Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Thief and the Cobbler- A moment in time

Here is a little article I wrote for Alex Williams' animation blog FLIP. The Thief and the Cobbler – A moment in time Screened Tuesday,December 10th at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre , Beverly Hills.

When Richard Williams announced a few weeks ago that he would screen ‘The Thief’ at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences , many people were surprised and excited.
Last night was the night. The program opened when Randy Haberkamp, who had worked for years to make this event possible, introduced the 1972 best animated Short winner,’ A Christmas Carol’ , directed by Dick . What a treat to see this seasonal classic on the big screen, featuring animation by Ken Harris, the master layouts by Roy Naisbitt and the vocal stylings of a very young Alex Williams as ‘Tiny Tim’.

Then Dick took the stage and introduced the main attraction. He explained that this was not a finished film, but a dirty or slash dupe made overnight after the infamous shut down of production in May 1992.
He talked about the main contributors like Ken Harris and Art Babbit, Errol leCain’s backgrounds, Roy Naisbitt’s layouts and his ingenious contraptions for the War machine and the many people who helped on bringing Dick’s vision to the screen.

Thanking Randy and his college pal Carl Bell for pursuing a public showing, a visibly moved Dick stood aside to present his unfinished masterpiece: The Thief and the Cobbler- A moment in time.
The capacity crowd, peppered with Animation professionals such as Eric Goldberg, John Musker, James Baxter, David Silverman, June Foray and many others, laughed at the antics of the Thief, marveled at the wonders of the Persian miniature come to life and watched in awe at the intricate destruction of the war machine.
Dick once again took to the stage to an enthusiastic and earnest standing ovation. The evening concluded after a brief Q & A, where Dick once again thanked his crew and the Academy for making this screening possible.

Asked about his favorite scene in the movie, he pointed out two. Firstly a scene at the beginning of the movie, where Zig Zag parades down the street while his minions roll out and roll up his carpet. Dick singled this out because he worked on it with his son and it makes it special and personal for him. The other one was the Thief flying over and around the golden Idol, accompanied by the famous Air men march, and he named Thief blog contributor Holger Leihe as one of the animators on this sequence.
On a personal note, this event brought back many memories, the good-the bad and the over-worked. I couldn’t help but feel a deep gratitude to the man who gave me, like so many others, the opportunity to enter into this crazy business of Animation. Taking on someone with virtually no experience other than a reasonable ability to draw and sharing his vast knowledge, giving someone a chance… this is something that does not happen anymore. Without Dick Williams and his pursuit of mastering a craft, learning from the people who came before him and passing their knowledge on to friends and competitors alike, there would not have been the thriving British animation industry of the 80s and 90s. And I could not have been happier for him last night.

Monday, December 2, 2013

It's happening!

Richard Williams will screen his last version of 'The Thief  & the Cobbler' at the Academy in Los Angeles this December 10th.  Tickets selling fast!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

This Amazing Medium

The Marc Davis lecture delivered this year by Richard Williams at AMPAS was a treat!  Williams still has boundless energy at 80 and over 2 hours flew by as he discussed his inspirations and showed how they influenced his own work.  He screened his latest short film 'Circus Drawings' which looked great on the big screen as did 25 seconds of his work in progress feature film. Biggest news of the evening was that he'll return in December to screen 'The Thief & The Cobbler' - his 'dirty dupe' - actually a 'very high quality' work print struck the day of the productions' collapse.

You can see video from the event on the Academy's website

Williams with Eric Goldberg from Flip Magazine blog

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The October edition of 'Sight & Sound' magazine has a short feature on Williams and his Animation Masterclass by Mikey Please.  It alerted me to a retrospective of Williams' films that recently played in Bristol, England.
Next month Williams will be at the Academy of Motion Picture Art & Sciences in Los Angeles to discuss his work & career and screen footage of his latest film.

Interviewer Phil Jupitus on stage with Williams at the Bristol Encounters Film Festival

Monday, July 1, 2013

More from Edinburgh

Hopefully we'll see the Q&A with Williams online at some point, meanwhile some interesting pictures surrounding the event have popped up . . .

