Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who opened the flood gates?

Sorry guys,

Now that I'm on this "Illusion of Life" rant I just can't shut up. A couple of posts ago I mentioned that there is a section I would read before every shot I did on Toy Story 2 and Monster's Inc. Combined that's about three years worth of production and about 60 to 70 shots, worth of reading. The section I would read and still do although not as much, even though I should, was chapter 16. "Animating Expressions and Dialogue". Now there was a comment made somewhere that said "The Survival kit" told you how to animate and the "Illusion of Life" told you why. I don't know how that comment came about because this chapter is all about how to do it not why you should animate. I'll agree there are not a bunch of pictures showing you every frame exactly where it might be on a given frame, but there are still a bunch of great pictures that relate to the text. Like on page 454 and 455, the animation drawings of Stromboli by Bill Tytla. Where they talk about the face and how the elements of the face work together when creating expression, or just being animated that everything is related to each other. Or on page 465 Frank Thomas' drawings of the door knob from Alice and Wonderland and how he used the design of the lock to create new and interesting mouth shapes while still creating lip synch and how this mouth keep the viewer still believing it's a door knob and lock. Well there are too many wonderful drawings that tell you more about how to animate than why to animate.

I agree the book does do a great job of giving you history and the art behind animation the heart and passion of the individuals working in animation at Disney during the early years but that is just one part of the book. I see the Illusion of Life as an animation manual not just a great source of inspiration.

Just a note the principles of animation section is at chapter 3 that's a whole 13 chapters before chapter 16 so if you just keep getting stuck there maybe you should move forward in the book there is a whole bunch of how to animate chapters beyond that one.

-Dr. Stephen G.
My belief's may or may not reflect those of my fellow doctors.


Blogger Mark said...

Are there two versions of "Illusion of Life"? I haven't had them side by side, but my copy looks a lot thinner than my friends copy. Am I seeing things?


2:45 PM

Blogger Dr. Stephen G. said...

Yes there are two versions, although they are completly the same inside I think. One is the original first edition that had I think three printings, and the other is the more recent second edition that is just a reprint of the first edition 3rd printing? The paper stock led to it's thin size?

-- Dr. Stephen G.

3:18 PM

Blogger Terry Song said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:37 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great posts on The Illusion Of Life!

It is a huge book. I am reading it now and often I am tempted to skip forward (though I haven't yet) and read a spesific chapter that I want to learn from. Do you think one should read the chapters in the right order or do you think it's just as rewarding to read the different chapters in random order?


2:57 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another chapter that I like to read often is the 7 steps before animating "Think, thumbnail, staging, etc." There are thumbnails of cinderella by marc davis and some from robin hood by Ollie Johnston.

On the same note, and I'm sure you guys are familiar with this, Walt Stanchfield, among his golden lectures over at has one in particular titled "drawing principles", and I've seen so many animators not paying any attention to it becasue they think it's concered with drawing and "what does it have to do with computer animation!" is the response I often hear. But they don't know what they're missing, walk breaks down a jump that Milt Kahl did for tiger in Wiinie the pooh and it's a whole animation course in one note. maybe you guys could shine a little more light on that too and encourage people to read them.


8:55 AM

Anonymous Paul said...

Illusion of Life actually has three "forms", if you will. There are two versions that are identical but vary slightly in thickness. The original edition (which I am fortunate enough to own) was printed on very heavy paper stock. The reprinted edition of this version is on slightly lighter stock, so the book is a little thinner overall.

There is also the "Popular Edition". It's significantly thinner and bound with soft covers. It also has the phrase "Popular Edition" printed on the lower left corner of the cover (on the barrel Jiminy is standing on, if memory serves). This version is missing several of the more technical chapters from the original edition. I have a list of the missing chapters I can post if anyone is interested.

I don't think the popular edition has been in print for some time, but I'm sure there are still copies floating around out there.

9:35 AM

Blogger Dr.Burke said...

Your views do not stray far from mine Dr. Stephen. I've loved these last couple of posts and the discussion it opens up for people.


10:53 AM

Blogger Mark said...

Thanks Dr. Stephen and Paul for the clarification reguarding thinness/thickness of the book. Glad to know I'm not missing out on important knowledge with my version.

And can I just say, I LOVE Bill Tytla's animation, especially Stromboli. All of the heavy's that he animates are so fun to watch. I'd love to get some of that in my work.


2:32 PM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

I agree 100%

Great post

2:36 PM

Anonymous Kyle said...

I just bought Illusion of Life a few months ago (finally), with the plan to read the whole thing during my daily commute. I kept at it for a while and then stopped bringing it because it's so bulky. Thanks for getting me to continue reading it again! I find it a facinating look into the history and craft.

11:24 AM


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