The holiday season was a time for many things here at Soule Designs, but blogging and productivity were not among them.  Ah yes, as I recall it now most of December was spent eagerly anticipating my holiday vacation.  In fact, I even made a countdown timer using second hand graphics from a work project:

Too much time on my hands?
The astute browser attempting to navigate to the above url will hear an awesome Europe tune but alas the timer has run out.   And just like that vacation and the holidays are over it's time to get back to the blogosphere and my usual meandering thoughts... on coffee table books?

The CG Story, by Chris Finch, source The Monacelli Press
I don't make a habit of endorsing stuff, other than ZBrush and Maya, but the most excellent coffee table book I've ever laid eyes on, The CG Story: Computer-Generated Animation and Special Effects by Chris Finch, warrants an exception.  My wife surprised me with this book as a gift and I must say it is near "Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time"-levels of Christmas present awesomeness!

I ♥ you The CG Story!
The Monacelli Press describes the book thusly:

The Art of Walt Disney author Christopher Finch tells the story of the pioneers of CG films: producer/directors like George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Ridley Scott; and John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, founders of Pixar. 
Computer generated imagery, commonly called “CG,” has had as big an impact on the movie industry as the advent of sound or color. Not only has it made possible a new kind of fully animated movie, but it also has revolutionized big-budget, live-action filmmaking. The CG Story is one of determined experimentation and brilliant innovation carried out by a group of gifted, colorful, and competitive young men and women, many of whom would become legendary in the digital world. 
George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Ridley Scott embraced the computer to create believable fantasy worlds of a richness that had seldom if ever been realized on screen. Their early efforts helped inspire a revolution in animation, enabled by technical wizardry and led by the founders of Pixar, including John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, who would create the entirely computer-produced worlds of Toy Story and subsequent Pixar films. Meanwhile, directors like James Cameron used the new technology to make hybrid live-action and CG films, including the extraordinary Avatar. Finch covers these and more, giving a full account of today’s most significant CG films. - See more at: http://www.monacellipress.com/book/?isbn=9781580933575

While the narrative and timeline of computer graphics and special effects is interesting to me as a computer scientist/c.g. artist/nerd, what's really breathtaking is the images.  This book is big, as all good coffee table books should be, and it is packed full of awesome c.g. imagery.  

From old Star Wars go-motion stills all the way up to The Avengers and Rango, I never seem to tire of leafing through this sucker and gazing at the great work.   Plus, it's like a time capsule allowing you to look back and remember tons of great films from the past 30 years.  In case you could not tell, I highly recommend this book if you are c.g. geek like myself or just a fan of films and c.g. animation.  Now you buy!

And to those who fear for the fate of my Salvation Army Lass project, I say fear not, she will return very shortly.