Book Review: Expanding The Animator's Survival Kit
And now for the Expanded Edition: The term, Expanded Edition is an accurate description of the new (2009) book. It isn't a revised edition in that it is the same book with a few dozen more pages added to the back. Although this book is still essential for any character animator, a revised edition would have likely updated terms and procedures to make it more accessible to animators outside classical, 2D, hand drawn animation. The 37 pages re-visit flexibility, twinning, silhouettes, animal action and weight. The quadruped section analyzes flexibility of structure in animal runs, using live-action references and providing sequential examples of a horse walk, trot and gallop. There is also a page that shows the wing action of a bird in flight. More in-depth animal studies can be found in two of my favorite books: The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature by early Disney animator, Ken Hultgren, and How to Draw Animals by Jack Hamm.
Attached to the inside cover is a DVD of just under 10 minutes, promoting The Animator's Survival Kit -- Animated, a box set that combines video from a Williams Masterclass lecture intercut with animated examples of animation theory.
So should you go out and buy the book? If you are a character animator or an animation student and you don't have the older version, yes, yes, yes! The Animator's Survival Kit is an excellent training manual and Williams is a passionate writer when it comes to animation. If you already have the book, you probably don't need the expanded edition. The extra pages are helpful but not groundbreaking and I assume the release of the new book was likely initiated as a promotion for the DVD collection.
And if there ever is a true revised edition of The Animator's Survival Kit, I would love to see an index. My students will then be able to go directly to the principle they're looking for and I can easily locate words of wisdom from one of the great animators, Richard Williams.
Don Perro has been the head of the Commercial Animation program at Capilano University (formerly Capilano College) for more than 15 years.