• Story Book List

     

    Derek Thompson (amazing story artist and teacher) gave me permission to post this great list of books that you can read to learn about story. Thank you to Derek for compiling such and awesome list and sharing it.

     

    1)  THE ART OF DRAMATIC WRITING by Lajos Egri
    - considered one of the best books on structure...period.  andrew stanton says this is his " most dog-eared book "
    written in the 30's and pertaining primarily to PLAYWRITING, it's a truly eye opening read.  also deemed a STORY must by Joe Ranft, Andrew Stanton, Alexander Mackendrick, and many, many more.
    
    2)  ON FILM-MAKING by Alexander MacKendrick
    - Ealing studios writer/director ( ladykillers, sweet smell of success and more ) and CalArts legend Alexander MacKendrick's book of teachings and insight is the culmination of many years of DOING and TEACHING about it...absolute gold.
    
    3)  ON DIRECTING FILM by David Mamet
    - a lean, mean series and course work on the craft of FILMMAKING by the great David Mamet.
    
    4)  IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE by Walter Murch
    -  a literally eye-opening work about the craft of FILM EDITING.  a book that can be read over and over again that continues to be useful for developing your EDITORIAL senses.
    
    5)  ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE and MORE ADVENTURES IN THE SCREEN TRADE by William Goldman
    -  two wonderfully insightful and anecdotal books by screenwriter supreme, William Goldman ( all the presidents men, princess bride, misrery etc...).  He tackles many subjects that the film scenarist has to deal with, using his personal experiences as the basis for deep insight. his discourse on the challenges and pitfalls in ADAPTATING material for the screen is particularly amazing.
    
    6)  TRUFFAUT-HITCHCOCK by Francois Truffaut
    - a book length series of conversations between film giants.  a book unrivaled in it's depth and analysis of the mind of the filmmaker. the discourse between these two ( mostly recorded in the 60's ) will teach you more about great storytelling than many other 'how-to' books.
    
    7)  20 MASTER PLOTS AND HOW TO BUILD THEM by Ronald Tobias
    - a useful examination on the 'archetypal' plot structures that MOST films follow. a reminder that while there are any number of ways to tell a good story, there are always foundational guidelines to buttress them.
    
     8)  THE VISUAL STORY: SEEING THE STRUCTURE OF FILM, TV, and NEW MEDIA by Bruce Block
    -  Block's examination of iconography, motifs and rhythm in Visual Storytelling is a MUST for any Story Artist, and his techniques and practices are in heavy use throughout our work.
    
    9)  FILM DIRECTING SHOT BY SHOT:  VISUALIZZING FROM CONCEPT TO SCREEN by Steve Katz
    - formal and foundational study of the nuts and bolts of the scene mechanics, shot design, staging and execution for aspiring filmmakers. dry, but essential reference.
    
    10)  INVISIBLE INK by Brian McDonald
    -  with keen insight and some surprising revelations, Brian's book on the UNDERSTRUCTURE of story is a must read!
    10b) THE GOLDEN THEME be Brian McDonald
    - the sequel/companion to Invisible Ink, this time the emphasis is on the underlying and universal notion of the GOLDEN THEME.
    
    11)  MAKING MOVIES by Sindey Lumet
    - step into the mind of the great director as he breaks down the DIRECTOR's process. f you've never seen any of Lumet's films, put them on your PRIORITY ONE list! ( network, the verdict, dog day afternoon, 12 angry men...)
    
    12)  CONVERSATIONS WITH WILDER by Cameron Crowe
    - another excellent dialogue between two filmmakers that gives you the kind of insight into Wilder's work that you may not find anywhere else.
    
    13)  FINAL CUT: ART, MONEY, and EGO IN THE MAKING OF HEAVEN'S GATE by Steven Bach
    - an absolutely stunning book that peels back the curtain on major film studio United Artists and the film that sank it, Michael Cimino's HEAVEN's GATE.  Written in an amazingly frank and insightful way by Creative Executive Steven Bach, this book offers unfettered access to moviemaking from both the creative and financial sides of the coin.  it also delves deep into the history of the studio and the way the the system has changed and mutated...nearly impossible to put down, and you won't need to see Heaven's Gate to enjoy it.
    
