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Funny!: Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room (The Art of...)
Funny!: Twenty-Five Years of Laughter from the Pixar Story Room (The Art of...)
by Jason Katz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.75
34 used & new from $17.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 Years of Laughter at Pixar, November 25, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Length:: 0:42 Mins

There are few companies out there as innovative as Pixar. One of the reasons for this is that they encourage creativity, and it's clearly demonstrated in the book "Funny! Twenty-Five Years of Laugher from the Pixar Story Room". The book is a collection of humorous drawings from Pixar story artists. Comedy is a key part of Pixar's storytelling process; filmmakers are often looking to add humor to their stories, but it has to come from the truth of the character and the circumstance.

As artist Jason Katz says in his introduction, these are images "you were never supposed to see". Nothing you see in the book made it into the finished movie. Since Pixar films are extensively planned and prepped before a single frame is animated, this is as close as you will likely ever get to "deleted scenes". Some of the ideas clearly contradict the tone of movie and were probably just done for fun; but others are genuinely worthy of consideration and would seemingly fit right in. It just goes to show the abundance of ideas that come out of such an open and collaborative environment - for every idea that makes it into the movie, there are hundreds that do not. And while the ideas in the book might not have made the cut, they still played a crucial role in fleshing out who these characters are and what their personality will be.

If it's not obvious, I should mention that I am a big fan of Pixar, having seen all their films multiple times -- and I'd imagine I'm not alone. The pieces of comedy on display in the book - sometimes a visual gag, other times a funny one-liner - are made even more interesting (and funnier) if you are familiar with the characters and the films. Whatever the idea is on the page, it's enhanced if you already have the knowledge of what the character looks and sounds like, as well as how he/she behaves in the film.

This is a fantastic book of art and humor. If you love Pixar, then you really have to give this one a look. Highly recommended!

Downton Abbey - A Celebration: The Official Companion to All Six Seasons
Downton Abbey - A Celebration: The Official Companion to All Six Seasons
by Jessica Fellowes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.23
39 used & new from $14.08

4.0 out of 5 stars A Celebration of Downton Abbey, November 24, 2015
** Quick Note to Start: this book contains content from all six seasons of the show -- be advised that details of character and plot from the final season (not yet aired in the US at the time of this review) are discussed at various points in the book. So I'd recommend reading this only after you've seen season six (unless you don't mind having it spoiled; everyone has their own sensitivity to this sort of thing). **

"Downton Abbey - A Celebration" is going to be a must-own for fans of the series. The book celebrates the show through exploration of story, character, and setting. The book essentially jumps from location to location, with relevant character profiles sparsed throughout. For example, the pages about The Kitchen are accompanied by the profiles of Daisy and Mrs. Patmore; while after the pages on the Dower House you would of course find the profile of Violet. I really like how the content was assembled - it's an unconventional layout but one that is very intuitive.

I should also mention that in addition to the great writing by Jessica Fellowes, the book includes hundreds of pictures. In fact, you can consider this book a visual companion to the series.

At the very end of the book is an episode guide that briefly recaps every episode of the show. This is a welcome addition for someone looking to get a quick reminder of past events or wanting to identify a particular episode. Again, this includes all six seasons, so be careful reading until you've completed the series.

One thing to note: If you are more interested in a making-of book that goes behind the scenes of the TV production process, your best bet is this one: Behind the Scenes at Downton Abbey
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The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie
The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie
by Jerry Schmitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.22
64 used & new from $15.21

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Peanuts Movie: Art and Making-Of Book, November 24, 2015
Length:: 0:42 Mins

Peanuts is one of the most popular comic strips in history, and it happens to be my favorite. In the new film "The Peanuts Movie", the classic characters will finally appear on the big screen - and in 3D animation. "The Art and Making of the Peanuts Movie" takes the reader through the process of producing the film, with plenty of artwork and other imagery.

The book (and the film itself) pays tribute to the classic Peanuts comics - in fact, the first and last page of the book contains some of the black-and-white panels from decades ago. It's not obvious that a hand-drawn comic strip would translate into a 3D computer-generated animation film; after all, they are two very different mediums. But Blue Sky Studios achieved a synergy between old and new, and it's clear the filmmakers and animators worked very hard to maintain the feeling of classic Peanuts in the movie.

