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Book Review: inspired 3D Short Film Production


makemovie.jpgSo, you want to make a movie.

It's probably every Blenderheads ultimate goal: Create your own animated masterpiece that let's everyone see the wonders of your creative imagination! Whether it's a comedy, drama, sci-fi, action, etc., you want to finally get around to creating something that allows you to bring all the knowledge and experience you've gained into one project.

But, where do you start? How do you get from point-A to point-B? And, most importantly, how do you finish the dang thing?! Oh sure, many have started projects but, how many actually finish them?

What you need is a highly-detailed guide. One that spares no detail and, is not based on any particular 3D software application. One that will illuminate things that seem so insignificant but, can ultimately make or break your entire project. Well, here it is:


Inspired 3D Short Film Production

...covers every aspect of the short-film production pipeline, demonstrating each concept and technique through a combination of general theories, examples, exercises, case studies, and interviews with short-film directors and industry specialists. Full of amazing imagery and one-of-a-kind content, Inspired 3D Short Film Production is a must-read book for current and future animated filmmakers.

Now, what you've just read there is not marketing hype. It is exactly what you get with this book. There are also tons of full-color screenshots, renders, illustrations, diagrams - everything you will need to bring clarity to the material covered.

Also, there's a DVD! The DVD contains dozens of award-winning short films, including:

  • Cane-Toad
  • Pump Action
  • Values
  • Guernica
  • Bert
  • Puppet
  • On the Sunny Side of the Street
  • Top Gum
  • and more...

[The book] is broken up into four areas, each one dealing with a different phase of a typical production cycle.

  • Development. This covers the initial planning stages, including story development, character design, art direction, and storyboarding.
  • Pre-production. This is where the digital elements that will be included in your film are planned, created, and assembled. This section includes chapters on schedules and budgets, dialogue, 2D and 3D animatics, CG modeling, texturing, and character setup.
  • Shot production. This focuses on your actual production pipeline, from animation to lighting, rendering, FX, and compositing.
  • Post-production. This deals with the wrap-up phase, which includes audio, final editing, titles, and marketing.

About the Authors

The book has two authors that have credentials that speak for themselves:

Jeremy Cantor - Animation Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Film credits include Harry Potter, Evolution, Hollowman, My Favorite Martian, Starship Troopers, Wes Craven's Cursed, and others. He's also won many awards and taught classes and given lectures at many venues including SIGGRAPH and ASIFA events.

Pepe Valencia - Animation Supervisor at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Film credits include Peter Pan, Early Bloomer, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Stuart Little 2, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Stuart Little, Hollowman, Godzilla, and Starship Troopers. He, too, has many awards and lecture credentials. He currently teaches a Digital Short Workshop at California Institute of the Arts.

Now, let me take a second to mention What This Book Does Not Cover:

This book does not go into exact detail about how to do things like modeling, rigging, animating, etc. However, the information, coupled with the imagery, is enough for you to realize how you could go about doing it in Blender. Here's what they have to say...

Because the topic of each individual chapter in this book warrants an entire volume dedicated to its particular subject, [this book]will be wide rather than deep. The chapters will offer general overviews rather than comprehensive or software-specific discussions on each topic; therefore, we will assume that you possess a reasonable level of proficiency with a piece of CG software, such as Maya [, Blender,] or 3D Studio Max, and a non-linear editing package, such as Adobe Premier [, Blender,] or Final Cut Pro.

For complete details on what's covered in the book, visit this link and check out the complete Table of Contents plus, a few sample pages!

Well, can you guess that I'm just a little bit excited about this book? When I purchased it, I knew it would be special but, I was still impressed with the coverage given to the subject. I've been made aware of soooo many things that, previously, would not have even registered as issues to deal with. Books like this are what the Blender Community needs to help usher in the "age" of Blender animation.

If you want to make a movie...this book is a must-have reference.

