Halas, John, and Joy Batchelor

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HALAS. Animator. Nationality: Hungarian. Born: Janos Halasz in Budapest, 16 April 1912. Family: Married Joy Batchelor in late 1930s. Career: 1928–31—apprentice to George Pal; early 1930s—spent 18 months in Paris, returned to Budapest and taught at Atelier, graphic design school; 1934—opened first animation studio, Halas, Macskasi and Kassowitz; 1936—moved to England; 1970—elected president of International Council of Graphic Design Associations (ICOGRADA); 1975—president of International Animated Film Association (ASIFA); also chairman of the Federation of Film Societies; and contributing editor and film/TV correspondent to Novum (Munich); 1982—produced the world's first fully digitized film, Dilemma. Died: 21 January 1995.

BATCHELOR. Animator. Nationality: British. Born: Watford, Hertfordshire, England, 12 May 1914. Career: 1935—began working in films as artist; 1937—hired as designer and animator to work on The Music Man; 1973—retired but continued to act as adviser to animation students at International Film School, London. Died: 1991.

1940—Halas & Batchelor Cartoon Films formed; 1940–45—made numerous information and propaganda films for British government; 1951–54—produced only feature-length British cartoon, Animal Farm, based on George Orwell novel; 1968—Halas & Batchelor bought by Trident Television; Batchelor and Halas concentrated on individual projects working through their other company, Educational Film Centre; from 1968 to 1972 not responsible for films produced by Halas & Batchelor production company; 1974—Halas & Batchelor sold back to Halas after losing money for corporation.

Films as Directors:


The Music Man (co-anim, Halas only d)


Train Trouble (+ co-pr, anim); Carnival in the Clothes Cupboard (+ co-pr, co-des, co-anim)


Filling the Gap (+ co-pr, co-sc, co-anim); Dustbin Parade (+ co-pr, co-sc, co-des, co-anim)


Digging for Victory (+ co-pr, co-sc, co-anim; des: Batchelor)


Jungle Warfare (+ co-pr, co-des, co-anim)


Handling Ships (feature) (Halas only pr, co-d, des, anim)


Modern Guide to Health (+ co-pr, co-des; sc: Batchelor); Old Wives' Tales (+ co-pr, co-des; sc: Batchelor)


First Line of Defence (+ co-pr, co-sc); This Is the Air Force (+ co-pr, co-sc); What's Cooking? (+ co-pr, co-des; sc: Batchelor); Dolly Put the Kettle On (+ co-pr, co-des; sc: Batchelor)


Oxo Parade (+ co-pr, co-des; sc: Batchelor); Magic Canvas (co-pr only; Halas: d, sc, co-des); Water for Firefighting (feature) (Halas only co-d); Heave Away My Johnny (+ co-pr, co-sc)


The Shoemaker and the Hatter (+ co-pr, co-sc, co-des); Submarine Control (co-d with Privett and Crick; pr: Crick); Fly about the House (+ co-pr, co-des; sc: Batchelor)


Earth in Labour (Halas only: d, co-pr, co-sc)


Moving Spirit (Halas: co-d, co-pr; Batchelor: co-sc)


The Owl and the Pussycat (stereoscopic) (Halas only: co-d, pr, co-sc); Linear Accelerator


Animal Farm (feature, begun 1951) (+ co-pr, co-sc, co-des)


The World of Little Ig (Halas: d, co-pr; Batchelor: sc, co-pr); The Candlemaker (Halas: co-d, pr; Batchelor: co-d, co-sc)


History of the Cinema (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc, co-des); Midsummer Nightmare (only co-pr, co-sc; Halas: d, co-des)


The First Ninety-Nine (co-pr only; Batchelor: d, co-sc); The Christmas Visitor (only co-pr, co-sc; Halas: d); Dam the Delta (+ Batchelor: sc); Early Days of Communication (Halas only: d, co-pr)


Man in Silence (Halas only: co-d); All Lit Up (+ co-pr; Batchelor: sc); Piping Hot (+ co-pr; Batchelor: sc); For Better for Worse (+ co-pr; Batchelor: sc)


