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Spring Reads 2014


The library is threatened by tax cuts. What are you reading?

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Lincoln

Lincoln, by America's greatest historical novelist, Gore Vidal.

Vidal brings the president's White House years and the turbulent times to life in his portrayal of a truly towering American figure.

 
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The Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott

Yes, it's a "YA" series, but like the Harry Potter books, accessible to adults. Nothing too serious, light entertainment for warm weather. What I most like is the weaving that Michael Scott does with historical people, mythic characters and the god/desses of yore into the storyline. Witty, fun and adventurous, it'll keep you reading. There are 6 books, none of them a tome. I'm in the fourth now and it hasn't lost me. Recommended.

 
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Walt Stanchfield - Drawn To Life - Vol 1 & 2

Two volumes of lecture handouts by a longtime animator and Disney teacher Walt Stanchfield, given out during the 80's while he was engaged in training the new crop of animators while they worked on Little Mermaid, Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast.

His lectures draw from a wide variety of experiences, but the emphasis is on quickly capturing the essence of gestures. He wants us to draw verbs, not nouns. He wants us to look at the model, but not to draw the parts - we should draw the gesture. What is the model doing? And if the model isn't quite what we need, he wants us to ignore it and "cheat" our work into a pose or angle that works.

Each handout is a subchapter, and they are illustrated with drawings from students in his classes, paired with his drawings for suggested improvements. His little tiny adjustments and suggestions really do strengthen the sketches.

Anyone who works with lines would like reading these short essays, but would-be animators would benefit most.

 
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Animator's Survival Kit

The full name of this is The Animator's Survival Kit: A Manual of Methods, Principles and Formulas for Classical, Computer, Games, Stop Motion and Internet Animators. It was written and drawn by Richard Williams, probably best known for directing Roger Rabbit.

I wish this had been around when I started animating. It is a guide to principals of animation, with added layers of tips, tricks, and words of wisdom from great animators that Williams has worked with over the years. It's a master class in a book. (He's also released an expensive 10 hour DVD version of the lessons.) He's funny, concise, and a good teacher.

Most useful are strategies for approaching complex moves, like 2 and 4 legged walks. We learn to start with the pelvis and back legs of a horse, where the power comes from, when drawing it walking. When it goes faster, we concentrate more on the body mass than the legs. That sort of thing.

The book is richly illustrated with examples. Instead of just reading this book, I DID this book. Over the last two months I filled almost two sketchbooks with every lesson. Human walks, runs, skips, fast runs, jumps, plus dog, cat, bird, and horse moves. There were lessons about elbow and knee joints, how arms, legs, and hands move, doing moving holds, camera shakes, and more. It's an animation workout.

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I'm now working my way through a book about the building of the Erie Canal, and have another animation masterclass book on the way. More on those later.

 

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