Search form

'Timing for Animation' by Harold Whitaker and John Halas

Scott Jenkins reviews Timing for Animation by Harold Whitaker and John Halas. Now in its eighth printingthere might be something to this book!

Timing for Animation is a brilliant book whose size belies its usefulness. Originally published in 1981, this book was conceived as a learning tool for hand drawn animation. However, because of its comprehensive coverage of this fundamental aspect of animation, it is an invaluable tool for computer animators as well.

The original edition was published in the U.K. and generally only available in Europe. Now, this less expensive edition is published by Focal Press and available through their According to the print dates, this book is getting more and more popular being reprinted five times in the past four years.

What makes this book so useful? As John Lasseter's (like I need to tell you who he is) new introduction to this edition, says, "Getting an object to have a sense of weight, size, scale, motion and humor has to do with how you move an object. The computers dont create animation for the animator -- the animator still needs knowledge of the principles of timing in order to make the computer animation come alive."

This book covers it all and is presented in an animator friendly manner with concise text and clear sequential drawings. It starts with the basics of the dope sheet and continues on with physics and the way things move, from the basic bouncing ball to the timing of fire. If you come from a background of drawing your work, there are sections such as animating in perspective which literally will bring depth to your work. If you come from a background of computer animation this book is an absolute necessity for you, as it shows the techniques to breathe life into your work.

Whether you are working on your characters acting, or the overall mood of a scene, one of the great secrets to making it work is the timing. Concentrating on the subject with a laser like intensity, yet managing to cover all aspects of the subject, Timing for Animation is an important book to have in any animators reference library.

Timing for Animation by Harold Whitaker and John Halas. Oxford, U.K.: Focal Press, a division of Reed Educational and Professional Publishing, Ltd., 2002. 142 pages. ISBN: 0-240-51714-8.

Scott Jenkins started off animating by hand, until he discovered the Cubicomp system way back in 1987. He is the author of the upcoming book (digital) Compositing, coming from New Riders in January of 2003.