My Two Genies
Instantly a classic, Eric Goldberg came out with his amazing book Character Animation Crash Course!, in 2008. Little did I know that year, when stumbling upon the book and its author at the San Diego Comic-con that I was given a privileged opportunity! I was with a friend of mine that day that had never been to the con, she isn’t a huge comic book fan, but she’s a person generally interested in a variety of things. We were making our way through the isles, and stopped at the Stuart NG book booth (http://stuartngbooks.com/); my friend knows some French and was entertained greatly by their selection of European comics, while she was pouring over those, I found a stack of the Character Animation Crash Course! books. I picked up the book, flipped though the book, I wanted the book. I had a problem though, I’d already been through most of the con and my funds were pretty low, do I buy the book and put it on the credit card, or do I wait?
I put the book down, my friend and I went to leave the booth, trying to rationalize purchases we wanted to make there, when I looked over to see a very short, bald man sitting behind the booth across the aisle. He was all set up ready to sign books, and no one was there with books to be signed. I was between Eric Goldberg and his book, with no one in my way. I used the credit card. Flustered and gleeful, I hoped on over to the booth with my newly purchased book to have Eric sign it. He opened it up, and… I had apparently picked up a pre-signed copy! Opps. I was asked to go back and see if they had an unsigned copy I could swap it out for, I went, I checked, there wasn’t. I came back, explained, and it wasn’t a problem. Eric happily asked me what he should draw for me, and I was so excited to have him sign that my mind drew a complete blank and I said, “the Genie,” which would have been perfectly fine since the Genie from Disney’s Aladdin is one of his most well-known characters, except for the fact that the pre-signed sketch already in my book was of the Genie. How embarrassing of me to be so thick! I couldn’t have blundered like that in front of a more gracious man though. Eric happily saved the situation by commenting, “Well, I’ll give you the deluxe Genie then.” I thanked him for the sketch and went on my way, but for being kind to someone as silly as me, I also thank him!
Ok, so you got a signed copy, good for you, but why should I get this book already?
If I weren’t me, I’m sure I’d be asking the previous question already, so I’ll get right to it. Eric’s book is great because he offers a clear, organized approach to the principles of animation while always presenting them in a way that shows how they can best be used to enhance an animated character’s performance. If you’ve never read a book on character animation before, it’s the perfect place to start. He’s a Disney master who’s learned from Disney masters so he has a lot to share! Eric’s explanations are insightful and to the point. Coupled with his drawings, each topic is brilliantly made clear. The chapters all follow a similar format with bullets for key sections, example sketches, and additional information at the end such as summaries, exercises, and recommended cartoon viewing!
Along with the sketches in the book, there’s a symbol to indicate which ones are animated on the companion CD included with the book. These examples are a wonderful reference to have at your fingertips because you can watch them in real time, then scrub through frame by frame to really see what Eric’s done with each one and how that’s affected the animation. He’s also included the timing charts with each animated example so you can see how he’s broken down the inbetween drawings.
There is some information which you really won’t find in any other books, and some information that is but that hasn’t been presented as clearly as it is in Crash Course. The chapters on Spacing and Gimmicks are good examples. There’s also a chapter on animating to music which outlines some tips. I can’t think of another book that’s attempted to mention much about this topic. Chapter 20, Approach to a Scene, gives you a rundown of the process animators take in a studio setting. It outlines in detail the steps you would take to animate a scene from planning the thumbnails to doing the inbetweens with important questions to ask yourself as you’re doing each stage. It’s a very helpful reference to make sure your focus is always on the final character performance while working through each step.
There’s about 218 pages worth of reasons why you should have this book as an animator. Like the other books I’ve highlighted in my blog thus far, it’s one of the most valuable resources to have at your disposal. I like how the chapters are broken down, and everything is clearly organized into manageable bits of information. Eric doesn’t spend time meandering around topics, but gets right to the heart of what’s important to learn from each principle, always keeping in mind the final character performance.
Learn from Eric Goldberg in Person this year!
To mention nothing of the books I’d wish I had the benefit of reading when starting out, the Laguna College of Art & Design has a current opportunity that I would have never dreamed possible when I was younger, by offering a 12 week Sat. course for college/recent grad level animators to work with Eric himself on a special project! It’s an opportunity that’s almost too good to pass up. You have to apply by May 1st with 3 each of sample pages of storyboards, character designs, background layouts, and a 1 minute demo reel. The course runs June 9th- August 25th. For more details visit the site:
Don’t forget the 2012 May 1st deadline!