How to Become a Feature Film Animator

with Nikki Braine

Finding work with a major studio making feature films can seem daunting. You may wonder if your work is good enough. But what if it’s not your work that ultimately gets you hired but something else entirely? If you’ve ever wondered how animators get to work on huge films, today’s guest is going to tell you how she did it.

About Nikki Braine

Nikki Braine has been an animator for many years. Her career spans games, VFX, and feature films including ‘Paddington 2’ and  ‘Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them’. She was recently hired on as the animation supervisor for a new Netflix show.

What it Takes to Land Big Jobs

Nikki takes us on her journey into VFX and feature film work. She describes the interview process and why you shouldn’t be nervous during them.

The truth is, once you’ve landed an interview, you’ve already made it past the majority of the hurdles to get hired. Just be yourself and show them that you’re a nice person to work with. 

Although she received a formal education as an animator, Nikki doesn’t suggest that for everyone.

There are so many great online schools and programs that can teach you what you need to know.

Nikki suggests finding a specific aspect of motion design that interests you and exploring the online programs that focus on it.

Attitude is Everything

Nikki credits her eagerness to take initiative as what landed her in the job as lead animator. Getting this type of work takes problem-solving skills, great communication, and being approachable.

Animating is just a small part of the job. It’s being able to effectively lead and inspire a team that makes a great lead animator.

What interview tips can you share with us? Leave a comment on the episode page!

How do you approach large studios when looking for work? Leave a comment on the episode page!

In this episode


  • Nikki’s journey into the world of feature films [1:05]
  • The many options for receiving your education as an animator [10:20]
  • Identifying the different roles in animation that appeal to you [15:50]
  • The ups and downs of VFX work culture [22:20]
  • What it takes to become a lead animator [31:52]
  • Simple ways to make the right connections [37:25]



“I’ve had so many interviews. And for VFX especially, once you get an interview, they’re more just trying to work out if you’re a moron or not, you know. They know what your work is. They’ve seen your showreel. They just want to get to know you a little bit.” [5:09]

“It is a choice. It’s written into your contract most of the time whether you’ll be asked to do OT. But it is a choice at the end of the day. You have to look after yourself first. If you feel yourself burning out, you have to be able to say no to the overtime.  [26:48]

“It’s the ultimate thing! You really don’t have to be the best at your job if you’re a really nice person. People want to work with nice people and that’s it.” [36:49]

Key Takeaways

When applying to work with studios, your personality is just as important as your animations. People want to work with nice and friendly people, so be yourself to highlight your character.

There are so many different fields of animation and motion design. It’s okay to explore these to find what interests you the most. Learning the different skills that each requires will help you find what you like best while giving you the knowledge to work in multiple areas.

It’s all too easy for the work to pile up. Placing clear boundaries on the amount of overtime you’re willing to do is crucial to preventing burnout and ensuring that you continue to produce your best work.


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Follow Nikki Braine on Linkedin



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