Wonder of Wool (Halas only: d, pr)


Hamilton the Musical Elephant (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc); Hamilton in the Musical Festival (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc)


Barnaby—Father Dear Father (co-pr only; Halas: d, co-des); Barnaby—Overdue Dues Blues (co-pr only; Halas: d, co-des)


Automania 2000 (only co-pr, co-sc; Halas: d); The Axe and the Lamp (Halas only: d, pr)


Ruddigore (feature) (co-pr only; Batchelor: d, sc)


ICOGRADA Congress (live-action) (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc); Dying for a Smoke (Halas: d, pr; Batchelor: co-sc)


The Question (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc); The Colombo Plan (co-pr only; Batchelor: d, sc); The Commonwealth (co-pr only; Batchelor: d, sc)


Bolly (co-pr only; Batchelor: d, sc)


To Our Children's Children (Halas only: d, pr, des, co-sc)


Short Tall Story (co-pr only; Halas: d, co-sc); The Five (co-pr only; Batchelor: d, sc); Wot Dot (co-pr only; Batchelor: d, sc) Flurina (co-pr only; Halas: d, co-sc)


Children and Cars (only co-pr, co-sc; Halas: d)


Contact (+ Batchelor: co-sc; Halas: pr); The Glorious Musketeers (feature) (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc)


The Ass and the Stick (Batchelor: d, co-sc; Halas: pr, co-sc); Christmas Feast (co-sc only; Halas: d, pr); Carry on Milkmaids (Batchelor: d, sc; Halas: pr)


How Not to Succeed in Business (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc)


Skyrider (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc)


Making It Move (live-action) (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc)


Max and Moritz (feature) (Halas only: d, co-pr, co-sc)


Ten for Survival (Halas: d, co-pr; Batchelor: sc); Autobahn (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc)


The Figurehead (+ pr); First Steps (Halas only: d)


Dilemma (Halas only: d)


Players (Halas only: d)


A New Vision: The Life and Work of Botticelli (Halas only: d)


Toulouse-Lautrec (Halas only: d); Leonardo da Vinci (Halas only: d)


Light of the World (Halas only: d)

Charley Series—


Charley in the New Towns; Charley in the New Schools; Charley in "Your Very Good Health"; Charley in the New Mines; Charley Junior's Schooldays; Charley's March of Time (+ co-pr, co-sc, co-des); Robinson Charley (+ co-pr, co-des)

Poet and Painter Series—


Programme 1: Twa Corbies; Spring and Winter; Programme 2: Winter Garden; Sailor's Consolation; Check to Song; Programme 3: In Time of Pestilence; The Pythoness; Programme 4: John Gilpin (Halas only: d, pr)

Popeye Series—


The Billionaire; Dog Done Dog Catcher; Matinee Idol; Model Muddle; Weight for Me; Potent Lotion; Which Is Witch? (Halas only: co-d, pr)

Hatabales Series—


The Lion Tamer; Hairy Hercules; The Cultured Ape; The Insolent Matador; The Widow and the Pig; I Wanna Mink (Halas only: co-d, pr)

Snip and Snap Series—


Bagpipes; Treasure of Ice Cake Island; Spring Song; Snakes and Ladders; In the Jungle; Lone World Sail; Thin Ice; Magic Book; Circus Star; Moonstruck; Snap and the Beanstalk; Goodwill to All Dogs; In the Cellar; The Grand Concert; The Beggar's Uproar; The Birthday Cake; Snap Goes East; The Hungry Dog; Tog Dogs (Halas only: co-d, pr, co-sc)

The Tales of Hoffnung Series—


Professor Ya-Ya's Memoirs (Halas only: co-d, pr, co-sc); The Maestro (Halas only: co-d, pr, co-sc); Birds Bees and Storks (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc); The Music Academy (Halas only: co-d, pr, co-sc); The Palm Court Orchestra (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc)

The Carters of Greenwood English Language Teaching Series—


12 films (Halas only: d, pr)

