Roy Naisbitt – technical layout artist extraordinaire

Roy Naisbitt’s specialty was technical animation.  He worked on ‘2001: A Space Odyssey‘ (1968).  Richard Williams Animation was doing the title sequence for ‘Charge of the Light Brigade‘ at the time and he needed somebody to animate a paddle-wheel ship engine.  His cameraman, Ted Gerald, was a water polo colleague of Roy’s and recommended him for the job.  Naisbitt went to a science museum, found a paddle-wheel engine and talked the museum into showing him how it worked.  He animated the engine over the period of a couple of weeks and Williams was delighted with the result.  (see 1m30s in following clip)  Naisbitt joined RWA in 1968.

Naisbitt took on a variety of assignments at RWA over the years, but between it all… and for many years… he worked on ‘The Thief (and the Cobbler‘ – designing and doing much of the ‘architectural stuff’ and the ‘War Machine’ sequence.  He became obsessed with the work – even doing the master ‘city drawing’ mainly on his own time at home.

Naisbitt did layout work for the opening Maroon cartoon in ‘Who framed Roger Rabbit.‘  Although Williams vacated the lease for his studio at 13 Soho Square, he leased a space at 138 Royal College St. during the production of Roger Rabbit.  It was only a couple of blocks away from The Forum.  Naisbitt spent much of his time there, working on ‘The Thief.‘  After the conclusion of production on ‘Who framed Roger Rabbit,‘ Williams leased The Forum to ramp up production on ‘The Thief.

Later, Naisbitt did layout at Amblimation on ‘Balto,‘ and later still, worked on ‘Space Jam.‘  Neil Boyle pulled Naisbitt out of retirement for his unique skills in layout – to work on Boyle’s wonderful animated short, ‘The Last Belle.’  It went even further with the distorted pan backgrounds Naisbitt had done for ‘The Thief‘ and ‘Who framed Roger Rabbit.’

Naisbitt has always been an avid swimmer.  He was part of a 4-person cross-Channel relay team in 2006, when he was 76-years-young.  He traveled with the Enfield Water Polo Club when it toured Hungary in July 2017 – 87-years-young at the time – and saw the Water Polo Worlds Championship in Budapest.  I happened to be transiting through London at the time and Roy hustled straight from the airport on his return from Hungary to meet me at the Edinboro Castle pub in Camden Town.  We enjoyed a few beers, closing down the pub, then toddling off to the Camden Town underground station.  We were going on different tube lines, but as Roy disappeared down the tiled corridor towards his underground tube line he seemed like he was inhabiting his own creation from ‘The Last Belle.‘  Roy and his sons are notorious at the pubs, and many a fellow drinker has found themselves ‘naisbitted.’


See the previous post (April 9, 2018) regarding Roy Naisbitt’s involvement with ‘2001: A Space Odyssey.

2001: A Space Odyssey