The Animator’s Survival Kit – Animated

Richard Williams, animator extraordinaire, has now released his Master Class on 16 DVDs. I attended Richard’s class back in 2000. I had to drive to Los Angeles (about 25 hours from where I live) and pay a small wheelbarrow-full of cash, but it was one of those classes that was a ‘eureka’ moment in my animation career. I believe that his master class allowed me to move on to the ‘next level’ in my animation.

After I attended the class my head felt like it was going to explode, so much information in so little time – and all I had for reference were my notes and drawings from the class. I was certain that 1/2 of the class leaked out of my ears before they could make an impact (or even reach the notebook). During the class Richard taunted us by waving a stack of papers around which he claimed was going to be published. One year later he did exactly that and “The Animator’s Survival Kit” was born. For me, this book is an indispensible reference and, next to the “Illusion of Life”, one of the best animation books published.

Only one thing was missing, to be able to replay the master class. Even if it was 6 months later – how I wish I could have simply rewound a tape and watched it over again. For me, repetition is king. I need a pile driver to get it through my thick skull, and repetition is a good pile driver. Now, with the release of this set, that wish comes true! I can’t believe what an amazing resource this is… Dick is the link between some of the best animators in history and he’s passing that information on to us. It doesn’t get much better than that.

This DVD series is the master class and then some. It includes animations that explain the principles he expounds. The set is expensive, but so is/was going to the master class. As far as I am concerned it is well worth the cost. Even though I took the class, I have still ordered a copy – remember, repetition (and now with examples!).

Some people on CGTalk have been complaining about the cost. I guess it depends on how badly you want to learn from a master animator. There is no way you can get this kind of training from your local animation college (unless they buy a special group copy!). The internet is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately it seems to be breeding an attitude of ‘give it to me for free (or real cheap)’. This can easily devalue people’s work and achievements. So is it expensive? Yes, and so are many other things of value.