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

We are living in uncharted times. That is, COVID-19 times.

We’ll save you the diatribe about how it has affected all of our lives and get right to the meat—how COVID-19 is 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 The Coronavirus

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

Festival, Cons and Trade show Shutdowns

Now 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 canceled, postponed or moved online. RTX is postponed; Gamescon was moved online, VicCon canceled, etc. For a full list click here.

Postponed events isn’t just this industry, but it has significantly changed the landscape. Having said that, however—despite award shows, galas, film festivals, and other events being canceled or postponed—most people in the industry aren’t in it for the awards and events. If that was their only goal, they wouldn't 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 it's 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. Learning from home opportunities are never greater though, as people are bored at home and looking for a respite.

How Studios Are Handling COVID-19

It would be unrealistic to write that coronavirus has not affected the industry. It has affected every industry and VFX, animation and video game design are 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. 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 its 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 is the Industry 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 has not shutdown, and if anything, it 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 indefinitely 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 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-19 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-19 situation turn into a long-term scenario. In our opinion, learning from home opportunities provides not only a respite from the boredom but also trains 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-19 time to learn animation/VFX/game design skills, there are options available to you via online learning. There is an introduction 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 no guarantees, however, learning a new skill while you’re stuck at home is a strategy nonetheless.