The Art Babbitt Classical Animation Course

Introduction

The Richard Williams Animation studio in London has now won a grand total of 212 International Awards, mostly for their TV commercials, but Williams wants his 40 artists and technicians to take their craft much further. To that end, one of the all-time master craftsmen of animation, Art Babbitt, began a one month animation course at the studio on 20th August. For three hours each morning, he is addressing the fundamental principals, mechanics and rules of classical character animation – and how to break them. He is also setting daily homework assignments, which experience has shown can produce startling results in a very short period.

This is the third time such a course has been run at the studio, the previous ones being in ‘73 and ‘75. Art Babbitt has been working in Richard Williams’ Hollywood studio since 1977, where he spends most of his time animating the character of King Nod, ruler of the Golden Land in Williams’ feature The Thief Who Never Gave tip. The studio is also sponsoring Art’s forthcoming book “The A to Z of the Animator’s Craft”, which he has been compiling for the past 50 years.

Art Babbitt wrote comprehensive introduction notes for the first animation course at the Richard Williams’ Studio and they are being used again on this one. This course outline contains lots of helpful advice to the budding animator and much food for thought. They could also be used as a guide to self study.

The Animation Course Introduction Notes

By Art Babbitt

Animation – General Remarks

The layman is unaware of the fact that a motion picture is actually a succession of still pictures that create the illusion of constant movement.

When a film is projected there is a fraction of an instant between pictures when our “retention of vision” fills the gap. The movement we think we see is fluid – in reality, it’s spastic.

Few of us are aware that animated drawings simulated movement before the motion picture camera and projector were invented.

I have no intention of elaborating on the history of animation (that has been taken care of ‘ad nauseam’). My function is to concentrate on the medium itself.

Our craft is still in its infancy – to call it an art is a wishful exaggeration. We are barely learning to stumble on stage … and a whole world of action, acting, design, caricature, humour and story telling awaits us. Our field is wide open; it has barely been touched.

Storyboard sketch for "Moving Day", 1936. Copyright Walt Disney.

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