Show 025 – James Baxter, Part Three

James Baxter

“It’s still really intriguing for me to see the trick happen, to see things come to life. That has not got boring.”

The interview concludes with part three as James Baxter talks about learning from the old masters, what inspires him, and his experiences on films from Beauty and the Beast through Madagascar. James was the supervising animator of Belle, Rafiki, Quasimodo, Spirit, and director of the animation for Enchanted. This is part three of a three part interview.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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

Get the MP3 here: Show 25: James Baxter, Part Three
Animation Podcast Show 25 MP3(25.7MB, 55:39 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 25: James Baxter, Part Three
Animation Podcast Show 25 Enhanced(26.3MB, 55:39 minutes)


  • 00:00 The Intro Voice
  • 00:05 Welcome & Thanks for 25 Episodes!
  • 01:11 Sponsored by –
  • 01:28 Welcome & Thanks for 25 Episodes!
  • 01:46 The Animation Podcast Swag Shop – Link to Shop
  • 02:24 New blog section – Q & A
  • 02:24 Advertise on The Animation Podcast – Contact form
  • 02:55 Intro – James Baxter Animation
  • 03:22 Studying animation voraciously – reading The Illusion of Life
  • 04:30 Learning from past masters
  • 05:21 Supervising at a young age
  • 07:49 Philosophy on supervising
  • 10:06 Who inspires James today
  • 11:53 Creating original performances in animation
  • 14:21 The potential for traditional animation
  • 17:49 Teaching interns – starting with fundamentals
  • 19:28 Looking deeper in to the twelve points of animation
  • 20:43 Beauty and the Beast
  • 21:32 Quitting Disney and going to Passion Pictures
  • 23:29 Supervising Rafiki on Lion King
  • 26:20 Designing The Hunchback of Notre Dame characters with Tony Fucile
  • 28:04 The Ronald Searle influence on Hunchback
  • 28:43 Supervising on Quasimodo
  • 29:29 Going to Dreamworks – The Prince of Egypt
  • 34:17 El Dorado
  • 35:41 Spirit – learning to animate horses
  • 39:51 Sinbad
  • 41:19 Shrek & Shrek 2
  • 43:00 Things learned from CG
  • 48:21 Madagascar
  • 48:54 Starting a studio – James Baxter Animation
  • 51:22 Closing comments
  • 52:12 Conclusion
  • 52:31 Feedback info – Email Clay
  • 52:50 Voicemail – Link to Voicemail
  • 55:02 The Animation Podcast Swag Shop – Link to Shop
  • 55:08 Sponsored by –

  • 55:23 Closing

21 Comments on “Show 025 – James Baxter, Part Three

  1. Awesome. I have been hanging out for this one. Haha I’m wearing my Animation Podcast shirt today too. Good timing.

  2. Thanks so much! I’ve been waiting so patiently for this! I’m loving this interview. Keep up the good work, Clay!

  3. Thanks a million for this. James’ has been yet another wonderful and inspirational guest and his words about “regretting if he didn’t try” really struck a chord with me. It may be a bit late in the day, but I’m going to work hard try and get back into animation. :)

    Your podcast is always the highlight of my day/week/month and really looking forward to the next one.

  4. Thx Clay for all the work you doing!

    I am not a gifted artist but I still like to do 3d and animation stuff for fun as a hobbiest!
    And when I am down your podcasts are allways lifting me up!
    So again, thx man!

  5. Been listening to your podcast since last summer, and i think its grseat and I really appreciate all the work your doing.

    thank you

  6. I really enjoyed this last part of the interview. The talk about quadruped animation brought up some thoughts/questions. Is animating a quadruped something animators enjoy or is it kind of scary to enter into? Is there a typical character type that more animators are interested in taking on on projects, build as opposed to personality. Then I was reminded of the dumpy horse in Sleepy Hollow and how much I’ve always loved that character. Who animated that horse anyway? Whoever worked on it really seemed to understand horse anatomy and how to bend it into a non realistic creature.

  7. Thanks so much Clay, your podcasts really keep me going and make me want to get as good as I can. I’m in my last year in college in Ireland and if it wasn’t for these podcast I donβ€šΓ„Γ΄t think I would try to push my self as much because these podcast have made me really think about my animation. You are doing such a great service for animation and I hope you will never stop.

    PS. I think it would be interesting to some how have an interview of yourself some day by some one else or maybe some thing like the splinedoctors round table with other people you work with. I would really love to hear your thoughts on animation. I like how you some time say what you think in interviews but now that you are becoming a supervising animator, you yourself are up there with the people you interview and I’m sure you got a lot to say.

    Thanks for giving use these wonderful interviews

  8. (I’m having a little difficulty posting, so hope this one shows up)

    Thanks Clay… and thanks to your wife for helping to keep the show going. πŸ˜‰ I’m really enjoying the show, it’s an inspiration, and don’t get tired of listening to past episodes again and again. Jame’s words about regretting if he didn’t try the things he wants to do really struck a chord.

  9. These podcasts are always soooo amazing to listen to. Great job Clay… so glad you are sponsoded by AM. I’m a student there in my third term and your podcast seems to go hand and hand with that school. And being sponsoded should help keep these podcasts coming out. Keep up the amazing work!!!


  10. Awesome work your doing. Thank you so much from Iceland!


  11. I’ve been listening to this james baxter interview, and enjoying it. There’s just so much info! But thanks for posting it.

  12. It just keeps getting better and better. Great interview!

    James is an awesome animator. Of course, I knew that back while working on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” What a pleasure to work with a new generation of great animators.

    Keep up the great work, Clay!

  13. Greetings. I have currently heard this final sequence of you interview with the marvelous James Baxter, and it was absolutely magnificent! Are you fimiliar with an animator named Phil Duncan? He was one of the animators who was involved with Disney features including Bambi, Cinderella, and Fantasia, in addition to partaking as supervising animator on an animated film titled Watership Down (1978), which is based on the book by Richard Adams. Is that animator still in existance? Because I am absolutely curious if he used any inspiration from animating Bambi while he was working Watership Down. I earnestly hope you appreciate my comments.

    Ryan Hightower

    P.S.: Have you found out anything about John Lounsbery in regards to that question I asked about him animating Bruno from Disney’s Cinderella?

  14. this is excellent, you really inspire me man! thanks for the interview.

    please check out my work if you get a chance

  15. Hey, something I heard in the James Baxter interview was the phrase “You can’t draw your own ass!” as quoted from Mr. Williams. Clay then referred to it as a really dated animation term… I’m just wondering what on earth it means!

  16. Hi Brenna, it basically means he couldn’t draw at all. A slightly more coarse way to put it is “You can’t draw for s**t!”. My grandfather used to talk like that. πŸ˜›

  17. Liz, thanks for the reply. You put it better than I could have (I guess from grandfather experience). I’ve also heard the opposite “He could draw his ass!” which means someone drew very well. It still cracks me up but it’s definitely something I’ve never heard a contemporary animator say.

  18. Thanks guys! I was wondering if it was as simple as that or something strange and more bizarrely derived that I just wasn’t getting.