Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Who's this?

This is a close up of the rope about to break.

I'll give away free clay to the first several people that can tell me what this character's name is and what TV special he appeared in. Points for any other details as well, (what pops out of the eggs?...where does he fall to next? etc,)

At one point he falls into a bird's nest. These are frames where I squished him down on impact.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mechanical heads

Here's a mechanical head I put together for a stop mo character. It can look right to left, blink, open it's jaws and rotate it's head. It could have easily been modified for cable articulation on a live action shoot. I did research on making eyes and found out that "glass eyes" that they use for people are not round, they are a dish shaped prosthetic eye like the one shown here. Through trial and error I found a way to mold a round eye shape then cast it in acrylic then polish it on a buffer. The iris and pupil were hand panted with oil paints and I used fibers from a red silk cloth for the veins.

Friday, August 25, 2006


This is one of the nicest commercials I've shot but it never got any air time. It was in the 90's and our whole crew spent a lot of time and effort on building sets and nice props. I went out of my way to animate these babies as smoothly as I could by shooting double frames at 1/16 increments. My understanding of why it was never aired was because the client felt the look of the organic clay next to the tissue paper..........Well you get the picture.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Dominos pizza (Noid)

This Noid commercial is called "Monolith". I shot it at Vinton Studios in the early 90's. We didn't have the luxury of frame grabbers then and our capture system only held six to twelve frames of movement at a time so we drew on the screen with colored markers to see where we had been. The most difficult scene was where the monolith falls on the Noid. It was suspended with clear fishing line from both sides as it came down one frame at a time. It is a little rough by today's standards and there are many things that I would have done differently but we were breaking new ground back then. Here's a picture of all the replacement heads and body parts sitting in my old office.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

NFL on Fox

This is a behind the scenes look at an animation set for the NFL commercials. This is a typical set where an animator sits in the dark for many hours adjusting characters and shooting frames slowly building cycles of action. Shown are two "frame grabbers" (a way to capture each frame for playback) two monitors for viewing the action and a few set lights. Seated in this chair, I was close enough to reach the monitors , the characters, the frame grabber buttons and the shooting switch. It took two eight hour days to shoot this 150 frame scene where Howie pokes Chris with a ballpoint pen and lets all the air out of his fake muscle suit causing him to go flying through the air. These characters are based on the sports announcers from Fox TV. You might have seen the real announcers , they are a bunch of wise cracking sports guys that are really full of themselves.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Listerine commercial

Here's a handsome young lad (haha) animating a bunch of farm animals for a Listerine commercial. He got to sculpt the horse, make the eyeballs and teeth, sew in each little hair with a needle and thread and figure out a way to get these animals to move using parts from old armatures and or anything he could find in the studio's armature shop. The horse was strapped to a motion control rig, the sheep was mounted on an old bumper scissor jack from someone's car and the pig was stacked on several layers of wood that could be animated up or down. It was SUPER low tech but when it finally got to film it looked quite believable.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

P4 ferrari

Ron Tonkin

If you spend enough time as a clay animator you can eventually sculpt, draw, or move anything. Ron Tonkin of "Gran Turismo Ferrari" in Portland Oregon caught word that I was a local animation artist that loved cars and could sculpt. Ron Tonkin commissioned me to sculpt a 26" copy of a 1967 P4 Ferrari and produce it with a black chrome finish, mounted on a black granite base, sitting on a 5' pedestal with a rotational top. It was very expensive but it looks really nice sitting next to his personal collection of rare classic cars.

There are two left in this edition that I could produce. Contact me for details.

Ron Tonkin
Gran Turismo
P4 ferrari

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Wacky players" (Candy commercial)

In 1991 we did a Sunkist wacky players candy commercial. We were given several Jack Davis illustrations to use as guide material for the sculpts. The sets were really huge and back then we covered almost everything with melted clay to give it that look. The roller was made of wood but it too was covered with Van Aken clay. The big guy in the red jersey flattens all the guys on the blue team. A simple idea but very cartoon-ee and fun. The crowd guys are all clay with no armatures and the further back you get the simpler they get, almost just blobs of clay. After several hours of animating on a big set like this you start to feel like you're really at a big football field. These are pictures I took with my little Pentax 35mm camera back in 1991 and have never been shown.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Oil on board

It took TEN tries to get this portrait where I wanted it. I got caught up in the emotion of these eyes (bad idea).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Like many artists I'm interested in faces and expressions of all kinds. (oil on panel)

Monday, August 07, 2006


This is a Chrysler commercial from 1993. The cavemen are hammering out the cars of the competition. I animated this but did not design these particular characters.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Color study

This sketch turned out to be too realistic for most of the characters we use at the studio but it's all part of the process.

Character sketch

Watercolor study of mother from the Samsung commercials.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Left over parts

Here's a pile of armature parts left over from that Michael Jackson commercial. Bent legs, trashed shoes, ripped belts, mangled gloves, beat up microphones, and broken joints. I had to reshoot that opening scene several times to get it right.

"Crotch Grab"

I did these drawings for Michael to show what I had planned for scene one. When he saw them he let out a yell and replied, "Yes!!! that's what I'm talkin bout".


During the hype of the raisins back in 1987 the "King of pop" called our studio and said, (in a high pitched voice) "I wanna be a raisin!" The rest is history. I had the pleasure of shooting this scene among others. Michael sits up and says "It must have been something I ate". I was going to post the log sheet to show the timing but I didn't feel like going through my file cabnet.

"Just Chillin"

Some old guy just kicking back on a Sunday.

Noid Morph

Here's a frame where I added a few more noid faces to give the shot a cell animated multiple image effect.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

"Mad scientist"

This was from a Domino's pizza commercial called "Mad scientist". It didn't get much air time on TV but it was a fun commercial from around 1990.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Noid

One of my first assignments was to make lots of Noids. We were doing a commercial called "Ice-o-matic". I got to make these guys with the ice machines on their backs and the ice floor surface which was just 1/8" Plexiglas with white china marker lines drawn on the back side. I made the skates by cutting out thin brass sheeting and then painting it with flat blue acrylic paint. The ice sickles were made by melting 1/8 " plexiglass rods with a torch and pulling them apart to form tapered ends.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lotto guy character study

Here's the original concept drawing for one of the guys in the lotto commercial below.

Open wide!

Here are two frames from a lottery commercial called "All at once". This guy had to eat a whole steak in one bite. I cut off increments of the steak as I animated it down in six frames.