    14) COMICS and SEQUENTIAL ART by Will Eisner
    - The definitive Study by the Grand Master of Graphic Storytelling, Will Eisner, this book is a MUST for anyone involved in VISUAL STORYTELLING.
    
    15) UNDERSTANDING COMICS by Scott McCloud
    - award winning examination of the function and practice of visual communication in COMICS. a keen and surprisingly unique book that is another essential for Visual Storytellers.
    
    16) CINEMATIC MOTION by Steven Katz
    
    17) THE 5 Cs OF CINEMATOGRAPHY by Joseph Mascelli
    
    18) FILM EDITING by Karel Reisz
    
    19) THE CONVERSATIONS: Michael Ondaatje and Walter Murch
    
    20) TRICKSTER MAKES THIS WORLD by Lewis Hyde
    -This one is integral for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it helps define character archetypes and really explores sets of rules you can use to keep characters "in character".  ( note: this one is dense and academic...but amazing )
    
    21) A SHORT HISTORY OF MYTH by Karen Armstrong
    -Very unique breakdown of myth and WHY myths are created, laid out in a historical timeline of where and why myths evolved culturally. What's great for story purposes is that it helps give a sort of blueprint of how to develop plot through character stakes, a key to why myths are timeless and relatable to the masses.
    
    22) ON WRITING be Stephen King
    - surprising, personal and practical, here is a book on the craft from one of the master's of his art.
    
    23) THE CREATIVE HABIT by Twyla Tharp
    
    24) USES OF ENCHANMTMENT by Bruno Bettelheim.
    
    25) THE WRITER's JOURNEY by Christopher Vogler
    - Vogler applies the teachings of legendary Mythology JOSEPH CAMPBELL to Film Structure in this rewarding book.  In addition to covering all of the parts of the journey from a practical standpoint, he applies the breakdown to a number of familiar films. Very helpful for STRUCTURE.

     

    13 Comments |
  • Animation Collaborative Update

    I have decided to part ways with the animation collaborative. Thanks to everyone who supported the school and was excited about it. I will no longer be affiliated with it and wish the best to the students and teachers. I look forward to letting you know what I plan to do next which will be revolutionary for the animation education world. Note: The school is still up and running and  offering classes

    -Andrew

    18 Comments |
  • Surface contacts

    Its been a while since I posted. I thought it would be cool to address the topic of contacts.

    Anytime a character touches something, this is a contact. Feet to ground, hands to surface, hands to hands, Hands to face etc, etc. In 3d we are faking this. Its so important to spend the time to make these contacts look real. When they do, you just believe it. Lets take an example of a character contacting the surface of a desk. Pretty simple. When the hand touches the desk, you want to build two poses that will let you see the change between the poses. Also, you want to see the straight that is formed when the hand is put down on the surface. Basically, seeing the change is important.

    What about something a bit more complex? Say a character interacting with a surface that is not rigid. For this, you have to make sure the surface has controls that will let you deform it in such a way that comes off as believable. More important, the surface or prop needs to have that “truth” to the material so it feels the way it should. Its important to cheat a pose in order to make the animation feel right. Don’t worry about intersections if you don’t see them. As for polish of a contact, make sure you polish what you see. If the hand or foot is small, spend less time on the polish. If its a close up, its really important to polish those contact areas, even adding deformers like lattice’s to get the right feel.

    thanks for listening

    -Andrew

    1 Comment |
  • Lost Brad Bird Gold

    A while back, I did a bunch of interviews for a talk I was doing on Successful Traits of an Animator. One was with Brad Bird, who is always so great to talk to because he says it like it is. He cuts through the BS and is always honest. I have a bunch of these. Here is one on Charicature.

    bird_charicature

    Enjoy. P.S… Spline Doctors is not dead! Im just CRAZY busy!

    -Andrew

    5 Comments |
  • Summer Masterclasses in Animation/Story

    Matt Luhn and I will be teaching in a few cities this year. We are both really excited and we are including new material for our talks. Our first talk is in Chicago. We hope to see you there.

    http://www.vanarts.com/events/pixar-artists-masterclass-2012-chicago

    8 Comments |