Computer Graphics World

Education Supplement 2009

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he explains. "The most valuable possession you have is your art-direction skill. All the technical proficiency in the world won't help you if you don't understand how to harness it for making good art. Everyone loves the convenience of online learning, but an intra-personal experience is still the most effective way to learn." Peter Patchen, chair of the Department of Digital Arts at Pratt Institute, reinforces this idea. "We find one of our best resources in this area is the time our students spend working with our faculty and each other in the computer studios, sharing solutions and references," he notes. While we self-described geeks and artists can tend to be a bit reclusive at times, our peers are our most valuable resource for making the most of what we produce, whether in a class, at work, or online. On the Page In any industry, a "bible," or educational "Holy Grail," exists, and the computer graphics industry is no different. "The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation is the bible and should be used as the cornerstone for any serious animation program," McCampbell says. This oft-recommended text was authored by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas, two of Disney's Nine Old Men—the core animation group responsible for creating some of Disney's most famous films, from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to The Rescuers. In their book, Johnston and Thomas preserved many of Walt Disney Animation Studios' breakthrough techniques in animation, including the 12 Basic Principles of Animation. The book is based upon hand-drawn animation, but many of its concepts can be directly applied to computer graphics and animation today. Richard Williams' The Animator's Survival Kit is another book many experts consider an essential read for anyone entering or currently working in the industry. Although it has not reached "bible" status quite yet, it is nonetheless considered essential. Williams is best known for his work as animation director on the once-cutting-edge film Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which earned 18 award wins and another 21 award nominations. Of the film's 18 wins, three were Academy Awards: one was for Best Effects, Visual Effects and another was a Special Achievement Award for 12 animation direction and creation of cartoon characters. He has worked in the animation industry since the 1940s; been involved in many award-winning productions, including the Academy Award-winning A Christmas Carol in 1971; and boasts three British Academy Awards and more than 250 other international awards to his credit. Most recently, Williams released a 16-DVD boxed set of his acclaimed masterclass animation course, called The Animator's Survival Guide–Animated. The last bit of sound advice on the page comes from Macleod, who recommends "any good book on stress relief or meditation." After all, it's something perhaps everyone could use more of within this fast-paced industry, in which sleep is considered a luxury. While school is generally agreed upon as the best option for learning, it certainly is not the only effective and efficient way of expanding one's knowledge and experience. Alternative methods exist for obtaining knowledge, skills, education, and wisdom in this field. Remember, as the great Mark Twain once said, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." Courtney E. Howard is a contributing editor for Computer Graphics World. She can be reached at Industry Experts Suggest: Guide to Computer Animation by Marcia Kuperberg Focal Press Creative Code: Aesthetics + Computation by John Maeda Thames & Hudson The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler Michael Wiese Productions How Images Think by Ron Burnett The MIT Press Texturing and Painting by Owen Demers New Riders Press/Peachpit The Animator's Survival Guide by Richard Williams Faber & Faber The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston Disney Editions

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