Subtitled “All you need to get started in moving pictures”, this relatively slim (128 pages) paperback looks at first sight as though it must be superficial.
I’d better make it clear that I’m not an animator (though I can get pretty worked-up when I want to), so what follows isn’t based on experience but, rather, inexperience and that’s no bad thing, because I think that makes me exactly the target audience.
The first impression on a quick flick through is that there’s a lot of ground covered here. Delving further, I can tell you that the author deals with clay, cut-outs, pixilation, 2D, stop-motion and puppets as well as props, cameras, lighting and production cycles. That’s a lot in a short book, so don’t expect a masterclass – indeed, that’s the strength of the book: it’s a taster, an introduction, it’s not weighted down with more technical detail than you can digest at this early stage.
I didn’t go out and make a film before I wrote this review, but I did come away feeling I knew a lot more than when I started about a wide variety of techniques and with a feeling of wanting to have a go. There’s a freshness and enthusiasm about the book that’s really rather inspiring. I’m going to pay it an odd compliment I’m going to have to explain: it’s a children’s book written for adults. By that, I mean that it’s simply laid out and illustrated in the way that guides for younger people are, but it talks directly to the reader in a grown-up way. I think you could give it to anyone from the age of about 10 and they’d come away with a decent amount of useable knowledge. Would they be a Nick Park or a Ray Harryhausen? Well not yet, I mean, come on; but everyone has to start somewhere and you never know. When you’re collecting that Oscar, remember you read it here first.