Skip to main content

Book Review: The Complete Digital Animation Course

Over the course of my life I've owned a lot of books about how to draw cartoons but only one about how to draw and create animation. In case you're interested it is the Walter T. Foster published book How To Animate Film Cartoons (No#190) by acclaimed animator, Preston Blair.

So I thought it was time to buy another book, this time updated to the way animation is created today. Whilst a lot is still hand drawn, as shown in Preston's book, modern animation has embraced the digital age and gone far beyond hand drawing everything. Computers are a big part, and probably even the central tool, in any modern animators tool kit.

I didn't have a lot of money to invest but I tried to go for a book that I thought would cover as much of the animation industry as possible. That's how I came to buy Andy Wyatt's book, The Complete Digital Animation Course: Principles, Practices and Techniques: A Practical Guide for Aspiring Animators.

As an overview of the industry this is a worthwhile book to own for any beginning animator. It's logically set out and begins with equipment and software then follows with four chapters, Pre-Production, Production, Post Production, and finishes with Professional Practice.

Each chapter is then broken down into about two pages on each subject that forms a relevant part of the chapter. For example Pre-Production covers subjects such as Ideas and Concepts, Story and Visual Research, Script Writing, Storyboarding, Film Language, Character Design and more.

The biggest chapter is Production. Just some of the subjects covered include Animation Techniques, Voice Recording, Digital 2D and 3D Artwork, Backgrounds, Staging, Motion Theory, Stretch and Squash, Expression and Lip Sync, Scene Planning and Types of Shot.

Post Production covers things like Compositing for Animation, Visual Effects, Sound Production and Editing.

Finally Professional Practice talks about promoting and selling your work and yourself as an animator.

The book is very easy to read with plenty of photos, illustrations and diagrams to discover and enjoy. Most subjects are covered by two to four medium sized paragraphs backed up with image captions, side bar boxes of tips and other helpful notes.

It's easy to read, easy to put down and come back to if need be - you'll never be stuck in the middle of a subject given that most subjects are covered in two pages. At 144 pages you'll get through it quickly and probably pick up a lot you didn't know. It may even open your eyes to an area of the industry you hadn't thought about trying too.

Where the book falls down is that it describes its-self as an 'animation course' and starts out with small assignments related to the opening few topics. However the assignments appear to be more like 'activities to try' and don't really link with each other in a way that makes you feel like you're progressing or even learning anything substantial.

The assignments may have been more useful for the reader if they worked through a project in some way so that, by the end of the 'course', the reader would have an animated short of their own creation to promote.

My only other criticism is that describing this work as the 'Complete' digital animation course seems a little overstated on the book's content. Although it does cover virtually any topic you can think of, with only two pages devoted to each, it just barely scratches the surface of any topic.

Despite that I'd certainly recommend it as a good starting point for anyone looking to get into digital animation - especially if you're like me and going the self taught route. However it's not the only book you'll ever need. You are bound to want to go into some topics in a lot more detail eventually.

The idea of using the book as a guide for the novice animator is where its strength lies. Think of it as an assistant who knows every step of making a production, who you can consult to make sure you're not forgetting something.

Good value and a worthy first or second book for any would be animator's library.


Comments

  1. Not sure if I'll have any free funds in the near future, But I enjoyed the summary, especially the good points and where it fell short.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing , i was searching something which can help our animation students, would like to have this book in my library

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi David,thanks for the informative content.I enjoyed very much.In this time animation is the very popular and interesting course in the whole world. Cartoon movie followers are increasing day by day.I think this course is good for career.I am sharing a resource which provides Animation courses institute details which is helpful for every body.Find details here:-
    http://animation.shiksha.com/

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Buy Gifts and Apparel featuring art by TET

Popular posts from this blog

Eric W. Schwartz: Cartoonist, Animator and Amiga Die Hard

American Cartoonist, Eric W. Schwartz, (whose unofficial Amiga Icon, Amy the Squirrel, is pictured on the July 92 edition of CU Amiga cover on the right) is my only real animation hero. Sure there are the big names like Disney, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery and even Preston Blair whose influences can all be seen in my own cartoons but Eric did what none of the others could. He showed that really great 2D computer animation was within my reach with little more than an Amiga Computer, a copy of Deluxe Paint and Moviesetter.

This was at a time when computer based animation was in its infancy (outside of computer game animation) and Flash was something that lights did.

