The films of Sheila Graber were featured in Animator’s newsletter number 5, summer 1983. At the time she had recently given up her post of Head of Creative Studies at King George Comprehensive School to pursue animation on a full-time professional basis.
In a career spanning more than 20 years she has created over 60 shorts and 3 TV series. One of Sheila’s driving forces has been to “use animation as a means of communication not just for entertainment but for education and healing too”.
She has run animation classes as far a field as Tunisia and Caracas, and gained an Alumni Fellowship from Sunderland University in 1998 for “Outstanding services to Education and Art”.
Sheila is currently running a series of weekly art and animation classes for adults with special needs for the “Brothers of Charity” in Waterford, Ireland. This is a long term project of 4 years standing. The results are so successful she hopes to continue and evolve her work in this area.
Sheila has just written a book, with supporting DVD, called Animation: A Handy Guide.
More information about her can be found on the Sheila Graber web site.
1 thought on “Sheila Graber then and now”
Co-Director London Multimedia Lab, LSE
The future of the book is a hot topic amongst academics speculating
on the battle between the worlds of print and images and sounds:
where established traditional book publishers look on, as the new
boys on the block, the media wiz kids and their electronic frenzy,
are encroaching on their publishing territory. Completely electronic
books are evolving and print books continue to be published; but
what is really fascinating, is where print and electronic books meet
One such book is Animation A Handy Guide by Sheila Graber, published
by A & C Black, which comprises an illustrated printed book together
with a DVD. Pick up the book, put the DVD into your computer and
click on the PC or Mac version file and your screen will show you an
electronic image of the book. Moving between the print and screen
book, you can begin a journey through a complex multimedia story,
working on many levels that provide a variety of pathways through
the words, images and sounds, as animation is explored. This book is
invaluable, whether you are interested in animation, or multimedia
story making. Sheila Graber combines and converges words and images,
by using words sparingly. Full single pages of text exist, but
interestingly, not in the printed book. Animation A Handy Guide is
the most exquisitely constructed story combining words and images
and sounds, and provides an innovative instance of multimedia story
The unusual approach used in this book will give you another way of
thinking about and experiencing animation. Sharing stories with each
other takes many forms and Animation A Handy Guide by Sheila Graber
intertwines three ways of thinking about and understanding the
evolution and creation of animation: as an historical development,
as a ‘how to’ development of skills, and as a personal experience.
The convergence of these three dimensions results in a dynamic book,
which pulls you in and carries you along on a journey that is
The history of animation is presented as a colourful backdrop
providing context and delight; the animation techniques are a
journey of discovery; and the sharing of the personal animation
experience of the author, encourages the reader to consider
themselves and their own potential works. This is achieved by
focussing on twenty key events in animation history from cave art to
the development of three dimensional computer generated images: and
for each of these key events the reader is at first given a written
and visual historical account of the animation invention or
discovery that took place, and then shown how to use the resulting
techniques to create animations for themselves, and finally shown
how the author used these animation processes herself: And all this
is before you take into account the DVD.
The DVD follows the book structure, and each page is seen on screen,
but the book is now in a non-linear, interactive and networked
environment and so it takes on a new life. The action buttons are
very clear and easy to use and the pathways are seemingly endless.
The animation movies referred to in the printed book can now be
activated from the screen book; but in addition to this there are
other ‘small movies’, for example, a documentary about how an
animation is made, to be seen before the ‘big movie’ of the
animation itself: Or a movie showing ‘how to achieve a particular
technique’: Or an animated flick book. Every section also has extra
information as text or illustrated text, which elaborate on the
history, act as ‘how to’ animation guides, or relate to Sheila
Grabers’s own works. Apart from the interactivity facilitated by the
structure of the DVD enabling various pathways and layers of
different kinds of knowledge presented in a variety of ways: the
screen book is also networked in that there are ‘live’ web links
that can take the reader to other vast areas of information and
knowledge about animation.
There may be a question in your mind about whether a printed and
screen book are both needed. My answer would be absolutely yes. One
situates and reinforces the other. The printed and screen book offer
different sorts of reading experiences. One is linear and the other
is non-linear, interactive and networked and this changes the
relationship of the reader to the book. The printed book is a
beautifully illustrated overview of the whole concept and
permanently present providing context and navigation. It acts as an
anchor, for instance, while working on one of the screen pages, you
can easily scan the printed book backwards and forwards, while the
page you are concerned with stays on screen. On a screen you can
only see one page at a time, and if you have clicked forward several
times while reading and interacting you have to come out of the
emersion with the book to click back to try to find out where you
were, no such problem with the printed book beside you. This is a
perfect partnership between a print and electronic book.
Animation A Handy Guide is about visual imagery and has been
beautifully illustrated throughout with thoughts expressed through
words and images often superimposed over each other in a
symbolically rich, converged verbal and visual language. The
accompany DVD provides an audiovisual dimension bringing the works
from the page to the screen. This is a fascinating and stimulating
mixed media experience. If you want to create stories through
animation, this book must join the others that you have on your
bookshelf because it offers a freshly innovative approach, which is
inspirational. If this is your first book on animation then you are
about to enter a magical world.
Co-Director London Multimedia Lab, LSE
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