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on 30 July 2010
Ed Hooks is renowned amongst animation professionals for his engaging acting classes aimed at animators. He has been hired by many of the major studios including Disney Animation, Dreamworks, BlueSky and Sony. This modest paperback book brings you the essentials of those classes. It describes, in an easy to read style, techniques that may be applied to create engaging animation, promoting the use of story and emotion to encourage audience empathy with characters.

Hooks uses examples from film as well as animation to illustrate each of his concepts. He also gives brief introductions to many acting theorists, enough for the reader to understand the theories, without necessarily having to read the original texts.

At the end of the book there are several acting exercises for the reader. These exercises all work best with a group so try them out with your class or find a few friends and practice them together.

Included with the book, is a CD-Rom of videos further illustrating some of the concepts discussed in the text. While it is a little basis, some may find it useful for its demonstrations of the "efforts" of Rudolf Laban.

This is a pretty useful book. It was short enough that I could read it in a couple of evenings and it gave me just enough of an introduction to theories for me to be able to decide which ones I wanted to learn more about. The animation specific acting pointers were useful as well, such as considering what the character may have been doing before the shot started and what they may be going to do when it's over. So, while brief, I would recommend this book to anybody who's finding their animation isn't quite working - all the motion is there but there isn't that spark that makes it perfect. This book will give you the advice you need to make believable, engaging animation.
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on 9 November 2011
I was advised to pick up this book after attending an acting for animators lecture which was based entirely on Ed Hooks' methods. Along with the Illusion of Life and Timing for Animation, the tutor said that it was an indispensable part of any character animator's reference library.
And for the most part, I can see where he was coming from. If you've studied drama or tried to act before, a lot of what he says is familiar - if not, it could be a revelation. The application of Laban's theories was certainly new for me, and caused me to look at movement in much more methodical way.
Where Hooks lost me was his use of examples, especially in the heroes and villains section. His approaches to character development can be pretty simplistic. For instance, he suggests that a villain cannot be successful if you can't empathise with it - this I aggree with - but seems to confuse "likable" with "empathic" as he goes on to criticize a Disney villain (Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame)for not being friendly at any point, or displaying emotion that could be considered "human" (read: likable). You can empathise with the ugly parts of a personality as well as the nice parts - don't we all feel a little bit of the evil Queen's envy when we see the beautiful Snow White? (Saying that Hitler was an excellent villain was a particularly bad misstep too - what was WW2 then, a movie??) Plus, one of the greatest villains of all time, Sauron, does not display likeable human emotions at all, yet you can empathise with his fear of death, his craving for power and the deabilitating power of addiction (in Sauron's case, the ring). You need to understand a villain, but not necessarily like him.
It would be definitely wrong to take all of Hooks' teaching as gospel. A lot of it is useful, but some parts jar, especially when Hooks verges on ground that is clearly unfamiliar to him. But then, Hooks does not claim to be gospel, as he admits pretty early on that he's not an animator and can't give technical advice in terms of animation construction - if you're looking for step-by-step drawing tutorials, you're in the wrong place. However, if you're at all interested in giving your characters the "illusion of life", this is definitely worth a read and is an excellent starting point, but I'd take a look at other theorists Hook mentions and form your own opinions about performance and character development as well as reading this.
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on 8 October 2011
I love this book! i've attended master classes with Ed Hooks before and they were so enjoyable that i immediately went out and bought his book.

It contains alot of insights into the mind of a professional actor with years of experience, it teaches you all the basic acting theory but explains it in terms that the average beginner animator can understand.

This book will help you to think more about the implications of your characters actions and the emotions driving their movement rather than just the motion itself.

It is one of the few texts i've read for class which was actually fun! Ed Hooks has a great way of capturing his audiences imagination and making us question alot of fundamental reasons as to why our characters act and react the way that they do.

It's the perfect book for any young animator (or experienced animator who wants to gain a better understanding of acting principles.)
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on 3 May 2015
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