British stop-motion animator Dave Borthwick, a director of the feature films The Magic Roundabout (2005) and Doogal (2006), died this past week in Bristol, England, cartoon historian Jerry Beck said Thursday morning.
His age was not immediately available.
Borthwick, co-founder of Bristol’s bolexbrothers studios with Dave Alex Riddett in the early 1980s, died of pneumonia after his health had been failing for a while, Beck quoted stop-motion character animator Tom Gasek as saying.
Known as The Magic Roundabout in the United States, the 2005 movie was originally titled Sprung! The Magic Roundabout in Britain.
He conceived, directed, wrote and even edited 1993’s The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb. Based on an award-winning 10-minute pilot, it was a 61-minute film combining 3-D model animation with an innovative use of pixilation –the technique of animating human actors frame by frame. The film was the first major production for the bolexbrothers.
“Pixilation is no small task for actors,” he said of Tom Thumb. A movement or expression that lasts for, say, five seconds on screen could take three or four hours to shoot.”
He won several awards for The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb: the Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Technical/Artistic Achievement, the Critics’ Award — Special Mention at Fantasporto, the International Fantasy Film Award for Best Director, and the Best Director award at the Sitges — Catalonian International Film Festival.
Bolexbrothers specializes in stop frame and pixilation. Following a decade of producing short films and commercials, it was focusing its efforts on a full-length feature, Grass Roots: The Movie, at the time of Borthwick’s death. The film was a clay-animated adaptation of Gilbert Shelton’s underground comic The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
Borthwick worked on such animated shorts as Valhalla (1986), The Saint Inspector (1996), Keep in a Dry Place and Away from Children (1998) and Little Dark Poet (1999) as an executive producer, editor or consultant. He appeared as himself on “Visions of Childhood,” a episode of the 2005 documentary TV series Animation Nation.
Bolexbrothers also produced animated commercials for such clients as Coca-Cola’s Fanta, Legos, Weetabix, Carlsberg, Nestea, Budweiser, Scotland against Drugs and Boots.
Borthwick was nominated for a CableACE Award for Editing a Documentary Special or Series in connection with the 1991 special LifePulse, which aired on Disney Channel.