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Animation and 3D Modeling on the Mac

by Don and Melora Foley

A book review by

Stuart Bonwit

Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

Animation and 3D Modeling on the Mac is a beautifully illustrated and clearly written book by husband and wife team Don and Melora Foley of Vienna, Virginia. The Foleys are both professional graphic artists with considerable experience with publishing firms and freelance work.

The Table of Contents immediately sets the tone of the book. The first section is called "Front-of-the-book Stuff!" It contains acknowledgements, introduction, etc. The last section is called (surprise!) "Back-of-the-book Stuff." It has appendices, glossary, and index.

The book opens talking to the completely inexperienced animator, but before the end, advice is being addressed to the very experienced. The reader is repeatedly reminded that getting started in 3D (three-dimensional) animation can be intimidating. The best advice it gives is to open a modeling program and go through the tutorial actually doing what it says. This is counter to the usual Macintosh user's "I-don't-need-to-read-the-manual" mentality! (The author of this review most definitely agrees.)

The first of the Animator's 10 Commandments is "Save Often.

The main part of the book is divided into six chapters:

  1. "3D Showcase," the gee-whiz department, a gallery of spectacular 3D images. The wide variety of images from a number of artists shows a spectrum of techniques. All the remaining images in the book except a few scanned and Photo CD images were created by the authors on a Macintosh Quadra 950 with a PowerPC upgrade board.
  2. "Tools of the Trade," hardware and software. A large array of software current to the 1995 publication is shown in a spread sheet style depicting what 3D animation functions each one can do.
  3. "3D Modeling" takes the reader through all the basics methods of creating shapes through (among many others) shading, textures, lighting, and staging.
  4. "Animation" covers motion theory, key frames, tweening, and rendering.
  5. "Editing" tells about (surprise!) putting your production together. The process is followed through (briefly in each case) for Macromedia's Director, Adobe's After Effects, Adobe's Premiere, and Adobe's Photoshop. Finally, it discusses morphing and distortion.
  6. "Output" explains: digital and analog output and the reasons for, and the applications of, each; preparation for QuickTime; and preparing images for print. It concludes with an explanation of the broadcast video signal and how Macs fit into the broadcast environment.

[Book Cover]

The book is an excellent guide for someone entering or advancing in the field encompassed by the book's title. It is not a tutorial. However, I found the book fascinating and instructive and I would highly recommend it.

Published by:
Peachpit Press
2414 Sixth Street
Berkeley CA 94710
fax: 510-548-5991
USA: $34.95


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Revised Saturday, January 10, 1998 lic
Washington Apple Pi
URL: http://www.wap.org/journal/