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3D Graphics & Animation, Second Edition

COW Library : Autodesk Maya : Eric Calcagnino : 3D Graphics & Animation, Second Edition
3D Graphics & Animation, Second Edition



A Creative COW "Real World" Book Review



3D Graphics & Animation Second Edition: A Review by Eric J. Calcagnino
Eric J. Calcagnino
Eric J. Calcagnino
www.prankmonki.com
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

©2002 Eric J. Calcagnino and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Eric J. Calcagnino takes a look at 3D Graphics & Animation: Second Edition
written by Mark Giambruno and published by New Riders Publishing.


Hey there, but enough about you. I have been in 3d for about 7 years now and am currently Senior 3d Guy, Creative Director and owner at Prank Monki Productions. I come from an audio, computer tech and graphic arts background. After I saw all the Ferraris that the Id Software guys drove I decided that I was just shallow enough to have that be the deciding factor in my career choice. Well let me tell you, Ferrari makes one hell of a car. I see pictures of them all the time now that I can afford the internet. On with the show…

Let me say that first off, this book delivers exactly what it promises. It is a non-product-specific approach to 3d from the ground up. “Is this a good idea or too big a chunk to chew on for the intended audience?” he asks out loud of no one specifically. Furthermore, is this an efficient approach? Hmmm…

First off, there is this weird ongoing master-apprentice conversation thing at the beginning of every chapter. Whatever comic relief that was intended is squarely aimed at the most remedial among us. It reeks of bad D&D writing and it is really lame.


Chapter 1: The Virtual Path

This is one of 3 chapters in this book that are worth reading (see my breakdown of chapters 3-10, yo). Here the author gives a broad overview of 3D and its uses in different arenas such as forensics and game development among others. He also gives brief descriptions of the different jobs that are available in the industry (I finally learned what a producer does! Har har). This chapter concludes with a couple of interesting interviews from people in the industry which offers some good insights to those who are just getting involved in this field. This serves as a good intro to the whole world of 3d in general and I found it to be fairly accurate from my standpoint.


Chapter 2: Delving into Cyberspace

Ok, who actually says cyberspace? Besides the questionably tasteless use of out of date computer lingo this is another good overview section. In this chapter the author delves into the theory and general principles of 3D. It touches on lots of stuff but not everything it could. At times it seems as if it could be a bit overwhelming for the newcomer. This chapter could be the difference between the reader saying “Yep that reviewer and 3d in general rocks. Bring it on sweetcheeks”, or “Would you like fries with that?”. The author (heretofore known as Mark) does make very good use of graphics to illustrate the points, however. I must also mention at this point that throughout the book there are little tips and definitions that are well-placed and can be very helpful. Overall, well done but a bit light in some areas.


Chapters 3-10: blah blah blah…

Elaine once said, “I mentioned the bisque…”. That’s how I feel. Not just because of the alcohol, but these chapters leave a lot to be desired in the way that they go about their business. It is my thinking that when learning something technical it serves to be able to try the things you are reading about. While you can do that while going through this book, by the time you have found a specific part of the app that you are using then translate the techno speak into a menu selection in your app… blah blah, you lost me. I would much rather get a book devoted to the program of my choice and learn the software that way. And by “that way” I mean WAY more in-depth and comprehensive. It’s like a lecture on quantum physics, until you get your hands on a Super Monkey Collider© TM, there is just no substitute.


Chapter 11: The Reel

This is a great chapter. I would have killed for this kind of information and insight when I was starting out. It is full of useful ideas and a clear outline of the process. The points of interest that our buddy Mark touches on here are some of the most difficult to overcome when at this stage. Getting started can be a painfully difficult task that can sometimes sap your energies to the point of creative starvation. There are lots of good tips and ideas to help get or help keep the juices flowing. It would be quite awhile until the intended audience of this book is ready to take these actual steps but read it after chapter 2 and keep it quietly tucked up in that braincase to refer back to from time to time. It is a good overall goal to keep in your sights.


Miscellaneous musings and the CD:



It may be worth it to you to get this book just for chapters 1-2 and 11.

3.5 COWs baby.

The color image section of the book has a number of pics to look at but more than a couple are of questionable quality and date back as far as 1996 (?). There is no lack of good artwork out there so I am not sure why these sections usually suck. This is better that most. The CD supplements are generous and include nearly 100 more pages of reading for you to peruse as well as tutorials for 3ds max, Lightwave and Maya. Some of the visual content on the CD is top notch and there are a TON of useful web links.

Earlier I asked, of no one specifically, if this is this an efficient approach. Nay, I dare say it is not. If learning a 3d app is your goal you would be better served getting your technical 3d skills from a product specific book in my opinion. There are many out there that go into as much or more theory as this book but they enable you to put it to use more efficiently at the time you are learning. BUT, if you are starving for information about this elusive field in general, no other tomes that I can think have go into detail like this. It may be worth it to you to get this book just for chapters 1-2 and 11.

3.5 cows baby.

Peace out.




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