Kathleen Quaife-Hodge, an effects animator who worked at studios including Disney, Sullivan Bluth, Warner Bros., and Hanna-Barbera, died October 5, aged 64.
Quaife-Hodge started her career in the early 1980s at Washington D.C.’s Broadcast Arts, before moving to L.A. There, she found a job assisting effects animator Dorse Lanpher on Laserdisc game Dragon’s Lair, whose animation was directed by Don Bluth. Lanpher soon had her animating on the project.
When much of the Dragon’s Lair team regrouped under Bluth for the game Space Ace, Quaife-Hodge was promoted to a fully-fledged effects animator. She would also work at Bluth’s studio on features like The Secret of NIMH, An American Tail, The Land Before Time, Rock-a-Doodle, and All Dogs Go to Heaven.
After leaving Bluth, Quaife-Hodge animated effects for various studios including Hanna-Barbera, where she worked on The Pagemaster and Once Upon a Forest. She also contributed to Richard Williams’s magnum opus The Thief and the Cobbler.
Eventually, she moved to Disney, working on 1990s features Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, and Tarzan. Later credits include Warner Bros. hybrid feature Osmosis Jones and Disney Channel’s The Proud Family.
Like many animators, Quaife-Hodge struggled to sustain her career in the early 2000s, as the U.S.’s hand-drawn animation industry was eroded by the rise of cg productions. With 2d animation increasingly subcontracted overseas, Quaife-Hodge spent much of the first half of the decade creating style guides for studios in Asia and Europe, showing them “how to do ‘classy’ effects the way I had learned to craft them,” as she wrote on her blog.
Around this time, she also began teaching life drawing and traditional animation at various West Coast universities, including Academy of Art University, California State University Channel Islands, and California State University, Fullerton. “When 2d finally makes its comeback,” she wrote, “I wanted to have a few friends in L.A.”
Indeed, she stayed close to Bluth, signing up to lead the effects animation on a planned hand-drawn feature based on Dragon’s Lair. Bluth and producer Gary Goldman launched a crowdfunding campaign in 2015, but the project never came to light — at least, not as an animated film.
Quaife-Hodge posted animation loops, figure sketches, and other artwork to her blog, which gives a good impression of her talents as an artist. She also published work on Youtube. Watch her demonstrate her technique for animating a splash of water in the video below:
Here’s a fire loop she uploaded to the blog:
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