Best Books for Aspiring Filmmakers – Part 2

Visual Effects/Animation Books

After Effects CS4 Visual Effects and Compositing: Studio Techniques

The title to this book really says it all. It contains great explanations of things from premultiplied alpha mattes to those little details that sell the shot. The first section of the book contains complete overview of what everything in After Effects does. I have the CS4 edition but there is a CS5 one too. This is the book to buy if you love After Effects.

Apple Pro Training Series Encyclopedia of Visual Effects

Unless you’re using Shake some parts of this book won’t be useful, but overall it’s a great survey of the terms and concepts in the visual effects world. The interviews with artists from Industrial Light & Magic are almost worth the price of the book alone. It’s the kind of book I like to flip through reading whatever interests me. If you’re interested in how lightsabers are created, or what a depth channel does, this book will tell you.

The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation

The definitive work on animation, whether created traditionally or with computer graphics. A must read for animators and story artists. Great line drawing and character design techniques as well.

Sculpting A Galaxy: Inside the Star Wars Model Shop

If you’re planning to do any miniature work, or have any interest in what model making for film is like, this is the book to get. Massive photos fill this book, accompanied by text which explains in detail how the models were built and photographed. One of the most fun books I’ve ever read.

Introducing Maya 2008

Maya was the first professional grade 3D animation software I learned and this book taught me all of the basics. If you’re planning to learn Maya, this is the book to buy. Of course my edition is the 2008 but a new one comes out every year for each new version of Maya so there is a 2012 book.

Mastering Maya 2011

After finishing Introducing Maya, this was the book I started into next. Packed with extremely useful tips and step by step tutorials on rigging, animation, lighting, materials, rendering, particles, and dynamics. I never really understood NURBS modeling until I read the NURBS chapter and did the tutorial.