Martian in Moscow Russian Language Teaching Series—


12 films (Halas only: d, pr)

Do Do Series—


72 films (Halas only: d, pr)

Les Aventures de la famile Carré French Language Teaching Series—


12 films (Halas only: co-d, pr)

Classic Fairy Tales Series—


6 films (Batchelor: d, sc; Halas and Batchelor: co-pr)

Lone Ranger Series—


37 episodes (Halas only: co-d, co-pr, co-sc)

Tomfoolery Series—


17 films (Halas only: d, pr, co-sc)

Masters of Animation Series—


(Halas only)

Other Films:


As Old as the Hills (Halas only: co-pr)


We've Come a Long Way (Halas: co-pr; Batchelor: co-sc)


Power to Fly (Halas: co-pr; Batchelor: co-sc)


Down a Long Way (Halas: co-pr; Batchelor: co-sc); The Sea (Halas only: pr, sc)


Animal Vegetable Mineral (Halas: co-pr; Batchelor: co-sc)


To Your Health (Halas: pr; Batchelor: co-sc)


Speed the Plough (Halas: co-pr; Batchelor: co-sc)


How to Be a Hostess (live action) (Halas; pr; Batchelor: sc); Energy Picture (Batchelor: sc; Halas & Batchelor: co-pr)


History of Inventions (Halas only: co-pr, co-sc)


The Monster of Highgate Pond (Halas: pr; Batchelor: sc); The Guns of Navarone (Foreman) (Halas only: des of excerpts)


The Showing Up of Larry the Lamb (Halas only: pr)


The Tale of the Magician (Halas only: pr); Paying Bay (Batchelor: co-sc; Halas & Batchelor: co-pr); Follow That Car (Batchelor: co-sc; Halas & Batchelor: co-pr)


Matrices (Halas only: pr, co-sc); Deadlock (Halas only: pr, co-sc); Flow Diagram (Halas only: pr, co-sc); Linear Programming (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


What Is a Computer (Halas only: co-pr, co-sc); Girls Growing Up (Halas only: pr, co-sc); Mothers and Fathers (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


Functions and Relations (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


Measure of Man (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


This Love Thing (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


Football Freaks (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


Children Making Cartoons (live-action) (Halas only: pr, co-sc); Making Music Together (Halas only: pr, co-sc); The Twelve Tasks of Asterix (Watrin and Gruel) (animation in last reel only) (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


Kitchen Think (Halas only: pr, co-sc); Butterfly Ball (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


Life Insurance Training Film (excerpts) (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


Noah's Ark (Halas only: pr, co-sc)


Bravo for Billy (Halas only: co-pr, co-sc); Dream Doll (Halas only: co-pr, co-sc)


Bible Stories (Halas only: pr, co-sc)

Foo-Foo Series—


The Scapegoat; The Gardener; The Birthday Treat; A Denture Adventure; A Misguided Tour; The Caddies; Burglar Catcher; The Art Lovers; The Three Mountaineers; Foo Foo's New Hat; The Big Race; The Treasure Hunt; The Magician; The Spy Train; Insured for Life; Automation Blues; The Beggar's Uproar; Sleeping Beauty; The Reward; The Dinner Date; Beauty Treatment; The Ski Resort; Lucky Street; The Stowaway; A Hunting We Will Go; The Pearl Divers; Foo Foo's Sleepless Night; The Salesman; Art for Art's Sake; The Dog Pound; The Hypnotist; Low Finance (Halas only: pr)

Concept Films Series—


200 films in areas of "Biology," "Science," and "Maths" (Halas only: pr)

The Tales of Hoffnung Series—


The Symphony Orchestra; The Vacuum Cleaner (Halas only: pr, co-sc)

Evolution of Life


8 films (Halas only: pr, co-sc)

The Condition of Man Series—


Condition of Man; Quartet; Up; Let It Bleed; It Furthers One to Have Somewhere to Go; Xeroscopy (Halas only: pr, co-sc)

The Addams Family Series—


17 films (Halas only: pr, co-sc)

The Jackson Five Series—


17 films (Halas only: pr, co-sc)

The Osmonds Series—


17 films (Halas only: pr, co-sc)

Britain Series—


Animals; Sports; Roads (Halas only: pr, co-sc—live-action)

Wilhelm Busch Album Series—


13 films (Halas only: co-pr, co-sc)


By HALAS and BATCHELOR: books—

Archibald the Great, illustrations by Halas, London, 1937.

