How COVID-19 is affecting Animation, VFX and Game Design industries

We are living in weird times…Covidian 19 times. We’ll save you the diatribe about how it has affected all of our lives and get right to the meat—how is COVID-19 affecting the industries of animation, video game design and VFX? 

And should people be taking Vancouver Animation School online courses and learn from home amidst all this? 

While it is hard to say the long-term outcomes, as this is a new scenario for everyone, there are key indicators that we can examine to determine the current and future state of the business…

 

Important Industry Elements to Consider During 2020’s Corona virus issue

There are clear downsides to the industry (which are being experienced by every industry at the moment) but there are also some really interesting upsides to consider on this list…

 

Festival, Cons and Tradeshow Shutdowns 

Now clearly isn’t the time to gather in large groups and the animation/VFX/Vid game industry has responded. All the major events in early and spring 2020 have been cancelled, postponed or moved online. RTX is postponed, Gamescon was moved online, VicCon cancelled, etc. For a full list click here

Postponed events isn’t just this industry  of course, but it has significantly changed the landscape. Having said that however—despite award shows, galas, film festivals, and other events being cancelled or postponed—most people in the industry aren’t in it for the awards and events. If that was their only goal, they would last long as long hours creating your project aren’t wiped out with an award. Job fairs being closed however are a different story (but its not that people aren’t hiring per se, it’s just changing how companies are hiring)…but keep reading to learn more about the effect on job opportunities. Learn from home opportunities are never greater though, as people are bored at home and looking for a respite. 

 

How Studios Are Handling COVID 

It would be unrealistic to write that coronavirus hasn’t affected the industry. It has affected every industry and VFX, animation and video game design is no different. Luckily however, much of the work can be done from home as it is largely done via computer or laptop. Each studio’s response is unique of course. Walt Disney has asked all employees who are able to work from home to do so as per their press release. Pixar has shut down it’s Emeryville location following county restrictions and employees able to are working from home, and DreamWorks is doing the same with many employees—especially their Glendale campus animators. Nickelodeon has also followed suit. 

Essentially, animators and VFX professionals (in the big studios at least, however small ones seem to be doing the same) are still working, from home. 

 

How the Industry is Reacting 

It is hard to say which projects will be postponed, however the tight-knit community is responding with gusto to support the stay-at-home movement by offering up their resources to keep people entertained and educated. FAME educational platform supports teachers with Art & Technology online courses during COVID-19.YouTube has launched at Learn@Home educational channel, Nickelodeon offers their #KidsTogether initiative, the Cartoon Network is creating PSAs to help with education about the pandemic, and NVIDIA has increased their GPU licensing up to 500 licenses to help companies support remote workers. While the coronavirus will hurt the animation, VFX and gaming industry just like every other, the ways that companies have stepped up to support their employees, audiences and the public has been so incredible that it could practically be a heart-warming storyline to an animated tale that shows how in hard times people step up for one another. 

The industry hasn’t shutdown, and if anything is using their deep rooted community to ramp up. While the job market might be iffy for the next month or two, there’s no better time than to learn animation/VFX game design skills via online courses, online education and other opportunities. 

 

How Will This Affect Jobs in the Industry? 

It is hard to say in definite how jobs in the industry will be affected, as there is no precedence…but we suspect career opportunities will remain strong. We feel confident that our Vancouver Animation School students will graduate and find work—it just may be more work-from-home as opposed to a fancy studio than people thought. Well, for the moment at least.

Studios in the industry if anything are learning that remote working is not only a possibility but can be productive. With online communication tools and strategies, the major change we see isn’t that jobs will decrease—only that they may change. More animation, VFX and game design jobs may become remote as companies see the benefit in less physical/real estate expenses, and they recognize a work/life balance for their employees in the meantime. How this affects salaries is hard to speculate on, however we don’t see them going down. If anything work-from-home positions will decrease expenses for animators (in terms of gas, wardrobe, commute time, etc.). 

One thing we know for sure, is that the demand for content is only increasing. 

 

Is Now the Time to Venture into VFX, Animation and Video Game Design? 

Jobs may go completely back to normal in the industry, or they may become more remote/work-at-home type gigs. The need for content is there though. It is hard to say if there will be ample new jobs created in the very near future with the COVID pandemic happening—however we suspect it will be the same number as usual. While some studios may be tightening their belts spending wise…the increase in content consumption may help balance that should the COVID situation turn into a long-term scenario. In our opinion, learn from home opportunities provide not only a respite from the boredom but also train you for a career in an industry that may change to more work from home opportunities, but will remain strong. And it’s a fantastic community to be a part of. 

If you’re considering using your COVID time to learn animation/VFX/game design skills, there are options available to you via online learning. There is a one-month certificate program available and a more advance one-year diploma program. We don’t know how long the ‘stay at home’ directions will last, but spend that time wisely by leveraging online learning opportunities. 

So, should you consider entering education in the VFX/Animation/Game Design space right now? Well, there are never guarantees…however learning a new skill while you’re stuck at home is a solid strategy nonetheless. 

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