Notable Oregonians: Will Vinton - Animator
Will Vinton was born in 1947 and grew up in McMinnville, Oregon. He enrolled at the University of California in Berkeley in the early 1970s to study architecture and physics. Fascinated by the fluid designs created initially in clay by Spanish sculptural architect Antonio Gaudi, Vinton began experimenting with a merger of clay and film.
After graduating with a degree in architecture, Vinton entered the world of film production, working as a director, cinematographer, sound technician, and editor on a variety of projects. His documentary, Gone for a Better Deal, captured the essence of student life in the San Francisco Bay Area during the Vietnam War.
In 1975, Closed Mondays, a film he co-created with Bob Gardiner, won the Academy Award for best animated film. Shortly thereafter, Vinton trademarked Claymation® (dimensional animation) and started the Will Vinton Studios production company.
Among other projects, Will Vinton is known for creating the "California Raisins" television commercial; "The PJs" television comedy, which took a satirical look at life in a big city housing project; and the "Gary & Mike" television comedy about suburban twenty-somethings on a road trip.
Vinton left Will Vinton Studios in 2003 after a dispute with the board of directors. Since 2004 he has given talks about animation history and the business of art as artist-in-residence at The Art Institute of Portland, a private school. He founded Will Vinton's Freewill Entertainment company, based in Portland, and has worked on several associated projects, including the short film, The Morning After. In 2005, Will Vinton Studios changed its name to Laika.