The field of computer animation can be one of the most interesting fields in art today. It is for sure the most rapidly changing fields in art. Many people starting back in the 1980's began to make their Amiga computers draw flat 2 d animations. It took a lot of time and a lot of programming skills. Making an animation on a computer was nothing like drawing or sculpting. For the first few years, when people began to use computers to do animations they would have to write their pictures in assembly language, which is only used by expert programmers these days.
Many people could not do animation on computers because they could not program. It wasn't the fact that they didn't have great ideas or an artistic skill, they just couldn't understand the crypticsness of assembly language. As time progressed the speed of computers almost grew at an exponential rate. With this computer power computer animation became more popular. Programs were created to aid in the animation of computer graphics. Key framing was developed, based on the same principle as cell animation, the "key frames" are created and the computer would fill in the rest.
For example if an animator was doing an animation of a man jumping he would key the start position, the middle of the jump, and the landing spot, letting the computer generate the other frames needed for the animation to take place. Now a days computer animators don't need any programming skills at all. The do need a good knowledge of computers and artistic abilities do help also. Some computer used to day for motion picture computer animation can cost upwards of 2 million dollars. The software packages for creating the computer models and animation can cost any were from $5, 000 to $100, 000.
The estimated time to create an actual motion picture computer animation such as Toy Story or Antz can take approximately 2 years. Many computer animators never even attend any type of formal school in in this field, just a few years ago, none of the "top" or most well know cg animators had any type of formal training, they were creating the field. They were discovering what could be done and what could be made with computers. There was no formal training, no one was sure what to teach yet.
Now a days it is almost required to receive schooling in this area, with a vast variety of programs to use to do computer animation, it would be hard to say were to start, an internship is by far one of the best ways to get your feet wet in this area. An internship would give you a chance to get into a company and a chance to start learning what it takes to become a professional animator.