Will Vinton's History
(and the History of Claymation and Computer Animation)

Clay; once derided as only suitable for the most basic forms of animation has, in the hands of Will Vinton, been used in such diverse projects as Academy Award winning shorts, feature films, special effects, TV specials, pop videos, theme park attractions and commercials. Reveling in clay's malleability, Vinton and people he has worked with have advanced and promoted the qualities of clay, giving the world of stop-motion a new word and a new avenue - CLAYMATION®.

The word "Claymation" was originally coined by Will Vinton in 1976 and trademearked soon after. Claymation as developed and practiced by Vinton was timely. At a minimum, it helped introduce audiences to 3D animation at a time that 2D was pervasive. At some level, it enthralled audiences and made them hungry for 3D animation – opening up the potential for 3D CG animation to become the dominant form of animation today. Will Vinton's work in 3D animation also helped open the door for adult animation at a time when all animation was thought of as "for kids". Vinton's Claymation work found enormous acceptance and appeal with adults. Today, 3D forms of animation no longer have the stigma of being "for children".

Born in McMinnville, Oregon in 1947, Will Vinton's interest in clay surfaced while studying architecture at the University of California, Berkeley. Will Vinton began making experimental 16mm films using his father, Gale’s camera equipment. Early works included: GONE FOR A BETTER DEAL, a documentary about “counter culture” and Berkeley in the 1960’s; BERKELEY GAMES and THE FIRST TEN DAYS about student protests; REPLY, an award winning short film; and numerous films involving architecture and architecture history. Influenced by the fluid designs created initially in clay by Spanish sculptural architect Antonio Gaudi, Vinton began designing in clay and experimenting with a merger of clay and film. With fellow housemate/students, (including a sculptor attending California College of Arts and Crafts, Bob Gardiner), Vinton made CULTURE SHOCK, a short film composed of his father’s home movies and experiments in clay animation that won first prize at the Berkley Film Festival. After graduating in Architecture, Vinton spent several years honing his skills as a filmmaker, working alternatively as a director, cinematographer, sound technician and editor on short films, feature films and documentaries. Beginning in 1973, when not working on these projects, Vinton spent what spare time he had in his basement with artist Bob Gardiner making CLOSED MONDAYS.

The film intentionally showcases many of clay's virtues and limitations within its eight-minute running time. Following a drunk as he stumbles around an art gallery, the character's clumsy movements only partially disguise the rawness of the animation. This lack of refinement however is offset by the works of art themselves, which come alive to display clay's advantages. Blobs of clay pound to the beat of the music; a sculpture of a computer undergoes various transformations; and a painting of a washerwoman shifts focus to reveal the depth of field readily available in dimensional animation.

From idea to finished product, the short film took a total of fourteen months to complete. Firstly, Vinton shot a reference film, in which the actors who provided the character's voices also performed the parts in front of the camera. Music was then added to the soundtrack, which was broken down into single frames in an effort to combine both image and sound. Not only did this “reference film” tool (which Vinton has continued to use throughout his career) enable such effects as the musical blobs of clay, but it also provided the opportunity to achieve the film's major innovation; lip-syncing. Animating a life-size bust, which was made from a plastic skull completely covered in clay, Vinton and Gardiner gradually shifted the contours of the drunk's face to alter his expression. The outcome was stunning though it sometimes verged on 'over-acting' and grotesque. But the overall result was the creation of a completely unique and ground-breaking animated film.

Prior to CLOSED MONDAYS winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 1975, Vinton and Gardiner had already started production on their next work, a thirty second clay animated commercial for Rainier Beer. The commercial took almost two months to make, most of which was spent building the huge set, comprising of an entire forest, which included animals, waterfalls, mountains, and several hundred trees, all made from clay. Shortly thereafter, Vinton and Gardiner parted company. Vinton established his own company in Portland, Oregon. Its' first film, MOUNTAIN MUSIC, utilized the set from the beer commercial, but included a rock band who come to disturb the peaceful surrounds. Totally devoid of caricature, the realistic appearance of these early-stage, human figures only served to betray clay's unwieldiness in representing life-like movement.

