The skill sets an animator needs for video games, special effects, and feature film studios differ greatly.
In film, junior animators need to be able to suck up knowledge like a sponge and be willing to work on background characters and reaction shots without feeling upset that they are not working on more challenging shots. Patience is the key. With time, all animators at a studio will get the chance to work on longer, more challenging shots.
Special effects animation is similar, but it is easier to be typecast into doing less character-driven shots and more creature or object animation. That is fine, but if you want to try other things, I encourage doing challenging physical and acting tests with the rigs provided and showing them to your supervisors for feedback. This may allow you to move on to different types of shots. Just asking for something isn’t always enough. You have to show you want it, and prove you can handle it.
In games, the same is true. Do a test to show what you are capable of. Being productive and showing constant improvement will quickly turn a junior animator into an animator or senior animator at a game studio. Being able to work and make changes quickly is more paramount in games than at a feature film studio.
For all animators, the same rules apply. You still need to be humble about your shots and listen to advice in order to improve. It is often at this level where many animators find they have a certain skill that makes them better at some things than others. Some are strong with subtle acting, others with physical weight, others with more cartoony movement. Some animators find that they are great with birds, monsters, four legged creatures, females, or heavy characters. Certain people have a feel for certain things. It’s good to know who has what strengths. When you are assigned a shot that someone you know would be great at, ask them for advice! Senior animators have to have confidence in their ability to do all kinds of animation at a high level consistently. Leads and supervisors have to have this same confidence, along with the ability to communicate well with the crew and director. Their job is to help get the strongest performance out of everyone, keep morale high, keep the quality high, and be clear and honest about how a shot is working. They need to understand and visualize multiple ways that a shot can change to improve, and understand how to translate the often cryptic and difficult notes from a director to the animators.