With all the advancements in animation through the years, there is one form that has stayed very true to it’s roots. As computers do most of the animating these days, clay animation has remained a slow and steady art form. It’s a long and arduous process – creating each character by hand in three dimensions, sculpting each expression over and over again as a single word is formed, and yet clay animation artists seldom get the accolades they deserve.
Meet Randy Boyum, of Random Animation, he’s the kind of unassuming, talented genius that you could easily miss on the street. Minnesota born, but living in Colorado, Boyum has worked in the field of clay animation for many years, bringing clay characters to life for clients across the country.
Boyum has been steadily working for many years and on various projects. Do you remember the short-lived UPN comedy “Gary and Mike?” Boyum was one of the artists. If you ever saw the “Monster Idol” short that aired on the WAM! Network, well that was Boyum too. If you’ve ever walked into a convenience store and noticed the screen playing clay animation advertisements of various snack foods, or if you remember a television commercial with a dozen singing clay eggs for the Le Peep restaurant chain, or if you have ever seen the animated short “How to Survive a Bear Attack,” yes, all were Boyum.
So what brings a seemingly normal person to select the world of clay animation? “Well I was always a very artistic person,” explains Boyum “I play piano, I write music, I sculpt, I paint landscapes, I dabbled in acting. One day it occurred to me that I could combine all the things that I love to do in one medium…I mean, I enjoy all of these things – but I don’t enjoy any one of them enough to concentrate on just one. This way, by the time I’m done sculpting one character, I get to move on to something else.”
“Its the tactile,” Boyum offers, “I like grabbing the character and working with my hands. When you work with stop motion or clay animation – it’s still real. No matter how good Pixar gets you know it is still computer animation. But with clay, there is a weight to it. There is something very real and there is a depth and a movement and light to it.”
This short-attention-span art form has worked exceedingly well for Boyum, who meticulously hand crafts every detail in each one of his shorts. From the painted backdrops to the music scores and even most of the voice-over work – every ounce of each short is 100% Randy Boyum.
One visit to his YouTube page will showcase Boyum’s extreme talent. Take a look at his Hoovies videos, a hilarious series of shorts inspired by Boyum’s own Norwegian roots. Or check out his line of animated greeting cards, that can even be personalized at HDGreetings.com. And Boyum’s most recent short is a fantastic creation titled Pastor Prime, a brand new character that Boyum explains as “a sweet, little old preacher from Chattamegg, Minnesota. She loves to preach and means well, but she is quite confused most of the time, and rarely manages to quote scripture correctly.”
If all of this clay animation inspires you to take a look at this field, what would Boyum suggest? “If you are really interested and have a passion for animation, you just can not spend $50,000 at a school and hope that you are gonna get this job at Pixar. Why? Because Pixar probably gets more than 1,000 resumes a day. They are bombarded with so many youth that come out of these schools.” So what is a young, passionate clay artist to do? Boyum urges young artists to begin now and to teach themselves. “Everything you need to know online. You can spend a little bit of money on a great program that you can teach to yourself at home while you are sitting on your mom’s couch.”
And while you are at it, Boyum offers this advice, “If you are going to build yourself a miniature set, secure everything down. Don’t assume it will stay put. Glue that sucker down. If you don’t need it to move, then glue it down. Trust me. I’ve made that mistake more than once.”