38. Russ Edmonds
Russ Edmonds is one of the most underrated and best subtler acting animators of his generation. In the mid 1980s Edmonds attended the character animation program at Cal Arts with such giants in the industry as Tony Fucile, Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, and Rich Moore. His first break in the business was working with director Brad Bird on Family Dog alongside future Disney colleagues Duncan Marjoribanks and Chris Buck among others. In 1987 Edmonds joined the animation staff at Disney, which was then trying to reestablish itself as a dominant studio in the industry as well as a studio making highly successful work. Some of his first characters at Disney included Dodger in Oliver and Company, Max the dog in Mermaid, Cody in the Rescuers Down Under, and Phillip the horse in Beauty and the Beast. As Edmonds’s character went on farther his reputation greatly increased and he got assigned more important roles such as Sarabi in the Lion King, Captain Phoebus in the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Kala in Tarzan. In 2003 Russ left the studio and with his wife Angela started Edmonds Studios near the Bay area inNorthern California. Since he has returned to Disney where he is still animating today.
The two main aspects of Russ Edmonds’s animation are his subtle acting and his fluidity of movement. Many animators go for more movement and emphasized acting in the scenes that have the character in a strong emotional state. Not Russ though. He goes for the way that is most believable and sincere even if it isn’t as flashy as the work of some other animators and is more restrained. If you study his rough drawings you’ll notice that he uses thick pencils but that he touches the paper very softly and puts great care in communicating the feeling that is going on inside the character he’s animating. Subtlety and understanding the character relationship are two ofEdmonds’s greatest gifts and two virtues ignored by quite a few animators and students. They are very important however in sincerity and making the scene believable. Russ’s animation always feels very natural and fulfilling to watch because of his mild-approach to animating. Another thing that’s important about his work is his fluidity in the movement of his characters. Like I said before he usually chooses to go more for the laid back way rather than the extreme poses and emphasized acting.
Russ Edmonds’s impact comes in that he is one of the best animators in his generation at subtle acting and sincerity. Of course Glen Keane and Mark Henn were instrumental and crucial in the return of this type of animation to Disney animation but Edmonds was certainly one of the first in the group to follow their lead and practice that form of acting in animation. He also like I said before is one of the animators in his generation with the best understanding of the character relationship and in having fluid movement in his work. These aspects have propelled Russ Edmonds into the spot of one of the elite animators of his time.
What inspires me most about Russ Edmonds is his acting and feeling in his work. Like I said above subtlety is one of the secret ingredients of great animation and something an animator must master to be truly great. Sincerity, believability, and communication are in my mind the three most important aspects of great animation, all ones thatEdmondsis a master of. I also study Russ’s work for fluid movement and his versatility. He can animate in many different styles and types of characters. Studying the work of great animators like him is how I learn great animation and I think that more people should study such underrated talents. Thank you Russ Edmonds for the great work and being a great inspiration to me.
Oliver and Co.- Animator on Oliver and Dodger
Little Mermaid- Lead Animator on Max the dog
Rescuers Down Under- Supervising Animator on Cody
Beauty and the Beast- Supervising Animator on Phillip the horse
Aladdin- Animator on Aladdin(including much of him in Prince Ali)
Lion King- Supervising Animator on Sarabi and Cub Simba
Hunchback of Notre Dame- Supervising Animator on Captain Phoebus
Tarzan- Supervising Animator on Kala
Atlantis- Supervising Animator on Vinny
Home on the Range- Supervising Animator on Rico, Willies, and Horses
Princess and the Frog- Animator on Naveen and Lead Animator on Marcel and Stella
Winnie the Pooh- Animator