Animator's Survival Kit Animator's Survival Kit

Just in time for the twentieth anniversary of its publication, the late Richard Williams’s essential how-to book The Animator’s Survival Kit is being reissued by Faber & Faber. There’s a twist though – the book has been reformatted into a series of four mini-guides covering the following topics: Directing/Dialogue/Acting, Walks, Runs/Jumps/Skips, and Flexibility/Weight.

The four-book series will be released in the U.K. on August 5, with each volume retailing £9.99. Each of the books is between 44-76 pages, and each volume has a new, never-before-seen hand-written introduction from Williams, who passed away in 2019.

I received advanced copies of the books a few days ago and I love the format. The original volume is hundreds of pages and approaching it can seem daunting. Even though this series reprints the same material, it somehow feels more accessible in this format. The page size is smaller, almost iPad sized, and it’s nice to be able to simply choose the guide that one needs for a particular assignment, while keeping the “bible” version at home. It’s also more affordable if someone needs help with just a particular topic.

Despite the slimmed down versions, the information in these books is gold. Williams was the last true link between the original greats of character animation – Milt Kahl, Art Babbitt, Ken Harris, Grim Natwick – and today, and these books remain the closest thing we’ll ever have to nuts-and-bolts knowledge of the processes and techniques used during the Golden Age of American theatrical animation. Williams didn’t just write books about how to create animation, he actively applied these principles to his own masterpieces, notably his unfinished epic The Thief and the Cobbler and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, for which he won two Oscars for his role as animation director.

Those in the U.K. can pre-order the books here. The mini-guies will be released in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and other territories in November. A U.S. release date is not confirmed yet.