Ivor Wood

Ivor Wood, who has died aged 72, was a central figure in the development of animated television programmes for children from The Magic Roundabout to Postman Pat - with many others along the way, including The Wombles and Paddington.
Born in Leeds of an Anglo-French mother and an English father, he moved with his parents to France soon after the second world war, when they took over the running of a small hotel in the mountains outside Lyon. From school, Ivor moved to Paris in order to study at the École des Beaux Arts. After completing his studies, he worked in a factory until joining La Comète, a company making television commercials, in 1963.

His work as a background artist there introduced him to the world of animation, which, in turn, led to his meeting Serge Danot, who was developing an idea called Le Manège Enchanté, first shown on French television in 1964, surfacing a year later before the BBC's early evening news as The Magic Roundabout, to great success.
It was through working with Danot that Ivor developed his skills in stop-frame puppet animation, a technique involving the use of fully jointed three-dimensional puppets which could be moved a fraction of an inch at a time. There was nothing particularly new in stop-frame animation itself. From the early flicker-books through to the sophisticated line drawings of Walt Disney, they all rely on persistency of vision; the simple fact that when film made that way is projected at the normal speed of 25 frames per second, it appears as a continuously moving picture.

It is a painstaking process: if genius is the infinite capacity for taking pains, then Ivor certainly qualified for the title. Multiply the number of frames per second by the total number of seconds in an episode, then add in the number of movements for each of the characters involved in the action, multiply that again by the number of episodes in a long series, and you arrive at an astronomical figure.

In 1965, I met Ivor through the BBC and Graham Clutterbuck of the production company FilmFair, and we began work on my stories for The Herbs. Ivor was still in Paris, working at home on the kitchen table, and he commuted regularly to London to seek approval for his puppets, each wonderfully detailed, but bearing the distinct family resemblance which was to become his hallmark.



Parsley the Lion (The Herbs) Episode


He soon moved to England, The Herbs were first broadcast in 1968, and then came a spin-off, a series of 32 five-minute programmes called The Adventures Of Parsley. Ivor's next major venture was Elizabeth Beresford's highly successful Wombles, narrated by Bernard Cribbins, and first televised in 1973.

By now busy with many projects for FilmFair, in 1975 Ivor came to see me with the news that, "To tell you the truth, I've been playing around with an idea for filming Paddington." When Ivor said "To tell you the truth ...", you knew that's what you were getting - the truth, pure and simple - and so I was very happy to realise my stories of the bear from Peru in a new medium with him.

His idea was to combine a three-dimensional puppet Paddington with two-dimensional cardboard backgrounds and supporting cast, with Paddington the one colourful character set against muted backgrounds, rather like an early Peter Brook stage set. It sounds simple now, but at the time it was a groundbreaking departure, and it worked.




The Herbs - Belladonna the Witch - Part 1



The Herbs - Belladonna the Witch - Part 2



Ivor also instinctively appreciated the value of using a narrator. It gave his films a feeling of warmth, much like the BBC Children's Hour on the radio, before the coming of television. Best of all, it allowed the viewer to be a party to the characters' innermost thoughts, where a lot of the humour lies. For Paddington, we were lucky enough to have the voice of Michael (later Sir Michael) Hordern.

They were happy days; not always carefree, but certainly fulfilling, and I always felt very privileged to be involved in it. In 1975, Ivor and his wife Josiane set up their own company, Woodland Animations, to concentrate on making series for the BBC; among them Gran (1982), Bertha (1985), and to crown their achievement, the hugely successful Postman Pat (1980-91). They sold the firm in 2001.

Not only children, but adults, too, will be the poorer for Ivor's death. He has bequeathed us a rich legacy of programmes that will continue to be shown for many years to come, all bearing his unique touch. To tell you the truth, that is a wonderful thing to have given the world.

He is survived by his wife and their son Sean.

· Ivor Wood, animator, born May 4 1932; died October 13 2004 (via)




Paddington



Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings - "Soldiersُ"




The Wombles



Gran - "Gran's Bike"



Gran - "Gran the Camper"


Había una vez, en 1963 para ser precisos, un animador inglés llamado Ivor Wood, que se unió a la compañía francesa de Serge Danot, a quien la televisión ORTF había encargado producir una serie para niños. Ivor había creado un muñeco. Era un perro de pelo largo sin patas, y se movía con ruedas que no estaban a la vista. El jefe de Ivor, Serge Danot, bautizó al perro "Pollux", y lo emplazó en el corazón de una peculiar serie de muñecos animados por la técnica del stop-motion que él mismo había creado en su propia casa, llamada "Le Manege Enchante". La serie se desarrollaba en un jardín encantado en el que había un tiovivo mágico.

Más tarde, Ivor Wood creó modelos para los clásicos de animación infantiles más duraderos, entre otros los favoritos de todos los tiempos "Paddington Bear" y "Postman Pat".

Cuando la BBC compró "Le Manege Enchante" para el Reino Unido, sufrió una fascinante transformación que dio como resultado la creación de uno de los clásicos más importantes de la televisión para niños. Eric Thompson (más tarde el padre de la actriz Emma Thompson) fue su narrador. No tradujo directamente el diálogo francés o los argumentos, sino que inventó su propia trama para encajar la rara acción de cada episodio.

De este modo, Pere Pivoine, con su sombrero alto y bigote naranja, se convirtió en el Sr. Rusty; Zebulon se convirtió en Zebedee, una caja sorpresa con poderes mágicos, y Flappy se transformó en Dylan.

En episodios posteriores, se introdujeron nuevos personajes que incluyen a Azalée, para nosotros Ermintrude, y Ambroise, alias Brian.

El estilo visual altamente original de Danot, combinado con los guiones sencillos, divertidos e ingeniosos de Thompson, tuvieron un impacto inmediato sobre el público. En un momento dado, el Tiovivo Mágico tuvo ocho millones de espectadores. Ninguna otra serie para niños logró una audiencia tan alta, ni tan siquiera de la mitad, y la serie llegó incluso a rivalizar con las noticias, el programa más visto del Reino Unido. Toda una generación de niños venera la memoria del Tiovivo Mágico, sus personajes y sus historias.

En 1991, Channel 4 descubrió un número de episodios originales que no habían pasado por el tratamiento de Eric Thompson, y las emitió con Nigel Planer como narrador. Nació entonces toda una nueva generación de fans; y asimismo, creó una gran ola de nostalgia en todos aquellos que vivieron las series en la década de los 60 y los 70.

Ahora, con la llegada de la película de animación, los fans del pasado y del futuro se podrán unir para adentrarse en este mundo mágico. Claro que se trata de una versión muy diferente a la de la serie de televisión original, ya que Eric Thompson es un genio imposible de imitar. Sin embargo, a su manera, la película intenta hacer honor al encanto, a la excentricidad y al sentido del humor británico de la serie de televisión original. (via)

wikipedia
imdb