Lee Caller

Book Recommendation: In the Blink of an Eye

September 19, 2021

Here's the second of my "not animation related but is totally relevant when it comes to putting together your own animation" book recommendations, or the "NARBITRWICTPTYOA" series if that helps.

In these I'm not always trying to extend my skills/knowledge of what the book may be primarily about, it's more that I'm trying to find how I can improve my animation in one or more relevant/specific direction. My post a couple back was cinematography related, in order to improve my camera work - while here it's editing, with the aim of helping me decide (plan) when, why and how I could improve cutting between shots in my animation.

This time around the book is "In the Blink of an Eye" by Walter Murch, subtitled as "A Perspective on Film Editing".

Book cover: In the blink of an eye

It's a slightly odd book choice because it's film specific, with the main difference being in animation you need to (ideally!) be as clear as possible what, when, where and how you want to cut between your shots before you even start the production process while with film you have the option of coverage and creative freedom to play during production, giving you more possibilities and directions during editing (checkout the difference between animation and movie storyboards to see how much more clarity there is in the animation planning). It'd be a strange situation where you feel you have the luxury of spending days/weeks/months/money animating shots from a different angle just on the off chance that it might work out better once you sit down and start putting the thing together. Having said all that there are some 100% sold gold nuggets embedded in this book that are totally applicable to the animation world.

It's an easy read at only 140-something pages and (don't be put off by this) the last 70 pages are on the practicalities of digitally editing film, which is a good read but (if you're focussing more on your animation shot planning) not as relevant. It's in the first 70 pages that you'll find the rewards.

The top two nuggets in the book for me are "The Rule of 6" and "Dragnet" - they're worth the price of the book alone (I'm sure I use that phrase in each book recommendation - I'll do my best to keep up that tradition in later posts).

You want me to tell you what they are? Sure - next time you're around buy me a beer and I'll let you know, otherwise get the book!