Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Animator's Survival Kit - now available as an app for the iPad

The Animator's Survival Kit came out around a decade ago as a book, and a few years later as a DVD set. Since then it has been the leading resource for students wanting to learn animation. Anyone who is serious about the medium should have a copy of the book - until now. Here at Bucks our animation dept has just had a sneak peek at the new The Animator's Survival Kit - as an iPad app. Below is our review of this new electronic addition to the animator's library.

Basically, it's awesome - better than the book, better than the DVD series - as it perfectly combines the best qualities of both. And, at around £25, it costs barely more than the book does. So this is - in short - a huge leap forward for learning animation. My only regret is we can't get a copy for the library here at Bucks. The library does not have iPads - so if you want a copy you'll have to buy the hardware first.

The iPad feels as if it is made specially for this kind of eBook. The digital ASK has many of the traditional features of a book - plain text, nice pictures - so far, so familiar.  But, as you scroll through the pages, you find video introductions to the chapters. Click on these, and you get a personal introduction to the subject by the author, giving his own view on why it's important to read it, and what you will learn.

Other little miniature icons blink at you invitingly - click on these and it pulls up a short animated video explanation of the principle being addressed. Much of this material is taken from the ASK DVD set. Confused about overlapping action? Successive breaking of joints? The importance of using silhouettes? A short video shows you what it all means, and demonstrates in simple clear terms exactly how these principles get applied in practice.

And the videos are highly interactive. It's not like YouTube, where you can't scrub and scroll through the animation, frame by frame. Here, you can pause the video, scroll through it, fast or slow, focus on an individual frame, step through it frame by frame.

It's like having a really great animation tutor right there in the classroom with you, equipped with all the latest bits of kit - video, power point lecture, white board, and good old-fashioned books - but it is all at your disposal in exactly the format you want.

It is obvious that a great deal of thought and effort has gone into the presentation. The interface is very easy to get the hang of, and simple to operate. Tap the screen and the chapters are revealed on a scroll bar at the base of the screen - so you can easily navigate to the bits you need. 

In short - it's the best £25 you will spend on any device to help you learn animation. But you have to buy the iPad first, of course.


PS Here's a list of stuff you get with it:
  1. The Animator’s Survival Kit Expanded Edition - that is to say the whole book - for the iPad
  2. More than 100 animated examples of the principles of animation - taken from The Animator’s Survival Kit Animated DVD series, and inserted into the relevant sections of the text. You can slow these down and watch them frame-by-frame.
  3. Dad's 50-years-in-the-making Circus Drawings animation
  4. Video introductions for the chapters - by the author. 80 this year!
  5. "Sensitive navigation", which "fades away gracefully away when not needed"
  6. "Onion skinning" - to see multiple frames of animation at once.

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