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A Final Layout Artist is the animated-movie version of a film crew. Because animated films need everything their live-action counterparts need — including costumes, lighting, cameras, and sets — but in a digital rather than physical format, someone has to create those digital equivalents. That person is the Final Layout Artist.
In a manner of speaking, when you’re a Final Layout Artist, you’re a Camera Operator filming the scenes, a Costume Designer dressing the characters, a Set Designer creating the scenery, and a Lighting Technician setting the on-screen mood for animated films. Like other Layout Artists in the film industry — not to be confused with the Graphic Artists of the same name who work in desktop publishing — it’s your job to “set the stage” for the scenes in animated movies.
That involves turning two-dimensional storyboards into three-dimensional shots using a combination of illustrations and computer software. Although Animators animate the characters, Layout Artists like you create the scenery and props, block in the position of characters, and plot camera angles and moves.
Specifically, you’re responsible for making finishing touches in the final phase of production: When Animators are done animating, you place animated characters into scenes, add set dressings to scenery, adjust camera moves, animate background props, and ensure continuity from scene to scene. Simply put, then: You’re the computer-animation equivalent of “lights, camera, action”!