Two-time Oscar winning animator Frederic Back passed away today at his home in Montreal.
Back grew up in France and studied art in Paris in the 1930s. Moving to Canada after World War II he was hired by Radio-Canada to create illustrations for its very first television network – where he remained employed for decades. His first animated film was Abracadabra, in 1970.
Back’s films were hand animated in the classic sense – and often he was the only artist involved in the making of them. Many of his films employed a unique look, using colored pencil-on-frosted acetate, that made elaborate works appear simpler than the incredible craft involved. There’s no question, his films were important, moving works of art.
His Oscar winning short Crac (1981, embed below) brought him to the attention of Hollywood and the world. In 1988, Back won his second Oscar for a more ambitious project, the thirty minute film The Man Who Planted Trees. He was last nominated in 1994 for The Mighty River.
His films were personal, inspirational and passionate. John Halas said of Back, in his 1987 book Masters Of Animation:
“His mastery of timing, his elegant but simple design, his characterisation and observation of animated figures – especially children – and his stories, which are writen with a warm sense of humanity, make him an all-round professional.”
He was a beloved member of the international animation community and a consummate artist. Frederic Back will be missed.