Richard Williams: 80 Animated Years at Filmhouse Edinburgh 29 June 2013. Photograph: Amy Muir © EIFF, Edinburgh International Film Festival All Rights Reserved

These shots appear to have been taken in Williams' studio and would suggest that he has managed to hold onto key artwork from his career including the Pink Panther films and 'The Charge of The Light Brigade'
How was struck how much this thumbnail drawing of Roger Rabbit looks like Williams!
There are more shots of Dick and Mo in Edinburgh over in this Flickr set

Friday, May 31, 2013

Event in Edinburgh - Richard Williams: 80 Animated Years

Our old Thief buddy Iain Gardner helped organize an event at this year's Edinburgh Film Festival in honour of Richard Williams' 80th birthday. For detailed info and to order tickets go HERE.

"EIFF is honoured to welcome multi-award-winning animation legend Richard Williams to Edinburgh in celebration of his 80th Birthday.
Canadian animator Richard Williams, famed for the Pink Panther and Roger Rabbit, moved to the UK during the 1950s, invigorating the British industry by distilling knowledge from veterans of the golden age of Hollywood animation. In partnership with Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival, these short films, animated sequences and commercials make evident Williams’ incalculable contribution to the quality and reputation of British animation. This wonderful programme demonstrates his mastery of his craft and includes:
Christmas Carol, Richard Williams/USA/1971/26 min
Circus Drawings, Richard Williams/UK/2010/9 min
The Little Island, Richard Williams/UK/1958/32 min
Love Me, Love Me, Love Me, Richard Williams/UK/1962/8 min
...and much more!"

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

With Neil Boyle's permission I'm re-posting his recent post about the just released “THE ANIMATOR’S SURVIVAL KIT” iPad app. His original post can be found HERE.

Animator's App. 

One of the most professionally rewarding - and happiest - two years I ever spent was working with legendary director/animator Richard Williams, and producer Mo Sutton, on 'The Animator's Survival Kit - Animated' DVD series, originally released in 2008.

When I started work on this project I had already worked with Dick Williams on commercials, and two feature films: Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Thief and the Cobbler; but more than any work I'd done before, these DVDs changed my approach to animation, and made me feel for the first time that I had a much stronger technical control over what I wanted to achieve in a scene. Animating actually became fun - a pleasurable challenge - rather than an endless, gut-twisting, sweat.

Building upon Dick's original book, we animated over 400 examples of the animator's craft, incuding timing and spacing, walks, runs, flexibility, overlapping action, weight, dialogue, and directing. Dick Williams and Mo Sutton have now taken 100 of these animated teaching examples and converted them for use as an App for the iPad. Also included in the App is a complete copy of the Expanded Edition of the Animator's Survival Kit book, and Dick's previously unreleased 9 minute animated film 'Circus Drawings'.

Sounds like a great package to me!

For more information on the App click HERE.
And here's a review on Anination Scoop.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Master Animator

Dick is profiled in the UK Guardian to promote the release of his Masterclass app

The big news:

"He and Mo are taking advantage of technical advances to digitally restore his archives. He is also working on a new "big film" ("the subtitle is: 'will I live to finish it'"). He says he is in excellent health despite a heart bypass operation a few years ago. As a thank you to his medical team, he animated some graffiti by Banksy – another Bristol artist – for his doctors to show at a medical conference. In it Banksy's masked rioter suffers a heart attack while throwing a bunch of flowers, "and my doctors said it was the most authentic heart attack they had seen. But I should also say that he gets better by the end of the cartoon."

An early beneficiary of the restoration programme is a film of circus performers, which Williams began when he was just 20, later put to music composed by a young Richard Rodney Bennett. "The great thing about digital is that it can open up the work in completely new ways, not least in terms of distribution. A long time ago I was asked by one of the great guys at Disney how I could survive without a Disney helping me. They knew that what they did would not have been possible without him, and it's true that I never did have a Disney and it's also true that I got screwed. If I did things again I would be wiser, but you get wise too late. I was so interested in the work that it blinded me to what was going on. And the work is just so damn fascinating you feel as if nothing else matters."

He is reluctant to say too much about what "the big film" is about – "we had so much publicity about The Thief and then it went wrong" – but says it is being made in chapters – "so if I do drop dead we will still have something" – and that a six minute prologue, which will be a short film in its own right, will soon be ready. "What I'm interested in is that nobody has been able to handle realism. It's just been embarrassing. So I'm doing graphic realism, these things are obviously drawings, but it will go into adult territory and will combine different styles. I want something that will be grim, but also funny and salacious and sexy. I can't tell you how excited I am by it. No one has been able to do this and I know that I can. All I need is some time and five or six assistants who can draw like hell."