Claymation Pioneer Visits Webster University

Will VintonIt’s rare that a television commercial character inspires TV specials, merchandise and a video game but in the 1980s, the California Raisins captured everyone’s attention and made their mark on pop culture history. On April 19, Webster University welcomes Will Vinton, the man behind the raisins and so many other Claymation® favorites.

Vinton is the creator of some of the most innovative animation in history and has won several Emmy awards and Clios in addition to an Oscar.

Vinton answered a few questions about his work and offered advice for students:

Through Claymation, you’ve created some icons in popular culture. Is there any project that stands out as your favorite?

I really love a lot of different characters and choosing my favorite is like choosing one's favorite child!  Hard to do!  But I really liked the NOID (from Domino's Pizza commercials); and dinosaurs Herb and Rex, who hosted several of our shows; and Thurgood Stubbs from the Eddie Murphy inspired TV show “The PJs.” Of course the California Raisins were special mostly because with them I got to do so much animation with music, which I love. In terms of productions, my favorites include of some of the shorts like “The Great Cognito” and “Rip Van Winkle.” I'm very fond of “The Adventures of Mark Twain” which was a one-of-a-kind feature film and a labor of love.

What would you want most people to know about Claymation?

When I got started in 3D animation, 99 percent of the animation produced was 2D cel animation and was for kids only. After we coined the word “Claymation” we started calling all our clay model films “Claymation films.”   Our Claymation films at that time became quite popular, especially with adults.  In time, our company began creating Claymation commercials, shorts and TV shows that began to change the climate and opened the door to much more 3D animation and to adult enjoyment of animation. So, in a sense, Claymation contributed and helped bring about a new golden age of 3D animation as 3D computer technology and techniques became available. The work helped usher in a golden age where most animation is 3D animation and where most animation is created for all ages of viewers. 

What are you hoping to discuss during Kinematifest?

I will be showing an evolution of my work in Claymation and 3D animation and discussing the things that inspired me and factors that affected the growing business that I developed. I will also discuss specifics about the changes of the art and technology of 3D animation.

What advice would you give to students who are pursuing animation as a career?

Engage in the production of animated short films whereever you can – with fellow students or fellow pros. Never stop growing and learning and getting better. Work with others that compliment your skills and interests.

What are you working on right now?

Lately I've been working on a Broadway style musical comedy called “The Kiss.” It was originally targeted as an animated feature, but seemed like it would be much better as a live stage show, so my creative partner, songwriter David Pomeranz, and I are moving it onto the stage. I have been having a great time exploring this classic old medium, which is new to me. I am enjoying exploring and bringing new ideas and approaches, informed by years of animation, to theater. I am also currently developing a 3D animation feature with a Korean company.

Hear more from Will Vinton at Kinematifest.

He will deliver the keynote and do a screening of his work on Saturday, April 19 at 4 p.m. in the Winifred Moore Auditorium. This event is free to the public.

 

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