Book Review: Basics Animation: Stop-Motion
Being the self-centered bastard that I am, I started by thumbing through the entire book, looking for images from my short films, hoping that I had made the grade. I looked through twice (no index), but I couldn't find any mention of me! I was very depressed. Either this book sucks, which couldn't possibly be true coming from Mr. Barry Purves, or the great Mr. Barry Purves hates my films! But then I remembered that I had been in touch with him a while back when he was putting this book together, and he said he was interested in MORE, but I never actually got a chance to submit any stills to him for possible inclusion. Well, now I deeply regret it.
What is extraordinary about this book is that it isn't a "how-to" book full of technical illustrations on armature construction and whatnot (there are many of those already); instead, it is an amazingly in-depth and thorough dissection of the philosophical challenges and choices that one must make when going about making a film, whether it is utilizing stop-motion animation, or otherwise. I wish I had a book like this when I was starting out, because what Mr. Purves writes about is not only a fine introduction to the craft, but also a compilation of the kind of wisdom and insight that one can usually only gain over a very long period of time making films. And Mr. Purves' ability to boil things down to a few essential sentences on such matters as: Point of View, The Illusion of Movement and Making It 'Read,' is why this book is an interesting read as well enlightening.
To say this book is a perfect companion for anyone interested in stop-motion at any level is a tremendous understatement. Even by taking just a cursory glance through the pages, you will find that the wide range of photographic examples alone make this book a must have. There are images from films I loved that inspired me (Balance), and many I had forgotten about (Quest) or never seen before that look amazingly intriguing (Gargoyle). The examples cited in the book offer not only give historical context but they showcasing obscure examples of the art to help make the case for every point Purves makes.
What is quite astonishing is that Mr. Purves clearly takes the same methodical approach and delicate care to the pages of this book as he does with his films. An iconic and prolific filmmaker, Purves could write several volumes just about his own amazing body of work. For him to generously include dozens and dozens of other filmmakers and films shows his true passion for the medium.