Creating animations with SolidWorks can be both fun and challenging. With the capabilities and options that SolidWorks now supports, making animations of models can fell like walking through a maze. The book Creating Animations with SolidWorks is a self-study guide that attempts to teach readers how to navigate that maze to create animations with SolidWorks. SolidWorks Corp provided me with one copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my own content without input of others.
Even though some of the animation functions in SolidWorks seem intuitive to me, please know that I have a small amount of professional video editing and production experience. Most readers will not likely have this sort of background. There is a lot of complexity in the creation of animations with models. To inexperienced SolidWorks users, many functions can be missed, particularly when using physics. Creating Animation with SolidWorks covers animation functions in great detail. However, I feel that the flow of the book needs some improvement, as the tutorials are sometimes hard to follow and information is needlessly repeated.
This is a big book with over 500 pages. It’s big for a reason. This books covers all three methods (called motion study types) for creating animations in SolidWorks. These are Animation, Basic Motion and SolidWorks Motion. Many users will only have access some of these, as license type determines the add-ins which are available.
There are 18 chapters.
Chapter 1 is a general overview of the book itself and animations within SolidWorks.
Chapters 2 through 5 cover animation basics.
Chapters 6 through 8 go into detail about motion and animating parts.
Chapters 9 through 14 cover Basic Motion and SolidWorks Motion.
Chapters 15 through 18 cover advice on how to get best results when creating animations and editing video.
Creating Animations with SolidWorks is available in the SolidWorks store for $89.95. It comes with a DVD that has all of the files for each exercise and case study, so there is no need to download them separately. Although I did get an error when I installed the package from the DVD, the files seemed to work fine.
This book covers just about every topic necessary in the creation of animations with SolidWorks. In this, the book is very thorough. It is a step-by-step guide. I do not recommend starting at some point in the middle of the book. I also do not recommend using this book as a reference guide unless the reader is already fairly familiar with creating animations with SolidWorks.
I found the formatting of the book to be harder to follow than the authors intended. For example, in the step-by-step SolidWorks exercises, the headings for each step seem more confusing than helpful, as they are often redundant or lack any useful information. My recommendation to the authors is that this book should list each step without the headings. This would improve space on the written page and likely reduce the size of the book itself while enhancing readability.
Redundancy is common in this book in other ways. On page 6 there is a section entitled “Animations”. This section defines animation in the context of SolidWorks. Then, right on the next page (7), the reader encounters another section entitled “What is an Animation?”. Better organization of the topics will help reduce these redundancies.
As mentioned, the step-by-step instructions are sometimes hard to follow. This is why I don’t recommend using this book as a reference guide. In an attempt to cover every detail about animation, this book includes many variations of similar tasks within each step-by-step exercise. This is good, right? Well, the problem is that it is not always clear when the reader should start a new series of steps or when to continue from the last step. I found several occasions in the step-by-step exercises where I could not continue because a task completed in the previous step was interfering with the very next task. The exercises should be better organized to let the reader know how to transition between different tasks.
This book impressed me in one way. Creating any sort of video requires a bit of art. Creating Animations with SolidWorks actually provides very useful advise on the art to help the reader create animations with better results. This is somewhat outside the scope of a simple tutorial and adds a bit of value to the book.
Overall, if someone is looking for a book that will self-teach them how to create animations in SolidWorks, this isn’t a bad book. It does cover practically every aspect necessary for that work. However, using this book may require a little patience.