Over the next three years, Will Vinton Productions produced three 27-minute films with non-theatrical distributor and financer, Frank Moynihan of Billy Budd Films in New York City. This was the beginning of a very experimental phase of what would ultimately become Will Vinton Studios. In a bold move, given the aforementioned difficulty in representing human movement, Vinton chose material dominated by human characters. MARTIN THE COBBLER, based on a story by Leo Tolstoy, tells of a man who abandons God, as he feels God has abandoned him. Throughout the film, Martin's sadness and age dictate that his character would move in a slow, deliberate manner, while the snow-covered set forced the other characters to also be wary of each step. Coupled with an improved character design by artist Barry Bruce, this situation allowed the animation to exhibit none of the awkwardness of the earlier films. In fact, a sequence involving Martin playing with a baby shows a very delicate touch. Other simple, understated effects, such as Martin lighting a candle, or his workshop being viewed through a mouse hole, not only display the virtues of dimensional animation, but also Vinton's growing maturity as a film maker.

In RIP VAN WINKLE, this growth is even more evident. While the opening scenes are fairly conventional in their establishment of time and place, once Rip enters the Catskills for a "squirrel hunt", Vinton's skills come to the fore. When Rip is scared by his own reflection, he flees into a forest that seems to reach out and grab him at every turn. The dream sequence that follows demonstrates once again Vinton's desire to expand the possibilities of clay animation in grand experiments. Forgoing the conventional method of dimensional animation in which the puppets are upright, Vinton lays the clay down, filming the sequence in "relief animation". Opening with hooded ghouls, fanged creatures and lightning bolts peeling across the sky, the motif of abstract animation closely synchronised to music continues throughout the dream, creating images reminiscent of Disney's Fantasia and the Beatles' Yellow Submarine.

The one non-clay image to be found in the film was the sky, which was achieved by filming real clouds in time-lapse photography. For his next film THE LITTLE PRINCE, Vinton turned to animator Joan Gratz to complete his clay universe. By combining clay with oil paint, Gratz animated the mixture by painting it on a glass plane, filming it, and then changing the painting slightly before filming it again. The result provided an ever shifting sky, which at times resembled clouds, waves and waterfalls as a background for the films' action.

Yet the most significant advancement was the proportion of the characters. Since his first film Vinton had worked towards refining his clay animation characters. While the rawness of the drunk from CLOSED MONDAYS complemented the character, its movement was cumbersome. The more life-like design of the rock band in MOUNTAIN MUSIC only highlighted this flaw. When character designer Barry Bruce joined the Vinton team, there was an obvious shift towards caricature. The look of Martin's face was more defined, something lacking in its blander supporting cast. RIP VAN WINKLE featured a multitude of characters. Their faces had a smoother complexion on which fine contours were sculpted and features exaggerated. In THE LITTLE PRINCE the heads of the characters were approximately one third the total size of the puppet. The rich detail this allowed in the caricature would go on to become one of Vinton's trademarks.

The success Vinton experienced with the longer narrative form encouraged him to believe a feature-length film was possible, but first he would need to consolidate the techniques his studio had pioneered. LEGACY, released the same year as THE LITTLE PRINCE, identified the short film as the ideal vehicle to achieve this. Subtitled "a very short history of natural resources" it opens with an animated clay painting of cosmic gases at work which combine to form a three-dimensional planet. A close-up dissolves into a clay painting of the oceans over which relief animation of molecules, shells and other sea-life is performed. The fish that rises from this morphs into a lizard, a T-Rex, a stegosaur, and a brontosaur, demonstrating another of clay's unique abilities in the field of stop-motion animation. Succeeding this, a variety of mammals with very cheesy grins assemble for a class photo. They are joined by man, the life-like design and animation of which revealed just how far the studio had come in its own very short history.

During this same period after CLOSED MONDAYS and MOUNTAIN MUSIC there was already so much growing interest in the new 3D animation films by Will Vinton and his team that Will decided to make a documentary about some of his techniques including some behind the scenes shots from MARTIN THE COBBLER and MT. MUSIC. The resulting film not only revealed the techniques but, true to the company’s spirit, it was (and still is) highly entertaining and humorous. In naming the film, Will felt “clay animation” seemed cumbersome and he dubbed the 17 minute comic documentary “CLAYMATION”, hence giving the world a new term for an exciting new 3D animation form.

Soon after this documentary was released, the term "Claymation" was used extensively by Will and his team on all their films to describe their unique look and style of animation. "Claymation" was soon Trademarked world-wide by Will Vinton to differentiate his team's work from others who had been, or were beginning to do "clay animation" (the generic term). Today, the Tradmark is held by Laika Inc. and the term used herein is by permission of Laika.

