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4.8 out of 5 stars
The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation (Disney Editions Deluxe)
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 1999
Bought the Book in 1981, when it was first released. Now, 18 years later, it is still the book I would take to a dessert island. It is The Animation Bible. (But take it from experience AND from the book itself: Animation rules are no laws, and can be broken if they must!) Frank&Ollie were relieved to find that their editor ok'ed a paperback edition that was historically abridged, keeping all info on the making of Animation. So get that version also, to keep at work, while having the hardcover at your bed-side!!! Remember: Animation is primarily a matter of the mind! Don't just READ this book, UNDERSTAND it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
If you wanted to hire two authors to write a book all about the art of animation and life under Walt Disney, then who better to choose than Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas - two chaps that were part of Disney's "Nine Old Men" when working at the studio. Despite originally being released in 1982, this monstrous book (just under 600 large pages) doesn't feel a day old and is just as relevant for teaching vital animation techniques now than ever.

But don't think of this is a 'guide' or an instruction manual - the education, if you are looking for it, comes through a chronological story of Thomas and Johnstons time working under Walt, highlight stories, developments, things that were learnt and forgotten, facts, dates and plenty of names. Though to break up the text, diagrams are present throughout that demonstrate what the author is trying to point out. High quality colour pictures of cels, drawings, sketches, writing and other documents are also present and contribute to help backing up the story.

Despite being written in such a format, the two men also manage to highlight more important animation techniques than I've found in sole dedicated books - testament to the importance of experience. Such instances are written simply and with patience, without talking down to the reader, so it becomes very easy to understand what they are trying to explain, and they have helped me in my own ventures into the world of 2D animation. For those that won't use the advice provided in a practical sense, its still important to understanding character development in all of Disney's features. Its wonderful to read of how many questions must be asked when planning just one action alone!

All I can say is, at just under 600 pages, this is the only book you'll ever need on discovering how weight, power, movement and life is projected through a series of intricate pencil renderings. As the authors suggest, despite Disney's lack of draftsmanship, he played an unprecedented role in the development of animation because no-one else was willing to push artists enough to capturing emotions on screen. Thankfully, you're now looking at the book that covers this more than any other.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 13 July 1999
Definitively, an excellent book that explains the principles of animation from a peculiar point of view: Disney's. If you are planning to go into animation, or are already enrolled, this book may become your every day manual. WHY? It's perfectly explained and beautifuly illustrated. It's the secret behind those magic classics we all love. Read it and it will change the way you work...
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 1998
For anyone who wants to understand how classical animation works this is simply the best book available. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnstone were masters in their field - their work has in many ways never been surpassed. The only difficulty with using their book is its sheer size, and the fact that the book is many different things - part history of the Disney studio, part amusing anecdote, and of course part instruction manual. But what a manual! Anyone with the patience to wade through the rest of the material and focus on the chapters which deal with the techniques of animation will find a goldmine of information, which far surpasses the competition. Anyone serious about mastering the medium should buy this book (and hang the expense).
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 24 March 1999
If you are an animator, you need this book. If you're interested in animation, you want this book. In my opinion, as books about the theory and practice of animation goes, there are only about two or three in the must-have class. This one leads that pack.
In particular, the "Principles of Animation" chapter is the clearest and best explanation of the principles of animation in existence. If you're an animator, you need to know these rules, whether or not you intend to break them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 December 1997
As fan to the topic of animation, I've read several books on the matter, without doubts this is the best that I've read, especially because it have been written by two of the, perhaps lasts, greaters master on animation. Without doubt animation it has become an art, I have many films of animated cartoons, through of these books I've learnt to appreciate the differences of quality and creativity. Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston they are part of the history of animation, they write on what they lived and in a pleasant style, easy to understan for the non specialists. While I was reading their book,I felt me so fascinated, that I wished the opportunity to express my feelings and admiration to them and all ones in the Disney studios that make this illusion real, therefore I thank this opportunity to express them what has been their book for me. Congratulations.

Eduardo Agrela C.
Santiago, CHILE.
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on 5 February 2008
The important thing that Illusion of Life teaches would-be animators is that the technology was evolving all the time during these 'golden' days at Disney. The artists and animators were always looking at new and exciting methods to adopt in order to best tell the story.
This book is not just about drawing animation frames it's also about how the team worked and gelled in order to prepare itself for the task of crafting an animated movie.
As new technology became available the artists adopted it with often stunning effects.
There is a beauty to the rough sketches produced by the likes of Milt Kahl. In this manga obsessed world that we live in it's a joy to see an artist paying so much attention to the detail that brings a character or object to life.

The Illusion of Life is a book that not only presents some of the finest traditional animation techniques you'll ever see. It's also a wonderfully documented snapshot of a defining moment in movie making as seen through the eyes of the characters that made it all possible.

The highest possible recommendation.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This book is an excellent read if you are interested in finding about about animation history, and especially Disney animation.
At times I found this too much like a Bible for Animators. It is basically a history of animation, and where the techniques and principles came from.
If you are interested in learning the principles and techniques of animation then I really suggest a different book. If you want to know where this stuff all started, and get some great examples and references then this is the book to pick up!
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on 4 January 2013
If you are a fan of Disney films then this book should be amongst your collection. Full of detailed looks at the way in which Walt produced his classic movies, the illustrations alone are worth the price of this item. It's in depth and fulfils all those facts and figures that Disney fans like to know.
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Well if you're looking at this book you probably already know some things about it: This is an animator's bible, the very backbone of what makes animation great. If you're a student/enthusiast or even just somebody interested in what makes animated movies magical then don't hesitate to purchase.
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