Somebody asked me in the comments of another post what are my “staple books.” That is, the books I’ll never get rid of.
Well, to qualify as part of that category, a book only has to meet one requirement. I have to be able to pick it up any time and learn something new. It’s only one prerequisite, but it’s a tough one. There’s only a few books that can meet this criteria, and The Animator’s Survival Kit is one of them. Most other books will inevitably be expendable at some point in my career as the weight of owning so many books warrants random book sales from time to time.
If you’ve ever met Richard Williams, and heard him talk, you know he can go on and on as long as you’ll let him. And you know what it’s like to just let him (awesome!). The guy is a walking story book of animation information. I had the opportunity to meet him, and shake his hand recently, thanking him for the inspiration he’s given me over the years. His stories are filled with such passion and love for the medium that you feel like you were a part of them as you hear them.
His famous book was recently reprinted with new material, and the publisher was kind enough to send me a copy to review on this blog. I was anxious to read the new material, and having finally found some time to do so, I can whole heartedly recommend that you invest in a copy.
Some have said the book is so much larger than the original, but the reality is the new material is small. But it’s quality and NOT quantity. There’s an invaluable section on animal animation which is a nice compliment to any Muybridge books you might have. Richard also chimes in on the great Motion Capture debate with a thoughtful and convincing argument that I can’t help but stand behind 100%. This to me is the highlight of the new material. He briefly addresses figure drawing for animators, something that is often misleading, at least up until Matessi’s books. There’s a few other topics that he touches on, but the thing I love about the new text is that it’s filled with the aforementioned animation stories. He teaches in the quintessential Richard Williams style of merely relaying information he learned from the greats. Essentially, he’s passing the torch. (Sorry I can’t help it, I’m so caught up in the Olympics right now…)
I must say though, that this new edition is merely a compliment to the DVD Series he recently released. I’ve been slowly going through the exercises, going back and forth between the book and the DVDs, and I can honestly say it’s the best animation education I’ve ever had. I just wish I had more time to do it more often.
Buy the new book, but if you can, buy the DVD Set too. If you have the new book or DVD series, I’d love to hear your comments.