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Book Review: Setting the Scene – The Art and Evolution of Animation Layout

December 21, 2011

Released November 2nd, 2011

Page count: 270 pages

Size: 11” x 9.5”

Setting the Scene – The Art and Evolution of Animation Layout

By Fraser MacLean

Foreword by Pete Docter

Published by Chronicle Books

Distributed by Raincoast Books (Canada)

Gift Idea

(This review is part a series of books/DVD’s that will be profiled as gift ideas over the next month.  All will be marked with the green/red ‘Gift Idea’ tag.)


Setting the Scene: The Art and Evolution of Animation Layout Book Review by Erin V.  

After a fun introduction by Pete Docter, we begin by getting info about the history of the earliest animation and how layout evolved to what it is today.  As the book points out rather quickly, the definition of animation layout can be hard to pin down.  This is not a how-to guide, but rather a book that details the history of how animation layout evolved and its part in telling the stories that we see on screen.

In its simplest form of explanation, layout is how everything is fit onto the frame, the position of the characters, the angle of the ‘camera,’ and the lighting of the scene.  Basically, it is how everything is made to make the story be told in the best possible way.

Setting the Scene is written with an obvious love for the world of animation and for anyone who is also interested in it, it is well worth the read.  I learned aspects of the process that I never thought about before and had a good time doing so.  Coupled with just the right amount of images from animation over the years (from the first shorts to recent CG films), I would highly recommend giving this one a look.


To find out more about Setting the Scene, or other books, visit Raincoast’s website hereSetting the Scene is available in stores now.  

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