Brief excerpt from interview with Dan F. McLaughlin, Jr. in Animation World Network (2007)

CM: Now that you are retiring, what are your plans to the future?

DM: Well, I plan to finish my book, which is all my teaching, so I can quit teaching. I think its important because it is based on all my years of experience of young people coming and not knowing that much. I am familiar with their questions and concerns. So, finishing my book and getting back to painting and poetry and making my own animated short films.

Read the entire interview here

250,000 words and 1000 illustrations later, it's done

The book, that is. Animation Rules! Compiled by his son on 2017 after the author's death in 2016.

Here is Book One (Words) Chapter 1, the words.

Here is Book Two (Art) Chapter 1, the art.

Here is the story behind the publishing of the book.

Buy Book One (Words) Whole thing $14.60 

Buy Book Two (Art)  Whole thing $65.48

Why should you care?

Read on, and enter the gallery of reasons.

Art by Michael Schmitt, based on characters from Claude by Dan F. McLaughlin, Jr.

Teaching Tips from a Master Teacher

Dan McLaughlin was the head of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television's Animation Workshop from 1970 to 2007. In 1971, founded the School's M.F.A. Animation Program. He introduced computer animation to the Workshop in 1968 and interactive animation in 1988. At the time of his retirement in 2007, the Animation World Network estimated that he had taught animation to 800 students and been an advisor on nearly 700 animated films.

The book itself is filled with hundreds of examples of classroom techniques from the most mundane, such as where best to stand while presenting a storyboard, to the most abstract, with discussions about the true meaning of education.

Also included are generic lesson plans, exercises (with exposure sheets), syllabuses and reading and film lists which can be adapted by any teacher at any level. Finally, since the philosophy of the UCLA Animation Workshop is "One Person, One Film," the teaching style demonstrated here is one that emphasizes the individuality of the filmmaker, and thus the principles are universal.

Animation Tips from a Master Animator

As an independent filmmaker, Dan McLaughlin made more than 20 animated films, ranging from the traditional to the experimental, which earned both national and international recognition. His kinestasis student film God is Dog Spelled Backwards (1963) featured 3,000 years of art in three minutes set to Beethoven's 5th Symphony. His film Claude (1963) was a winner at the Chicago International Film Festival. Other credits include animation for Sesame Street, the Amnesty International Human Rights Now 1988 world tour and numerous titles for feature films. McLaughlin was also a pioneer in the fields of computer animation and interactive media. In 1995, McLaughlin was the recipient of ASIFA Hollywood's Winsor McCay Award for lifetime achievement in animation. 

Survival Tips from a Hollywood Veteran

Dan McLaughlin has been a cog in "The Industry" from the age of three months as a child actor in 1932 to his retirement in 2007. As such he has observed and experienced the myriad ways that money and reputations are made, lost, borrowed or stolen in Hollywood. And more importantly, he used this history to come up with hundreds of techniques to protect one's self, covering such common situations as:

  • What to tell the producer who insists that his project is exposure enough compensation that he shouldn't have to pay you.
  • Net vs. Gross? (Hint: Net = Never)
  • How to get Elton John to give you rights to one his songs for your film.

Here is Book One (Words) Chapter 1, the words.

Here is Book Two (Art) Chapter 1, the art.

Here is the story behind the publishing of the book.

Buy Book One (Words) Whole thing $14.60 

Buy Book Two (Art)  Whole thing $65.48

Paean to UCLA

Because the author was so intimately involved with the UCLA Animation Workshop starting with his enrolling in the animation 181a class sometime around 1958, to his retirement in 2007, almost every story in the book deals with UCLA is some way.

Further, the entire book is suffused the UCLA "One Film, One Filmmaker" philosophy. Finally, when the editor as the asked UCLA animation community to contribute examples of artwork, such distinguished UCLA filmmakers such as Phil Faroudja, Phil Denslow, Brian Wells, Jay Shipman, Celia Mercer and Tami Tsark responded.

The editor also inserted lots of art from UCLA alum Bob Mitchell that was in the author's effects, and included art from Faith Hubley who was close to the author.

An Author Who Shows His Work


(These paragraphs might look they have not nothing to do with anything, but they do, eventually). The author died with apx. 960 illustrations allegedly in his mid-sized storage unit. The promise of these illustrations led the editor, his son, and his sisters on a multibox, multi-week scavenger hunt. During the process of which the editor made two observations and drew two conclusions. The observations were: 1. Lots of art was in draft form only, and 2. Dad Saved Everything. The conclusions were: 1. Drafts were good enough, and 2. The information gleaned from all the detritus of all his films and career was actually pretty interesting in and of themselves.

