Book Review - Animated Life: A Lifetime of Tips, Tricks, and Stories from a Disney Legend
The “Tips, Techniques, and Animated Observations” cover every aspect of the animation industry, including the importance of getting a good schooling before you start out in the industry. Norman admits that he is “less than impressed with animation management today”. (p. 198) His advice is mostly to take chances on new ideas, and to speed things up. If an idea does not seem to be working, don’t hesitate to drop it and move on to something else instead of spending months and countless dollars in “development hell”.
“Inside the Magic Factory” is illustrated with dozens of photographs from throughout Norman’s career of himself and the people with whom he worked. There are few of Disney’s most famous names, but plenty of the rank-and-file inbetweeners, animation assistants, animation artists, and others who were Norman’s workmates. Where he does not have photos, Norman has plenty of cartoon sketches of the Disney people, characters, and projects that he worked with and on. There are also many photos of the Disney “campus” in Burbank. Norman also illustrates his “Tips, Techniques, and Animated Observations” with sketches on almost every page, many in color.
Animated Life: A Lifetime of Tips, Tricks, and Stories from a Disney Legend is a colorful and informative history of working at Walt Disney Productions (or whatever the official name of the studio has been over almost fifty years). It is also a very handy collection of practical advice for the beginning filmmaker who hopes to plan and make a film, animated or live-action.
To close on a personal note, many years ago I knew someone who was working in the animation industry. Once I introduced her to someone else as an animator. She practically had a heart attack. “I am NOT an animator! What I do is several ranks below the animator level! I could get fired if anyone from work thought that I was claiming to be an animator!” After reading Norman’s book, I have a better understanding of the different jobs, and their professional levels within the animation industry.
Fred Patten has been a fan of animation since the first theatrical rerelease of Pinocchio (1945). He co-founded the first American fan club for Japanese anime in 1977, and was awarded the Comic-Con International's Inkpot Award in 1980 for introducing anime to American fandom. He began writing about anime for Animation World Magazine since its #5, August 1996. A major stroke in 2005 sidelined him for several years, but now he is back. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.