David Daniels

Event DateEvent Date

Event LocationLocation

Off Campus

Online, Zoom

Visiting Artists | CalArts Animation: The Early Years

This lecture series is open to CalArts students, faculty, staff, and alumni only. If you are interested in attending and would like a list of the films available for viewing before the class meetings please email Michael Scroggins via aka@calarts.edu to request access to the videos (some are password protected).


David Daniels’ passion for unique moving images led him to invent a stop-motion animation technique known as strata cut, which became a key element in his thesis project, a short film called Buzz Box. At the time, he was completing his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. Daniels’ 16-minute film not only premiered in the elite American Film Institute Video Festival, but became an integral part of his one man show at the prestigious Kitchen Gallery in New York City. Not long after, Daniels collected the first of many awards over the years, a Clio for his work as the director of photography and animator on the groundbreaking kids’ television series, Pee Wee’s Playhouse. He next served as the lead animation director on Peter Gabriel’s Big Time, which won the MTV music award for the 50 best videos of all time. Daniels would later also direct the ABC video for Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker retrospective compilation, and create the animated opening title sequence for the feature film, Freaked, starring Randy Quaid and Brooke Shields.

In the early 1990s, he joined the Will Vinton Studios as a lead director and creative visionary in mixed media. During his tenure, Daniels would direct one of the most successful animation-based advertising campaigns ever–the original TV spots featuring the colorful M&M’s, whose popular characters have remained unchanged for almost two decades. Daniels went on to direct an award-winning series of ‘promotionals’ for Fox NFL, featuring Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, James Brown, and Chris Collingsworth. Since co-founding BENT in 2002, he helped direct another highly-successful series of spots–this time featuring a clay animation version of sports legend John Madden for Tinactin. Among the cutting-edge projects BENT has become known for is the award-winning 60-second Coke spot called Hidden Formula, co-directed by Daniels, that challenges the viewer’s perception of scale and physical relationships through two other animation techniques that Daniels helped to develop: “Smallgantics'' and “Bigatures.”