This is a pretty good book. I would of named the book, The Animated Short - A blueprint for creating your own animated short. As that is what this book is.
I have spent the last few years studying this material on my own. Buying writing books, going to seminars, buying directing / acting / filmmaking books, all to learn the various topics necessary to begin creating a 3d animated short.
This book would of saved me quite some time, before I talk more about what this book is, I think it is important to say what it is not.
This book covers no 3d package. It does not show how to model for animation, the best rigs for different situations, what type of render works best, workflows on setting up a small render farm to render out your animation. Guidelines on what resolution your render should be, ideas for light placement, etc. This book does not cover the 3d aspect of this.
In a way that is a good thing, if it did, the book would be dated, and isolate many people who are interested in this topic. It is unfortunate that the topics are not mentioned, as it would be interesting to hear different approaches, but what it does cover is fantastic, and I will share my insights with you.
The main format of the book is this:
Introduce a topic (acting)
Tell the audience some tips on how it relates to your 3d short, give you some good ideas to impelement on your own current shorts, give a background.
Then recommend (usually 5) books on the subject (and these are really good books that are recommended, I have most of them, and can attest to their usefulness)
Followed by an interview after a summary with a person working in the field (really good material here as well)
What this book covers is the following:
Chapter 1 - Story background and theory. Here they give ideas on creating a story, and some pretty useful advice. As with all chapters in here, the topics covered are only to whet your appetite, you do need more information, and the books chosen here (and the dvd) are quite good.
Chapter 2 - Building better context - tips and ideas to consider while still in the design stage of your project
Chapter 3 - Acting - how you need to learn acting, the basics, and more
Chapter 4 - Building character and Location - ideas for designing your characters
Chapter 5 - Building Story - Tools and tips on making a better story
Chapter 6 - The Purpose of Dialogue - I think you can figure this one out
Chapter 7 - Storyboarding - Thoughts on making storyboards - this is a pretty good chapter, and covers a huge amount of this topic
Chapter 8 - Staging - Really good stuff, but a tad to short.
So, am I glad I got the book? Yes. I wish it would of come out years ago, as it would of saved me from buying some books that did not help at all.
Is this everything you need to know? No. The book does not cover creating scripts, it doesn't introduce simple formats or formulas, It does not cover ideal times for animations (though it does say 3-5 minutes) It would of been great for some kind of generic structure for this kind of time frame. 5 minutes does not allow much story to be told. Most scriptwriting is 1 page per minute. I was really hoping for more information on this, but this book does not cover it in enough detail for me.
This book would of been "MUST HAVE" material, if it had followed the making of a 3d animated short, even leaving off the 3d aspects. From story development, from the concept art phase, all the way to setting up the shots, then showing the final piece (as that is how the book is structured). One sample, all the way, would of made this book 10x better.
This book does not cover voice acting. I really thought this would get mentioned, it did not. You should research this yourself, as it is important.
Sound design is another topic missing from this. It does not discuss this in any length. We need advice on creating ambient music, sound effects, scoring your film, and again changing voices.
The book is a pretty short book. At around 250 pages, it is a very quick read (It will take you around 2-3 days, as the topics are interesting, and the book is well written (save several glaring editing problems). I enjoyed reading the book, I was hoping for more, but I cannot knock the book because of it.
I think this is a book anyone interested in this topic should have. I also think anyone considering buying this book should know, it will only lead to you buying more books. As you need more books. You are making a film, it is supposed to be very difficult, and it is. But with the help you get from this book, it will make your R&D Much quicker.
I really hope more authors will tackle this topic, and hopefully in more depth. I wish they would of mentioned some 3d topics (Ideas on set design, poly counts, rigs, lighting) but you can get this information other places.
I hope this review was helpful for you. I have bought many new books the day they came out, and usually the ones with no reviews scare me (especially the ones with "fake" reviews, which you can always tell). That is why I made this review so long. I want people to really know about this book prior to making a decision. The main thing being, this book is a blueprint, with a small lecture on each topic. It will save you tremendous time, but it is not the only book you need. It is the map to take along your journey.
I also want people to know that the book does not cover your normal 3d topics. This book is more of a project overview, and assumes you know how to model, animate, texture and rig. I think this book has the making of the type of book to build a course off of in college.
The bonus dvd includes "MANY" useful features. An acting video, many shorts, among other things. It is a great all around package, and should help your formulate some great ideas. This is why I give the book 5 out of 5, even though it does not cover all the topics (nor does it claim too), I am glad I own the book, and I think most others will be too.