George Maestri broke new ground with his first book, Digital Character Animation 2: Essential Techniques, which quickly became a fixture on the recommended reading list of just about every contemporary digital animator. It demonstrated solid methods for building characters and preparing them for animation, and touched on animation itself, all the while staying away from hardware and software specifics. Maestri explained the "why" of doing something. It was up to you to know "how."
The second volume, Digital Character Animation 2: Advanced Techniques, delves deeper into the art of animation itself without losing its digital perspective and yet while still maintaining some distance from hardware platforms and software applications.
The book cuts right to the chase; there are no chapters on modeling, lighting, or rendering. Every chapter focuses on character motivation, character movement, framing a story, preparing a character for animation, and acting itself. As the animator, you are also an actor, and the more you know about acting, the better you can animate.
As if one section about motion isn't enough, there are separate sections on "human motion," "animal motion," and "anthropomorphic animation," each with some powerful visual examples and demonstrations on ancillary topics such as rigging the underlying skeletal structures and creating morph targets.
This book may not be the massive tome that something like Inside 3ds Max 4 is, but in its 200-plus pages is more information designed to help animators of any level take their careers up one notch. --Mike Caputo