How to Cartoon for Amateur Films, London, 1951.

With Roger Manvell, Technique of Film Animation, London, 1959.

With Roger Manvell, Design in Motion, London, 1962.

With Walter Herdeg, Film and Television Graphics, London, 1967.

With Roger Manvell, Art in Movement, London, 1970.

Computer Animation, London, 1976.

Film Animation, Paris, 1976.

Visual Scripting, London, 1976.

Graphics in Motion, London, 1981.

Timing for Animation, London, 1981.

Masters of Animation, London, 1987.

By HALAS and BATCHELOR: articles—

"The Film Cartoonist," in Working for the Films, London, 1947.

"The Animated Film," in Art and Industry (London), July 1947.

"From Script to Screen," in Art and Industry (London), August 1947.

"Cartoon Films in Commerce," in Art and Industry (London), November 1947.

"The Approach to Cartoon Film Scriptwriting," in This Film Business, London, 1948.

"Introducing Hamilton . . . and Some of the People Who Gave Him Birth," in Films and Filming (London), June 1962.

"Talking with Halas and Batchelor," in 1000 Eyes (New York), February 1976.

"The Way Forward," in Film (London), March 1979. Plateau, vol. 5, no. 3, 1984.

Animatrix, no. 1, December 1984.

Animatrix, no. 2, November 1985.


Manvell, Roger, Art and Animation, London, 1980.

On HALAS and BATCHELOR: articles—

"Halas and Batchelor: Profile of a Partnership," in Film (London), March 1955.

"Halas and Batchelor," in International Film Guide, London, 1965.

"Halas and Batchelor," in Film (London), Spring 1966.

Cineforum (Bergamo, Italy), vol. 23, no. 230, December 1983.

Plateau, vol. 5, no. 2, 1984.

Rothenberg, Robert S., "Masters of Animation," in USA Today Magazine, July 1989.

New Orleans Review, vol. 18, no. 4, 1991.

Obituary for Batchelor, in Variety (New York), 27 May 1991.

Obituary for Batchelor, in Animator (Herts), October 1991.

Obituary for Halas, in Film-Dienst (Cologne), 31 January 1995.

Obituary for Halas, in Film International (Tehran), no. 3, 1995.

* * *

Halas and Batchelor, the distinguished animation studio, and film research and production center, was established in London in 1940. It was the result of the partnership (and subsequent marriage) of two artists, John Halas and Joy Batchelor. John Halas was educated in Budapest and Paris, and originally worked as an assistant to George Pal before establishing himself as an independent animator in 1934. In 1936 he came to England; while working on a cartoon film, The Music Man, he met Joy Batchelor, who entered films in 1935 as a commercial artist.

Their unit made its name during World War II for its imaginative and excellently designed government-sponsored cartoon propaganda and informational films, some 70 of which were produced between 1941 and 1945. They injected both wit and distinctive design into such forbidding subjects as saving scrap metal, turning them into a ballet of movement with the constant collaboration of two celebrated composers, Francis Chagrin and Matyas Seiber. Highly technical instructional films, for example, Handling Ships and the postwar Water for Firefighting and Submarine Control, extended their range and proved their capacity to match clarity of exposition with design in technological subjects. This was especially notable in the extensive series of informational films sponsored by British Petroleum on oil exploration and technology, such as Moving Spirit.

