Sheila Graber then and now

Animation: A Handy Guide
Animation: A Handy Guide

The films of Sheila Graber were featured in Animator’s newsletter number 5, summer 1983. At the time she had recently given up her post of Head of Creative Studies at King George Comprehensive School to pursue animation on a full-time professional basis.

In a career spanning more than 20 years she has created over 60 shorts and 3 TV series. One of Sheila’s driving forces has been to “use animation as a means of communication not just for entertainment but for education and healing too”.

She has run animation classes as far a field as Tunisia and Caracas, and gained an Alumni Fellowship from Sunderland University in 1998 for “Outstanding services to Education and Art”.

Sheila is currently running a series of weekly art and animation classes for adults with special needs for the “Brothers of Charity” in Waterford, Ireland. This is a long term project of 4 years standing. The results are so successful she hopes to continue and evolve her work in this area.

Sheila has just written a book, with supporting DVD, called Animation: A Handy Guide.

More information about her can be found on the Sheila Graber web site

Making a hand drawn animated 16mm film by Sheila Graber.

1 thought on “Sheila Graber then and now”

  1. Review
    Carol Lorac
    Co-Director London Multimedia Lab, LSE

    The future of the book is a hot topic amongst academics speculating  
    on the battle between the worlds of print and images and sounds:  
    where established traditional book publishers look on, as the new  
    boys on the block, the media wiz kids and their electronic frenzy,  
    are encroaching on their publishing territory. Completely electronic  
    books are evolving and print books continue to be published; but  
    what is really fascinating, is where print and electronic books meet  
    and converge.

    One such book is Animation A Handy Guide by Sheila Graber, published  
    by A & C Black, which comprises an illustrated printed book together  
    with a DVD. Pick up the book, put the DVD into your computer and  
    click on the PC or Mac version file and your screen will show you an  
    electronic image of the book. Moving between the print and screen  
    book, you can begin a journey through a complex multimedia story,  
    working on many levels that provide a variety of pathways through  
    the words, images and sounds, as animation is explored. This book is  
    invaluable, whether you are interested in animation, or multimedia  
    story making. Sheila Graber combines and converges words and images,  
    by using words sparingly. Full single pages of text exist, but  
    interestingly, not in the printed book. Animation A Handy Guide is  
    the most exquisitely constructed story combining words and images  
    and sounds, and provides an innovative instance of multimedia story  

    The unusual approach used in this book will give you another way of  
    thinking about and experiencing animation. Sharing stories with each  
    other takes many forms and Animation A Handy Guide by Sheila Graber  
    intertwines three ways of thinking about and understanding the  
    evolution and creation of animation: as an historical development,  
    as a ‘how to’ development of skills, and as a personal experience.  
    The convergence of these three dimensions results in a dynamic book,  
    which pulls you in and carries you along on a journey that is  

    The history of animation is presented as a colourful backdrop  
    providing context and delight; the animation techniques are a  
    journey of discovery; and the sharing of the personal animation  
    experience of the author, encourages the reader to consider  
    themselves and their own potential works. This is achieved by  
    focussing on twenty key events in animation history from cave art to  
    the development of three dimensional computer generated images: and  
    for each of these key events the reader is at first given a written  
    and visual historical account of the animation invention or  
    discovery that took place, and then shown how to use the resulting  
    techniques to create animations for themselves, and finally shown  
    how the author used these animation processes herself: And all this  
    is before you take into account the DVD.

    The DVD follows the book structure, and each page is seen on screen,  
    but the book is now in a non-linear, interactive and networked  
    environment and so it takes on a new life. The action buttons are  
    very clear and easy to use and the pathways are seemingly endless.  
    The animation movies referred to in the printed book can now be  
    activated from the screen book; but in addition to this there are  
    other ‘small movies’, for example, a documentary about how an  
    animation is made, to be seen before the ‘big movie’ of the  
    animation itself: Or a movie showing ‘how to achieve a particular  
    technique’: Or an animated flick book. Every section also has extra  
    information as text or illustrated text, which elaborate on the  
    history, act as ‘how to’ animation guides, or relate to Sheila  
    Grabers’s own works. Apart from the interactivity facilitated by the  
    structure of the DVD enabling various pathways and layers of  
    different kinds of knowledge presented in a variety of ways: the  
    screen book is also networked in that there are ‘live’ web links  
    that can take the reader to other vast areas of information and  
    knowledge about animation.

    There may be a question in your mind about whether a printed and  
    screen book are both needed. My answer would be absolutely yes. One  
    situates and reinforces the other. The printed and screen book offer  
    different sorts of reading experiences. One is linear and the other  
    is non-linear, interactive and networked and this changes the  
    relationship of the reader to the book. The printed book is a  
    beautifully illustrated overview of the whole concept and  
    permanently present providing context and navigation. It acts as an  
    anchor, for instance, while working on one of the screen pages, you  
    can easily scan the printed book backwards and forwards, while the  
    page you are concerned with stays on screen. On a screen you can  
    only see one page at a time, and if you have clicked forward several  
    times while reading and interacting you have to come out of the  
    emersion with the book to click back to try to find out where you  
    were, no such problem with the printed book beside you. This is a  
    perfect partnership between a print and electronic book.

    Animation A Handy Guide is about visual imagery and has been  
    beautifully illustrated throughout with thoughts expressed through  
    words and images often superimposed over each other in a  
    symbolically rich, converged verbal and visual language. The  
    accompany DVD provides an audiovisual dimension bringing the works  
    from the page to the screen. This is a fascinating and stimulating  
    mixed media experience. If you want to create stories through  
    animation, this book must join the others that you have on your  
    bookshelf because it offers a freshly innovative approach, which is  
    inspirational. If this is your first book on animation then you are  
    about to enter a magical world.

    Carol Lorac
    Co-Director London Multimedia Lab, LSE


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