Character Animation In Depth

Mark Christiansen reviews Character Animation In Depthwhich relates how to advice for 3D animation setup across most major platformsand software packages.

This is one weighty tome, nearly 1000 pages in length, with a CD full of tutorials and demos. The emphasis is on using 3D software to create character animations, but a good fifth of this book concerns pre- and post-production planning that are not 3D specific, all the way from "Meet the Team" (page 3) to "When It Isn't Fun Anymore" (page 884). This background information is great and too often missing from other books; however, it seems more aimed at beginners than the rest of the book. About half the content concerns setup and animation of 3D characters, and that's where it's likely to be most valuable to more veteran readers, with dozens of tips for creating characters ranging from cartoony to realistic in style. One reason for the size of the book is that its author, Doug Kelly, and his co-contributors made it their goal to include most major software packages (excepting Maya, which postdates this book). Thus, although the 141 individual "project" tutorials each specify a particular software, your package of preference is bound to appear somewhere. Hash Animation Master gets quite a bit of play, no doubt in part because a fully functional (albeit in my experience, fairly unstable) demo of the program is included on the book's CD-ROM. The user level is specified as "Intermediate to Advanced," and much of this book would daunt any but the most dedicated novice. The tutorials are thorough in explaining what effect they are designed to create, or what problem they solve. However, if a tutorial is written to describe how something works in Hash or Max and you're using SoftImage, you must translate the steps over to your package, which may overwhelm or frustrate many readers. Although I certainly feel that this book could have been more concise, and I think many readers will be better off with a book that specializes in one program, you will not, as of this writing, find a more complete book for the nitty gritty of 3D animation setup across most major platforms and software packages. Character Animation In Depth by Doug Kelly. Scottsdale, Arizona: Coriolis Group, 1998. 971 pages. ISBN: 1-5660-4771-4 (U.S. $59.99 paperback). Includes CD-ROM. Character Animation In Depth may be purchased in the Animation World Store. Mark Christiansen creates computer graphics animations for a prominent entertainment company in Marin County, California. He currently works with SoftImage 3.8 on an SGI, and has also created animations in Lightwave, 3D Studio Max and ElectricImage. His background is in filmmaking and live theatre.