Sunday, 25 November 2012

Mr Naisbitt's Amazing Brain!

Here's a lovely new post from 'The Thief and the Cobbler' blog featuring a piece of Roy Naisbitt's work from the movie of the same name:  CLICK HERE

As well as creating layout artwork, Roy created a bunch of amazing cardboard contraptions over the years, some of which really ought to belong in a museum of cinema curiosities; all of them beautifully elegant solutions to the limitations of the pegbars on a rostrum camera (and in those pre-digital days everything had to work physically under the camera lens). I remember working all night with Richard Williams and Roy, trying to get a shot for The Thief ready for the camera by 9 a.m. the next morning... at about 3 a.m. I realised that there weren't enough panning pegs in the shot to keep all the separate artwork levels moving in correct perspective and registration, and I sank my head into my hands and felt like sobbing in defeat. Roy gave me a hearty slap on the back, and told me not to worry, he'd sort something out. And over the next few hours, fuelled by a few cups of coffee, he created an amazing 'floating pegbar' system with a few sheets of cardboard, a scalpel and sticking tape. It was entirely different to the system detailed in the link above, a completely bespoke solution to the problem of that particular shot. The artwork went down to camera at the appointed time, and was shot successfully first take.

Not the last time Roy was to save my bacon.

Roy (in the foreground) talking cameraman John Leatherbarrow through his
elaborate Last Belle background layouts. The rostrum camera stand is lit and
ready to shoot in the background.


  1. I wonder if Roy learned to problem solve like this from his carpentry days. Carpenters are forever making different jigs to make special or repeatable cuts. Seems like an extension of the same thinking.

  2. That's a good point Aaron. I'm convinced that Roy's earlier carpentry days have had a huge effect on his animation work in so many ways. To my eyes it's particularly evident in his layouts for the 'war machine' sequence in The Thief and the Cobbler: all that mechanical stuff was correctly constructed (despite the deliberate isometric perspective)so it could really work. Roy once showed me some small models he'd made from Meccano (not sure if it's called the same name in other countries, but it was strips of metal -plastic nowadays- with holes drilled along it, and a selection of nuts and bolts, etc. to join it all together with), and with this stuff he figured out how things rotated, and how pistons connected, and all sorts of stuff before he'd sit down to draw the design onto paper. A wonderful hybrid of 2D and 3D thinking.

    And when he wasn't drawing all this wonderful stuff he'd probably be down in the basement at Richard Williams' studio building the shelving that the film cans were stored on..! He built a lot of that kind of stuff on the side. Amazing man.