Jamie and I owe a great thanks to Floyd Norman and Richard Taylor who both wrote forwards to our book, as well as Jerry Beck who was great help with all of the historical information in the book for taking the time to participate in our panel. Each of them added a different perspective to the talk making it balanced and comprehensive. Thanks guys so much for coming!
In case you would like to read Floyd Norman's forward to the book, click here.
And, we have posted Richard Taylor's forward below.
This book has been lovingly crafted by two talented animators who enjoy their work and recognize the value of knowing the history, the art, and the craft of animation. Jamie and Angie have pooled the knowledge of some truly talented professionals to help them convey to the artist, animator, historian, or fan the combination of technology, art, discipline, and heart that it takes to succeed as a contemporary animator. What a phenomenal time this is in the evolution of animation and film. We are surrounded daily by the most complex visual imagery that mankind has ever created; be it in print, movies, television, games, or on the Internet, our lives are bombarded daily by images of seemingly limitless complexity. Today literally any image that a filmmaker can imagine can be realized. True, some dreams cost more than others, but the fact is the tools now exist that allow the artist, the animator, and the filmmaker to create photo-real illusions, fantasy characters that entertain and amaze us in films such as Titanic, The Incredibles, Shrek, Jurassic Park, King Kong, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Matrix, Alien, Terminator, Blade Runner, Star Wars, and Tron. Films packed with astounding special effects pour out of the studios yearly and on TV weekly. The technological tools to create this imagery are logarithmically improving as they become faster, better, and cheaper annually.
Tron—interesting that I would mention that film. I was co-visual effects supervisor on the picture, which was released in 1982. Tron was the film that introduced the world to computer imaging. So I’ve been involved with computer animation since its first use in the film industry. I’ve watched as art and technology fused to create the most powerful and limitless visual tool in the history of man. Computer-generated imaging (CGI) is now the fundamental tool used in creating visual effects and animated features. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that computers and software don’t create these fantastic images. A computer is analogous to a Steinway piano—it’s an instrument. It’s the artist who plays the instrument who brings it to life. So how does one become an animator who is adept at the latest technological advances, yet still creates with the spirit and freedom of traditional hand-drawn animation? This book deals directly with that query and should give you plenty of answers.
To begin with, production designers, directors, animators, and other artisans who are legendary in the film industry have several things in common. They know how to draw, they study art and the history of their craft, they hang out with their peers, they are objective, and they make an effort to learn something new every day. But the most essential thing they have in common is self-discipline. Successful artists in painting, photography, music, dance, or animation are joined in an endless dance with their art forms. They put energy into the process daily, and in return it teaches them something new. The more you work at an art process, the more it teaches you. This dance is the mother of happy mistakes and magical revelations.For those who love the art of animation and would like to make animation their life’s work, this book will reveal some basic skills and understandings. Lean to draw 2D animation. The nature of hand-drawn animation allows the animator to exaggerate the elasticity, the personality of a character. Drawing by hand creates a rhythm and flow that’s difficult to achieve in 3D work. It’s the human feeling, the personality, the heart of the animator that can be realized through drawing. Dedicated animators observe the world around them. They constantly watch the way things move; they analyze body language and know that certain gestures convey feelings and emotions. A true animator creates more than anthropomorphic characters; they can bring life, personality, humor, or emotion to anything, be it a teapot, a tree, a lamp, or a chair.
Drawing, I believe, is essential to all the arts, especially the art of animation. The structure, design, and composition of a scene, the gesture of a character, the angle of view, the location, the set, and the props are all created through drawing. Conceptual drawings, storyboard frames, and character studies all seem to start on a napkin or a scrap of paper when an artist quickly sketches an idea before it vanishes. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” In filmmaking and games, thousands of dollars is more like it.
Technology has always affected the arts. Advances in technology spike the creative juices of artists, so it’s inevitable that new ideas, new images, and new animations evolve—images that I like to say “remind you of something you’ve never seen before.” If you really want to be an animator, then begin right now by reading this book. And from this moment on, begin to learn and practice the basic skills of animation and learn to observe and interpret the magic movements of life.
—Richard Taylor (www.richardtaylordesign.com)