Monday, November 23, 2009

Witch swinging around the mountain

Recent reader question:
I couldn't find anything on the blog about this particular piece of animation, which only recently caught my eye:
There are a few quick shots of the side of the mountain- we see it "spinning" as the camera moves- and there really seems to be a lot of detail in every frame. Would you know who was involved with it?

I'm not sure. This scene was done before my time on the film, but I would guess that Roy Naisbitt worked out the animating BG and Dick did the witch animation. If anybody knows - please leave a comment.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Soho Square pictures

Hans Bacher posted more photos. LINK

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Miscellaneous Production Art

Rough layout of the messenger by Art Babbitt (?)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Roy and Art photos

Hans Bacher has posted some photos of animation artists. Here is the link to his blog post: CREATIVE WORKSPACES 1
He said that there are more to come in the near future.
In 1981 he met Art Babbitt in the Hollywood QUARTETT film studio, where Art was animating on THE THIEF:

This one of Roy Naisbitt he took in the Soho Square studio in 1987:

On his blog there are also 2 photos of Dick W. that were taken during the production of Roger Rabbit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

On Monday the 27th of April, the Marc Davis lecture on Animation took place at the Academy headquarters in Los Angeles.It turned out to be the most popular animation evening so far and really was a whos who of the industry.Concluding the over 3 hour long program of lectures, film clips and panels was a video message from Dick Williams.First almost timid and humble, he said he wished he could have been at the actual event. Starting to talk about Milt Kahl though, he quickly showed his usual passion . He acknowledged that knowing Milt and having been able to call him from time to time, was a highlight of his life.
Apparently, he always tried to make the never humble Milt admit to being the World's greatest animator.Milt kinda grumbled and didn't commit.Dick recalled the great friendship between Milt and Marc Davis, a kind of admiration society for two.Once they had an argument and Milt shouted after Marc... you cant even draw your own A$%. Marc returned to Milt's office a little later with a giant drawing of exactly that.On one occasion, Dick showed some 20 minutes of Thief footage at the Lucas ranch and had invited Milt to come along. After the screening, some Lucas people excitedly inquired about who had made this and were told that it was Dick's work. They proclaimed him to be the World's greatest animator and Dick turned to Milt and said " No, that is the World's greatest animator" to which Milt kinda nodded. Dick got his admittance of greatness finally when he talked to Milt in '87 and finally made him say that he indeed was the best animator.Two days later, he passed away. Dick freely admitted crying a lot and he said it was especially sad when he realized he cried over the fact that he would no longer be able to call the great man and chat.
It was a fitting and heartfelt tribute from one artist to another. A perfect ending to that evening and a chance for us to see Dick, albeit on video, and be part of this celebration.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Secret of Kells

A little while ago at work I saw a screening of the Irish animated film "The Secret of Kells" and also a presentation on how the film's style had evolved. I enjoyed both the film and the presentation very much. The filmmakers are longtime fans of "The Thief and the Cobbler". The Thief inspired them to start working on their own feature film 10 years ago while they were still in college studying animation. Their film has very much it's own style and story, but you can see how they embraced and emphasized the flat nature of their artwork in a way that was inspired by what Dick and Roy did on the Thief.Very inspiring also the stories about how they worked on "Kells" initially on the side for several years, while working on commercials and other things at the studio they founded in 1999 in Kilkenny: Cartoon Saloon. Just a few years ago (2005) the project gained momentum and independent financing and was finished by several teams in Ireland, Belgium, Hungary and Brazil. The amazing thing is that it looks as if it was done in one place. I was happy to see that my old Iron Giant friends Marcello and Jean de Moura were involved through the Lightstar studio in Brazil.

links to: blog and website.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What's going on with the DVD poll?

A few weeks ago the number of people who had voted in the DVD poll did reach 210. Over the last few days the number has been declining. Today it's at 185. Very strange. Please leave a comment if you know why that could happen. I appreciate the interest so far and had planned to keep the poll open, but that makes no sense if it's unreliable.

UPDATE: I removed the poll because it appears that after 6 months votes started to expire, which caused inaccurate results (see comments). Thanks again for everybody who participated during the last 6 months. More than 200 people expressed interest in an official Thief DVD.

These were the 2 options:
A lot of us wish for an official DVD release with all the Williams footage of the THIEF. It would be good to know how many people would buy such a DVD. Please vote for one of these 2 options:
1. Yes, I would buy such a DVD, but only if the film gets properly finished.
2. Yes, a high quality version of the workprint, with storyboards. Plus documentaries etc.
Around 87% voted for option 2.

This is the online petition that inspired our poll and it's still open: (LINK)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dig into the archives...

Sorry for the lack of updates. I can't promise when the next new post will come, hopefully soon. I'm glad that our stats show that a lot of people still visit the blog. I just wanted to remind new visitors to dig into the "blog archive" and read the "tips for new readers". Both can be found in the sidebar on the right.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Animation star relaunches Bristol school

Oscar-winning animator Richard Williams, who worked on Hollywood blockbuster Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, will launch the new Bristol School of Animation next week.
The University of the West of England is relaunching its animation school on Wednesday, after investing £250 000 in new computer-aided animation technology.

