I’ve been a fan of stop-motion animation since the later days of Gumby and Pokey. It intrigued me then, and still does now, that you could create such a compelling illusion of movement by taking a series of very-slightly-different photographs. I recall it nearly blowing my mind when I found out that regular live-action video was also just a series of photographs strung together.
So I was pretty excited when GeekDad was asked to be the next-to-last stop on The Klutz Book of Animation‘s blog tour. I reviewed the excellent Klutz book about drawing Star Wars: The Clone Wars characters last year, and I know the series generally does very well at approaching complex topics in a way accessible to kids and inexperienced adults. When my review copy arrived, it didn’t disappoint.
I was drawn immediately to the small block of Plasticene embedded in the book’s cover, because blocks of clay with googly eyes tend to grab your attention. Then I noticed the blurb at the bottom of the cover that read “NO drawing skills required!” and I smiled, because they were clearly talking to me: I sometimes have trouble drawing convincing stick figures.
With too many demands on my family schedule, I wasn’t able to actually try out the book’s techniques. But the writing is sound, fitting in well with my limited experience doing claymation and flip-book construction. There are all sorts of awesomely fun ideas in the book, from your basic claymation to paper-doll animation to live-action videos. You can download free editing software and sound effects (for Windows or Mac), and you can see examples of how the described animations turn out on the Klutz website.
The blog tour folks made an awesome Magical Moving Family Photos video just for this stop:
The Klutz Book of Animation, by John Cassidy and Nicholas Berger, retails for $19.95 but can be found for less. The publisher recommends it for ages nine and up, but I think that younger kids would be able to handle it if they can manage a reasonable amount of patience — stop-motion animation is not a thing that can be done rapidly.
In summary: Like most Klutz books, it’s amusing and does a good job making seemingly-hard things easier. With the recent ubiquity of good, inexpensive and small video cameras, the book seems well worth the price, since I can’t imagine there are many kids (or geek parents) who wouldn’t enjoy making their own animation. This book won’t turn you into the next Nick Park, but you’ll have fun.
The Giveaway: Leave a comment on this post telling us what your favorite animated video of all time is — any sort of animation will do — by midnight tonight Pacific Time. One randomly-chosen commenter will win a copy of The Klutz Book of Animation, plus one copy each of Tricky Video, The Klutz Book of Inventions, and The Solar Car Book — a package worth $79.80 at retail price.