Show 024 – James Baxter, Part Two

James Baxter

“That’s probably the hardest part, I think, is to be able to capture that lightening in a bottle and, you know, to be able to take that moment of inspiration and for the next week or two weeks maintain that spontaneity.”

Part two of the interview continues with James Baxter, supervising animator of Belle, Rafiki, Quasimodo, Spirit, and director of the animation for Enchanted. The conversation goes in to deeper detail regarding the technical aspects and processes James applies to his animation and acting – a must-listen for any animators looking to improve their workflow and craft. This is part two of a three part interview.


Continue for Show Notes, audio file download links, and comments…

Get the MP3 here: Show 24: James Baxter, Part Two
Animation Podcast Show 24 MP3(19.6MB, 42:14 minutes)

Or get the enhanced version playable only with Quicktime, iTunes, or iPods.
(Includes pictures and links in addition to the audio.)
Get the enhanced podcast here: Show 24: James Baxter, Part Two
Animation Podcast Show 24 Enhanced(17.7MB, 42:14 minutes)


  • 00:00 Sponsor

  • 00:17 Intro – James Baxter Animation
  • 01:18 Planning animation
  • 04:25 Timing out action
  • 08:12 The first phase of animating a shot
  • 09:52 Tying down pass
  • 12:49 More on first scribble pass
  • 15:50 Finishing up, including overlap
  • 18:03 Transitioning to CG
  • 20:33 Drawing and the trickery of animation
  • 23:11 Planning animation in CG
  • 24:33 Analyzing acting and movement
  • 29:46 Acting in animation
  • 31:38 The perfect animator
  • 33:46 Acting stuff out
  • 38:09 Different schools of acting
  • 41:34 Conclusion
  • 41:45 Feedback info – Link to Voicemail
  • 41:52 Sponsor

  • 42:04 Closing

21 Comments on “Show 024 – James Baxter, Part Two

  1. Suuuuuu-perb stuff! Cheers Clay! Can’t wait for Part 3…

  2. I think this is my favorite episode so far. Thanks Clay and James 🙂

  3. Hi Clay, this is Fantastic! Thanks so much to you and James.

    Listening to James when he mentions his gesticulating mid-podcast got me wondering whether you would ever consider doing a ‘vid-cast’?

    Would be great to see the interview for any gestures that may be helpful to the explanations of techniques etc… you could still have the chapter headers and images come in when neccessary.

    I know you do a lot of work to produce these podcasts as is, and adding video may just be too much of an overhead, but I thought I would mention the idea anyway as it could be interesting.

    Thanks again for all your superb work!

  4. It’s just what i needed. great timing. and great interview.

  5. Once again, great great interview Clay. I like how casual and loose your meetings are, I think it gives a nice feel of how these animation legends think and act. Actually, most of them seem like they’re really cool guys 🙂

    Keep up the good work.

  6. Ahhh the perfect thing to get me inspired for the rest of the day!!! This site is truly a wonderful thing =) Great work Clay!

  7. I really really enjoyed the information on how animators may think through the acting/action of a scene. I hadn’t thought about it so literally before.

  8. Fantastic! I was just looking for workflow information. I can’t thank you enough for what you’re doing Clay. I know you’re busy, but don’t forget to check your email every once in a while.

  9. Great stuff, Clay and James. Thank you! To illustrate some of what gets talked about in the interview, I’ve put up some clips of Jack Lemmon today. There’s a nice scene from The Apartment that James used in a talk on Secondary Action, plus a scene from The Odd Couple.

  10. Great listen as always!
    James mentioned that he doesnt do alot of drawing outside of work and I’m wondering how he could pull off animating these difficult scenes with complex human leads w/o doing alot tons of figure drawing.
    Thats just crazy to me!

  11. Wow, this was my favorite episode yet. Huge thanks to you Clay and all your interviewee’s. Fantastic

  12. Cheers Clay and James,

    One of the best podcasts ever – I listened to it on my way to work and was really inspired. Thank you!

  13. Another cool podcast! Lots of technical talk which I’m not sure I understand. I’ve always wondered how animators work with timing a scene out and how they space the movements. Is the X sheet used for this?

    I’m really interested in doing some little animation experiments, is there a software or method you’d recommend?


  14. Wow! These Baxter ones are incredible. They both have already been a huge help. What was most interesting to me is how he seems to approach the rough animation more as some sort of planning stage. So far I’d always approached it as really the animating part, with afterwards mainly “tracing” the rough pass. For my shortfilm now, I wanted to experiment with animating more intellectually, with more realistic drawings, and thus skipping the rough stage. It brought me in difficult situations, both with my work and with my mentor, who preferred me to work rough first. But the way James explains it here makes the rough fase more like a tool of the animation process, rather than almost being the whole animation process itself (with another mainly drawing pass coming after). And it opens my eyes to ways I could use that rough pass even for this particular project.

    Can’t wait for part 3!

    Oh, and I say no to a vid-cast. Maybe once in a while one would be okay, but not everyone has a video ipod, and I prefer to listen away from the computer. And on my bike even a video ipod wouldn’t work ^^. Also, I just prefer more sound-only rather than fewer with video.

    Thanks for all the effort you put in these podcasts!

  15. Animators talking about animation!
    Thanks for giving these amazing artists a voice!

  16. Another fantastic podcast… and with James Baxter no less! Once again thank you for putting this together Clay.

    It’s always strangely inspiring to hear the difficulties even the best animators go through in the beginning.

  17. I’ve listened to this podcast alot while working my own animation. Its inspiring to hear an expert talk about his craft so thoughtfully. Thanks for putting these online.