Feature: Seattle’s Indie Animator Clyde Petersen

Clyde Petersen operates on multiple planes

By Seattle Mag December 31, 1969

Category: seattlepi.com teaser headlines


More Seattle animators:
Webster Cromwell
Britta Johnson
Stefan Gruber

Tess Martin

Thursday, March 4 at 8 p.m.,  Zeitgeist Coffee 

Seattle animators are bucking the computer animation trend, using lo-fi techniques to create lovely little films. See for yourself at the (free!) Local Animation Showcase, featuring work by the artists profiled in the March issue of Seattle magazine (Stefan Gruber, Tess Martin, Britta Johnson, Webster Crowell and Clyde Petersen) as well as a few fellow animators
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IDOLS: “Bruce Bickford—who animated for Frank Zappa and lives south of Georgetown—he’s insanely good. Everyone in Seattle is like, ahhh.…Also, whoever made the little dinosaur family in Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.” ON COMPUTER ANIMATION: “I have to work on a computer so much for other parts of my job; I want to stay away from it as much as possible when I’m animating.” NEXT UP: “I have a backlog of things I want to do—animate sand, paint, chalk.” Also in the works: a documentary about minorities in the Northwest arts scene, funded by a City Artist grant and due out in July. SEE FOR YOURSELF: Watch Petersen’s music video animations at doitforthegirls.com.

Clyde Petersen’s Wallingford home studio—a glorified closet—is dominated by what appears to be the skeleton of a tall, narrow chest of drawers. Black metal scaffolding holds several pieces of horizontal glass at varying heights, on which sit cut-out illustrations. “It’s a multiplane,” Petersen, 29, says, explaining that the animation device (made obsolete by computer technology) was invented in 1933 by an employee of the Walt Disney company, who devised it as a way to give depth to animation. Disney used one for Snow White, Pinocchio, Fantasia and other films, and Petersen—whose homemade version is, in fact, a deconstructed Ikea dresser—is using it to animate a music video (due out this month) for Portland band Quasi.

The multiplane is a suitable metaphor for the thoughtful, forthcoming Petersen, who emanates depth and works on many different planes at once. Under his production company, Do It for the Girls (started in 2005), he creates animated music videos, builds band Web sites, and designs CD art and T-shirts. He also teaches animation to junior high school students at Northwest Film Forum and for Coyote Central (at 911 Media Arts), and plays guitar with three Seattle bands.

Petersen’s history with animation goes back to his student days at Garfield High School, where he made stop-motion films with close friend and sometimes collaborator Forrest Baum. He went on to study filmmaking at Western Washington University, where—due t


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