The book focuses mostly on the characters - Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy, and the rest of the gang. Each character gets 2-4 pages, and you get a lot of information on how the character was developed visually -- including concept art and profiles; variations of hair and costumes; as well as digital renders and animation rigs. Also included are small snippets of the comics for comparison.

The rest of the book is dedicated to the various aspects of production -- in the case of an animated film, that would be the animation itself, the design of the environments, and the sound. The final segment of the book is "From Story to Screen: The Making of Sequence 010_Kite", which looks at how all the different disciplines (animation, environment, lighting, etc) comes together to create a single sequence in the film.

This is a must-own book if you're a fan of "The Peanuts Movie", particularly if you are interested in learning about how these classic characters went from the Sunday paper to the big screen.

Star Wars Frames: 100 Postcards
Star Wars Frames: 100 Postcards
by Lucas Film Ltd. Tm
Edition: Card Book
Price: $19.09
44 used & new from $13.82

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Star Wars Frames - 100 Postcards, November 14, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Star Wars Frames: 100 Postcards is a wonderful collection of postcards that Star Wars fans will appreciate.

You may be aware of the book Star Wars: Frames that was released a few years ago - it was a large set of two books with over 1,400 frames from the Star Wars films. This new product simply takes 100 of those frames and publishes them in postcard form - it's more condensed and as a result it's more affordable.

The cards measure just over 4x9 inches, which is wider than the average postcard but it preserves the original aspect ratio of the films. They are made from high quality card stock, so they should remain sturdy if you actually want to mail them out.

Episodes I-VI are included here, so the postcards serve as a nice record of the complete saga so far. Frame selection is pretty good - many of the iconic shots are present, but there are some questionable choices too.

Below I've listed each film and the number of postcards in the set:
1. The Phantom Menace - 13
2. Attack of the Clones - 13
3. Revenge of the Sith - 15
4. Star Wars: A New Hope - 20
5. The Empire Strikes Back - 19
6. Return of the Jedi - 20

The postcards come in a very nice collectible box which will keep them safe. The back of the box is open, essentially acting as a window through which you can display one of the frames.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2015 6:18 PM PST

B+W 67mm XS-Pro HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating
B+W 67mm XS-Pro HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating
Price: $128.06
8 used & new from $128.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding product for professionals and serious amateurs, November 5, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This filter is ideal for shooting selected surfaces such as water or glass. It will also reduce haze and gives contrast a slight boost (particularly clouds vs sky) - therefore I like it when shooting landscapes.

When I was starting out, filters are the one area where I felt maybe it wasn't worth investing a lot of money. So I was using the cheaper glass (made in China type stuff). Now, I only use high quality filters - they are expensive, but they're a must-have. Think of it this way: there is no sense investing in a nice camera and quality lenses if you're just going to slap on a cheap filter.

The reality is that unless you are shooting with sharp lenses and a large-sensor camera, you might not notice a difference between a cheap filter and this one. But if you're looking to do serious photography work or want to print your images at large sizes, then you will be glad you made the investment. The one thing everyone will notice is the build quality - this filter is durable, it's not going to fall apart on you like some of the cheaper ones.

The Hobbit: The Art of War: The Battle of the Five Armies: Chronicles
The Hobbit: The Art of War: The Battle of the Five Armies: Chronicles
by Daniel Falconer
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.26
49 used & new from $25.23

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hobbit: The Art of War, November 3, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Length:: 0:29 Mins

Weta is an amazing company that does most of the design work on the "Hobbit" films. They do everything from practical effects (prosthetics and miniatures) to digital effects (CGI simulations and character animation). It's important to note that the people that work on these films are not only master technicians, but they are very creative artists as well.

"The Art of War" is the final book in the Chronicles of the Hobbit trilogy. It contains art and designs from the final Hobbit film, "The Battle of the Five Armies". In particular, the focus is on the big battle that is the centerpiece of the movie - the characters and creatures involved; their weapons and armor; as well as discussions about fighting styles and battle formations.

