EventApril 29, 2021

David Daniels Joins CalArts Animation: The Early Years Virtual Lecture Series

Trailblazing filmmaker and commercial director David Daniels (Film/Video MFA 85) joins the CalArts Animation: The Early Years virtual lecture series on Thursday, April 29. The series is open to CalArts students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Daniels’ skill in creating unique moving images is evidenced by his pioneering animation techniques. He earned his MFA in Experimental Animation at CalArts in 1985, by the end of which he completed his thesis film titled “Buzz Box.” The 16-minute short features stratacut animation—a stop-motion animation technique of which Daniels is the inventor—as illustrated by a bread-sized clay loaf being sliced. He is also credited as developing the “smallgantics” and “bigatures” techniques, which challenge the viewer’s perception of scale and physical relationships. 

After graduating, Daniels began working on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, the groundbreaking children’s television series starring fellow CalArtian Paul Reubens (Theater BFA 73). Daniels recounted the experience of getting involved with the series in a January 2018 interview with Edge of Frame:

One of these times at CalArts somebody said, probably in April of ’85, “yesterday somebody came through and they’re looking to hire people in New York. I said “What’s it for?” “You know Pee Wee Herman? He had that movie, I think they’re going to do a TV show.” I said, “how do you get in?” I never really got a clear answer, but, I thought well I’ll just show up in New York and pound on the door and see if they have any room.

Daniels went on to receive a Clio Award for his work as the director of photography and animator on the show. He also served as lead animation director on Peter Gabriel’s Big Time music video, which was recognized by the MTV Music Awards as one of the 50 best music videos of all time. 

Daniels joined the Portland, Oregon-based Will Vinton Studios in 1992 as lead director and creative visionary in mixed media. There, he launched the original TV spots featuring the iconic M&M characters, which have remained unchanged in design for nearly two decades and mark one of the most successful animation-based advertising campaigns of all time.

In 2002, Daniels co-founded BENT Image Lab, through which he has directed various successful spots, including a clay animation for legendary football coach and sportscaster John Madden for Tinactin. BENT’s other cutting-edge projects including the minute-long Coca-Cola “Hidden Formula” spot, co-directed by Daniels, which utilized the “smallgantics” and “bigatures” techniques. Since 2014, BENT has also been developing augmented reality (AR) projects. 

In January 2020, Daniels exhibited a series of 3D clay sculptures at the Egyptian Theater’s screening of the 1993 cult classic Freaked, for which Daniel also animated the opening title sequence and created the film’s soundtrack album cover art.

Event Details

'Visiting Artists | CalArts Animation: The Early Years': David Daniels

Thursday, April 29, 7:30-9:30 pm PST
Off campus. This Q&A with Danielsis open to CalArts students, faculty, staff, and alumni only.

To RSVP for the Zoom link or for additional information, contact School of Film/Video faculty Michael Scroggins via aka@calarts.edu.

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