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.
Earliest surviving example- The Sculptor’s Nightmare: a
spoof on the 1908 presidential election: http://
In the final reel of the film,
a slab of clay on a pedestal
comes to life, metamorphosing
into a bust of Teddy Roosevelt.
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
A scene from
See Green Pastures on http://wn.com/helena_smith_dayton
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
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.
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:
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
Gumby was created
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
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:
“It was the story of a wino wandering
into an art museum,” says Vinton.
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
Frank Zappa’s 1979 Baby Snakes capitalized on clay’s inherent
characteristics, such as sagging and stretching, which other
animators find troubling.
1968, began painting with clay and used
her innovative technique in a 1990 United Airlines
In 1992, she won an Oscar
for her 7 minute short,
Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase,
a montage of famous artists
and their art.
The ’90s in clay animation belonged to Aardman’s, Nick Park,
with his ability to tell a story in the Wallace and Grommit
Now the characters begin as clay and then are molded into
armatures with latex coverings
One or two animators work in front of a camera
Notes: Most of this information derived from the ABC’s 2 part
summary of the history of animation:
Music downloaded from Jamendo:
Piano Chocolate, Morning Coffee