But it's not all about the battle: also included are several pages on Smaug's attack on Lake Town; as well as Bilbo's return to the Shire. As has been the case with all of these books, "The Art of War" is sure to cover every key item within the film - the Arkenstone, the black arrow, the white gems of Lasgalin, etc. Plus there are close-up pictures of the costumes of every major character in the film; as well as details on the armor of each army (the dwarves, the elves, the orcs).

At the end of the book, there is a nice bonus: a fold-out battle map of the Siege of Erebor.

Overall, this Hobbit Chronicles series is one of the greatest collections of books on my shelf. I'm happy to have them, and for those who love Middle Earth they are a must-own. Congrats to author Daniel Falconer and Harper Design for publishing such a fantastic collection.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 3, 2015 12:22 PM PST

Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness
Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness
by Mark Salisbury
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $29.45
53 used & new from $25.34

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness, October 30, 2015
Length:: 0:30 Mins

Director Guillermo del Toro is one of my favorite filmmakers, and his greatest strength is his talent for design. "Crimson Peak: The Art of Darkness" details his process and features the great design work from his latest film - which del Toro himself says is "the most beautiful-looking movie that I've made". You probably haven't seen a film like this in a long time; and you probably haven't read a book this good in a while either.

The author, Mark Salisbury (who always does a great job with these books) does a great job detailing every aspect of the production. The book is organized by character; then a large portion is dedicated to Allerdale Hall and its ghosts. Every step of the way, the text includes quotes from del Toro and his team of artists.

Of course, the book is rich with imagery. In particular, the design of the house is endlessly impressive. The house was built extensively in a way that most movie sets aren't. For example, the rooms were built in complete 360-degrees (including the ceiling) so that del Toro could shoot from any angle. The architecture; the furniture; even the wallpaper is meticulously designed to evoke a response from the audience. The team also had to be sure that every other design element - such as the single-source lighting and the color of the costumes - complemented the visual style of the house itself.

One of the things fans might be familiar with is that del Toro wrote biographies for each of the characters to assist the actors and inform their performances. Well, the bios for the main characters are all included here, and it's fascinating to read some of the background information of them. Besides the biography sheets, the book has other extras sparked throughout the book, including a few small sketchbook pages and a 16x20" poster (folded into quarters).

This is a wonderful book full of imagination, and I highly recommend buying it if you enjoyed "Crimson Peak". If you're a fan of del Toro's work in general, then I'd suggest also picking up his Cabinet of Curiosities.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2015 10:19 PM PDT

Harry Potter: The Character Vault
Harry Potter: The Character Vault
by Jody Revenson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.50
64 used & new from $17.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harry Potter: Character Vault, October 27, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Length:: 0:55 Mins

"Harry Potter: The Character Vault" is a fascinating book that details the characters from the films.

Everyone is included - Harry, Ron, Hermoine, Snape, Dumbledore, Voldemort, etc. The main characters get 4-5 pages each, while minor characters usually get a single 2-page spread.

The book profiles each character, and the text from Jody Revenson (author of many previous Potter books, including Magical Places) is insightful and well written. For some characters, there are a few words about the actor as well as his/her casting and process. But most of the text is dedicated to discussing the look of the characters; that is, how they are translated visually from the page to the screen. This means discussion about costumes, makeup, hairstyling, and props.

You'll find a lot of great images in the book, including some fantastic concept art (usually printed full-page) and unit photography. Again, most of the images are related to costumes and props -- school and Quidditch uniforms; Yule Ball gowns; wand designs; the sorting hat; Death Eater masks; and more. In reading through the book, you really gain an appreciation for the intricate work done to create each character's wardrobe.

If you own the Harry Potter Page to Screen Collector's Edition, then you'll notice some similarity between this book and the 'Wizard Wear & Muggle Attire' book from that set. But even if you own that set, there's new content in the Character Vault that would make it a worthy purchase.

Included within the book are two pull-out posters: one featuring the Order of the Phoenix, and the other featuring the Death Eaters.

