Art Babbitt: Richard Williams: Andreas Deja: Animators

Who animated the dancing mushrooms in Fantasia, Geppetto in Pinnochio, The Evil Queen in Snow White?

Who inspired, provided the knowledge for, the Richard Williams (The Thief and The Cobbler, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) text: The Animator's Survival Kit?

The animator's name is Art Babbitt. There is an interesting group of 4 YouTube clips that make up a documentary on Art. They also feature commentary by Richard Williams and Andreas Deja (Disney Character Animator at the time the doco was made).

If you are looking for animation gold in the documentary, go to the 4th clip and watch the 90 seconds from the 5:40 mark. There's footage of Babbitt critiquing a walk cycle and Williams talks about Babbitt making his class animate with stick figures. How it stripped the animation down to movement, robbing the more fancy draftspeople (including Williams) of the ability to hide behind lovely drawings. But it did, "Give you the structure to be an artist (animator)." I think Ian did this to us in the first few weeks of first year.

There's other gems amongst the gold. Like, "keep your eyes open and observe things... don't copy previous (animator's) work", let your observations inform your own work.

An interesting extra for 2nd years starting 3D animation: Richard Williams Master Class Notes


animation_student said...

"...don't copy previous (animator's) work", let your observations inform your own work.

Then Chuck Jones was quoted as saying, "You're crazy if you don't learn from others," and in particular reference to Disney animators of the 1930s - 40s, "I didn't know what else to do except study the people who came before me."

I guess, the key thing is that he didn't copy the Disney animators. Chuck just studied their techniques and made his own legend.

animation history nerd said...

The Animator's Survival Kit (2001) is the notes that were made when Art Babbitt came to teach Richard Williams some animation techniques in New York.

Williams closed down his studio for a month and had Babbitt lecture and teach his animators.

The book is now one of the most respected "How to" animation texts.

Other original Babbitt notes were freely in circulation until last year when Babbitt's widow decided to put them together as a book as well.

babbitt fan said...

He gave us "Goofy".

scamdog said...

Disney animation sucks

alonso post 11secondclub said...

"In 1973 Richard Williams suspended production in his London Studio for two months so his artists could retrain under Art and his Warner Bros. colleague Ken Harris. ... The notes from Art's London lectures became copied and recopied until they became the most widely read, if unpublished animation manual of all time."

(from … t-art.html and same thing … rt+Babbitt)

Ian said...

Great post Frank. :)

In the Thief and the Cobbler there is a solder character who staggers away from a battle with many arrows in his back and rides to the city to warn of the aproaching One Eye army. Its stunning animation and the character was totally animated by Art. LOVE IT!

Scamdog. Arts story is a great example of how even if you don't like a particular style of animation, you should ask if there is still anything you can learn from it. Arts Animation in the Thief and the Cobler was nothing like Disney animation, nor was the animation he did for the opening credits of the Pink Panther Movie, but he did it applying animation principles he learnt at Disney.

Ian said...

Andreas Deja still works at Disney, he is one of the few that point blank refused to go 3D and still kept his job (a hand full out of thousands). He worked on the new Goofy short that Disney made recently. In the brief period when Disney stopped doing theatrical release traditional he works on some of the sequels finishing up around the world. Including Bambi2 which was made in Sydney. I think he may have even visited the Aust studio a few times during the production.

When I went to Richards master class while working in Sydney he spoke with great affection about Art Babit. One great story was that Art was always very critical of Richards work, for many years. Then one day Richard had finished a complicated scene where Zig Zag was delivering a long monologue while shuffling a dec of cards, when Art came by and had a look. After watching it a few times he casually said something like, "you know I think you might actually be getting it. Your finally becoming an animator." Richard was so shaken he had to go and sit in the stair well for a while to let it sink in. By that stage Richard would have already been in his 40s at least, and he was (acording to one of the original masters) only then truely starting to understand. Puts our little 2 year course at southbank into perspective. Its really just the beggining of the students journey.

I love how Richard said he tried to teach the bones of it. Thats what I try to do too. Thats why in 2 years of study with me you will hardly see me concerning myself with the finished off stuff. Thats just the icing on the cake.

One last thing. To my great delight Art used the work "CRAFT" when summing up at the end. Ahh its like sweet music to my ears. You can write on my toombstone, "applied himself to his CRAFT"