Book Review: Ideas for the Animated Short

Ideas for the Animated Short

Story is king.

I've that idea drilled into me after watching the behind-the-scenes documentaries and audio commentary from Pixar movies. I even make mp3 audio files out of the DVDs just to listen to the story!

I'm reading this book just to learn more about story structure, to understand what makes a good story. As the title suggest, it's targeted at making animated short films. Most of the story principles work for feature length film as well, as shown through the multiple examples in the book.

Chapter 1 talks on the core elements that must exist in a story. It also introduces the basic structure of a story.

Chapter 2 is on building content for the story, different ways at looking at the stories, and places to start from when searching for ideas.

Chapter 3 is on exploring human emotions and motivations, and how these can be used to create a believable character people can relate to.

Chapter 4 is on character and set design. There are tips on creating character profiles, designing appealing characters, building functional location sets.

Chapter 5 talks specifically on building a story using the story structure introduced. There are techniques in creating conflict between characters and understanding endings.

Chapter 6 explains the role dialogue plays, and how to use it in the story effectively.

Chapter 7 and 8 are on storyboarding and staging. There are tips on camera moves, pacing, composition and many other production techniques.

Every chapter comes with a lot of examples to emphasis the lesson points. And all these lesson points always go back to building that better story. At the end is always an interview with someone in the animation industry relating back to the chapter's subject.

After reading this book, it made me appreciate animated movies even more. Story is king. Audience can never forgive a lousy story, even if the film is lavished with state of the art visual eye candies. Story is the only thing that separates the good from the great.

The write up isn't too technical. It explains how storytelling works to people not in the industry. This book is more than highly recommended, I'll say it's essential for anyone into creating animation.

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