We've been fans of stop-motion guru PES for a while now—giddily typing in a flurry every time he announces a new project, such as his recent Kickstarter campaign to fund an upcoming feature about making sandwiches (out of vintage sports gear, naturally). Yesterday, the animator stepped out from behind his props to talk with fans in a Reddit AMA about avocado grenades and other claymation creativity.
The earnest (and awesome) dialogue ranged from how he didn't come from an animation background to his strange collection of props that have grown over the years, including shark teeth and Belgian bocce balls. We gathered a few of our favorite factoids from the AMA for your to check out below:
His Animation Origins:
"You know, I didn't study animation in school. I had an idea to make two chairs have sex. And you know, at the time I was young and pretty poor and I realized that i had to figure out how to make this idea, I just thought the most logical way to do it was to take the actual chairs, bring them to a roof, and bring them to life through stop-motion animation. And so I taught myself how to animate.
I was living in a bachelor pad in NYC at the time, and I started ordering doll furniture from eBay. And I would stay up late at night animating the doll furniture to teach myself how to animate little chairs. And then when I was ready, I shot the film on the roof somewhere in the East Village. My roommates thought it was pretty strange, all this doll furniture just showing up at the house." via
"I'd say that each film kind of has one idea in it that I couldn't stop thinking about that I really wanted to make. For instance, in a film like Game Over, I read an interview with the creator of the Pac-Man character, Tōru Iwatani, and he said he based the character of Pac-Man on a pizza with a slice missing. I never knew that and thought it would be a really interesting idea for a film, and wanted to apply it to other arcade games. And that was really the birth of that idea, for example.
For as long as I can remember, whenever i walked into a supermarket and saw a pile of fresh avocados, I always thought 'grenades.' And if I just grabbed one and throw it, I could blow up the produce department. This idea of grenade as avocado just stuck with me and I decided to turn it into an entire short film. I just follow that train of thought - what would I make with an avocado? Well there's really only one answer to that question: guacamole.
And it's almost like a little puzzle I play with myself: if a grenade is an avocado, then what would be the tomato, the jalapeño, the onion, and I just work on those ideas for years until I'm happy with the ideas I've come up with and feel like I have enough ideas to make a film." via
The Weirdest Props He Owns
"I don't even know where to start with this answer...I have so many cool things—old shark teeth, bocce balls that I picked up in Belgium, a lighter made out of a spent bullet casing. One of the joys of going out and looking for objects is that you never know what you're going to find. And the thing that you're looking for usually is never there when you need it. I can't even explain sometimes why I like certain objects. Other times, I discover something that I want to buy because I can bring it to life in some way in a future film or it sparks an idea or something that I would use in the future." via
Clever Sound Design For Stop-Motion
There's two different ways I make films. Some films use pre-recorded sound effects, like Game Over, which used the actual sound effects from the original arcade games. My film Kaboom! used actual war sound effects. And The Deep used underwater sound effects that existed in Hollywood effect libraries.
But on the other hand, I do all my own foley work for other films, like Western Spaghetti and Fresh Guacamole, I make those sounds myself because they don't exist in sound libraries. You can't just say 'Find someone throwing a tomato in a pan with oil in it.' It just doesn't exist. So I had to come up with a different solution for that. In fact, it's a wet t-shirt being dropped into my bathroom sink." via
On His Movies Being An Unintentional Trigger For Head Tingling/ASMR
"I love the idea of head tingles. When I do sound design I usually have a sound in my head that I feel will connect with the animation that I've made and will help sell the idea (e.g. grenade as avocado) to a viewer. This could be a totally different sound for a different creator. Maybe I am just naturally drawn to these trigger sounds." via