Harold Whitaker by John Halas – Page 2

Animal Farm.

A good number of other memorable productions followed with Harold Whitaker’s contribution. Here are just a few. The extremely expressive “Keystone Cops” chase in “History of the Cinema”. The brilliant fluidity of the Matador and the comic short¬sighted bull in “The Insolent Matador” (in the Habatales series). The charming characterisation of Santa Clause in “Christmas Visitor”. The smooth and agile character of Foo Foo in the series of the same name. The musicians in the musical satire “Symphony Orchestra” for “Tales of
Hoffnung”. The bouncy, dynamic wedding dance of Lord Ruddigore and the Bridesmaids in “Ruddigore”. The mischievous movement of Max and Moritz in the feature “Max and Moritz”. The regal gestures of Caeser in the feature film “Asterix” which was sub¬contracted to me by Idefix Studios. All these benefitted from Whitaker’s special skills in character animation. The tender gestures of the little girl and the abstract reactions of the skeleton in “Heavy Metal” were also examples of his art. His animation on the talking horse in the “Murraymint” guardsman has become a classic.

The Insolent Matador.

What does this skill contain, and how is it expressed? In the case of Harold Whitaker it is not one skill but a combination of many. His ability to convey human emotion is high on the list. Occasionally he may be criticised for overstating emotions beyond the necessity of the story content but to convey anger, excitement, anguish, delight, and all the range of emotions whether human or animal in a clear convincing manner is an achievement not too many animators are capable of. Such skills require these basic abilities:-

Foo Foo.

1. Observation of human character. Before one can convey the attitude of an animated figure, one must know it intimately to make it convincing on the screen.

2. It is no good animating such a figure in the form of a line and pushing it along in 2-dimensions. Even if a character is designed in abstract form it has to be animated in volume. The Italian animator, Cavandoli’s line drawings entitled “Line No. 1”, “Line No. 2” etc., of which he has made over 200 episodes, are animated as if they contained volume around the form of a simple line. Harold Whitaker knows how to make a movement live and how to structure a shape.

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