The school has just moved to a bigger site on the Bower Ashton Campus in Bristol, in an attempt to become ‘the main animation hub outside London’, according its head, Gill Sandford.

Bristol is also home to Aardman Animations, the biggest animation studio in the UK and creator of Wallace & Gromit and Creature Comforts.

Source: DESIGNweek Online
Publication date: 20 February 2009 11:51 AM
Author: Emily Pacey

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Luke Menichelli emailed this Nasrudin storyboard and excerpt from the script.Nasrudin storyboard (from International Film Guide)

CAT AND MEAT (Sequence 7)
Cut to Kerima, still stirring her pot, furious. Crowd noises die down slightly, as they start to give up,
Muttering ...

Cut to Nasrudin beside window, looking at Kerima,

Cut to Kerima, who looks around craftily, takes a big bowl and ladles out a great quantity of meat balls into it. She looks
around again and eats the whole thing in three seconds,
Nasrudin tiptoes downstairs.
Kerlma, dear ... what is for lunch?
She says nothing, scrapes the bottom of the pan and ladles out two and a half potatoes on his plate and three on hers, She
gulps hers down.
Potatoes? - what happened to the three pounds of meat I brought you?
(finishing off another potato)
The cat ... the cat ... the cat ate it! All three pounds of it !
Nasrudin puts down his plate, goes over to the slumbering cat on a chair, picks it up and puts it on a set of hand-held
scales, He puts on three one-pound weights,
This cat weighs three pounds
So? ... Slobber! Slobber ... So?
If this is the cat, where is the meat?
If, on the other hand, this is the meat
where is the cat?
He puts the cat down on the chair and, angry now, stamps out to the backdoor, turns around and gives Kerima an angry glance
and slams the door. Fade to black.

Monday, February 9, 2009

1975 Crew picture update

I just want to point everybody again to Michael Sporn's post about the same crew picture I posted about last week. At his blog a lot of interesting comments keep on pouring in. Click LINK

Friday, February 6, 2009

Last Nasrudin images (Exploits)

This concludes the current Nasrudin season. The images posted over the last 2 weeks are Illustrations that Richard Williams did for the book "The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin".

Thursday, February 5, 2009

1975 Crew picture

I love how people contact us via email lately with inspiring input. This makes blogging easy. Here is another one:
"Hello, I have a question that has been gnawing at me for years and I thought you might be able to help. Attached is a photo from the 1975 book "Creators of Life" by Donald Heraldson. It is the staff photo of Richard Williams studio. I can easily make out Richard W., along with Art Babbitt and Grim Natwick. But you will also notice a 10-year-old boy in the middle of the photo. The subtext says he is part of the staff. If that young man was 10 in 1975, that would make him about 43 or 44 today. Do you know who he is, and if he is still in the animation industry? Thank you,
- Tim Hodge"We don't know yet who the 10 year old boy is, but Carl Gover was kind enough to identify most of the other people. Here is what he wrote me today: " old photo to bring back lots of memories. Sadly, mine is not what it should be but I can recall some of those in the pic. However, the kid’s name escapes me although I do remember him as a prodigy at the time.

I believe I was abroad this day – or otherwise occupied.

Bottom row:
Richard Williams...Richard Burdett (animator)... Art Babbitt...(unknown).....Carol Stallings (Dick’s sec.)...Dick Purdum

Row above:
Chris Knott (SFX guy)...Bella Bremner (Dick’s Asst.)...Ken Harris...Grim Natwick...Roland B. Wilson (Designer/illust.)...Sergio Simonetti (animator)...Brian Lewis (Lawyer)... Tass Hesom (animator)...(unknown)...Leslie Silver (Prod. Asst.)..(unknown)...Howard Blake (Composer)

The people behind (left) are familiar but the only name I remember is Tony White (animator) between Bella and Ken. UPDATE: on the left with Glasses is Jeff Short, then between him and Tony: Greg Duffell

Those behind (right) are Roy Naisbitt...Russell Hall...Rod Howick (editor)

I will do my best to contact others who might help..."

Please check out Michael Sporn's blog who is posting about this picture, too. I'm updating Carl's list above to incorporate the names that came up in Michael's comment section.

On Michael's blog Tim Hodge says: I also sent the photo to William’s Master Class website. This is the response I got back yesterday from I. Sutton.: “He wasn’t an employee but a very bright boy who was invited to attend a Masterclass at the studio. It was a long time ago and I don’t have a
record of his name or whether he is still animating.”
So the book was off-base a little.

