Will Vinton, Oscar-Winning Claymation Animator, Dies at 70

Acclaimed Claymation director Will Vinton (Photo: Will Vinton Facebook)

Oscar and Emmy Award winning stop-motion animation director Will Vinton passed away after a 12-year battle with Multiple Myeloma. Vinton was known for popularizing the animation medium known as “Claymation,” working exclusively with clay in his films.

Vinton won an Oscar for his 1975 short film Closed Mondays, and went on to work on such films as Return to Oz and the Marx Brothers homage film Brain Donors. Vinton was then hired by Disney to produce animation effects for Michael Jackson’s, Captain EO in 1986. Vinton would work with Jackson again on the video for Speed Demon from Jackson’s feature-length film, Moonwalker in 1988.

Vinton was best known for the California Raisons television commercials, which became a cultural phenomenon in the late eighties, eventually leading to the prime-time specials Meet the Raisins and The Raisins Sold Out, as well as the Claymation Christmas Special. Vinton also created the Domino’s Pizza commercial mascot the Noid, as well as the animated M&Ms characters, which are still being used in their advertising today.

Will Vinton Studios would eventually spin off into Laika Studios, known for producing the films Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls and Kubo and the Two Strings, thanks to a partnership between Vinton and Nike, Inc. owner Phil Knight, who eventually took over the company.

You can see some of Will Vinton’s amazing work below.


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