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on 14 December 1999
If there were an example of a book that has not decided on who its readership is, The Encyclopedia of Animation Techniques is it. It tries to bridge the intellectual chasm between the technical animation manual for enthusiasts and the glossy coffee-table book, and by doing so almost topples right in.
This is best described as a book of two halves. The first 100 pages (and strangely, the last dozen or so too) take in the technical and artistic aspects of many animation media, although this limited space means that each technique is given only the most perfunctory examination. The book is, at times, a panoply of imbalances, embarking one moment on a lengthy discourse about building metal armatures for model animation, and pausing later for a mere two page spread on lip-synching. This would be fine as a beginners manual for people who are interested in learning more about the subject of animation, but students and amateur enthusiasts might wish to look elsewhere.
The remainder of the book is closer to the aforementioned "coffee-table" book, with some 50 pages of high-quality stills, with only short captions present to distract the eye from this glorious visual treat. And a treat it is. Animations in a multitude of media are covered, many of which are instantly familiar, from TV commercials to popular shorts. Variety, it would seem, is the book's watchword throughout.
Unfortunately, the book is littered with errors, both typographical and factual, and anyone seeking more than a brief encounter with the world of animation production may feel that the cost of the 176 heavy-grade glossy colour pages might have been better spent on researchers and proof readers. This book rarely rises above the textbook equivalent of candy-floss; gorgeous in appearance and full of promise, but ultimately hollow and leaving one wanting more.
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