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Subject Guide: Animation & VFX

Animation and VFX

Search this guide as a starting point for your research into animation and special effects. 

Find resources covering the basics of animation and VFX; post-production tools and footage; and where in the AFTRS library to find material related to animation and VFX.

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Computer graphics - 3D Computer graphics - animation & digital video Comic books & graphic novels Cartoon animation Visual effects (handbooks) Animation (handbooks) Digital video production Special effects (theory, history, technique) Animation (theory, history, technique)



VFX Voice (VFXV)

The award-winning publication of the Visual Effects Society covering visual effects news in the worlds of film, TV, gaming, virtual reality, commercials, theme parks, and other new media.


Animation Journal

Animation Journal was the first peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted to animation history and theory. Its content reflects the diversity of animation's production techniques and national origins. Animation Journal was edited by Maureen Furniss, Ph.D., who taught animation courses at the California Institute of the Arts.

Stash Magazine

Stash showcases exceptional motion design, visual effects and animation projects. Exclusively available online, each issue includes music videos; game trailers and cinematics; short films; behind-the-scenes features; and exclusive interviews.

Animation Magazine

American print and digital magazine covering the technology, business and art of animation and VFX, whether that be in film, television or video games. Editorial content covers all forms of animation: 2D and cartoons, 3D animation and visual effects, and stop-motion. Check out their website for daily news, entertaining features, an online animated film festival, contests, sneak-previews and more.

Animation Practice, Process & Production (AP3)

This double-blind, peer-reviewed journal presents and analyses how animation is created and shown. From Pixar to Parn, Aardman to X-Men, motion capture to mobile phone, GUI to gallery, all forms of animation are revealed and assessed. Illustrated contributions are invited from practitioners and scholars of animation. Innovative models of critical presentation and analysis are especially encouraged.

VFX World Magazine

Online publication dedicated to the diverse fields of visual effects, 3D animation and computer graphics. VFXWorld provides in-depth perspectives and insight into these dynamic industries through an entertaining and informative assembly of editorials, tutorials, and imagery. Published by the Animation World Network website.

Animation World Magazine

Insightful and entertaining coverage of the international professional animation community, from the big players to small independents. Animation World Magazine includes news, reviews, blogs, forums, events, job listings and videos of the latest animated works. It also reviews the latest software and tools. Recent articles are available electronically from the Animation World Network website.

Documentaries, Lectures & Videos

3D Creature Development Master Class by Alex Alvarez (2010)

Designed after Alvarez's Creature Development course (taught at Hollywood's Gnomon School of Visual Effects), this 'class-in-a-box' includes 25 hours of lectures, 66 HD video clips for live action integration, and a 176 page book. This is intermediate level material which assumes that the student has a solid grasp of the fundamentals, from modeling and UV layout, to rigging and animation.








Animation World Network (AWN) - YouTube Channel is the biggest animation-related publishing group on the Internet. Their YouTube channels includes a range of compelling, entertaining and relevant information pertaining to all aspects of animation and visual effects. View short films showcasing visual effects and animation; trailers, clips and behind-the scenes featurettes; and interviews with industry professionals.

The Animator's Survival Kit Animated by Richard Williams (2009)

The career and knowledge of Williams (Academy Award-winning animator behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) straddles the 'golden age' of hand-drawn animation and the modern era of computer animation. Based on his animation masterclasses, Williams runs through the underlying principles of animation. His points are illustrated with hundreds of drawings and videos. This DVD accompanies the essential handbook.

Ghibli: The Miyazaki Temple by Montmayeur, Yves (2004)

This French television documentary is a journey into the universe of director Hayao Miyazaki and his Ghibli studio. Through interviews with fellow Ghibli filmmaker Isao Takahata, Ghibli President Toshio Suzuki and French comic artist Jean Moebius Giraud, we get to know the man who delivered some of the most inspiring visuals and incomparable landscapes and characters ever seen in animation.

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (2013) by Mami Sunada

This Japanese documentary follows the routines of filmmakers at Studio Ghibli, including Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Toshio Suzuki as they work to release two films simultaneously, The Wind Rises and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. Features footage of the productions; extensive storyboard art (sketched, inked and painted); and detailed explanations of certain artistic and casting decisions.

The Pixar Story by Stanton, Andrew (2007)

A look at the first years of Pixar Animation Studios, the company's relationship with Disney, and its remarkable initial string of eight hits. It features never-before-seen footage of crew and contributors including Steve Jobs, Ed Catmull and John Lasseter. The AFTRS Library holds this documentary as a special feature on a Blu-ray copy of WALL·E.

