Will Vinton Research


Will Vinton is a stop motion animator who started his career in college making short films about architecture. Afterwards he took on various roles for small film projects, and in 1973 created a short Claymation film with Bob Gardiner called Closed Mondays about a drunk man walking into an art exhibit. As he’s walking through he has hallucinations about the art exhibit. The fact that the man is drunk covers up the fact that Claymation couldn’t have realistic motion, and it was natural for a drunk man to just shuffle around. One painting comes to life as an abstract animation synchronized to music, one of the sculptures that he looks at begins morphing into different objects, and at the end he ends up freezing in place as a gold statue. The drunk man as well as the person in the painting were designed fairly realistically, there aren’t any parts of their body’s that are out of proportion. At one point in the film the camera is used to show the drunk man’s perspective. One technique Vinton used to help him with the animation was creating a reference film using real actors, this allowed the film to have accurate lip syncing. They also added the soundtrack to the reference film and broke it down into single frames so they could have the Claymation accurately match it during that abstract sequence.

After Vinton started up his own company he began work on his next short film Mountain Music. In the short a forest and the animals in it are completely peaceful till a band appears and starts playing music. The band slowly got more technologically advanced and disturbed the forest more and more with a city appearing behind them till finally a volcano erupted destroying everything. Like Closed Mondays the humans in the film had a realistic look to them with nothing out of proportion. The entire set used was made out of clay. All of the trees, water and lava was made completely out of clay. He was able to change the color of the water at certain points like at a waterfall to make it look like it was moving.

In 1979 Will made The Little prince. In this film a new character artist began to work with him and greatly changed how the people looked. In his previous films the people looked fairly realistic, but in the little prince they gained a caricature look to them. An interesting visual effect used in the film was at one point a king was sitting on a planet and as it moved backwards the stars appeared to move forward. At one point there was a glowing effect used to create a snake moving in a desert. Later in the film 2 backgrounds are moving in opposite directions, and both of them are partly see through and look like they are layered on top of each other. Later in the film the camera appears to be moving through a infinite 3 dimensional tunnel. At the end of the film he is able to use the glow effect to make a person look like they are glowing before disappearing.

In 1982 Will created The Great Cognito. In it a man did several voice impressions of famous people like Winston Churchill, FDR and John Wayne. As his voice changed his head was than remodeled to match the person that he was imitating.

In 1985 Will directed the Claymation film, The Adventures of Mark Twain. In the film objects will constantly morph what shape they are. At one point a smooth mask changes so that it resembles a skull. In another part of the film as a character waves their hand plants and grass appear to grow out of the ground. Later it looks like that character is shooting lightning out of their hands and leaves a burn mark on the object they hit.

In 1988 Will Vinton did a commercial for California raisins. In this the humans had a much more cartoonish looking face with more exaggerated features. There were also several human sized raisins in the commercial. They had their face cover their entire body, skinny arms and legs, and a gloves covering their hands. In another short made for California raisins, a Michael Jackson caricature was created with the same noticeable facial features and mannerisms.

In 1991 Will Vinton worked on a Claymation special for CBS, The Claymation Comedy of Horrors. In this film instead of using clay humans Will used cartoon like animals such as a pig and a snail, later in the film various monsters are animated such as a skeleton, a vampire and a giant blob whose face morphs. At one point in the film he had the head of the snail morph into several different objects such as a TV, trumpets, a book. One impressive scene in the film is when clay confetti falls down after being shot from a cannon. He was also able to get the lighting of a scene to change color when some lights were flashing as characters moved.

Another holiday Will Vinton did a special for was Easter in 1992. One effect Will managed to create in the special was a wavy effect in one shot to give the illusion of looking at something above water. In that short most of the background at one point was painted cutouts of furniture and of trees. One unique effect he managed to achieve in the short was making it look like a vacuum cleaner sucked the drawn lines and color off of one of the background props. In another scene he makes it look like a characters eyes expanded like a balloon.


Will Vinton’s Animation Art Collection. Web. 4 Dec. 2015.

Will Vinton Entertainment. Web. 4 Dec. 2015.


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