Monday, 30 November 2015

The One Book Every Animator Should Own

The one book every animator needs to own is The Animator's Survival Kit. There has been nothing quite like it since Frank Thomas & Ollie Johnstone wrote  The Illusion of Life back in the 1970s - the first book which fully set out the secrets of Disney animation.
The Animator's Survival Kit is top of our reading list for all our animation students. So what's in it and why is it so important?

What's so great about this book?
The Animator's Suvival Kit is packed with knowledge, the culmination of a lifetime of knowlege from master animator Richard Williams, animation director on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?  It is not necessarily a book to read from start to finish, but it is a vital resource to dip in to whenever you run into a new animation challenge.

But it's about 2D animation - right? 
Yes, but the principles of 2D and 3D animation are the same. This book won't teach you how to use Maya, but it will teach you the principles of animation.

It's quite long - do I have to read it all?
Reading the book from start to finish will give you a good overview of the principles of animation. But the ASK is principally a reference book.  For me personally, I find it most useful when I get stuck on a shot, unable to figure out how to solve a problem. There is something about the density and completeness of the ASK that you can't help but find inspiration when you flick through its pages.

One of the challenges of doing good animation is how long it takes to get it just right, and how easy it is to get stuck on an idea, unable to fix a problem. Sometimes it helps to stop work, flip through the pages of the ASK, and see what comes out.

Being an animator means mastering a wide variety of skills. Timing, Spacing, acting, performance, paths of action, silhouettes, anticipation, action, reaction....lots  of different principles which, when combined together correctly, can create a great performance.

Flicking through the ASK helps remind you of those principles, and how to apply them. Often, I find I get a kind of light bulb moment, where a part of my brain is reminded of some half-forgotten principle. Apply it to the shot and - voila - problem solved.

For a fuller list of books which an animator might want to have on their shelf, see this post here.


The Escape Studios Animation Blog is a personal view on the art of animation and visual effects. To find out more about our new BA/MArt starting in September 2016, follow this link.   To apply, visit the offical page here.

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