It's not difficult for me to write about or criticize the work of friends.
Unless there's nothing negative to point, then it's hard. I wonder, "Am I myopic because I like them, or is it really that good?"
In that regard its very difficult to write about Joseph Gilland's "Element Magic: The Art of Special Effects Animation". Not only is he a great guy- this volume fills gaping hole in the animation library.
I admit, upon first flipping through the volume I was a little disappointed. Where are the step by step drawings? The Halas & Whittaker/Preston Blair style schematics we've grown accustomed to?
For forty dollars you better show us how to do it!
More impressively, more importantly this book gives the reasons effects are animated in a certain way. It advises the reader how to observe and reproduce these motions and expounds the philosophy behind dynamics animation.
There are several drawing by drawing examples, but you can't just trace them and get how they work. Unlike character animation primers, the text is critical to understanding what makes the drawing work.
Even in the examples, Joe is adamant in saying that the manner shown is simply one way of doing it. There are countless ways to make a raindrop splash -understand the principles, application easily follows.
We've been doing a lot of dynamics animation in The Buddha film. I wish I had read this before we started, it would have made the job a lot easier.
There's also a blog that supplements the book. http://elementalmagic.blogspot.com/