If you can't afford it, here's a little tip that might work for you: Go to your public library and see if they have it. If they don't, you can request that they purchase it! Most larger libraries will do this (just don't make it a habit) and they will even call you when the book arrives and you'll get to be the first one to read it! Now, this isn't the fastest way (weeks, maybe months) but, I've done this before for books as well as videos so, I know this is possible.

Book Details
Title: inspired 3D Short Film Production
Authors: Jeremy Cantor, Pepe Valencia
ISBN: 1592001173
ISBN-13: 9781592001170
Format: Textbook Paperback, 496pp, semi-gloss
Publisher: Course Technology, Inc.
List Price: U.S. $59.00 * Canada $89.95 (you should be able to find it cheaper than the list price)

You can support BlenderNation by ordering through Our Amazon earnings will be spent on buying books for future reviews.

Before we do, here's a final question: what other books would you like to see reviewed?


  1. Looking good, this is great. This sounds foolish, but I'd like to make up my own "production pipeline", so it will be that much mroe fun. But this is great, as I can get some great dieas from this book.

  2. I like to rush myself when I have the energy. I'm commanding like a man of upstairs and then playing a highly motivated animator which first does his homework (I need to improve that part seriously!) and after that he starts working on his movie/short/whatever.
    But sometimes I'm still watching out. Cause you can still not rush art.
    First learn modelling, than learn animating, texturing, lightning, composing, rendering. Try to keep that order (which I didn't).

  3. I love this book. I bought it about six months ago on an impulse and have never begrudged the price. It's extremely good. The "Inspired..." series are a bit variable in quality; this one is non-product-specific and full of general information, putting it above some of their other publications. The text provides a lot of the reasoning behind the various points they make and interviews with various people/projects who did things in different ways. There are no hard and fast rules prescribed and they are explicitly acknowledging that so many variables can affect your particular case that guidelines are the best you can hope for. A lot of the information will sound like something you have already heard or know, in retrospect, but that doens't mean it would be in your thoughts when you started thinking about your short film. Having a few hundred pages of things to remember and think about in one place, nicely classified is useful.

    The format of the book is quite nicley done. It's a largish book, but stays open well and the binding hasn't cracked on mine, despite a lot of reading and carrying it around (it's the sort of book that's nice to dive into and cherry-pick sections to re-read now and again).

  4. @Henrymop:
    That's not foolish at all! In fact, the authors state that what they are presenting is a very common production pipeline but, for your projects you will certainly have to tweak things here and there. There are just too many variables involved.

  5. @Laughing Cheese
    I would imagine that most of it could be applied to a full-length production. However, I'm sure there may be some differences. Check the Table of Contents link provided and see all that it covers.

  6. I love reading book reviews about 3D animation especially from a Blender perspective! I would like to see reviews on any books about texturing, compositing, and rendering.

  7. Now this is what is needed! You are so right! It seems that all humans have a need to create and not just a want, the problem being this isn't a manuel to get you from idea to reality. And by the way... what is price when it gives freedom?

    p.s. I had no idea that one could work the library system like that... good looking out!

  8. Refering to "the final question: what other books would you like to see reviewed?", it looks like there's a whole series of "Inspired..." books. Malcolm indicates that they have "variable quality". Reviews of that series would great, so we can get an idea of which are of higher quality than others.

  9. @ai-yo
    I have two other books in their series: 3D Modeling and Texture Mapping, and 3D Lighting and Compositing. Frankly, I wouldn't recommend them at all. The book reviewed in this post is on an entirely different level. BTW, each book in the series is written by different authors so, I'm sure that has a lot to do with the quality inconsistencies. There's something to be learned in the other books in their series but, I just felt like those subjects have been better covered by many tutorials that can be found in the Blender community. Plus, they seemed a bit outdated and they tend to be more application specific. I don't think they're worth the cost ($59.99) and, they don't have nearly the volume of content found in the book reviewed in this post.

    Now, these are just my personal opinions AND, I'm only referring to the two that I mentioned having.

    I'll see if they have others in the series. I just don't want to waste anyone's time presenting something that I'm not personally excited about.

    The book reviewed in this post, to me, is worth every penny.

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