Update from Michael Sporn in the comment section:
Greg Duffell, on my blog, identifies almost everyone in the photo, including the boy:
Back row from left:

Inbetweener Geoff Adams, unknown (perhaps assistant editor), trainee inbetweener John McCartney, Assistant director, designer, layout artist and technical director Mr. Roy Naisbitt, animator Russell Hall, editor Roy Howick

Next row forward: Junior Animator Jeff Short, trainee inbetweener Greg Duffell, Animator Tony White, Animation legend Mr. Grim Natwick, Illustration legend Mr. Rowland B. Wilson, Senior animator Mr. Sergio Simonetti, Executive Producer Brian Lewis, Executive Secretary Lesley Silver, Lettering artist and animator Mr. Raymond Guillemet.

Next row forward: Effects animator Chris Knott, Assistant animator Bella Bremner, Animation legend Mr. Ken Harris, visiting student Jonathan Dean, trainee inbetweener Tass Hesom, animator Bill Rhodes, composer Howard Blake

Front row: Legendary animator Mr. Richard Williams, Top assistant animator and animator Richard Burdett, Legendary animator Mr. Arthur Babbitt, Executive secretary Carol Stallings and Dick’s right hand man and animator Mr. Richard Purdum.

Thanks Tim, Carl, Michael, Mark and Greg for the glimpse back in time .

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thief gets a new cloak out of the trash

Last weekend I received this email:

Hey guys,
I've been a dedicated follower of your blog since I first read about it on Michael Sporn's site and I was curious about who animated the scene where the Thief pulls a cloak out of the trash after he crash lands during the flying sequence. I thought maybe you'd get to this scene as you were going through the Thief on the mountain scenes but then you got off the scene breakdowns so I decided to bother you about it in an email. I think this may be my favorite piece of animation in the film because of it's reality. The Thief feels completely alive with all the beautiful weight shifts and the way he mulls through the trash, it's all so wonderfully observed. The part where he wiggles into his cloak reminds me a lot of Milt Kahl's animation of Sluefoot Sue putting on her dress in Pecos Bill. Any information you have would be appreciated.
Thanks for keeping up the blog!
-Aaron SorensonThanks for the question Aaron! I've always admired this scene. Neil Boyle animated it. The need for the scene came up when Dick finalized his intentions about the continuity of events and how to link from scenes where the Thief's cloak was torn to shreds and later scenes where his cloak was intact again. This was during the 1990-92 time and it's one of the scenes that were not based on previous Ken Harris animation.
As you can see the screengrab is kind of blurry. This scene was never part of any of the official releases. One of many reasons why we should hope for an official DVD that contains all these lost treasures. Remember to vote in the poll at the top right corner...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nasrudin in the Papers

Matt Jones just sent these scans:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Babbitt and Harris

From Mark Mayerson's blog: (LINK for full post)
He writes: "Børge Ring sent me this anecdote about Art Babbitt being something of an animation snob.
First time Babbitt came to London Dick Williams picked him up at the airport. On the way to town Dick said joyfully proud: "We've got Ken Harris." Babbitt frowned. "But eh: Isn't that somebody from Warner Brothers and all that?"Dick laughed and said: "I'll show you tomorrow."Next morning he took Art to the movieola and ran a string of Ken's scenes of the Thief. Babbitt was baffled. "Well I'll be damned." He and Ken Harris became great friends at Dick's formidable small studio..."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Script research

In reply to the last post Luke Menichelli writes:
"Though it's the donkey in this script, I remember reading an account from someone there (can't remember who) that the sequence involved the Thief with brightly colored wolves.

Garrett Gilchrist noted this from the early Nasrudin script:


WOLVES (Sequence 11)

Cut in to reveal six long-headed wolves posing as a tree, They zip in and run over to another pole, a little closer to Nasrudin, and pose again as a tree.
A snow storm hits and as it clears, we cut to Nasrudin asleep, with snow covering his body, looking like a white coffin, the donkey still sits, bored, at his feet,
Cut to the wolf-tree entirely covered in ice. The ice cracks and the icicles drop off, revealing the wolves who have turned blue from the cold. They shiver terribly and run to another tree.
Cut to the donkey whose ear lifts and whose eyes open wide,
Cut to the woIves who run to another tree.
Cut to the donkey, more worried.
Cut to the wolves sticking out from behind a tree, all six of them clutching at their stomachs - they are obvious1y starving to death. They zip back in and go down the hill from tree to tree, like a slalom,
Cut to the donkey, now very worried, Iooking round stupidly.

Cut to the wolves who shoot out from behind the tree, do a long run and zoom into the air.
We hear the sound of a screaming jet engine and they land on the donkey, who disappears in a cartoon bIurr.
Jet and buzz-saw and eating noises as the blurr zooms around,

Cut to Nasrudin with one eye open looking at the demotion of his donkey, entirely calmly, he leans to us and says.

Such is life! One thing is conditional upon another.

Cut to the wolves, now with huge, full bellies, who burp and snicker, pick their teeth and laugh gleefully to each other in
front of Nasrudin, rubbing their bellies with delight."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ken Harris and Wolf

Luke Menichelli just sent this photo from the International Film Guide.Interesting. I wonder who or what the wolf just swallowed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009


I wonder if this is one of the wolves that Ken Harris animated. Has anybody seen these wolves pencil tests?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009