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How To Create Animation
Animation Development: From Pitch to Production
Animation Development: From Pitch to Production
Animation Book Review by Brian Cirulnick

In all seriousness, is there anyone among us who doesn't believe the system for pitching and development is seriously flawed? Even the development executives interviewed for this book know it is so, admitting that the way networks green light and develop animated ideas into pilots and series is too slow. Well, that's a start, but its certainly not the only problem. Not only is the process by which networks review and develop projects slow, it's also often expensive, wasteful, and rife with the wrong people in chargeññgiving the wrong notes, making the wrong decisions, and otherwise getting in the way of the process in any number of ways. Oy!

So what is the appeal? Why should anyone want to stick their head into the network lion's mouth and pitch a project? In the world of pitching and development, even the best scenario is filled with potential pitfalls. But, so what? Somebody is going to break through with the next "SpongeBob," "SouthPark," or "Simpsons," and that someone won't have been scared off by the seeming futility of it all. That someone could be you, and it is the key goal of this book to increase all our chances for a direct hit.

Author David B. Levy, SVA Alumni, and award winning animation director, has written the "bible" regarding the ins and outs of dealing with network executives and a business that has always had its share of short sighted people, more afraid of losing their jobs by making waves than they are passionate to champion what might be the next big thing. This is your guide to navigating the maze which is the pitch process, followed by endless meetings, dealing with lawyers, contracts and negotiations. And then how to get the work done once your project is a go. And what to do if it fails. Even when a project dies, there's still value to the experienceññnew career notches for the resume. Either way, you can't go wrong knowing what's in store for you in the minefield of the entertainment industry.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, February 2010

Software and Tools for Creating Animation:

Toon Boom Studio 4
Toon Boom Studio 4
Animation Software Review

Toon Boom Studio 4 is ideal for individuals looking for an all-in-one animation software solution. From drawing digitally, scanning hand-drawn animations or seamlessly importing existing artwork, Studio 4 enables you to lip-sync your animation, setup the action in a 3D space and publish your animation projects for TV, HDTV, the Web and iPod!

Toon Boom Studio 4Covering the entire animation workflow from sketching to final publishing, you will find Toon Boom Studio to be a great tool to create or learn animation. Once you master the aspects of Studio, you can "upgrade" to the "pro" version, Toon Boom Digital Pro - the only complete paperless animation software.

Toon Boom Studio offers intuitive and easy to use drawing tools. Take advantage of customizable grid, auto gap closing and a unique powerful Color Palette system. Use advanced features such as feathered edges or line styles to create a personalized look. With Toon Boom Studio, you can import and manage all kinds of assets, including digital pictures, swf movies or sound files. In addition to supporting all-well known standard formats, Toon Boom Studio includes advanced import and vectorizing capabilities to import and animate paper drawings or digital pictures.

Toon Boom also provides e-learning modules for use with Studio to help animation students get used to the concepts and environment of the software. Full of examples and tips, these modules take the mystery out of the animation process, and let you focus on creating your animated masterpiece.

Toon Boom Studio is available from the manufacturer, and is available for download, and demo versions of the products can be downloaded from their website.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, November 2007

Hash Inc Animation:Master
Hash Inc Animation:Master
Animation Software Review

Hash Animation Master started life as an Amiga program (software that was around probably before most of you reading these words were even born), and if you don't know what an Amiga Computer is, Google it, and prepare to be impressed. Nowadays, however, this software supports Windows 2000, XP, Mac OS 9.2 or OS X 10.3.4 or greater.

Animation MasterHash Animation Master contains many easy to use tools that, although seemingly simple are enormously powerful, and therein lies the elegance of the entire package. For a mere $200, you're getting an animation software package that should be costing thousands. Visit their website and go through the tutorials to see just how powerful this software suite is.

Even though it's a full 3D animation suite, Animation Master supports a "Toon Rendering" mode that allows for a very anime style look (or you can ramp up the level of detail to make it look like the latest PS3 games from Japan). Watch some of the Hash "Anime" films and prepare to be impressed.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, June 2007

Toysmith Professional Cartoonist Kit
Professional Cartoonist Kit
Animation Kit Review

For those of us too poor, or too young to play with the high-end anime-making software previously reviewed in this spot, we present Toysmith Professional Cartoonist Kit, a great package that allows you to create animation the old-fashioned way, with paper and pencil and making things that flip the images for you.

