03 June 2012

Roland D. Hess - Animating with Blender - Book and DVD

I ordered "Animating with Blender" by Roland Hess, quiet a while back and when it arrived as always seems to be the case with me and my time, I didn't have enough time to read through it all in one go (like I normally like to do). As a result the book sat on my shelf for a longer period of time than I liked. That said, now though I have finally found the time to read the book and I was not surprised to find out that it was a very good book.

I wasn't surprised for a couple of reasons, the first being that every review I have seen raves about the book (ya those that get to read faster than me got the opinions out quicker (damn them)! The second reason that I knew that it would be good was because of the books author, one Roland Hess.

Roland has produced 1 other book that I know of called "Essential Blender", and that was excellent (and every Blender user should also have that book).

Unlike "Essential Blender" (which was a beginners book), "Animating with Blender" is not targeted towards beginners and as such it doesn't go into some of the basics of how to use Blender, this not to say however that a beginning Blender user won't find "Animating with Blender" useful they will.

The name of the book is however slightly misleading in that it really should be called "Short Film Creation with Blender", but I admit that doesn't exactly trip off the tongue. So if you are looking for a book that teaches you how to do animation with topics such as rigging, walk cycles and the like this book won't be much use to you. In that case you maybe need Tony Mullen's book on animation (Introducing Character Animation with Blender).

"Animating with Blender" is more centered towards the production side of creating short animations which then can be used as short features.

As such, areas such as the various stages of organising and producing a short animated feature film are described and linked to the various features within the Blender environment. A large amount of time is devoted to not only explaing how to do production tasks but also why you would want to do them in the first place.

To me at least it seemed like a very complete book, I especially liked the guidance on how to organised larger projects and how to save system resources by using various tricks and tips involving the node editor. Coverage of render farm setup was also very good and made a sometimes complicated topic fairly easy (for me at least) to understand.

If you are a Blender user looking for advice on how to make a short (or even a large) animation feature within Blender I think this book will definitely be an asset.

The only real gripe I have with the book is not the books fault at all, but I could not purchase the book from the Blender e-shop. It would have been nice to be able to buy the book from the Blender Foundation shop so as to donate a little of the price towards Blender development. But that is not the publishers fault. The Blender e-shop really needs to be more on the ball about getting Blender related books into their shop, much more quickly, so we can order from them and not from amazon.

As mentioned above I purchased the book from Amazon. I can't remember the price I paid for it but it can currently be had for £16.46 in the United Kingdom. It has roughly 350 pages worth of useful information and very helpfully the pictures are printed in colour (which is a big plus).

It's published by "Focal Press", I had not heard of this publisher before but if they keep publishing good Blender books like this one I think I am going to have to keep a eye on them.

All in all excellent book, well produced and very clear to understand and follow.

I won't give it a review score because really I don't make animated features, but people who do will be best suited to do that. But I can say that it is a very good book and I found it informative.

No brainer if you're a Blender user go and get this book!