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Monday, February 02, 2009


It's official.

I'm writing a second book.

It's taken longer than I thought it would to get it going, but I'm very pleased to say that ANIMATED PERFORMANCE will be published in June, 2010 by AVA Publishing.

This is the same company that produced DRAWING FOR ANIMATION, by Paul Wells and Joanna Quinn. (see below.) AVA's books are beautifully produced, and they have decided to give my release the 'large format' which means that the illustrations will also be large and clear.

So why write yet another book on animation? Hasn't the topic been exhaustively covered?
Nope. Not even close.

I'm going to cover stuff that most other books leave out. I will show how to ACT in animation, not merely produce animation exercises. And no, it won't involve setting up a video can you possibly do this if your character is part fish, or is a tiny machine, or is a group of quarrelling octopi? The only other book on 'animated acting' wasn't written by an animator. I aim to correct this omission. The cover mockup gives you some idea of my subject matter: chapter headings include 'Animal Acts', 'Moving the Furniture' and so on. I will discuss how to animate groups of characters, creatures made of straw or wood, fantasy animals and monsters, and female, male, young and old human characters. Yes, there is a difference in movement, even in ways of speech. There will be a lot of information on dialogue animation that doesn't duplicate material in Dick Williams' or Eric Goldberg's books.

There will also be interviews with Ellen Woodbury (animator of PEGASUS and ZAZU for Disney), and my former SCAD student Jamaal Bradley, who was lead animator on the House in Sony's MONSTER HOUSE and is currently directing cut scenes for Valve Entertainment. We will speak about games animation as well as theatrical/television style acting.
I also will use my wonderful 1979 interview with Art Babbitt that has never been published until now. None of the material in the interview is duplicated in Richard Williams' book. I plan to scatter all interview segments throughout the book, rather than group them in the Appendixes, as I did with PREPARE TO BOARD!

So you might say that ANIMATED PERFORMANCE will fill in the chinks in the literature of animation.

Most of the drawings will be mine, but I have one very important additional contributor: my former RIT student Ignacio Barrios, who is currently a rigger at Blue Sky Studios, has agreed to use his beautifully modeled and rigged ape character from his master's thesis to illustrate some of my points. So ANIMATED PERFORMANCE will demonstrate the same exercises modeled by hand drawn and CGI characters, which can be useful to the reader, since about 90 per cent of current animation is done in CGI.

Sheridan College, unlike RIT, is extremely supportive of faculty who publish, and is even having a special 'author's day' today for its faculty members who have had books published recently. I will make the first (non Internet) official announcement of ANIMATED PERFORMANCE at this show. I plan to ask some of my current Sheridan students for permission to use a few of their drawings, and Professor Mark Thurman has given me permission to use his hilarious caricature of the 'flour sack' as well.
But you heard it here first!


Brett W. McCoy said...

Splendid topic! Looking forward to seeing this book.

mélanie daigle said...

June 2010 seems so far away - I can't wait to get this book!

Nancy said...

Wow. I hope I live up to my own hype. Thank you for the kind wishes.

And my editor, Georgia Kennedy, has graciously pointed out that it should be 'foreword' on the front page. It may turn out that Lynn writes a 'backward' but we shall see.
The cover will probably look something like this, but changes, at least to spelling, will be made...

Bill Robinson said...

Congratulations on the new book, Nancy! Looks like it will be great!

Pandalope said...

Ahhh! I'm so excited. Reading stuff like this is about the only way I can actually learn animation here at RIT. Luckily I've found some good blogs and some old lecture notes from the Nine Old Men to keep me busy while waiting for your book.


JPilot said...

Congratulations! You publish and are guaranteed not to perish. ;)
I am a big fan of Art abbitt, I can't wait to read your interview with him.
There used to be a French animation mag called "Banc-Titre/The Animation Stand" That had an interview with both Art Babbitt and Ward Kimball each giving their account of the Disney strike from their respective viewpoints. I'll see if I can dig it out for you.

Floyd Norman said...

Now that I see the cover again, I like it even more. Looking forward to the new book.

Nancy said...

Hi John,
Congratulations on your Pixar internship. Oh, and you should be reading Eric Goldberg's new book CHARACTER ANIMATION CRASH COURSE! to get the basics, especially in dialogue. (I'll be amplifying some of the same subject materials that Eric has covered, so it will be helpful if you read his book before reading mine.)

Nancy said...

Thanks, Floyd. Now if only Ellen Woodbury's roughs would finally GET here. UPS have been dicking me around for a week now, the deliveryman keeps lying about making deliveries here (he never shows up). They are so screwed up I think that the entire COMPANY needs termination--I've never dealt with such a tissue of utter incompetence.
Poor Ellen will just have to have an interview with no drawings at this rate.

Pandalope said...

Thanks Nancy!

Yeah, I got that Crash Course for Christmas and tore through it. I still have about half of the Illusion of Life to go through still though.

Anonymous said...

Exciting news, Nancy! I'm happy to see the cover. Looking forward to it!

Ke7in said...

Nancy do you mean Mark Thurman? You'll definitely have to get that credit right if you're putting it in your book.

I have to say after reading many of the most popular "how to animate" books, they offer only the most introductory knowledge on how to animate, not how to animate well. In my opinion, the only way to learn how to animate is either 1) animate or 2) watch someone who is good at animating animate.

Best of luck though, if there's one thing the art world needs, its more how to books.

Nancy said...

Dear Ke7in,

Point taken. I've corrected the spelling of Mark Thurman's name. His drawing (which has already been sent to England, where it charmed my editor) has the correct spelling as well. Chalk that up to general 'schlamperei' (Untranslatable German for 'sloppiness'). I'll be sure to check all spellings before turning in the manuscript.

And yes, it is possible to learn animation another way: study with a good teacher. While it's not possible to learn it entirely from books, a good book can certainly get your thought processes working. I aim to show how to think about performing different types of characters, not use the same walks and runs and animation-101 'takes'--stuff that I'm actually seeing in some feature pictures. There's more than one way to skin, or animate, a cat.

Mandy said...

I'm definitely getting this book...Ed Hooks disappointed me so much that I almost gave up hope of finding a good printed resource for character acting.

wordsmith said...

Congratulations on your new book deal, Nancy. It's always a pleasure to read your work. So when are you coming back to NY to give us Americans a visit?

Your pal,

Chris Hart

Celtic Crossroads said...

I'm not a sketcher, and love to paint, but my main gig is fiber arts. I use Nancy's first book all the time when I practice my own drawing skills. Nancy's my best friend. She was still at Disney when we met and I was giving singles' events in Southern CA with Robin Crevelt (of In Any Event in Redondo Beach, CA).

Despite the fact that I am not an animator, I am one of Nancy's biggest fans and love what she does. And as I said above, I've learned so much from her book and can hardly wait until the new one comes out.

Hugs and great thoughts to you, Nancy! Pets and scratches to Giz from Lance and me!


Amanda said...

This book sounds great 8)
It's definitely needed.