Three more short films followed, each in some way advancing the techniques developed thus far. DINOSAURS used chalk, relief and dimensional animation to help depict life in the Jurassic period; A CHRISTMAS GIFT finally achieved the right balance of altering a character's expression without resorting to wild over-acting; and THE CREATION featuring Joan Gratz's clay paintings provided the images to match James Earl Jones's reading of James Weldon Johnson's famous poems.

Also made during this time was a trailer for the Bette Midler film DIVINE MADNESS. The film's marketing team commissioned Will Vinton to animate a clay bust of Midler on Mt Rushmore singing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" with Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln providing the backup vocals. It was the first time the studio produced a caricature of an actual person, but its success ensured it would go on to become yet another one of Vinton's specialties. In years to come the studio would animate everything from Bruce Willis as a frog to Michael Jackson as a raisin, but it found the perfect vehicle for displaying this aspect of its repertoire in its next short film. THE GREAT COGNITO was, as introduced by an off-stage announcer (Will’s voice), 'the man of a thousand faces', whose vocal impersonations of people were matched by his face transforming into that person as well. His performance therefore permitted such spot-on caricatures as the Generals MacArthur, Patton and Rommel, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and John Wayne, whose death scene forces the Great Cognito to leave the stage. Like RIP VAN WINKLE and THE CREATION before, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film, confirming Will Vinton's place as the leading world exponent of CLAYMATION and one of the most innovative exponents of stop-motion and 3D animation.

Vinton was approached by Hugh Terrell who had a small distribution company about the idea of doing a project utilizing the works of Mark Twain. The initial film they produced was based on Twain’s THE DIARY OF ADAM AND EVE. In many ways THE DIARY, as it was also called, is the most sophisticated animated comedy Vinton and his team created and it confirmed that quality animation could work for adults at the same time as it worked for children. At the same time, the animation is highly innovative in it’s simplicity and design. The time appeared right to pursue the long held dream of making a feature-length film.

THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN depicts the author's journey in a riverboat-cum-hot air balloon to meet up with Haley's comet (Twain, who was born in a year in which Haley's comet appeared, rightly predicted his death would coincide with its next visit in 1910). Also on board were three stowaways, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher, whose presence enabled Twain to tell them such stories as The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and The Diary of Adam and Eve (which was incorporated into the story). When simple recitations were not possible, plot devices like the Index-O-Vator and Astro-viewer were introduced to permit visits to The Mysterious Stranger and Capt. Stormfield. Like its subject, the film was a showcase of Vinton's career thus far, featuring clay paintings, caricatures, morphing and lip-syncing.

Yet several innovations were still necessary. In The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County the stories main antagonists, Jim Smiley and the stranger, had enormous moustaches that covered their mouths. To provide the necessary lip-syncing when the lips themselves were hidden from view, Vinton employed “moustache sync” - replacement animation, where different moustaches were substituted to approximate the effect of speech. Replacement animation also affected the design of the armatures. Lead wire and brass elements were screwed together with set-screws that enabled the parts to be easily replaced when they wore out. This was inevitable, as the film took over three and a half years to complete. To further compensate for this, half-body armatures with heavy steel bases were used for close-ups which enabled a greater degree of stability for the top-heavy characters.

THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN was the first and likely the last pure Claymation feature to ever be made – every frame consisted purely of clay in one form or the other – the people, the sets, the water, even the skies were made of plasticene clay - Vinton and his team were purists about the creation of this labor of love. Well known film critic and historian Michael Medvid called this landmark movie, “the most original and audacious film since Fantasia!”

Special consultant to the film was Walter Murch, an Academy Award winning sound technician who had been speaking to Vinton about a pet project of his own. As director of the Disney film RETURN TO OZ, Murch was searching for a means to portray the film's villain, the Nome King, and was convinced that Vinton's CLAYMATION® held the answer. The assignment posed several new challenges for Will and his team, not the least of which was the need to shoot the footage in single frames. In the past Vinton often used double frames, where two frames of film were exposed per clay figure adjustment. The studio's first foray into special effects demanded a less stylized look that this method achieved, resulting in the team needing to work twice as long to provide the same amount of required footage. Other methods unique to this project included the construction of large puppets, to allow the animators to work in much greater detail. The increase in size however also brought with it an increase in weight (courtesy of the heavy clay), which made tiny adjustments of the figures a foreboding assignment.

The film earned Vinton another Academy Award Nomination for Best Special Effects, and led to his studio becoming one of the many contributors for Disney's theme park attraction CAPTAIN EO. Responsible for the transformation of the Minor Domo from a small robot to a large synthesizer, animator Doug Aberle shot the sequence in reverse, starting at the synthesizer stage and whittling it down. When Vinton overcame the added challenge of shooting the scene in 3D, it seemed that his unique brand of stop-motion animation knew no boundaries.