In the 1950s, Halas and Batchelor were able to expand their work yet further, producing films on purely artistic subjects, such as their Poet and Painter series (working with such artists as Henry Moore, Ronald Searle, and Mervyn Peake). The climax of this came with the feature cartoon version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, Britain's first full-length animated entertainment film. By now their London-based studio had become one of the largest in Western Europe, and the unit was capable of attracting international talent from Europe and America to supplement the work of such long-term resident animators as Harold Whitaker, Bob Privett, Digby Turpin, Vic Bevis, Tony Guy, and Brian Borthwick. The Canadian, Gerry Potterton, and the American, Philip Stapp, for example, directed their brilliant film on alcoholism, To Your Health, sponsored by the World Health Organization. Jack King supervised editing and sound, and supplemented the composition of innumerable original music scores by Chagrin, Seiber, and others with his own witty and tuneful compositions. The unit had from its start been distinguished for its sponsorship of fine scores; apart from Chagrin and Seiber (between them responsible for some 250 original compositions), contributing composers have included Benjamin Fraenkel, Tristram Cary, and John Dankworth.

Animal Farm, still perhaps the best-known internationally of Halas and Batchelor films, was sponsored in 1952 by the American producer, Louis de Rochemont; Orwell's fatalistic fable had been published in 1945. In a period when almost all cartoon films featuring animal characters were cutely comic, Orwell's novel demanded a serious approach to animal characterization. The 1,800 background drawings involved represented in somewhat stylized form a realistic farm setting, while the animals themselves were strongly developed as serious dramatic characters. Seiber wrote a powerful score, orchestrated for 36 instruments, and all the animals were voiced by a single, highly versatile actor, Maurice Denham. A controversial point was the provision of a somewhat uplifting end, in which it seemed the oppressed animals might be led to revolt against the police state established by the pigs, in place of Orwell's wholly negative view of a society irrevocably lost to any hope of democratic revival.

The economics of animation have always been precarious, and Halas and Batchelor primarily supported their unit by the mass production of commercials for television, the production of sponsored public relations films, films made in association with other production companies, and by sponsored entertainment series undertaken for television, such as the Foo-Foo cartoon series and the Snip and Snap series. The latter introduced paper sculpture animals, and both series, made in association with ABC-TV, enjoyed worldwide distribution.

Experimental work as early as the 1950s included stereoscopy (work with Norman McLaren for the 1951 Festival of Britain, and The Owl and the Pussycat); and advanced forms of film puppetry, with Alan Crock, in The Figurehead; work in New York (1953–54) for the original three-projection form of Cinerama; cooperation with the Czech stage presentation, Living Screen, combining the multi-projection of film in close synchronization with the live player on the stage; and the production from 1960 of some 200 8mm cassettes to illustrate through brief animation loops points in scientific and technological instruction linked directly to the textbook. Other subjects the studio pioneered were the first animated film version of a Gilbert and Sullivan opera, Ruddigore, The Tales of Hoffnung, a series co-sponsored with BBC-TV, and two animated series of language teaching films in Russian and French.

John Halas's interest in advanced forms of animation technology took him into computer animation in the early period of its development in the 1960s. The computer, once mastered as an ally, can cut costs as well as increase limitlessly the artistic propensities of the filmmaker. Halas's first production using the computer was a series of films on mathematics made in 1967; he originated his own computer language: HALAB. His later interests have included the investigation of hologram and laser techniques.

Looking back over the studio's 50 years' existence and its wide variety of prize-winning productions exemplifying many styles, from hand-drawn animation to computerized graphics, certain titles among others stand out as examples of their kind in the period of their production. For education, propaganda, and public relations: Dustbin Parade, Fly about the House, As Old as the Hills, Down a Long Way, To Your Health, Wonder of Wool, and The Colombo Plan; and as artistic works for entertainment: Magic Canvas, the Poet and Painter series, The Owl and the Pussycat, The Figurehead, Animal Farm, History of the Cinema, the Snip and Snap series, Automania 2000 (the unit's record prize-winner), The Tales of Hoffnung, Ruddigore, The Question, Butterfly Ball, Autobahn, and Dream Doll. John Halas and Joy Batchelor will inevitably be linked with the history of the fuller development of international animation.

—Roger Manvell