Animating with Blender: New Blender Book Shipping

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  10 October 2008
Animating with Blender: New Blender Book Shipping

Animating with Blender: How to Create Short Animations from Start to Finish is now shipping at and other fine online bookstores. Instead of copy and pasting any marketing-speak to tell you what the book's about, I'll give you a copy and paste of the table of contents (I'm very very very lazy):

Chapter 1 An Overview of the Short Animation Process
-Creating a Short Animation
-Avoiding Death By Natural Causes
-The Importance of Following the Work Flow

Chapter 2 Story Story Story
-What Makes an Engaging Story
-Writing It Down
-Story Scope,Your Resources, and Reality
-How Long Is My Story?

Chapter 3 Organization
-Your Digital Assets
-The Way That Blender Handles Assets
-A Suggested Organizational Structure

Chapter 4 Storyboarding and the Story Reel
-Storyboarding Basics
-Suggested Tools
-Pen Tablets
-Paint Software
-Blender’s Image Editor
-Creating the Storyboards
-Telling the Story
-Recording a Temporary Soundtrack for Timing
-Assembling a Story Reel in Blender’s Sequence Editor
-Sequencer Tools for Working with Image Strips
-Watching and Exporting the Story Reel

Chapter 5 Character Design and Creation
-Designing in Line with Your Theme and Reality
-Modeling Based on Storyboard Requirements
-Level of Detail
-Normal Mapping for Greater Detail at Lower Resolutions
-Mesh Animation Issues
-Quads, Edge Loops, and Joints
-Bind Pose
-Polygon Count
-Preparing the Model for Future Work

Chapter 6 Libraries and Linking
-Libraries, and Why You Should Bother
-Linking Assets That Do Not Animate
-Linking Assets for Object-Level Animation
-Creating an Animation Proxy
-Creating and Linking a Dupligroup
-Which Method to Choose?
-Linking Assets for Character Animation
-Managing Your Links and Libraries
-Finding and Fixing Broken Links
-Moving a Shot File and Maintaining Its Links
-Moving an Asset File

Chapter 7 Rough Sets, Blocking, and an Animatic
-Creating Rough Sets
-Preparing the File for the Rough Set
-Building Your Template Scene File
-Matching Camera Angles to Storyboards
-Placing Your Characters
-Proceeding Through the Story Reel
-Creating an Animatic
-Replacing Storyboards in the Story Reel

Chapter 8 Good Sound
-Finding Decent Equipment and Environments
-What to Use
-Where to Record
-Making the Recording
-The Goal of the Recording Session
-Some Sound Processing Basics
-Removing Noise and Adjusting Levels
-Previewing the Recorded Sound

Chapter 9 Rigging and Skinning
-An Iterative Method for Rigging, Skinning, and Testing
-Control Structures
-General Rigging and Skinning Work Flow
-Building the Rig in Layers
-A Practical Example
-Inverse Kinematics/Forward Kinematics
-Auto IK
-Binding the Rig to the Mesh
-The Armature Modifier and Vertex Groups
-The Mesh Deform Modifier
-Combining Different Deformation Methods with Vertex Groups
-Testing Your Rig
-A Final Example of Fixing a Rigging Problem
-A Checklist for Preparing Rigged Characters for Life as a Library

Chapter 10 Facial Motion and Controls
-Blender’s Method for Controlling Facial Expressions
-Creating a Library of Shapes
-Different Ways to Construct Expressions
-Expression Fragments
-Splitting Expressions
-Tips for Creating the Shapes
-Mouth Shapes for Lip Syncing
-Constructing Shape Controls
-Rigging and Controlling Eyes
-Spherical Eyes
-Flattened, Squashed or Otherwise Nonspherical Eyes

Chapter 11 Animation
-Creation of Per-Shot Working Files from the Scene Template
-Animation Basics
-Working in the Action Editor
-Straight Ahead Animation
-Pose to Pose Animation
-A Practical Example
-Anticipation and Follow Through
-Fine Tuning Your Animation
-Analyzing Motion with Arcs
-Facial Expressions
-“Automatic” Motion: Breathing and Blinking
-Production Techniques
-Pick it Up
-Hold On!
-Walk This Way
-A Final Note

Chapter 12 Lip Sync
-Adding Audio Strips to Shot Files
-Creating the Sync
-Mixing and Exporting Sound for the Final Edit

Chapter 13 Final Sets and Backgrounds
-Work Flow
-Quality versus Render Time
-Matching the Rough Set
-Movable Objects and Construction
-Lighting Exterior Shots
-Lighting Interior Shots
-Getting Help

Chapter 14 Simulation
-Blender’s Simulators
-Rigid Bodies
-Fire and Smoke
-Bits o’ Stuff
-Strands—Hair and Fur
-Soft Bodies
-Linking Issues with Simulators

Chapter 15 Rendering and Compositing
-Lighting Your Shot Files
-Compositing for Better, Faster Renders
-Motion blur
-Getting a Good Render on Your Local Machine
-Final Animation Review
-Preparing for Render Farming
-Setting Up and Using a Render Farm
-Checking the Final Frames
-Staying Organized

Chapter 16 Final Edit and Output
-Putting All of the Renders Together
-Color Correction and More Post Effects
-Editing for Timing
-Sound, Music, and Foley
-Output Formats
-The Wrappers

My goal with this book is to find people who are ready (or almost ready) to start their first real short animation project and for me to make all the newbie mistakes so that they don't have to. So be sure -- this isn't a beginners' book. It moves fast, and assumes that you're already familiar and comfortable with Blender. I'd say that if you have a command of the material in The Essential Blender, you will be more than fine.

Animating with Blenderis full color throughout -- no crummy black and whites plus some color panels at the end. The DVD that comes with the book includes all of the production files for The Beast, under a Creative Commons license a la the Orange and Peach projects. Unlike those projects though, these files were created with your learning process in mind. I've tried to keep things fairly simple and clear, sometimes sacrificing things in the final rendered animation in order to keep them "nice" in the files for you. And, a lot of the trickier or more complex concepts found in the files are fully explained in the book.

I really hope you'll give the book a look -- even if you're not planning to start an animation project right away, it has a ton of information about using Blender more efficiently with larger projects of all kinds that can work to your benefit. And if you're planning to start an animation project in the near future, either by yourself or with some friends, and you think you don't need this book, then I'll have to call you... a chump. Is that too strong of a word? Nope. You'll be a chump, because all of your friends will hate you when your project goes the way of all those other ones that enthusiatically pop up here from time to time. They'll look you in the eye and say "I thought you were the man, but you're just a big chump." And that'll sting, won't it?

If you do take a look at the page, you'll see that my publisher has enabled the "Look Inside This Book" feature, so you can click through and browse a sample of the book online. No need to take my word for it on quality.

Also, if anyone has ordered the book and received it, I'd love to hear your reactions.

Roland -- harkyman
Are you ready to take the next step in Blender?
Animating with Blender: How to Create Short Animations from Start to Finish
  10 October 2008
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