One area that Vinton had been making inroads for some time was advertising. While popular commercials, such as those for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dominoes Pizza, had raised the profile of CLAYMATION, it became a household name following the phenomenon that was 'The California Raisins'. Charged with providing CALRAB's (California Raisin Advisory Board) product with a 'hipper' image, Vinton's combination of animated raisins singing and dancing to variations of the song 'I Heard it Through the Grapevine' proved irresistible. Shot in the style of a music video (John Fogerty's VANZ KANT DANZ had recently proved this to be yet another outlet for CLAYMATION), the commercials even managed to include caricatures of Ray Charles and Michael Jackson signing the praises of California Raisins. Soon the studio found itself producing commercials for other companies who wanted to hop on the bandwagon, licensing the raisins to sell products like Sun-Maid Raisins and Post Raisin Bran Cereal. Vinton himself even featured his version of the California Raisins in the first of his festive television specials WILL VINTON'S CLAYMATION CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION.

Hosted by Herb and Rex (two dinosaurs who performed the same function in the previous year's compilation film FESTIVAL OF CLAYMATION), this irreverent treatment of classic Christmas carols featured camels singing a doo-wop version of "We Three Kings", Quasimodo conducting a performance of "Carol Of The Bells", a pair of love-sick walruses ice-skating to "Angels We Have Heard On High", and clay painting artwork bringing stained-glass windows to life in "Joy To The World". The last carol was the perennial favorite "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer". Performed by six California Raisins, the segment attempted to give them some individual characterizations, such as identifying the group's leader by outfitting him in a tuxedo and having a bulbous nosed raisin double as Rudolph. Vinton would take this idea to its next logical step in the studio's following two television specials.

MEET THE RAISINS introduced the characters of A.C., Beebop, Red and Stretch, who together formed the singing group 'The California Raisins'. Following their career from its earliest beginnings through to its' triumphant debut on the Ed Succotash show, the rock documentary format allowed scope to provide parodies of movies, television programs and documentaries, as it transplanted the raisins into its own fruit and vegetable world. Featuring A.C. as the lead singer who belted out a tune while the three other band members sang and danced in closely synchronized movements, the Raisins performance of such hits as "Ain't Too Proud to Beg", "Cool Jerk" and "Signed. Sealed. Delivered" successfully built upon the concept previously established in the popular commercials. RAISINS SOLD OUT deviated from this formula, and suffered as a result. Tricked by an opportunistic manager into performing everything from disco polka to country rap, The California Raisins' musical numbers were (purposefully) played for humor but were not as entertaining, musically. By the time the special had aired the raisin fad was coming to an end, with Will and his teams producing only two more commercials for CALRAB since then.

Two more television specials followed. WILL VINTON'S CLAYMATION COMEDY OF HORRORS was a Halloween program starring possibly the studio's most unlikable character, Wilshire Pig. With Wilshire, Vinton experimented with a lead character audiences would love to hate, playing him against the cool perfection of Spike Rabbit – a modern twist on the Daffy Duck / Bugs Bunny type of relationship. Though the story allowed for such well-known creatures as vampires, witches and skeletons to be on display, it was perhaps the blob-like creatures that showed clay to its best advantage. Wilshire Pig returned in WILL VINTON'S CLAYMATION EASTER SPECIAL, this time kidnapping the Easter Bunny. More structured and humorous than its predecessor, the film was notable for the use of two-dimensional drawings in its sets.

Apart from such festive treats, Will Vinton also provided segments for established children's television programs. Sesame Street was the playground for CECILLE, a shape-shifting orange ball with big red lips who performed songs against a light blue set. However, the most innovative use of clay was to be seen in the Disney Channel's Adventures in Wonderland. Building upon the relief animation style used so effectively in RIP VAN WINKLE, these 'claytoons' were filmed through layers of glass, each containing parts of scenery in the foreground, mid-ground and background. Within these confines, a character might have different body parts on different layers, giving them a dimensional look and feel. The team produced several dozen, 3 to 5 minute episodes of WONDERLAND and picked up another Emmy.

