Saturday, February 7, 2015

Phil Robinson RIP

One of Phil Robinson's creations, Erin Esurance.
Phil Robinson, the animator perhaps best known for co-founding the animation studio WildBrain, died on January 28 2015 after a three year struggle with pancreatic cancer.

Phil Robinson was born in Wales and attended Southampton College of Art in Hampshire. He began his animation career working on the feature The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (1976). In the late Seventies he also worked on such projects as the TV productions Heinz Rühmann erzählt Max und Moritz von Wilhelm Busch and Wilhelm Busch - Die Trickfilm-Parade: Max und Moritz und andere Streiche as well as the Hanna-Barbera TV series Scooby's Laff-A Lympics.

In the Eighties Mr. Robinson worked as an animator on the features Heavy Metal (1981) and The Plague Dogs (1982). He worked in various capacities on the TV shows SuperTed, Sealbert, The Bluffers, Snorks, The Flintstone Kids, Yogi's Treasure Hunt, Fantastic Max, The New Yogi Bear Show, and The Dream Stone. He worked as a storyboard artist on the TV shows Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats, Moon Dreamers, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. He worked as a visual effects animator on the feature film Howard the Duck. It was in the late Eighties that he was put in charge of  Hanna-Barbera's overseas operation, Fil-Cartoons, in Manila, Philippines.

He returned to San Francisco, California in the early Nineties where he worked as a director at Colossal Pictures. There he directed commercials for such clients as Apple and Cinnamon Cheerios, Carl’s Jr., and Cap’n Crunch. He also directed an episode of the animated TV series Back to the Future and worked as an animator on the feature film Casper (1995). It was in 1994 that he co-founded WildBrain with  John Hays and Jeff Fino. At WildBrain he directed the direct-to-video feature FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue (1998), as well as the cel animation for the feature The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000).

In 2001 Phil Robinson directed the award winning short "Hubert's Brain", on which he also worked as a storyboard artist. WildBrain came into its own in the Naughts, producing commercials for Lamisil and Kraft Lunchables. Perhaps their most lasting creation would be Erin Esurance, the sexy superspy in commercials for Esurance from 2004 to 2010. In 2009 Phil Robinson and the other original founders left WildBrain. Mr. Robinson formed  Special Agent Productions with producer Amy Capen. Special Agent would continue with the Erin Esurance commercials, as well as the Lamisil commercial featuring Digger the Dermatophyte.

Phil Robinson had a career in animation spanning nearly forty years. During his career he worked at several different studios, and co-founded two studios (WildBrain and Special Agent) of his own. He was very talented, not only creating a good deal of memorable animation in TV shows and feature films, but also creating some of the most memorable commercials of the Nineties and the Naughts. Despite moving onto other advertising campaigns, to this day Esurance is identified with Erin Esurance, the superspy Phil Robinson helped create. From those who worked with Mr. Robinson it is reported that he was a warm, kind, and patient human being with a great sense of humour. While Phil Robinson may not be a household name, he will always be remembered by fans of animation.

1 comment:

Toby O'B said...

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