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Animating with Blender: Creating Short Animations from Start to Finish: How to Create Short Animations from Start to Finish Paperback – 26 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; Pap/Dvdr edition (26 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240810791
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240810799
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 18.4 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 390,157 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description

About the Author

Roland Hess is the leading expert on Blender. He is one of a handful of people who has been involved with Blender since its inception, and is a key voice in the community. Hess brings a unique perspective to Blender instruction that bridges the difficult gap between technical knowledge and artistic expression. Hess wrote Focal Press titles: Animating with Blender (2009) and Tradigital Blender (2011)
Roland Hess is the leading expert on Blender. He is one of a handful of people who has been involved with Blender since its inception, and is a key voice in the community. Hess brings a unique perspective to Blender instruction that bridges the difficult gap between technical knowledge and artistic expression. Hess wrote Focal Press titles: Animating with Blender (2009) and Tradigital Blender (2011)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Humphreys on 16 Mar 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a great book to help you through the process of short film production, but unfortunately seems to be lacking the help a newbie might need when it comes to using Blender for animation. Its techniques that are discussed are cool, but outdated when it comes to rigging, (head to blender e-shop to grab a copy of ManCandy FAQ and download the Big Buck Bunny DVD and look at the glorious methods discussed). There's quite a few inconsistencies when it comes to teaching... IK setup is one example.. perhaps it's the differences between 2.48 and 2.46. Consider the short the books based on. Why isn't the final film, scene files etc etc included?? It is an open source project?? Also a huge lack of guidance when it comes to interior lighting setup. Better stop now.. the list can get bigger.
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A great book for anyone who wants to grow from just doodling around to more professional animations and actually finishing them. Besides great production value (full color, fine paper, well authored DVD) this book is fun to read as well. Although certainly not suitable for people without any Blender experience it is clear and concise and has good descriptions of asset management and video sequence editing that are not documented elsewhere. This should be the book you read just after you had your brilliant idea for an animation but before you even touch your PC.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 17 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Great book 5 Nov 2008
By Virgilio Vasconcelos - Published on
Format: Paperback
Some days ago I got a copy of Animating With Blender - How to Create Short Animations from Start to Finish on my mailbox, and I have just finished reading it.

It was written by Roland Hess (also known as harkyman) while he produced his recently released and Suzanne Awards nominated short The Beast. I've never written a book, but I believe it is at least as hard as making a short animation, and this guy managed to make them both at the same time. This alone already made him deserve my kudos even before I started reading.

Now that I've finished this reading, I'm very happy to say that this book is a clear sign of evolution of the Blender Community. Until its release we already had some great books, but all of them had the same purpose: teach how to use Blender or how to achieve an specific task. That is great - and still necessary - but this new book goes a step further: now that you already know how to use Blender, how about being productive and making something cool with it?

As I said, the biggest source from where he gathered the information to write this book was his own short production. The author stated that he knows about some shortcomings in the movie, and I really recommend you to read his book without being too picky on the movie itself, since he put on those pages the result of what he learned during that production.

Believe me, there are lots of things we learn when producing a short and having that information written, on your hands to make you avoid some common mistakes is great for you, aspiring to be the next Brad Bird. :)

One of the first ideas you'll find on the book is that it will help you avoid your movies' "death" by natural causes. This kind of death for short movies is actually very common, and it happens for a number of reasons he points out while suggesting some possible solutions.

This book aims to cover most production aspects of your new award winning short, with a very easy language and bits of humor on it. From your first idea to the final release, there are some great tips on common mistakes and ways to avoid those "natural causes".

The book comes with a DVD with the movie, all the production files and examples, HD versions of Big Buck Bunny and Elephants Dream, and some softwares like Blender (O RLY? heh), Audacity, a renderfarm manager and the VLC video player for anyone who may face trouble playing the movies.

It was also a nice idea to add at the end of each chapter the Peach Perspective on the subject. There are some questions answered by the Peach team, talking about their experience in all aspects of their production.

I wrote down some topics I found interesting while reading the book:

* Tips for story creation, maintaining it interesting and not over complicating things;
* Some clever ways to organize and naming your files and assets (believe me, that's important);
* Important and often overlooked tips like setting up the correct aspect ratio for your renders;
* An interesting way to test your maximum working polygon count, to avoid future headaches;
* How to prepare your meshes and let'em ready for animation;
* How to work with libraries and linked assets - an often overlooked feature that is extremely important to animation workflows;
* Good habits when working with Blender;
* Tips for audio recording;
* Rigging and skinning even with info on the recently added Mesh Deform modifier;
* Creating facial controls and eyes rigging;
* Useful tips on working within the Action Editor, like grouping and some overlooked and rather obscure features;
* Tips on specific tasks, like making your character hold something or making a simple walk;
* Very cool tips for decreasing render times while still maintaining good quality renders;
* Ways to light your scene in a good way, from exterior to interior scenes;
* The good use of simulations (fluid, cloth, hair...), their drawbacks and workarounds;
* How you can handle the final composition, rendering your frames and even setting up a renderfarm;
* Good info on putting it all together in your masterpiece, making sure it will work on all kinds of media: from the web to DVDs;
* There are tips even on asking help in the forums. :)

I really think this is a great book, with some valuable information that will sure help you taking your idea to the final production in a sane way. Aimed for who is already somewhat comfortable with Blender, this book is a must have during all of your production stages as a good reference on how to (and - important - how NOT to) do things.