Unfortunately, the popularity of the California Raisins proved to be a double-edged sword. During the craze, commercial advertising had risen to comprise over 50% of the studio's business, but now ad agencies were hesitant to use a medium that was so closely aligned with the one product. Vinton took this as the trigger to redefine his company as a dimensional animation studio, with CLAYMATION® being just one of the tools at its disposal. His first major non-clay work came from an unexpected source. Mattel Toys commissioned Vinton Studios to produce an aerobics video starring its most famous product, Barbie. A ball and socket armature was designed to fit inside the doll, and wires were inserted into her hair for ease of animation. The resulting video, DANCE! WORKOUT WITH BARBIE, became the USA's number one selling video for several months.

One of the stars of this new phase was MR RESISTOR, a stop-motion puppet consisting of wire appendages, a shock of white hair and, of course, a resistor. Supported by a wire umbilical cord, Mr. Resistor was originally conceived by a long-time Vinton protégé, director Mark Gustafson as just an exercise in animation, but the film proved so interesting that it spawned a sequel, BRIDE OF RESISTOR, which was even more gothic in its concept.

Another form of dimensional animation that Will was keen to see incorporated into his studio was CGI. In 1993 the studio slowly started building up a computer department, initially starting with only three people, but soon growing to over 20 full-time employees, most of whom were former stop-motion animators. At the same time, Vinton was busy converting his studio into a business, creating an outside board of directors and pulling in professional management to oversee its day to day operations. To balance this approach with his staff's artistic needs Vinton continued to create short films like clay painted GO DOWN DEATH (claymation) with artist Christina Sells and he implemented the Walkabout program, which permitted his animators to take paid time off to work on personal projects using the studios resources. Short films created in this way included MR. RESISTOR and BRIDE OF RESISTOR (stop motion) from Mark Gustafson, THE STARS CAME DREAMING (stop motion) by Jean Poulot, FLUFFY (CGI) from Doug Aberle, MUTT (CGI) by Kirby Atkins, DAY OF THE DEAD (CGI and stop motion) from Kirk Kelley, RAT TRAP (CGI) by Gesine Kratzner, ZEROX AND MYLAR (claymation) and YEARS LATER (CGI) by Joel Brinkerhoff, and WIRE WE HERE (stop motion) by Doug Aberle, to name just a few.

One of the first opportunities the studio had to display their newfound CGI skills was in a commercial for Chips Ahoy!. Although the 30 second commercial took approximately 60 days to produce, the utilization of all three forms of dimensional animation (claymation, stop-motion and computer animation), not only resulted in an eye-catching ad for the product, but was also a rather nifty promotion for the studio's capabilities as well. One company taking notice was the advertising giant BBDO, who had recently won the M&M/Mars account. Turning to Vinton to help launch their Blue M&M campaign, the studio's CGI depiction of a Red and Yellow M&M trying to come to terms with the new-found popularity of the Blue M&M generated the same sort of response achieved years earlier by the CLAYMATION Raisins. Within the next few years, CGI was accounting for the vast majority of Vinton's commercial production.

Yet stop-motion remained an integral part of the studio's identity and in 1998, work began on the very first prime-time stop-motion television series. Initiated by Eddie Murphy and Imagine Entertainment who approached Will about developing and animating a prime-time show called THE PJs. THE PJ'S centered on the trials and tribulations of Thurgood Stubbs, the superintendent of the dilapidated Hilton Jacobs housing projects. To cope with the demands of a weekly format, the studio utilized a technique they dubbed FOAMATION, in which normal ball-and-socket armatures were covered by foam latex. Sturdier and lighter than clay, the Foamation puppets were given hollow plastic heads and metal feet to help keep them upright throughout the 12 weeks it took to animate one 30 minute episode. Debuting in January 1999, THE PJ'S was a hit with the critics but struggled to find a time slot to match it’s core audience and after three years, two networks, 50 episodes, and several Emmys, THE PJ'S was discontinued in May 2001, partially because the top heavy show cost more than it’s ratings justified.

Next up was another FOAMATION sitcom introduced to Will by Fax Barr and Adam Small, called GARY AND MIKE. The show followed the misadventures of two slackers cris-crossing America in a Chevy convertible over 13 episodes. While very popular with some fans and a favorite among the Will Vinton Studio’s team, it only ran for one full season. Both Prime-time shows were landmark projects - huge undertakings and well executed in stop motion and CGI, pulled off by innovative production and creative management on the part of Will and his teams.

Coupled with the industry-wide downturn in advertising that followed the September 11th terrorist attacks, the cancellation of both series led to massive layoffs that saw the studio's staff shrink from approximately 400 down to about 100.

