THE ANIMATOR’S SURVIVAL KIT – PROS
If there was a bible of animation, this is surely it. For students and pros alike, this book is for the lifelong student of animation. One of my most used books, it’s 10 years since I originally bought it and is still used as much now as it was then. From walks, runs and jumps, to specific principles and tips and tricks. From planning out animation scenes to lip syncing. This book has you covered whatever you’re looking for help with.
EMPHASIS ON WALKS & RUNS
I would say the first half of this 300+ page tome is dedicated to functional movement. That is, walks, jogs, runs and jumps. It has incredibly detailed examples of different types of walks and runs, all from a range of personality and body types. Each is clearly outlined and shows you step by step his methodology to build any kind of walk you can think of.
CLEAR & COLOUR CODED
It’s not just the walks and runs that are clear. The whole book is presented with hundreds of Richard William’s clear and clean drawings. Not only that, but his analysis of various aspects of animation are colour-coded for added clarity. There is a ton of information in this book but the clear style makes it much easier to absorb and understand, especiallly if you’re a visual learner.
INDEPTH ANIMATION PRINCIPLES
The 12 principles of animation as laid out in The Illusion of Life are not all given their own chapters but he does mention most of the principles throughout and gives in depth examples of their application. What I like about this is he puts some of the principles into practice and explains in great specificity how to get the most out of their use – or ‘more bang for your buck’ as he says in the book.
GREAT DIALOGUE SECTION
Personally, I love the dialogue section at the end. Not just mouth shapes as a lot of books show but he goes into the anatomy of the head and the squash and stretch you can achieve in the jaw and skull. Allows you to add great flexibility and expression to your characters.
INTERESTING ANIMATION HISTORY
Richard Williams apprenticed under some of the great animators of the 20th Century. Many of the 9 old men of Disney passed their knowledge down to Williams. It’s not surprising then that the book is sprinkled throughout with anecdotes of his time with them. I like this from a historical and contextual perspective. Williams has created a book that is a tangible bridge between the original masters and the modern day animator.
THE ANIMATOR’S SURVIVAL KIT – CONS
OLD FASHIONED IN PLACES
Richard Williams is obviously a very 2D centric animator and whilst the principles he presents in the book can be applied to any animation medium, some of the points may seem a little old fashioned in places. For instance, things like the best way to flip your animation paper on the peg bar or the X-sheet demonstration. People from a traditional, 2D background like myself will no doubt find it interesting. However, to most modern day animators it may seem a bit irrelevant. I must stress though, this is only a tiny proportion of the book and in no way detracts from the usefulness of the book as a whole.
I appreciate the analysis of the animation techniques but people may feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of technicality that Richard demonstrates in animation. In the book, he openly admits that some of the old masters would criticise him for being overly analytical about animation. However, I suppose this analytical mind has provided us, the student, with a lot of great information which otherwise wouldn’t be conveyed very well from a less intellectualised approach.
SMALL SECTION ON ANIMAL MOVEMENT
There is only a small section on animal movement. I mentioned in the video review that there is a revised edition which I believe has a larger section of animal movement at the end so if you have the extra cash, make sure to buy the ‘Expanded Edition’ not the original so as not to be disappointed.
THE ANIMATOR'S SURVIVAL KIT - SAMPLE IMAGES
This book is surely the bible of animation. Life long students of animation, both beginner and experienced should have this book in their reference library. There is so much information in it, each time you read it you are guaranteed to discover something new.
It covers all your bases, with a heavy emphasis on functional movement and very methodical approach to animation, which is great if you are first starting out.
Whilst it may seem a little old fashioned and irrelevant in places, it is overwhelmingly useful and chock full of great animation knowledge to refer back to time and again. This book may seem only applicable to 2D animators due to the hand drawn nature of many of the examples – however don’t be fooled! The information and principles presented are applicable across the whole range of animation mediums, from 2D to stop motion and CG animation.
If you only bought one book on practical animation help, this would be the one!
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