Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ok, let's not get off topic here!

A Comment from the last post about reading the Illusion of Life.

"David > I actually remember the first time I read Survival Kit, I sort of "waited" as I read for the walk part to be over. It's all to easy to read through and not comprehend a damn thing. I knew lots about animation so I let it go over my head. Now that I've actually animated I realize it simply WAS over my head, and it means something SO different to me now that I can't believe it's -given away- for the price it is.

As for "Illusion," I've only read it once but it's truly inspiring. Not this "Ooh, this or that is GOLD" all talk and ass-kissing and no substance stuff, it actually makes you feel good and motivate you and appreciate your roots all at once.

There's a post on AWN that says it...Survival is how to animate, Illusion is WHY..."

We're talking about the Illusion of Life not the Richard William's book. Although Richard William's book is quite detailed and has lots of information, many students can get confused, by all the pretty pictures. Like I said before you need to read the book. The main problem with Richard William's book, is we know students don't like to read, and they just wind up copying all the pictures. (Why do students wind up copying from books? My theory is that many people think animation is like math, where there are exact answers on how to animate or formulas. Unfortunately animation is nothing like math and there are very few if any formulas. It's an Art form and there really are no answers just experience and a good eye is all you have to go on. Sure there are some tricks, mainly the principles of animation. Really animation is about exploring and trying things and making adjustments until it looks right. Repetition creates perfection, the more time spent generally creates better animation. Although too much time can ruin it. I may be wrong here but this is what I think, now back to what I was saying.) Copying pictures in a book is not animating or even learning to animate. His book is great don't get me wrong, but the temptation to copy vs reading is way too strong. Reading along with the pictures will help you understand what's happening in the pictures, thus allowing you to begin to understand how some of these animation principles work. REMEMBER READ THE ILLUSION OF LIFE! understand it READ IT AGAIN, and AGAIN then a after a year of READING THE ILLUSION OF LIFE, maybe pick up the Animator's Survival Tool Kit and read it, but don't sell your Illusion of Life to buy it.

Just my two cents
-Dr. Stephen G


Blogger Dave said...

Well said!

12:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

YES! I see so many walk cycles copied straight out of the book, right down to the character designs. I think it's awesome you point out the differences between the two...the way students can mishandle the content of the books.

By the way, great job on the animation roundtable. To me and a whole bunch of my buddies, you are one of the most knowledgeable, humble and modest animators out there.

11:42 PM

Anonymous David Nethery said...

Those are some interesting observations about students copying stuff (without really understanding it) from the Williams book. I thought one of the strengths of the Williams book was that for the most part he uses "generic" figures for the illustrations. I would think that would help to teach the principles , without getting caught up with just looking at the pretty pictures .

Sorry, I didn't mean to derail your topic and your (rightful) praise of The Illusion of Life by bringing up the Williams book . To me they are not "either/or". Both are valuable . I think my point in bringing it up was that The Animator's Survival Kit is another example of a book that everyone seems to have on their shelf (gathering dust) but not too many people actually dig in and read the thing.

Years ago Andreas Deja mentioned to me that Dick Williams had TWO copies of The Illusion of Life ; one was a pristine copy of the book as published and the other was a workbook version that he assembled of just the parts directly concerned with animating and animation technique. He went through the book and cut it up with scissors and then pasted it back together with the sections of the book that went into specific detail about animating expressions (like your Stromboli example) or what have you ...

Anyway, your point is well taken and again I say : good advice! We all ought to pick up the Illusion of Life and READ it , frequently , until the lessons sink in.

12:18 AM

Blogger Alexandra said...

I think both books are crucial to understanding animation. I own both and consider them my animation bibles. I constantly re-read William's book to refresh my memory on the principles and walk cycles. I just recently bought Illusion of Life (although I would frequently go to Barnes and Nobles and read it for free). There really are no words to describe how priceless that book really is.

I don't people should try to compare the two things. They were made to help animators. Williams learned from the guys who wrote Illusion of Life, so it all leads back to each other.

Thank Jesus we have these books!

11:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both are fabulous. I agree that there is useful and good knowledge about animation hidden throughout the Illusion, not just in chapter 3, there's even good stuff in the notes and appendices. I think that the Survival Kit is great, but I think it's a little advanced, you have to know and understand all the basic rules before you can really twig onto the subtle stuff he's talking about. If you haven't absorbed Illusion, then when you read Survival Kit you'll think it's just a giant manual on walk cycles instead of seeing all the stuff he's talking about with rhythm spacing timing and breakdown's using walk cycles as an example.

So both are great, but I agree Illusion is where to start and you should read it all.


11:06 AM


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