With interests in cartooning and sculpture, it was inevitable that a claymation would follow. Enter Basil, the not-quite-world-renowned mountaineer.

Watch Basil Climbs a Hill

Video not working? Check it out on YouTube here.

Basil started as a claymation puppet made in a claymation class I took at the Museum School of Fine Arts in Boston. He has a skeleton made from twisted wire and putty epoxy to stand in as “bones.” Under his clay boots are epoxied nuts. These allow him to be bolted directly to an underlying peg board, giving him far better purchase than traditional crampons would provide. His clothes are forever fashionable, or at least should be, because they comprise a permanent wardrobe. His head is made of soft modelers clay. Basil is quite perceptive, thanks to his 4 sets of eyes, each in a different stage of a blink. They are made of wooden beads, which makes them easy to move around.

I made the movie one week in the summer of 2009 on a set I built in part of my garage. The film was shot with a 1CCD sony video camera that captured still images in the Frame Thief animators program. I shot around a minute and a half of video, comprised of around 1100 individual frames. The set was made up of a pegboard covered in sewing batting, with movable bolts and wing nuts that I could move around underneath to give Basil a solid footing. A last minute piece of paper and some forced perspective stood in for a crevasse.

The soundtrack was recorded by myself, and my two friends Dylan and Reid (voice), who used, in addition to our highly trained singing voices (could you tell?), a bowl of sugar (snow crunch) and some nuts and bolts (ice axe).

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  1. janet, Johanna and Kim

    all of us here at Duke Hospital loved your videos. Keep up the good work!!! your fans at Live For Life at Duke

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