Coraline, above, stands to become a big star, but she’s actually only about 9 1/2 inches tall, says Knight, shown checking the framing of a close-up of the character. Knight spent the 2 1/2 years as a lead stop-motion animator for director Henry Selick’s movie.
Stop-motion animator Travis Knight, the son of Nike co-founder and billionaire Phil Knight, hasn’t exactly followed in his father’s sneaker prints. “I was athletic growing up and that was, of course, a big part of my household, but it wasn’t something that I was necessarily passionate about,” Knight says. “I understand the passion that [my father] feels for sports and athletics because I feel the same way about animation and film.”
Knight first discovered stop-motion through classic Rankin/Bass holiday specials like 1964’s “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” After college, he worked his way up to an animator job at Will Vinton Studios (now Laika), which was gearing up to produce the clay-animated TV series “The P.J.s” and “Gary & Mike.” After those shows went off the air, Knight spent the next six years using a combination of stop-motion and CGI to animate short films, music videos and commercials for “all kinds of crazy products like teriyaki sauce and toilet bowl cleaners,” he says.
When writer-director Henry Selick joined Laika in 2004, he brought “Coraline,” an adaptation of fantasy author Neil Gaiman’s children’s story, with him. Knight has spent the last 2 1/2 years as one of the lead stop-motion animators on the project.