This is an excellent resource for fans of the Harry Potter film franchise. It will especially be of interest to those who enjoy the art of costume design.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 27, 2015 12:56 PM PDT

Bond by Design: The Art of the James Bond Films
Bond by Design: The Art of the James Bond Films
by DK
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.00
49 used & new from $22.23

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bond by Design, October 24, 2015
Length:: 1:19 Mins

If you are interested in James Bond on film, then "Bond by Design" is going to blow you away. It's the single best Bond-related book I've ever seen.

The book features hundreds of pieces of artwork from the Bond movies, from "Dr. No" through "Skyfall". The latest film "Spectre" is also represented with a single spread; there's only one (magnificent) piece of art given that the film had yet to be released at the time of publication.

With 21 installments in the franchise (spanning over 50 years and featuring six different production designers), you can be sure that there is a large variety of art on display. Most of the pieces were done with pencil, pen, or watercolors; although in the later films it's interesting to see the shift toward graphic design and digital illustrations.

Here are a few of the pieces that I found fascinating:
- Thunderball: costume design artwork for Fiona Volpe
- On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Blofeld's coat of arms; and static matte painting of the Alps used in compositing of the film shot.
- Goldeneye: aerial battle plan of a dogfight later cut out of the script.
- Quantum of Solace: a complete digital schematic of the Siena rooftop chase.
- Spectre: concept art of the Day of the Dead parade.
- plus multiple pieces of art relating to the Aston Martin car and it's gadgets.

This is a very large and heavy book; it measures about 10x14 inches and has over 300 pages of artwork. The size allows plenty of room for imagery - when printed full-page, the detail of some of the art is incredible. The book also comes in a very nice outer slipcase.

Two pieces of concept art are removable and can be displayed or framed -- one from "You Only Live Twice" and "The Spy Who Loved Me". They're not particularly memorable pieces, although it's a nice bonus that I'm glad was included.

There's not much text other than a brief 3-5 paragraph summary of each film (the text discusses the notable production design elements in that installment). Therefore, this is not the book to buy if you're wanting to learn about the making of the films. If you want a making-of book, you should look into DK's "Bond on Set" publications: Casino Royale; Quantum of Solace; Skyfall.

Bottom Line: If you are into Bond and enjoy looking at artwork, then I give this my highest recommendation.

* Thanks to DK Publishing for providing me a review copy of the book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2015 11:09 PM PDT

Bond vs. Bond: The Many Faces of 007
Bond vs. Bond: The Many Faces of 007
by Paul Simpson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.00
52 used & new from $12.74

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bond vs. Bond: The Many Faces of 007, October 24, 2015
Length:: 0:33 Mins

As someone who is absolutely fascinated with the James Bond film franchise, the book "Bond vs. Bond" is a great resource and a nostalgic look back at the series.

The book primarily focuses on the different actors that played bond throughout the years. These actors all obviously had a different look and they also had very different approaches to acting the role of Bond. Anyone familiar with the series knows that these differences between the actors led to unique takes on the character. No matter who your favorite Bond was - whether it be Connery, Moore, Craig, or someone else - you will find him represented in the book.

Still, there are things about Bond that are universal no matter who is playing the character: his patriotism, his love of women, his affinity for a good drink, and his skill with a gun. Many of these and other subjects are briefly discussed in the many sidebars (which are scattered throughout the book) - Cars; Gadgets; Villains; Bond Girls; and so on. The book includes images from the films as well as behind the scenes photos which are fascinating to see.

The early pages of the book discuss author Ian Fleming, his early life and inspirations, and of course his 007 novels (14 in total were published). As someone who was always more into the films than the novels, it's fascinating to learn about the origins of the character on the page and about the stories that Fleming told in the literary realm (from which most of the movies derive).

Bond is one of the few movie characters who has survived multiple cast changes and remains embraced by audiences. Agent 007 is bigger than any one actor; each one adds new dimensions to the character. This book is a great read and a nice piece to commemorate over 50 years of one of cinema's most enduring icons.

*Thank you to Quarto Publishing Group for providing me a review copy of the book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 24, 2015 11:09 PM PDT

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