The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams

        Category: Book Reviews Technique | Article posted on: May 26, 2011

During his more than 40 years in the animation business, Richard Williams has been one of the true innovators, and serves as the link between the golden age of animation by hand and the new computer animation successes. In this book, based on his sold-out Animation Masterclass in the United States and across Europe, Williams provides the underlying principles of animation that very animator – from beginner to expert, classic animator to computer animation whiz – needs. Usisng hundreds of drawings, Wiliams distills the secrets of the masters into a working system in order to create a book that has become the standard work on all forms of animatiion for professionals, students and fans. This new Expanded edition includes more on animal action, invention and realism with sophisticated animation examples.

Richard Williams is best known as the Director of Animation and designer of the new characters for Who Framed Roger Rabbit, for which he won two Academy Awards, including a Special Achievement Award. Canadian-born Williams has won three US Academy Awards, three British Academy Awards, and an Emmy among 246 international awards – starting with his first film The Little Island in 1958. Williams has also animated title sequences for Return of the Pink Panther, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, What’s New Pussycat, Casino Royale and linking sequences for The Charge of the Light Brigade, as well as countless prize-winning commercials. In 1990 he was voted by his peers as ‘The Animator’s Animator’, and in 1995 he started giving the Richard Williams Animation Masterclass for professionals and students worldwide.

The drawings are nice and clear, the explanations easy to understand and you can practically animate the figures just by moving your eye across the page, they’re so well done. While it undoubtedly concentrates on the ‘classical’ animator using pen and ink to make his mark, his character animation tips, timing sheet info and action design hints are invaluable for computer character animation. The man says himself that you have to be good enough with your chosen tool (pen or computer) to be able to stop worrying about how you’re doing something and concentrate on the performance itself, what you’re making your character do. Thus, most of his theory concentrates on performance and not drawing technique, a boon for the computer artists among us.

The book is clear, concise, interesting and full of hints, tips and ideas that are obviously gleaned from many years experience in the trade. The author learned from the masters and applied what they taught him.