Jun23
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationGeneral

We are delighted to announce that handpicked Focal Press titles are now free-to-view until the end of this month.* The free-to-view collection includes many of our most-popular Animation books, such as Pushing Pixels by Chris Georgenes  and can be accessed digitally for a limited time only.

Here are some of the titles that are free to view!

Access the free-to-view titles here

Offer ends June 30, 2014

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Apr21
2014

By: Dave                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspiration

A couple of months ago, we published Quick Sketching with Ron Husband, a book covering gesture drawing. This book is near and dear to me. It was one of the first few titles I commissioned when I started at Focal Press, and I had a pretty big hand in its development: the design, the content, some publicity. I worked with Ron Husband and his wonderful family to help create this book. To say I’m proud to have my name attached to it would be an understatement; it was truly a family affair. The book has sat on my desk for a while, and I realized today that I’ve completely forgotten about the best part about the book: the sketchbook in the back.

I’m no artist, but I scribble and pretend that I can draw sometimes. So I opened up Quick Sketching, found the sketch paper in the back, and started to doodle. Here are the embarrassing results:

For this picture I used a number two, mechanical pencil and a pathetic lack of knowledge for human anatomy.


This poor person has no bones.


The giraffe is upset-looking because it now exists.


This looks like my former Romantic Literature professor. But he never wore Bermuda walking shorts in class.


Decided to go back to the basics taught in Chapter 1. My triangles are pretty good, right?


This bunny was copied off of the cover for How to Cheat in Adobe Flash CC.  My keen eye and deft hand captured it just perfectly, I feel.


I guess the moral of this story is to stick to my day job.  For those who have a copy of Quick Sketching, I’d love to see your back-of-the-book sketches.  Tweet pics @FocalDave and #quicksketching.  I’ll select one random person to win a free Focal Press book.

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Mar26
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: GamesGeneral

Who loves game dev?! One thing is for sure… Focal Press sure does!

March 17 – 21, 2014, the Focal Press animation & gaming crew made the trek from Boston to San Francisco to exhibit at GDC 2014, alongside our friends at CRC Press.

We were amazed by the fantastic exhibitors, inspiring attendees, beautiful city… and did we mention warm weather?!

Here are some of the highlights from the trip…

See all of our photos here.

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Mar24
2014

By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGeneralInspiration

The first Beauty and the Beast treatments were very serious. Well, it’s a serious original story. There is nothing funny about a beast. I always compared it to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where you have the serious part with the witch and the dwarfs for comic relief. In Beauty and the Beast, we wanted to do it in a similar way, with the enchanted objects in the castle. But when I heard for the first time that the plan was to change it into a musical, I was shocked. It’s difficult for Europeans to understand how these ideas come up in the New World. We are very serious and would never even think about such an insult. I made jokes about a singing beast.


However, I was wrong. It worked. In addition, I must admit, I even like the music – which I cannot say about the look and some of the animation!

And, it started a new era in animation, with the following musicals: Aladdin, The Lion King, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, Pocahontas and Hercules. Even in Mulan there is a lot of singing. And Beauty and the Beast was the beginning of the Golden Nineties in animation. I am happy I had a chance to be part of it.

In 1989, Disney started another London “adventure.” Probably after the good experience with the European artists in London who worked on Roger Rabbit, Disney chose Dick and Jill Purdum as the directors for a new adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Dick and Jill had an animation commercial studio in the West End. Their own work commitments did not allow them to leave London immediately to work on the project in Los Angeles, so they all decided to move some of the Disney artists for a few months to London to work on a story-reel of the project. There was Don Hahn, the producer; Andreas Deja and Glen Keane from animation; Tom Sito from story; Jean Gilmore from visual development; Derek Gogol from London, production design; Michael Dudoc du Witt, from storyboard; and me for storyboard and design.

We all worked in the Purdum studio during early fall of 1989. I will always keep these weeks in my memory as one of the best work experiences, to be in such a creative environment with all these high caliber artists and especially with Dick and Jill as the “parents” of the project, and Don Hahn with his unmatched humor.

We were all so committed that we worked 14 to 16 hours a day. At that time I remember that I did not see anything of London. We just worked like crazy. And we finished a story reel in color in a very short time, about 50 minutes long. The First Act: It was not a typical Disney movie, more a European version. But we all believed in it.

Well, they didn’t in LA, and since they felt so bad to throw all our work in the trash, they decided to send us to the Loire area in France, where Beauty and the Beast could have happened in one of these beautiful castles. Our trip lasted 4 days, maybe 20 castles, and lots of driving, even more historic stories from “historian” Tom Sito, and so much fun. We were a family. That never happened again in my whole career. I felt so much at home. All the others did as well. We had good French food and even better wine. Of course nobody understood that some Germans liked sweetbread, horse steak and Bambi filet. From then on, they looked at me as the barbarian.

