A brief history of clay animators


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A brief overview of notable clay animators from the beginning to the present.

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A brief history of clay animators

  1. 1. This presentation is only a snapshot of the principle animators involved in the development of clay animation. It all began in 1897 when a pliable, oil-based modeling clay called “plasticine” was invented.
  2. 2.  Earliest surviving example- The Sculptor’s Nightmare: a spoof on the 1908 presidential election: http:// youtu.be/MyQaTViWne0  In the final reel of the film, a slab of clay on a pedestal comes to life, metamorphosing into a bust of Teddy Roosevelt.
  3. 3.  New York 1917: the first female animator of any kind, Helena Smith Dayton.  She used real doll clothes and human hair to add realism to her clay depictions of fairy tales and classic literature, including Romeo and Juliet. A scene from Green Pastures in 1927  See Green Pastures on http://wn.com/helena_smith_dayton
  4. 4.  In the 1940’s: another special-effects master, Ray Harryhausen, was interested in fairy tales.  He made clay dinosaurs as a kid.  His first job was a model animator on George Pal’s Puppetoons.
  5. 5.  Ray made his name by developing fantastic stories and creatures based on legends and mythology and creating a unique genre of fantasy films during the 1950s, 60s and 70s that took the movie making world, and the public, by storm.
  6. 6.  Ray received a special Oscar for inspiring an entire generation of animators and special-effects artists.  To see his list of movies and watch them, click here: http://www.rayharryhausen.com/filmography.php
  7. 7.  Throughout the 1950s, Warner Bros. cut back on its cel cartoon output by a third, stopping completely by 1969.  A less sophisticated made-for-TV style, by Hanna-Barbera, had taken over. Gumby was created
  8. 8.  Art Clokey: “Gumby was expressing my love for children by telling stories from the heart.”  NBC gave Clokey a contract to produce a series from 1956-1963 Gumby and his orange horse Pokey became icons
  9. 9. Filmmaker Will Vinton, influenced by the flowing clay forms of the Spanish architect Gaudi, won the Oscar, in collaboration with his friend Bob Gardiner, for Closed Mondays: http://youtu.be/q_VTdhgrpFU “It was the story of a wino wandering into an art museum,” says Vinton. 
  10. 10.  He is best known for the California Raisins commercial, which featured dried fruit grooving to the beat of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” http://youtu.be/Kka0jDxzzQo
  11. 11.  Frank Zappa’s 1979 Baby Snakes capitalized on clay’s inherent characteristics, such as sagging and stretching, which other animators find troubling. http://youtu.be/XjXiEqxvfqI
  12. 12.  1968, began painting with clay and used her innovative technique in a 1990 United Airlines commercial.  In 1992, she won an Oscar for her 7 minute short, Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase, a montage of famous artists and their art. http://youtu.be/4J- ypC8M35o
  13. 13.  The ’90s in clay animation belonged to Aardman’s, Nick Park, with his ability to tell a story in the Wallace and Grommit series. http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=aSVD3nzsIyA&feature=share&list=TLDL2OS6VSSmpYWbau- ldILnxA1F07fClC
  14. 14.  Now the characters begin as clay and then are molded into armatures with latex coverings and  One or two animators work in front of a camera
  15. 15. Notes: Most of this information derived from the ABC’s 2 part summary of the history of animation: http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/story?id=116413&page=1 and Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_animation Music downloaded from Jamendo: Piano Chocolate, Morning Coffee