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David Daniels Talks About Stratacut

David Daniels

The word genius is thrown around so loosely and frequently nowadays that it’s hard to discern who might actually be worthy of the distinction. David Daniels is, and his animation technique–Stratacut–is mind-boggling and beyond words. Yesterday, The Art of the Title Sequence posted an interview with David Daniels that is pure gold. In addition to the interview, there are hi-res examples of his animation, and most amazingly, a series of video demos documenting his Stratacut technique. Whether you’re already familiar with Daniels’ work or not, prepare to be blown away.

  • Joel Brinkerhoff

    I’ve had the pleasure of working with David on many occasions and I fully agree with you about his genius. He is a gentle giant who can think in the fourth dimension and still interact with us mere mortals. David is also a very caring guy.

  • David Daniels deserves to be called Genius. His stuff is a lot of fun to watch. Its such an unusual process, which looks and (now) could have been done by computer. Stratacut is one of the hardest processes I’ve ever heard of, and so far, I only know Daniels performing it. Well done, Mr. Daniels.

  • amy

    wow. that’s one of the coolest things i’ve seen in awhile. thanks for posting!

  • Dax

    Wow, thanks for posting this. Amazing and inspiring!

  • FP

    This guy’s stuff has amazed me for years, since back when he did the IDIOT BOX titles and even before that. It’s the closest thing to a just-before-waking nightmare I’ve seen in animation. His method seems at first easy to grasp, until you start to wonder how the hell he creates his wax cartoon loaves. The work feels like it was done by a more controlled Bickford.

    I’m off to read the interview now. Thanks for the link…

  • I have an uncut piece of Dave’s stratacut on my shelf. It’s a skeleton walking, I think. I’m never going to cut it and you can’t make me.

  • The demo was shot at Will Vinton Studios during an open house for Ad Agencies. I want to say that it was around 1992. So you can hear folks in the background being toured around the shooting stage. If memory serves – John Ashlee was operating the camera, I was watching and I think so was Hal Hickel or Chuck Duke. Dave would get really frenetic when he was getting into building one of his blocks and it was scary to watch him toss that razor-sharp knife around. It’s not in the online footage, but by the end of the session he had sliced a finger doing the demo. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  • Just to correct Emmett above, I believe that Oscar Fischinger experimented with the technique using wax blocks. There’s a couple photos in the “Experimental Animation” book. But Dave has taken it the farthest of anyone. He is quite an expert with motion control camera systems and his best stuff was shot with elaborate rigs that move the camera down the length of the strata-loaf.

  • Saturnome

    Fischinger’s Wax works are abstract and I think shaped by luck. All I’ve ever seen of David Daniels’ work is bits and pieces such as the demo and a few minutes of “Buzz Box” (I’ve been looking after that one for a long time!). I’m not aware if he have done other personal projects, all I see are music videos and ads. People with such talent should do some shorts at something like the NFB or I don’t know.

  • Holy shit. I’d never seen those before. Wow.

  • Just have to jump in to say that David truly is a genius and one of the nicest people I’ve had the honor to work with. No matter how many times I watch his Stratacut, my mind is still blown.

  • Iritscen

    Very cool stuff, but thanks also for showing me that Art Of The Title site. When they get their bandwidth issues corrected I will have a lot of fun browsing it.

  • Damn you, Amid! You beat me to my own post about David’s work! Bob Lyons introduced me to his stuff back in college and I actually got a chance to do some of my own strata-cut animation in his film class. Mind-blowing stuff, to be sure, but so much fun to plot out and create!

  • Joel Brinkerhoff

    Webster mentioned Fischinger who did the wax technique but I think David is the first to incorporate recognizable images and animate them through out the block. Some of the most mind-blowing work I’ve seen was for “Peewee’s Playhouse” where whole stories were told with multiple characters, effects and locations done in one continuous shot.

  • Giatto Spongebob

    Daniels is the reincarnation of Emil Cohl, but with a greater gift. It is tragic that the ubiquity of computer animation has lessened the perceived impact of his unique and amazing work for some people. Fortunately for his own sanity Daniels was able to fully fathom the nature of his talent and survive this corrupt, commercial society in spite of it.

  • I was officially blown away! Nice work. Fun and energetic.

  • Steve Segal

    In Lotte Reininger’s early feature The Adventures of Prince Achmed, she used a wax slicing machine built by Fischinger to make a horse appear, it’s very impressive. But not as mind blowing as Daniels’ work. I love the American history he illustrated for Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the video for Peter Gabriel’s “Big Time”.