That reference trip could have created an incredible looking movie. We shot thousands of pictures, video, and did tons of sketches. Unfortunately, later in the movie it was decided not to use any of the reference and to do just another generic looking Disney movie. Anyway, the good memories stay!

As you might notice, the very first designs I did for Beauty and the Beast very much shows the European influence. I wanted the village to look like a real medieval village. I always admired the architecture and look of the German silent movies Der Golem and Faust and some of the Siegfried forest scenes in Die Nibelungen. My approach was a bit influenced as well by movies that had just been released at the time: Amadeus and Dangerous Liaisons. And of course I used the painters of that time, Fragonard and Watteau, for inspiration.

Excerpt from Dream Worlds: Production Design for Animation by Hans Bacher © 2007 Taylor & Francis Group. All Rights Reserved.

About the Book

A truly unique visual delight offering insight into the development of animation classics like Bambi, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, Lilo and Stitch as well as a tantalizing examination of unfinished Disney projects.

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Mar19
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: GamesGeneral

Tweet for a Treat giveaway at GDC 2014!

It is quite simple… all you have to do is follow the following instructions –

Step 1: Tell us something – your favorite game, resource, anything! It can be simple… but, don’t be afraid to be creative.

Step 2: Use Hastags: #tweetforatreat #GDC2014

Step 3: Make sure to tag Focal Press in your tweet @FocalPress

One lucky gamer will be randomly selected to win 1 free Focal Press book of your choice… and, we’ll retweet our favorites!

You don’t have to be at GDC to participate – so, what are you waiting for?!

Need some inspiration? Check out our new gaming titles featured at GDC!

*Contest starts March 12, 2014 and ends March 22, 2014

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Mar17
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: 3D AnimationGeneral

For this chapter’s supporting exercise you will be creating a photoshoot scene similar to those that appear in the glossy motorsport magazines.

In this scene I have provided you with one Pontiac Solstice. Let’s go ahead and take a look at the scene.

For more information on this topic and to download the companion files, please visit www.focalpress.com/cw/Wylde (more…)

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Mar12
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: GamesGeneral

Attention all gamers!

Are you attending GDC 2014?! Good news, we are too and we want to see you!

Focal Press and CRC Press will be sharing a booth, featuring all of our new and best-selling titles. Stop by Booth # 502 & 508, say hello to the team, and receive a 20% discount on all Focal Press and CRC titles.

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GIVEAWAYS @ GDC2014

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AtGames Classic Console Giveaway!

Sign up for a chance to win one of two consoles, Sega Genesis Classic Game Console and the Atari Flashback 4 Classic Game Console from AtGames. A special thank you to our sponsors,  AtGames – visit them @ www.atgames.us

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Mar03
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: AnimationGeneralInspirationInterviews

Last night at the star-studded 86th annual Academy Awards, Hollywood paid tribute to the incredible work in animation and VFX this year.

Frozen, directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.

“Let it Go,” written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, won Best Original Song. This win gave Robert Lopez the rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony), in which he is only the 12th person to ever achieve such a feat. Though, with Idina Menzel’s wickedly (pun intended) good performance, none of us were surprised that this song captured the Academy’s heart… and likely a few downloads on their iTunes account.

The French short, Mr. Hublot, by Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares, took the award for Best Animated Short.
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Feb17
2014

By: admin                Categories: GamesGeneral

Build it and They Will Come?

This sensation is vital if we want success for a game as a service. Only a tiny percentage of games succeed in breaking even and even those games that are downloaded, only a few are played more than once. The volume of games available on mobiles, tablets, PCs, and indeed consoles is so large at this point that we cannot assume that players will find our game, let alone that they will be as keen to keep on playing it as we were to make it. As designers we have to give players both a “pull” to want to play the game as well as a “push” to call them back. This is a critical issue, as if we don’t get players back in the game we won’t have an audience and more importantly all our efforts to create a great game will be wasted. Of course if we are using the Free2Play (F2P) model this means that even if we have downloads we won’t be getting any revenue at all. This is why F2P games have (in the end) to be better than other games. It’s a question of survival.

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Feb12
2014

By: Elyse                Categories: GamesGeneral

Bionic Commando (1988, Capcom)

Based loosely on an arcade game by the same name, Bionic Commando for the NES is a platform game with a fun hook—and we mean that literally. The character, Ladd Spencer, is a commando whose shtick is a bionic arm with a grappling gun, which he can use to climb and swing. It’s a good thing he has it, too, since (for whatever reason) he is unable to jump. In the original Japanese version, the plot involved Nazism and was steeped with Nazi imagery, all of which was purged for the English localization. Of course, it was the swinging mechanic that grabbed all the attention from gamers and critics, who felt it brought something fresh and original to what was quickly becoming a saturated genre of platform games.

Bionic Commando on the FCEUX emulator.

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