It is good to see that our Community is getting this kind of publication, going a bit further than just using the tool to how to make some interesting with it. It is a great addition to our Blender bookshelf. :)

What else can I say? Well... go for it! ;)
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Excellent road map for amateur animators 4 Mar 2009
By Rebekah Beyers - Published on
Format: Paperback
I completed my own five minute animation long ago, and I never knew what was bad about it until I read this book. Taking you through the complete process, start to finish, on creating your own animation, this book breaks it all down into easily understandable and achievable steps.

While not for a total beginner, a lot of the book covered stuff that I had encountered in using Blender, but didn't know what it was telling me. Now a lot of that confusion has been cleared up. Tips and tricks that would have been immensely helpful, as well as basic production and workflow are covered and laid out wonderfully.

This book is definitely the best thing since sliced bread, I'm pretty much guaranteed to buy any Blender books this guy puts out.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great source for the character animator 20 Jan 2009
By Daniel Salazar - Published on
Format: Paperback
What better way to show you how to make a short film than making one from scratch! This is what the book is about, and documents each of the development steps along with full color pictures and screen grabs. You can experiment and check for your self how everything was done by loading the short film's source files from the provided DVD. This book is not a tutorial for beginners, or should I say, its not a tutorial at all, and that's what I like the most; it's full of valuable real production experience you wont find anywhere else, written in a generic form so you can use the knowledge to save time and efforts in any animation project you have.

Daniel Salazar
Blender Foundation Certified Trainer
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Book! 30 Dec 2008
By John Gilbert - Published on
Format: Paperback
Animating with Blender was written to answer all the questions you have about creating an animation. And better yet, it even answers questions you hadn't considered yet.

Roland Hess, author of Animating... , takes you step by step through the animation process.

After an informative discussion on why following the work flow is important, Roland starts walking you through the steps to create your own animated short. Using his own short animation, "the Beast", as a learning tool, he shows you the importance of a good story and how to set up both your storyboards and story reel.

As you work your way through the succeeding chapters, you not only learn about the next stage in the process, but the best tools to get it done. Each chapter builds on the previous just as each actual stage of production builds on what went before.

Along the way, you learn about character and set design, blocking out shots and matching up your sound track. As (you progress through the book) Roland shares valuable tips and tricks to made the whole thing go smoother.

Roland has a great writing style that I have always enjoyed. I found the book to be casual and friendly as well as extremely entertaining. And in my opinion, considering the massive amount of information contained in its 352 pages, the humorous touch makes this an enjoyable as well as informative book to read.

Since I have yet to create any animation worth mentioning, the whole book proved to be a huge learning experience. Below I have listed some of the areas that really caught my attention:

* The tips on story importance, how to refine and polish your story before you start

* His organization suggestions for preventing future headaches.

* The importance of creating your storyboards with the correct aspect ratio, so that your shots line up the way you planned.

* Great tips for using libraries and linking them properly

* Use of the mesh deform modifier, as well as great rigging tips

* The eye rigging set up is the easiest to set up that I have ever seen

* Great Action Editor tips and explanations of features I never even knew about

* Rendering tips for the shortest render times while still getting good quality

* Getting it all put together

All the wonderful workarounds

My overall reaction: This is a beautifully written guide to creating an animation. It is filled with useful tips and tricks that can be used for not only animation projects, but other projects well. It is well written in reader friendly language and uses humor to illustrate and explain difficult concepts.

The book is with full color screen shots and renders, so you can clearly see what is being discussed.

In my opinion this is a valuable addition to the Blender knowledge base and will be an often used reference in my own projects.

Sandra Gilbert
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good Book--but not for complete beginners 24 Nov 2008
By E. Benton - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a thorough, rather well written book. It goes over a lot of the steps on how to animate in Blender, plus rendering, simulations and some basic animation techniques. It does describe a lot of the processes involved in each, and is overall a good book.

However, I was given this book as a reference for doing real time animation/rendering, etc, and this is not an application I can recommend. It does go over some useful things when building for games (the rigging chapter was well done, and the one that I've personally used the most), but it is not intended for this purpose. While the book assumes that you have no real animation experience, it does assume that you know how to work with blender on a basic level. Unfortunately, my situation was different in that I have had animating experience, with little to none with blender. The rigging chapter assumes that you know how to build skeletons, and doesn't show you some of the more basic things in relation to those processes. However, I did not thoroughly read the entire book, as little of it had to do with what I needed to learn, and I could have missed something. Even with skimming, I was unable to find any answers to this problem and sought out help from a classmate. If you're willing to put in some extra effort to learn the bare basics of Blender, this shouldn't be an issue.

Aside from the fact that I was obviously not in the intended audience for this book, it is well written. It covers Blender's IK features and while the author claims not to be the end all be all for animation, he does a good job describing the basics. As an animation student, I feel like this would be a good start for someone who decided to work with Blender instead of the more expensive programs.

I really enjoy the way that he bolds out hotkeys--this is incredibly useful! The writing style is also a nice change from overly technical books that I've read (it's still technical, but it is far more interesting to read!). If I had the option of doing a short of my own in Blender, I would love to have this book as a reference.
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