Birthday Boy (2004)

Directed, written & animated by Sejong Park
During the Korean War, little Manuk plays on the streets of his village and dreams of life at the front. When he returns home, he finds a birthday present that will change his life. A heart rending short film, which earned AFTRS alumnus Park a BAFTA, many other film awards and an Oscar nomination.

Lost & Found (2018)

Directed by Andrew Goldsmith & Bradley Slabe
Lost & Found is a stop motion short film that tugs at the heartstrings. A knitted toy dinosaur has to start unraveling itself to save the love of its life. Winner of multiple film festival awards and with art by AFTRS graduate Bradley Slabe, Lost & Found is definitely one we recommend! The AFTRS Library holds the companion book She, Me & Sashimi which sits somewhere between concept art, storyboard and standalone picture book.

The Lost Thing (2010)

Directed by Andrew Ruhemann & Shaun Tan
Based on Shaun Tan's award-winning picture book, The Lost Thing explores urban conformity and celebrates weird. Special features include storyboards, deleted scenes and commentary about the adaptation process.

Happy Feet (2006)

Directed by George Miller, Warren Coleman & Judy Morris
Produced at Sydney-based visual effects and animation studio Animal Logic, Happy Feet is a delightful film about finding comfort in yourself, that also manages to be an inspiring cry for environmental action. Winner of the BAFTA and Oscar for best animated film.

Harvie Krumpet (2003)

Directed by Adam Elliot
The claymation biography of an ordinary man seemingly cursed with perpetual bad luck. Bittersweet, and with a solid helping of black humour, this short film is a must-see. Produced by AFTRS graduate Melanie Coombs, the film won the Academy Awards for Best Animated Short.

The Cat Piano (2010)

Directed by Eddie White & Ari Gibson
A city of singing cats is being preyed upon, and human footprints are being found at the scene of every missing cat. The film is narrated by a world weary poet (voiced by Nick Cave) in rhyming form. The art style is sleek, stylish, and captures a sense of foreboding extremely well.

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Acting for Animators

Hooks' indispensable acting guidebook for animators uses basic acting theory to explain everything from character movement and facial expressions to interaction and scene construction. Just as acting on film and on stage are very different disciplines, so is the use of acting theory in creating an animated character, scene or story. AFTRS also holds the 4th edition (published 2017) as an eBook. Please visit the Library for onsite access.

Timing for Animation

This book explains essential animation techniques like stretch and squash, animated cycles, overlapping and anticipation, using dozens of clear illustrations and straightforward directions. Learn how to arrange animations in relation to each other, how to use space and how long to show each drawing for maximum dramatic effect. This second edition includes timing for digital production, digital storyboarding (for 2D and 3D projects), and using After Effects.

The Animator's Survival Kit

The career and knowledge of Williams (Academy Award-winning animator behind Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) straddles the 'golden age' of hand-drawn animation and the modern era of computer animation. Based on his animation masterclasses, Williams runs through the underlying principles of animation. His points are illustrated with hundreds of drawings, distilling the animation secrets into a working system. The expanded edition includes more on animal action, invention and realism.

The VES Handbook of Visual Effects

This award-winning handbook is one of the most complete guides to visual effects techniques and best practices available. This new edition has been updated to include the latest industry-standard techniques, technologies and workflows. The Visual Effects Society (VES) tasked the original authors to update their areas of expertise, including in stereoscopic moviemaking, colour management, facial capture and the Digital Intermediate. They have also added detailed chapters on interactive games and full animation.

The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation

Written by two of the "Nine Old Men" at the heart of Disney classics, this beautiful book chronicles the development and culmination of the Disney technique. The drawings and artwork from Disney's vast library are stunning, and the principles of traditional drawn animation are laid out in full along with a history of the craft and its major exponents. Part history, part art book, part how-to manual, Illusion of Life is a gem.

Sketching for Animation: Developing Ideas, Characters & Layouts in your Sketchbook

Being an animator requires discipline and deep study of how the laws of physics operate (e.g. momentum, gravity, surface tension). With examples, exercises and tips from Parr's animation classes and other professional animators, learn form design, sketching, technical drawing and ideation techniques. Interviews with legendary animators like Glen Keane (The Little Mermaid) and Tori Davis (The Illusionist) provide tips for creating realistic three-dimensional shapes with just a pencil. This book is a great resource for beginners and students - it doesn’t cover the act of animating, but does teach you how to think and draw like an animator.