Written by Tim Maloney
Published by Watson-Guptill

“How To” books can be a bit of a mixed bag. Many of them allow you to walk away feeling stupider than when you started. But on occasion, you read one, put it down, and feel a bit more confident that you might actually be able to accomplish what the text was trying to teach. GET ANIMATED! is one of those books.

That accessibility is rather important as it pertains to this book. CWR’s Matt Maxwell is a professional who understands the kind of stuff that Tim Maloney is talking about and can do in his sleep. But for myself, who has always focused his creative endeavors textually, the book needed to carry me from the very basics of putting together an idea for animation all the way through producing the final result for others to watch.

Maloney does indeed start from scratch, first devoting time and pages to coming up with a solid idea to animate. Whether it’s free-writing, word clustering, dream journaling, or using pre-existing works in new ways, it doesn’t matter- at heart, your project must have a solid concept to build upon or the audience won’t pay attention to it. From there he dives into scripting, narrative elements and storyboarding; all things that must be done before you begin to animate a project.

In fact, it’s this level of detail that sets this book apart. Other books of this nature have been more prone to omitting the focus on having the written story in favor of diving straight into using software.

Later chapters discuss sound, timing, editing, layout, and finishing the entire product for viewing. What Maloney does not do is focus on any one software; wisely, he offers up some suggestions for different programs you might try, but he understands that various programs will work better for people depending on their personal computer and level of technical proclivity.

The icing on the cake for GET ANIMATED! is the inclusion of a tutorial DVD that demonstrates many of the techniques discussed in the book so that you can get a visual idea of how things should look on screen (the one that discusses camera placement and movement is particularly excellent). The DVD also contains a number of actual cartoons that show strong technique, as well as live links to various sites where you can download free animation software packages on the web.

So if you’re considering taking that next step as a creative force, you would be well-advised to check out this book. From start to finish it offers up strong guidance in helping you make the best possible project. Highly recommended.

Marc Mason