Toysmith Professional Cartoonist KitFor ages 7 and up, simply sit down and start to create cartoon strips, flipbooks and zoetrope strips. Everything you need, including desktop, tracing underlays, templates, pencils, paper, an animation zoetrope and a 28 page drawing guide are stored in a handy portable briefcase.

Featuring Career Kid Pro Gene Hamm Draw, Damert's award winning Career Kids series give children a first hand insight into exciting professions because they truly learn from a pro! Damert has teamed up with recognized individuals in their profession, and worked closely with them to develop each aspect of the subject. They have helped pick the appropriate gear to include and have written the step-by-step book that comes with each kit. This unique approach creates an authentic connection to a actual person who is a recognized professional in their field.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, April 2007

eFrontier Anime Studio 5
eFrontier Anime Studio 5
Anime Software Review

From the software guys that brought you "Manga Studio", this program — Anime Studio — is a full-featured 2D "cartoon" animation package all in one box. Everything from simplistic "South Park" style animations to more realistic anime is within your grasp. All you need to do is draw.

Even if you can't draw, Anime Studio is packed with ready-to-use anime style characters so you can create your own animations right out of the box. Furthermore, tutorials and sample files show you how to maximize Anime Studio's powerful features giving you the jump start you'll need to begin your first project.

eFrontier Anime Studio 5The software's magic comes from treating the drawings as soft rubber mannequins with stiff wires inside that allow you to position the "key frames". These "bones" are not displayed in the final render, but they are visible during the animation production process, and by creating keyframe positions, the software will render the in-betweens for you by manipulating the "timeline", which is very much like an animation exposure sheet (or like the "score" from another popular animation product, Macromedia Director).

Anime Studio will output your work to AVI, MOV, and Flash formats for web-publishing (or making a very custom MySpace page!) The version shown here is limited to an animation 2 minutes in length, but, if you decide you're ready to make your own feature film they also sell a "pro" version with unlimited length.

Anime Studio takes the tedium out of animation production and allows you to create awesome looking results with only a few minutes of work. Everything from fan-parodies of existing anime to all-original epic creations are now possible — all you need is your imagination.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, March 2007

Learning Traditional Animation:

Tezuka School of Animation Vol 1
Tezuka School of Animation Vol 1
Animation Book Review

If you are going to buy a book on how to do animation, why not get one from the man who practically invented anime, Osamu Tezuka! Dr. T's series of books use familiar characters such as Astroboy to guide you, step-by-step through the process of how things move and how to accurately represent that in animation drawings.

Much like the old large-format Preston Blair books of the heyday, these are books you'll referr to again and again as the basic techniques shown here apply to all types of animation, not just "anime". Make these a part of your bookshelf.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, June 2004

The Animator's Workbook
The Animator's Workbook
Animation Book Review

Combine this book with others from Watson-Guptil, and you have the makings of your own anime studio! If you are an aspiring animator you have probably squeezed all you can out of Preston Blair. If "Illusion of Life" is too expensive, this is the book for you. One thing all of these books have in common is they include pretty much everything you need to know about the fundamentals of animation.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, May 2003

Art of Animation Drawing
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Don Bluth's Art of Animation Drawing
Animation Book Review

Don Bluth single-handledly revitalized American animation with the groundbreaking Secret of NIMH, and went on to create videogames like Space Ace. Now, Don reveals some of his secret tips and tricks in this book, which will help you get started doing your own anime projects. This book focuses on the process of designing characters; adapting those characters to script, voice talent, and music; directing the "performances" of your characters; and much more. Loaded with Bluth's gorgeous artwork and lively, inspirational commentary, The Art of Animation Drawing is a must for wannabe anime animators.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, August 2005

Visual Storytelling
Visual Storytelling
Animation Book Review

Lavishly illustrated with plenty of real-world examples highlight this amazing book from Watson-Guptil Press. What you'll learn from this book will astound you — not just by teaching the concepts in using the correct lighting and angle to "pop" the action in the story you're trying to tell, but also how effectively you can communicate without a scrap of dialog! Whether you're a professional artist, animator, story-boarder, comic-book illustrator, or even a talented fan, there's something for you in this book.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, July 2003

