Lively Kisses

The Hershey's Kisses commercials have been a popular and very successful campaign, originally created via stop-motion animation in the 1990's and continuing to the present day with computer-generated imagery. The now defunct Colossal Pictures in San Francisco produced the earliest versions of these advertisements, brilliantly directed by Carl Willat. In 1995, Colossal, unable to find a local stop-motion animator who could handle their current Hershey's assignments, reached out to me. I was persuaded to travel from my home in Santa Monica to their San Francisco studio in order to animate two commercials, one featuring ice skating Kisses and the other spotlighting a snake charming Kiss. Both commercials were extremely challenging to create but the final results were incredible.

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Arcimboldo Modern

Back in the 16th century, Italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo created portraits of people, wonderfully weird as they were constructed of food, plants, animals, and household objects. Four hundred years later, in the 1980's, wine coolers came on the scene and were all the rage in the United States. It may seem that these two events, unrelated and centuries apart, have nothing in common; however, in 1988, I was commissioned to bring an Arcimboldo-inspired character to life for a California Cooler advertisement by a company called Limelight. Producer Prudence Fenton and director Stephen R. Johnson sent me on a mission - to construct a man made out of fruit and to animate him via stop-motion. A daunting task indeed!

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Humorous Hunting Trophies

The Canadian Restaurant chain Montana's Cookhouse once had an advertising campaign featuring an unusual comedy team: talking trophy heads of a moose and a deer. I was hired by the visual effects company, Beau Studio, to animate the character performance of these two taxidermic animals. The commercials were very popular and we ultimately made six of them from 2006 through 2009. This project was an aesthetic challenge because it was imperative that the characters be likable and charming; however, the very concept of two hunting trophies being alive and talking is in itself somewhat macabre!

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Eye Candy

This unusual commercial, titled Moving Life Savers, featured hundreds of real Life Savers candies in action. In 1989, I was hired by Limelight, a now-defunct production company, to bring said candies to life via stop-motion animation. The project was a huge challenge, particularly because the desired result required maintaining control of a large number of candies while using the very limited "old-school" technology of the time.

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Zippy the Cap

One of the cleverest ad campaigns I have been involved with was for Black Star Beer in 1992. A "Make-Believe History" was created for the newly started brewery by the Wieden & Kennedy agency, directed by Alex Proyas. The ad featured a montage of pretend commercials from the past, presented by announcer John Corbett (of Northern Exposure fame). My contribution was to animate Zippy The Cap, an iconic talking bottle cap character, supposedly from the year 1950.

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Making Mickey's Parade

One of the most ambitious stop-motion commercials of all time was created in 1991 for MICKEY'S PARADE FROZEN TREATS, directed by Kevin Dole. The advertisement featured hundreds of animated puppets and props, and required ingenious methods to bring them to life.

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The End of the Stop-Motion Doughboy

The complete commercial, bookended with my animation of the Doughboy.


Since his debut in the mid sixties, the Pillsbury Doughboy was brought to life via stop-motion animation, but that era came to an end in 1992 when it was decided to switch to CGI. It was my pleasure to animate the Doughboy for his final stop-motion commercial campaign at Apogee Inc. for the Leo Burnett advertising agency. A couple commercials were created simultaneously under the direction of effects legend John Dykstra, and I was chosen to animate one of them with a Christmas theme. The budget for the project was clearly high since they offered me more than my normal pay rate, but of course expected the highest quality animation possible in return. I was given a luxurious amount of time to do tests and experiment with the character performance, which was far from the norm of a typical stop-motion shoot.

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A look behind the scenes of art-making and other musings by .

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face of Night Scorp Chroma Key Animation

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Man runs in a sewer movie set Starting at the Bottom

Animated bottle cap character Zippy the Cap

Stone Giant stop-motion puppet The End of Dynamation

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Dancing figures Lucid Dream

Talking deer and moose hunting trophies Wacky Trophy Heads

Handstanding figure over river valley Making THE WANDERER

Portrait of man made of fruit Creating a Fruit Man

Colorful mandala design Mysterium Mandala

Portrait of Jack Skellington Nightmare Still Photos

Spacecraft Wreckage Spaceship Junkyard

Closeup of a robot Models and Props pt. 1

Watch shaped like a mouse Models and Props pt. 2

Train locomotive Models and Props pt. 3

Face of a cute dinosaur Young Iguanodon

ice skating hersheys kisses Lively Kisses

shopping mall Making Mall Mania

powerful super hero Extreme Heroic Poses

face of mother earth Earth Mother

The character Kait from Gears of War Motion Mixture

Clay fox sculpture in the snow Pee-Wee Christmas Title

Painting of a wild goat overlooking a valley One With Nature

© 2006-2019 Joel Fletcher
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