An overview of the history and development of claymation (film animation using clay) from 1908 to the present. Frierson described the basics and aesthetics of this film technique and highlights the key movers in the field such as Wil Vinton and Bruce Bickford. Paper edition (unseen), $18.95. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.
Blackwell North Amer
Clay animation is a living art form. It can be seen in television series such as "Gumby," in commercials with dancing raisins, interspersed in music videos and in films, both shorts and features. The dimensionality and movement of the clay characters - as they talk, dance, sing, and run - have a distinctive quality that sets it apart from other forms of animation. Yet clay animation, which made its American debut in 1908, has always been marginalized by the dominance of cel animation (the cartoon form that made Bugs Bunny so popular). Michael Frierson explains in Clay Animation the reasons behind this neglect and gives the reader not just the history of American clay animation, but also the technique, the masters, and a look at its future.
Frierson begins with the basics, describing the process and aesthetic impact of clay animation. Frierson explains the interaction between camera, lighting, and set design, and how these aspects of the medium compare with other forms of animation. In so doing, the reader gains a solid introduction to new technologies. Helpful summaries, shot lists, a glossary and over 50 illustrations are provided to keep the reader in step with the discussion throughout.
With the basics firmly detailed, Frierson goes on to deftly describe the unique contributions of each clay animator. Beginning with the "founders" from the silent era, notably Willie Hopkins and Helena Smith Dayton, Clay Animation gives a complete historical and creative account of clay animation's main contributors, including Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby, and Bob Gardiner and Will Vinton, winners of an Academy Award for their clay film Closed Mondays (1974). Frierson analyzes the evolution of clay techniques, imagery, and narratives as well as the film and television landscape that gave birth to these films. Readers will find an informative and insightful description of clay animations from the cutting edge, by such artists as Joan Gratz, Bruce Bickford, and David Daniels.
Michael Frierson ends Clay Animation with a discussion by those active in the world of clay animation today - an independent clay animator, a commercial producer, the winner of the 1993 Academy Award for Best Animation, and others - on the future of the medium. In many ways, they echo each other, speaking of the impact of computer animatics, their concern that clay animation might become a marginal form, but also their strong belief that no other animation medium can match the artistic expressiveness of clay. Student, film buff, and animator alike will find in Michael Frierson's Clay Animation a direct link to the world of clay.