e.g. “the client pays [me] £100. No income tax is deducted from that payment – yet. However, that doesn’t mean the government doesn’t want their percentage. They do, but they will generally wait until the end of the tax year to take it, when [I] file your income tax return. And you don’t have to pay any tax at all until your earnings exceed £10,000 per annum.” When it comes to VAT, I do not have to worry about it until my earnings are exceeding £79,000.

Insurance is vastly important, especially when you are a freelance worker – no matter the sector specialism. I would probably have to have public liability insurance which would protect me if someone suffered injury or property damage from my business, pecuniary which would cover my businesses against financial losses from fraud or legal expenses and health and protection insurance which would cover personal accident and sickness or even permanent disablement due to an accident.

My main legal concern while working as a freelance animator would be copyright which is “the exclusive and assignable legal right, given to the originator for a fixed number of years, to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material” (Oxford Dictionary). Simple though it may seem, when working with another company, things can get complicated as it is usually very difficult to prove where an idea originated. Trademarks and branding are also something that I have to be aware of, branding my business is a must; it provides me with an identity but I also have to be careful not to use words or imagery which owned by another company e.g. the word “superheroes” are jointly claimed by DC Comics and Marvel Comics.

Working freelance, there are a number of health and safety concerns that are related to being an animator, one is having a break and having my equipment stolen; this could lose me my projects which what makes having an external backup important. There are others like manual handling e.g. lifting equipment, radiation from the computers etc, electricity and fire from shocks and overheating respectively. There is also the risk of repetitive strain which could put me out of work for quite awhile. ter

Codes of Conduct are the values, principles and business practices that guide a businesses conduct. For myself, compliance with laws and regulations would be important as I would want to work with integrity and avoid law suits and a bad reputation. I would also keep strong confidentiality to those I work with.

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