There were many great Amiga artists but Eric was really the only one consistently making very funny, traditional style animations. His humor and drawing style is heavily influenced by classic Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons but he managed to build on this, creating something that was recognizably Eric's own style.

I've…

Review: CrazyTalk Animator 3 vs Moho Studio Pro 12

Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3 or Smith Micro's Moho Studio Pro 12. Which of these 2D animation applications is right for you?

Regular readers of this blog will know I'm a strong supporter, and fairly proficient user of CrazyTalk Animator since version 1. It's a great piece of software for producing 2D animations from purchased content quickly and, with version 3, is easier than ever to create animations from your own art.

Lesser known is that I first purchased Moho Studio Pro 12 (then known as Anime Studio Pro 9) back in October of 2012 and have been upgrading it to the latest version ever since because I believed in it as an application for creating great 2D animation to TV quality standard. As such, it's a much more complex application than CTA3 that I only got around to learning properly late last year. I'm still in the process of blogging my progress.

Despite this I feel I've learned enough of Moho to compare it to CTA3 to help you determine which …

Quickly Create a CrazyTalk Animator G3 Character From Original Art

Creating a character rig from original art can seem like a daunting task in CrazyTalk Animator 3. Especially if, all you really want to do is put together a quick animation with characters you may never even use again.

Here's how to rig a CrazyTalk Animator 3, G3 human character, with the fewest components, whilst still being compatible with G3 character motions, and having a face capable of lip syncing and character expressions.

You should be able to do this in under an hour - assuming you have your artwork ready to go.

State Plus - The Interim Legacy of Xtranormal

Remember Xtranormal? The site that said "If you can type, you can make movies." Although its online studio was very limited it was still pretty good for making short, dialogue driven videos with visually interesting 3D characters and backgrounds.

Here's a reminder with one of my best Xtranormal videos using some of their Star Trek based characters.



I enjoyed Xtranormal quite a bit but its pay as you publish business model and the need to purchase themes made it expensive. Particularly if you graduated to the downloadable desktop version, State, which gave you more functionality, increased possibilities and an even lighter bank account.

Last year, around mid 2013, Xtranormal closed down its website with a promise to rethink its business model and maybe make a come back. As it turns out Xtranormal is no more. Its intellectual properties were liquidated and, early this year, sold to a new company called Nawmal. Presently Nawmal is still in the process of assessing how best…

Voice All Your Own Animated Characters with Voice Changer

Voice Changer by AVSoft is real time voice manipulation software that can be used for a wide range of purposes including (according to their website); Voice-over and voice dubbing for audio/video clips, presentations, narrations, voice messages, voice mails, E-greeting cards, broadcasting, etc.; mimic the voice of any person, create animal sounds, change/replace/remove voices in songs, videos,etc.

I bought it for the specific purpose of changing my own voice, to extend my vocal range, for voicing characters in my own animations.
I was fortunate enough to get this software at a significant discount that made it difficult to refuse, given that I'd never tried it, or even heard of it before. I'm not sure if I would have bought it at the full price given that much of what it can do (for my needs) can also be done with the freeware audio program, Audacity.
Voice Changer is relatively easy to install and set up. Once installed simply change you default microphone to the installed AV…

Learning Moho Pro 12 (Anime Studio Pro) - Part 1, Introduction

This week Smith Micro released the latest version of it's animation software, Moho Pro 12, which is actually the latest, completely revised and updated version of Anime Studio Pro 11 with a new name, kind of. As I understand it Anime Studio used to be called Moho in the beginning and this is a return to the original name.

I firmly believe in this software as a professional animation tool, as evidenced by the fact I've kept upgrading every time they release a new version, despite never having the time to even scratch the surface learning how to use it properly.

Review: Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator 3 - Taking a Step Back to Move Forward

CrazyTalk Animator 3's bold claim is 'The One-for-all 2D Animation'. Does it deliver? Could it be your 'go to' 2D animation tool of choice? Before I explore those questions I feel a bit of backstory is necessary.

I've been using Reallusion's CrazyTalk Animator since its original incarnation that promised quick and easy, 2D animation creation. An idea that was relative depending on what kind of animation you wanted to do. Since my focus has largely been on original character animation my experience with CTA is relative to that.

If you wanted to create animated characters from your original artwork, quick and easy didn't really describe the time and effort involved. There was a lot of preparation and considerable time spent rigging its G1 characters.