To continue, in some cases there were draft versions with the authors written comments on how to make the drawing better, and and the editor thought that was something not often seen in art books. The author also had saved many of his production and shooting notes, set-ups, pencil tests and calculations made during filming of his films. This too is seldom seen in books.The editor also found lots of work from two never-produced films:  Harry, a short-order cook who receives the answers to all the world's problems in the mail, and The Mystery of Easter Island which details what happens on the island after the tourists leave. The editor included many examples of kind of this work to graphically illustrate that an animated film does not spring perfectly out of the animator's head and fingers, but is a result of much work and experimentation. Plus, he thought it was all kinda cool.

Here is Book One (Words) Chapter 1, the words.

Here is Book Two (Art) Chapter 1, the art.

Here is the story behind the publishing of the book.

Buy Book One (Words) Whole thing $14.60 

Buy Book Two (Art)  Whole thing $65.48

Featured Artist: Adam Holmes

Despite many people volunteering their artwork, and lots of art being found in the storage unit, there was still a core of illustrations of largely technical drawings that did not exist. To fill that void, the editor hired two spectacular artists to fill that void. As a basis for the artwork, the editor selected elements of the author's original work. Adam Holmes, who had done the program for the author's memorial, was selected to bring the character "Harry" to life. Harry is a film the author never competed (the author could never come up with a suitable ending), but in his papers there were extensive notes and illustrations of the film. Adam, a recent graduate of the MFA program at UCLA, proved to be perfect for the job of taking the rough ideas and translating them into a usable animated character. The editor's only complaint was that one of the drawings assigned to Adam was a drawing that was supposed to show a bad design for a character in animation. It took Adam several attempts to purposefully draw a poorly designed character. Adam has last been employed as a storyboard artists for season two of "F is for Family, and would be delighted to entertain other offers of employment.

Featured artist: Michael Schmitt

The other great category or remaining art were illustrations that showed layout and camera angles. Here the editor turned to another fine illustrator and filmmaker, Michael Schmitt.  In some cases the editor asked Mike to take the characters from Claude, one of the authors most famous completed films, and use then to represent the layout elements as shown in such works as Diego Rivera's Mother and Child (please see the art at the beginning of this web page). For illustrations of various types of camera angles and perspectives, a combination of the author's and Mike's characters were used. Mike has most recently developed a delightful set of educational films for Shmoop University, and he too would be delighted to entertain other offers of employment.

One Great Idea, 

Two Medium Sized Books

When you have 250,000 words and 1000 illustrations and your only option is self-publishing in paperback, there are two things you can do.

You could drastically limit the number of illustrations, present the unpaid graphic designer with a lot more work and require the readers to pay for a color paged book when the vast majority of the pages will be in black and white.

Or, one could divide the words and art into two separate books, which would lower the cost to the reader, make it easier for the reader to navigate between words and art (the author repeats himself a lot), and gives the graphic designer a tremendous break, (helping to ensure domestic bliss in the editor's household). 


So to be clear, you have to purchase TWO books: Animation Rules!: Book One: Words  ISBN 1535194375 and Animation Rules!: Book Two: Art  ISBN 1541104048 to get the total package.

Well, that’s pretty much it. 

Oh, another thing. This book is being sold at entirely at cost. In other words, we are selling book at the lowest price possible. (The miracle of self-publication on-demand makes this possible.) My sisters and I recognize that this book is our father’s legacy that he cared very deeply about, and while there was a part of him that believed in artist’s being compensated fairly for their work, we also think he would have preferred his books to be distributed as widely as possible. 

And besides, he is in no place where he can object.

Thanks for reading all this, and please enjoy the books.

All the best,

dan,(also McLaughlin), son and editor

last chance

Here is Book One (Words) Chapter 1, the words.

Here is Book Two (Art) Chapter 1, the art.

Here is the story behind the publishing of the book.

Buy Book One (Words) Whole thing $14.60 

Buy Book Two (Art)  Whole thing $65.48

Special Bonus Material  Just for reading to the bottom of the page, here is a link to some sounds files of my Dad talking about his career AND pretty much all the art he did AND some of his poetry which he was kind enough to leave in a word doc. file so i didn't have to scan and then OCR the ..... material.