Motion Graphics programs such as Flash and After Effects have become very advanced, and it's possible to create highly sophisticated, professional quality graphics and animation on a basic consumer laptop. What keeps much of it from looking very professional, though, is that most amateur users are winging it, going with what looks decent enough but tends to be cluttered or busy or lacking in unity or overall coherence. What Angie Taylor does in this richly illustrated and clear guide is introduce and apply basic principles of design to bring a consistent and coherent look to projects using programs such as After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, and Flash. I learned a lot from it, and expect to consult this on a regular basis.
There's a bit of a punk sensibility to Angie Taylor's own work, and it shows in many of the examples she uses, but the principles she teaches are mostly adaptations from timeless rules that you'd find treated similarly in many art and design books. It's a very helpful approach, and while I've been exposed to many of the general ideas already, I'm far from internalizing most of them, and found this to be a very helpful refresher book. Even more helpful is the way that she takes theoretical principles of design and shows how they can be adapted for use with motion graphics programs. The chapter on color, especially, helped clarify things to me I'd seen or heard before but never quite understood, such as color theory and the relation between color spaces and the overall color spectrum.
The book covers a wide range of design issues, such as planning and thinking about composition, principles of animation and editing, typography, color, and managing the business side of motion graphics design. The author balances a spunky enthusiasm with the need for clarity; and there's a nice balance here as well between theory and practice, or principles and illustration. Each chapter includes a few insights from successful professionals whose work reflects an attention to the issues of that chapter. It's a very worthwhile guide, that would benefit both beginners and professionals who want to brush up on basic principles they may have missed. I think it would make a useful textbook for a design class, where the instructor would need to develop exercises to complement each chapter. That's really the only thing missing - the author has an encouraging and warm tone, but doesn't offer much in the way of "where to go from here and put these ideas into practice" for the beginner who may not have projects underway where these ideas could be implemented.