John Vince's book does an effective job of showing the reader what is achievable with current software packages. The book's coverage is broad, beginning with defining computer animation, the nature of human vision, and then proceeding to provide a good introduction to the various aspects of the subject.
Coordinate systems are introduced, followed by a maths-free look at modelling, curve types, surface patches, lighting, depth of field effects, rendering, texture mapping, through to ray tracing and many other related topics. Numerous computer animation techniques are discussed: motion paths, transformations, hierarchical animation and geometry, particle systems, free-form deformation (simulating the way cloth moves, for example), and more. A chapter dealing with animation tells of the viewers' ability to easily spot 'something wrong' in the way that animations move, and explains techniques used to ensure that animated objects move realistically. The author also discusses the hardware currently used in computer animation, some post-production techniques, applications for computer animation, and the different jobs within the discipline that can often become areas of specialisation.
An easy-to-read book, with many illustrations, a glossary of the terms used, and a list of useful websites - it is an effective and complete introduction into the field of computer animation. Particularly well-suited to persons wishing to see which part of the process they would like to become involved in, or those already involved and wishing to extend their involvement.
The book is available through Springer-Verlag, tel: (0944) 62 21 487 0, fax: (0944) 62 21 48 73 66, www.springer.de