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How Will Vinton Created and Lost Claymation

The Priceonomics weblog has posted a feature article on how famed stop-motion animator Will Vinton built up and then lost a major animation studio, popularizing “Claymation” as a medium for advertising, TV, and feature film before a series of unexpected events resulted in his ouster and the sale of the company to Nike co-founder Phil Knight (who infused a small fortune to rebrand the studio as Laika). The article chronicles Vinton’s rise in the animation industry from his earliest experiments with clay at the University of California at Berkeley in the architecture department, the creation of the “Closed Mondays” short film (which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short in 1974), the rise of Vinton Studios and the coining of the term “Claymation” for their specific animation process, and the studio’s mix of creative success but commercial difficulties. Those difficulties led to infusions of money from Phil Knight (and a job for Knight’s son Travis Knight, who had no job qualifications but turned out to be a successful animator), and eventually a corporate takeover that led to Vinton’s ouster from his company and a $125,000 severance package in 2003. It also follows the ups-and-downs of Laika, and Vinton’s current work making new films and teaching at the Portland Institute of Art.

(via Mark Evanier’s weblog)

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