How to Write for Animation
Writing for Animation
Animation Book Review

While some screenwriting books may devote a chapter to writing for animation, only this informative tome devotes every single page towards creating scripts for animated TV shows. Scott, a three-time emmy winner, who's work includes TMNT, Dragon Tales, Muppet Babies and the feature Starchaser - The Legend of Orin, is a veteran of the field and knows all the tricks of the trade.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, July 2003

Professional Animation Website Links:

Animation World Network

Animation Nation

Keyframe: the Animation Resource

The official ASIFA Website


ASIFA Hollywood


Educational and Learning Animation Website Links:

Animation School Review

School of Visual Arts: Animation Program

Digital Hollywood Tokyo: Animation School (Japanese)

Osaka Animation School (Japanese)

AWN Animation School Database

Learning Computer Animation:

Digital Beauties
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Digital Beauties
by Julius Weidemann

Animation Book Review

This is the first book in a new series on digital culture focuses on beauty and cutting-edge computer-generated female characters. Whereas most books on digital creation concentrate on technique and include detailed "how-to get started guides", Digital Beauties is all about exploring the artistic achievements of today's best designers without a lot of complicated technical jargon.

An anime Lara Croft?Here you'll discover a host of digital beauties from all around the world and a dizzying array of styles and techniques-moody black-and-white nudes, surreal portraits, Lara Croft-style adventure chicks, sleek ultra-futuristic babes, etc. Both 2D and 3D design are covered, with an emphasis on the latter; some images are so stunningly lifelike it's hard to believe they're 100% computer generated.

Reviewed by Michael Pinto, March 2002

Animation Art : From Pencil to Pixel, the World of Cartoon, Anime, and CGI
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Animation Art: From Pencil to Pixel, the World of Cartoon, Anime, and CGI
Animation Book Review

Author Jerry Beck is one of the great connoisseurs of animation. Animation Art offers a visual history that encompasses a vast range of animation and animators from all over the world. Organized by decade, each chapter looks at the progression of animation in North America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and of course Asia for anime fans.

The book follows a few individuals who worked on their own to develop techniques that would soon transform animation into a mass-market phenomenon. Hundreds of amazing images show not only the final artwork, but also the creative process through which animators go in order to reach what you see on the screen.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, August 2005

How to Get a Job in Computer Animation
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How to Get a Job in Computer Animation
Animation Book Review

With more and more anime beginning to rely more and more on computer animation, knowing the trade is essential if you want to survive in the industry. Just one look at a series like DICE, and you'll see that more than 50% of each epsiode is computer generated imagery.

Computers are here to stay. If you know the basics and want to push your skills to become professional, you need to know where and how to apply your skills. This book gives you the resources you need to make it in this highly competitive field.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, June 2005

Hollywood 2D Digital Animation: The New Flash Production Revolution
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Hollywood 2D Digital Animation:
The New Flash Production Revolution
Animation Book Review

Once upon a time, the only way to make your own animated movie was to spend a zillion dollars on paper, cels, paint, film, sound, editing, developing, etc. Now, you can do the whole thing on your computer, and do the whole thing in pretty much one application — Macromedia Flash.

This very comprehensive book gets you started in creating your own anime for broadcast or film production (as well as the web) — using the tools within Flash. Now you can achieve professional results at a fraction of the production costs. This is the future of animation production, so join the revolution now!

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, April 2005

Disney's Magic Artist Cartoon Maker
Disney's Magic Artist Cartoon Maker
Animation Software Review

Although this product is aimed at small children, and it's loaded with pre-made Disney characters, and it's only 10 bucks, you'd be inclined to pass this by. Well, *DON'T* — because this product is one of the very few that has a true 'flipbook' function and allows you to create your own cartoons of any length you desire. You can draw your own characters, (using the included Magic Artist Deluxe CD) and slowly but surely animate them, color it in, import background art and even create a full length film using this software.

Disney's Magic Artist Cartoon MakerConsidering the price, this is a very high-quality package full of advanced features. Too many features in fact, for it's stated age range. Even adults will find some of the tools challenging. It's like getting two nice pieces of software for half the price of one. Get this, and start making your own anime films. Mac and PC CD-ROM.

Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, March 2004

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