My friends give me grief sometimes, since its a bit last year, but I love books. I have a tendency to troll around second hand stores, just looking for a gem here and there. Strangely, there aren't a lot of books on effects animation, at least not as much as modeling or coding. I've come across a couple books that have been introduced to me by other fx artists and friends as well as doing research into making better content for games. After this I'll be posting some process posts, and a bit o troubleshooting mainly in the Unreal engine.
Book Review: Elemental Magic: The Art of Special Effects Animation by Joseph Gilland.
Elemental Magic: the Classical Art of Special Effects Animation on Amazon
Foundation book: This book is a must have for anyone wanting to do traditional or digital effects animation. The author Joseph Gilland has been working in traditional animation for years at Disney and other studios. I know. I know. This is a traditional animation book while what I do is digital. This book has a brief history of classic animated effects and the art of drawing SFX. It also breaks down the elements (chapters on liquids, Fire, smoke, explosions and magic) while keeping it easy to understand and each chapter builds on each other.
There are a couple different things I took away from this book. A lot of things that I thought I knew about elemental effects was either reinforced by this book or I was just not thinking and just plain wrong. Some of the general ideas of most elements being interrelated by force was a big one for me it made me look at what I was doing in games more carefully than what I needed. And finally the way its written is so easy to understand, there are a lot of hand drawn illustrations on what the author is describing, and it all seems to flow really well.
I'd suggest this to anyone who wants to wants to have a solid foundation of what kinds of forces drive elemental effects (and even some magical ones). Thanks to Tim Elek for showing me this book. Its been a great help making sure my effects make sense.
Book review: Maya Studio Projects: Dynamics by Todd Palmar
Maya Studio Projects Dynamics on Amazon
How To Book: After learing about fluid systems in Maya, I wanted to do more with the system that was a little more focused than what I was trying to do. Honestly I wanted to make some better fire... I didn't like the fire I was making, since it looked a little too smooth and not as crisp as I'd like, so I looked on line and found Maya Studio Projects: Dynamics on Amazon.
This breaks down all of Maya's dynamic systems starting with its particle system, then building on fluid systems into some physics. it then moved into smaller projects focusing on different dynamic systems in Maya. A basic to intermediate understanding of maya is useful for this book, since it goes straight to dynamics... which is what its for.
If you're looking to have a greater understanding of maya's dynamic systems in smaller chunks, then get this book. Its helped me get a greater understanding of maya's dynamics, and has allowed me to make some good custom, and generic content for games. This book is written to be used with Maya 2009 complete or Maya 2010.