Francis Rodker


Born in Whitechapel, London on 23 Jun 1910, Francis Ephraim Judah Rodker was the the son of Brick Lane drapers Moses and Sarah Rodker, who had emigrated to London from Warsaw in 1895.

Around 1935 he was employed as diagram animator by the newly-formed Shell Film Unit, and in late 1936 he married Bertha Judith Maccoby. They set up home on Haverstock Hill NW3, moving out to Kingston-upon-Thames about 1947, where they raised three children.

In his Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film, Ian Aitken writes:

    Shell Film Unit's first film was Airport (Roy Lockwood, 1935) but Power Unit (D'Arcy Cartwright, 1937) was its first substantial success. Its success was followed by that of Transfer of Power (Geoffrey Bell, 1939). which explains with remarkable clarity and precision the development of the toothed wheel. It and the six-part How an Aeroplane Flies (1947), and The Cornish Engine (Philip Armitage, 1948), and other outstanding Shell films were all produced by [Arthur] Elton. Francis Rodker's animated diagrams made an important contribution to such Shell films.

In the 1957 British Film Academy 'Journal' John Huntley, reporting on the state of Animation in Britain, states:

    Francis Rodker and a small team of specialists have been producing excellent diagrams and animated sections for the Shell Unit since its formation in 1935. Three animation cameras are in use, each producing about 4,000 feet of exposed film a year.

The animators who worked under him at the Shell Film Unit included Cynthia Whitby, Archie Shaw and Leslie Davie.

In the 1960s he formed his own company, Francis Rodker Animation Ltd, at Whitfield St W1, and continued to produce diagram animation for the Shell Film Unit and other documentary companies, as well as film title sequences.

He died on 15 Sep 1984 at Kingston-upon-Thames, aged 74.


Power Unit(Shell Film Unit, 1937) Animator (diagrams)
Lubrication of the Petrol Engine(Shell Film Unit, 1937) Animator (diagrams)
Transfer of Power(Shell Film Unit, 1939) Animator (diagrams)
Airscrew(Shell Film Unit, 1940) Animator (diagrams)
Malaria(Shell Film Unit, 1941) Animator (diagrams)
Ack-ack(Shell Film Unit, 1941) Animator (special effects)
Défense contre avions(French-Canadian dubb of above)
Middle East(Shell Film Unit, 1942) Animator (diagrams)
Naval Operations(Shell Film Unit, 1942) Animator
Control Room(Shell Film Unit, 1942) Animator
The Single Point Fuel Injection Pump(Shell Film Unit, 1946) Animator
Personnel Selection in the British Army, 1944 - Officers(Shell Film Unit, 1946) Animator (diagrams)
How an Aeroplane Flies(Shell Film Unit, 1947) Animator (diagrams)
Gasoline Part 1 Octane Number(Shell Film Unit, 1948) Animator
Gasoline Part 2 Cracking(Shell Film Unit, 1948) Animator
The Cornish Engine(Shell Film Unit, 1948) Animator
Apple Aphis(Shell Film Unit, 1951) Animator (diagrams)
Winter Moths(Shell Film Unit, 1951) Animator (special effects)
Project 074 Radioactivity in engine-wear Research(Shell Film Unit, 1953) Animator
De opsporing van Aardolie(Royal Dutch Shell/Shell Film Unit, 1953) Animator
Approaching the Speed of Sound(Shell Film Unit, 1957) Animator
Malaria(Shell Film Unit, 1959 material reused from 1941 version) Animator
Cinebox Titles(De Lane Lea/Filmvision 1963) Titles
The Tomb of Ligeia(Alta Vista, 1964) Titles
The Polyolefins(Shell Film Unit, 1964) Animator
Introduction to Polyolefins(Shell Film Unit, 1964) Animator
Curse of the Fly(Lippert Films, 1965) Titles
Licensed to Kill(Alistair Films, 1965) Titles (designed by Barry Sampson)
The Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes(British Transport Films, 1965) Animator
They Came from Beyond Space(Amicus, 1967) Titles
Load on Top(Shell Film Unit, 1967) Animator
Girl in a Pink Turban(Millbank Films, 1967) Animator
Shaping Heat(Moller Associates, 1967) Animator
On the Safe Side(Ronald H. Riley, 1967) Animator
The Omegans(W. Lee Wilder, 1968) Special Effects
The Two-stroke(Random Film Productions, 1977) Animator

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Peter Hale
Last updated 2015