Friday, April 30, 2021

Roy Naisbitt



Roy Naisbitt died on Sunday, April 26, 2021. He was 90 years old. He
was the art director on the Thief, a master layout designer, scene
planning wizard and a main collaborator of Richard Williams since the
early sixties. A genius at his work, he was also most kind, patient
and generous.

Not restrained by the limitations of classical three dimensional
space, his 2D flights of fancy, by ignoring reality and bending the
art of camera moves to his own unfathomable logic, have given the
world some of the most incredible rollercoaster rides in animation
history. With him has gone a unique way of seeing the world, and
translating it into moving shapes.

As far as I (Dietmar) am concerned, I learned almost everything there
was to learn for me about Layout and traditional Animation in the time
when I had the privilege to meet Roy. I remember the Saturday mornings
with fresh rolls from an Indian takeaway especially fondly - just
talking about everything and anything in the (animation) world. There
was just one thing he could never make me comprehend - and that was
the rules of Cricket. Goodbye Roy, you will be missed.

I (Holger) saw Roy sometimes at the Kentish Town pool where I would go
for a swim before work. In the pool Roy's appearance transformed, he was
way more athletic than he came across in "normal" life. Broad
shoulders, swim goggles, looking really cool. During the time it took
me to swim from one end to the other he would pace back and forth 3
times. A very powerful swimmer. Once he invited me to join him for a
swim at an outdoor pool in Hampstead Heath. It was not during the
summer, the water of the showers felt very cold. Roy jumped in and I
followed. It was like jumping into ice. Instant headache. I was out
again in a second and the shower now felt warm by comparison. While I
was getting dressed and recovering he kept going and finished his routine. The ice-like water didn't seem to affect him at all. I was not surprised many years later when I heard about him swimming through the
English Channel.

He will be very much missed by us and everyone who worked in the
London animation scene.

Andreas, Dietmar, Holger and Michael

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


In memory of Richard Williams who passed away last week aged 86 his collaborator Russell Hall passed this statement along to Theresa Edwards on the 2D UK Animation People Facebook page.

'Russell Hall has asked me to post some words from him in tribute to Dick Williams:

I was very saddened to hear of Dick’s death last Friday.
By good luck I joined his studio in Soho Square in the Trace and Paint department in 1972 as the production of ‘A Christmas Carol ‘ was coming to a close.
With Dick’s encouragement ( he was always good to me) I rapidly progressed as assistant to veteran Road Runner animator Ken Harris, who spent his summers in Soho Square working on Dick’s brilliant but ill fated unfinished masterpiece ‘The Thief and the Cobbler’. Those were exciting days. Apart from Ken, Dick gathered up Disney Fantasia veteran and teacher Art Babbitt; Animation pioneer Grim Natwick ( Betty Boop and Snow White) ; New Yorker cartoonist Roland B. Wilson; Animation genius Roy Naisbitt - fresh from Kubrick’s ‘2001’ and great animator Dick Purdum. Dick Williams presence was extraordinary, always encouraging, aiming for perfection, a superb animator, amazing draftsman, a great teacher with enormous generosity and incredible stamina, he always seemed indestructible.
We all honed our skills with commercials and I was finally privileged to work on the first animation of the cobbler ( a character based on me) in ‘The Thief and the Cobbler’ and then to animate Jessica Rabbit in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ by which time the Soho Square studio has closed and I, along with Carol who had started as Dick’s assistant and become his producer and who I had been with from the early days of our time at Dick’s, started our own company. Hardly a day goes by without thinking of those days and we are enormously grateful for the time spent in Soho Square.
Thanks Dick -
I am a bit sad that Dick will be remembered mostly for the remarkable ‘Roger Rabbit’ when it should be for his own ‘The Thief and the Cobbler’ and his other personal projects and short films which he achieved with such ingenuity and economy.
I am so glad that he found great happiness with his wife Imogen. Carol and I are both thinking of her and all Dick’s children at this sad time.'


Aardman Animation, where Dick was based the last few years, made a touching tribute on social media:

'Our dear friend, Richard Williams was a jewel in the crown of British animation. He was always a joy to be with, inspiring and keen to pass on his wealth of knowledge to the next generation. Dick's enthusiasm was infectious, and will be greatly missed at Aardman.'

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

More from the Academy archive...

Tomm Moore, co-founder and director at Ireland's Cartoon Saloon, unearthed some treasure on a recent visit to the Academy in Los Angeles. (Re-posted with his permission from Facebook)
"Visited the Academy archives today to sign some forms in relation to donating some Song of the Sea artwork and ended up spending hours just in awe of the original artwork from the Thief and the cobbler that they are cataloging currently . Just mind boggling and awe inspiring stuff . I'm so amazed I got to see the originals after so many years squinting at fuzzy vhs copies and online restorations . It felt like visiting The Book of Kells, this is surely the most elaborate and intricate hand drawn animation ever created - I'm so glad the art is getting the academy's careful curation after so many years in the wilderness."






























See more storyboards from 'The Brigands' seq. here








Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Thief production artwork unearthed



This is an interesting development: Miramax has donated production artwork (thousands of cels, background art etc.) to the Academy and ASIFA has donated a substantial sum to curate the material. I'd love to get a look at this next year when it is opened to researchers.

Read the story here

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Screening at MOMA next month



'The Thief & the Cobbler' will screen in NYC at MOMA next month with Richard Williams talking to John Canemaker. Details here

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Good piece on Dick and Mo, the new film and a look back at career highlights from the Toronto Star site


Friday, November 20, 2015

Interview with Tahsin (Tash) Özgür

I just came across this interview with animator Tahsin (Tash) Özgür.

Tash 2015 Interview

In 2008 I talked to him about his work on the Thief:

The Dying Messenger, Part 1

The Dying Messenger, Part 2

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

25th Anniversary at the Star and Garter

Thanks to Michael and Sharon for organizing it and letting me stay at their amazing house. Thanks to everyone who showed up. It was a blast.
More pictures to follow, I am sure - for now a little taste thanks to Simon Maddocks