During this period of economic stress, the team wanted to continue the TV work and Will Vinton continued to develop concepts and pilots for TV shows. KLAY’S TV was a pet project of Will’s about a character with a love/hate relationship to TV – a contemporary parody of popular television involving sketch comedy in mixedmedia/3D animation. The show was developed for Fox and a funny, original 22 minute pilot was created. Other TV pilots by Vinton’s team included SLACKER CATS and THE BOYER BROTHERS. At the same time, the company began a relationship with Warner Brothers and Tim Burton to produce Tim Burton's stop-motion feature THE CORPSE BRIDE. However, for economic reasons, Warner Brothers insisted the animation itself would take place in England rather than in Portland, which put stress on the company.

Due to continued economic strain and the retention of far too much staff for the amount of work produced, in October 2002 Nike founder Phil Knight, who already had a toe hold in the company, forced the board to accept him taking over a majority interest in the studio and within a month appointed himself and three others to the seven-member Board of Directors. Less than six months later Will Vinton announced to his staff that he had resigned from the Board of Directors and within days was himself laid off. His communiqué read in part "I want to thank each and every one of you for the fabulous work and contributions you've made to this company in the past. It has been one amazing 27 year run! - And I have no (well, few!) regrets!" Though the studio continued to bear his name for a while, it did not seem to embrace the company’s storied past and history. Knight eventually changed the name of the company to Laika, apparently intending to provide an animation studio for his son, who had apprentised with Vinton and had become an animator.

Since then, Will Vinton has jumped back into doing what he loved most about building the Studio in the first place, developing new projects and creating new experiments in dimensional animation. He formed a new company named Freewill Entertainment and has set out on yet another independent approach to 3D animated filmmaking. His first short film under this new banner was called THE MORNING AFTER. It was termed “a proof of concept” for a larger idea involving the coupling of a human woman (live action) and a cartoon bear named Bogy (CGI) in a ROGER RABBIT styled, toon-universe. The film successfully blends the mediums, allowing very convincing performances and interaction by characters that did not and could not actually occupy the same set.

In addition to the kind of development he did throughout the history of Will Vinton Studios, Vinton was now writing projects in the more traditional sense. With long time writer collaborator, Andrew Wiese, and Producer Bill Haber, he pitched and wrote an animated movie script tentatively called, THE MINSTREL TREE, originally intended as an ABC movie which he would Direct. Vinton and Wiese also wrote JACK HIGHTOWER as a graphic novel (a new medium for Vinton) released by Dark Horse Comics in 2006. JACK HIGHTOWER, the humorous actionadventure story of a ten inch tall "super-agent" was ultimately intended as animated and live action movie project by Vinton and Dark Horse producer and head, Mike Richardson.

In Spring ’05, Will Vinton had several TV Pilots in the works including, TOO STUPID TO LIVE, for MTV. TSTL used a traditional claymation look to enhance the comedy but was actually a multi media series intended to build on Vinton’s unique and deep experience combining stop motion, claymation and CGI for expressive and effective 3D animation, inexpensively.

Soon after leaving his Studio, Will Vinton become ever more interested in educating others in the ways of Claymation and stop-motion animation. He gave workshops in the Portland Oregon area, and toured the US providing workshops and classes. The most popular of these classes on the subject of Claymation®. In 2008 using only student talent, Vinton wrote and directed a live action film, "The Martial Artist" which utilized sequences of graphic animation to tell the story of a young graphic novelist who finds and explores a "magic" pen. While the live action movie represented a departure for Vinton, it won many prestigious awards.

In summer 2009, Vinton launched an extensive exhibit called "The Amazing World of Claymation" at the Oregon Historical Museum which incorporated his extensive personal animation art collection from his productions. The popularity of this Claymation exhibit lead to it becoming a touring Exhibit intended for art institutes, museums and film events around the world.

Over the next few years under his Vinton Entertainment banner, Vinton began co-producing projects of his own creation with partners based in Asia and Portland.

Will Vinton has made amazing and unprecedented contributions to the growth and success of 3D animation for many years. His creation of the term "claymation" and his experimention and professional practice of Claymation is an enormous contribution to the world of animation and filmmaking. Today, Claymation is known the world over - and interest in the vibrant medium of clay animation continues to grow with young practitioners as well as old pros. But the story of Will Vinton and Claymation is clearly not over and this author looks forward to seeing the strides Vinton, his many disciples, and those he has influenced continue to make in Claymation, stop-motion, computer animation and indeed, filmmaking in the years to come.