Bent Image Lab

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BENT IMAGE LAB (or Bent) is a production company and animation studio specializing in commercials, music videos, short films, and visual effects for feature films. Located in Portland, Oregon, with additional production in Canada, Turkey, and Spain; the company was founded in 2002 by partners David Daniels, Ray Di Carlo, and Chel White.[1] In 2006, Tsui Ling Toomer joined the company as Head of Production. In October 2013, Visual Effects Executive Jeff Barnes (formerly a co-founder of CafeFX, The Syndicate and past Digital Domain VP) Joined the Bent team.[2]


Bent Image Lab is known largely for its stop motion animation projects. One notable example is "Blue Christmas" (a.k.a. "Santa and the States")(season 30, episode 8), a parody short for Robert Smigel's Saturday TV Funhouse on Saturday Night Live. The short, airing December 18, 2004, was directed by Bent co-founder and director Chel White, written by Robert Smigel and Michelle Saks Smigel with additional material by Rich Blomquist, Stephen Colbert, Scott Jacobson, and Matt O'Brien; voices by Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Erik Bergmann, and Robert Smigel.[3] The short is a parody of the 1964 holiday TV special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." produced by the Rankin/Bass productions company.

An earlier SNL short also directed by White, titled "The Narrator That Ruined Christmas," (season 27) aired December 15, 2001, and features the voices of SNL cast members Chris Parnell, Maya Rudolph, Amy Poehler, Doug Dale, Erik Bergmann, and Robert Smigel.[4]

In 2007, Bent Image Lab again replicated the Rankin/Bass stop-motion animation style of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in a television advertisement for Aflac, directed by Paul Harrod. Other Bent stop-motion productions include commercials for Lux, OfficeMax, Kelloggs Alltel,[5] Tinactin, and an anti-smoking campaign geared towards children for the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.

The company is also known for its CG (computer graphics) animation, mixed media projects, and live action and visual effects work on motion pictures and television. In 2011, Bent created interactive components for the World of Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta.


Bent Image Lab co-founder and director David Daniels invented an animation technique he termed Strata-cut,[6] a form of clay animation in which internally packed "loaves" of clay are animated in thin slices, revealing the movement of the pre-sculpted images within. The technique of strata-cut was used in animated segments of the Pee Wee's Playhouse[7] series during the mid-90s, and in the music video for Big Time[8] by Peter Gabriel (1986).

Bent co-founder and director Chel White is an independent film director. Since 1999, three of his short films have screened as part of the Sundance Film Festival[9] ("Dirt," "Choreography for Copy Machine," and "Passage"). Other festival screenings include the Berlin Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, SXSW Festival, Ottawa Animation Festival, Annecy Animation Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival, and Edinburgh International Film Festival. Chel White's film "Wind"[10] was commissioned by the climate change awareness group, Live Earth.[11] Narrated by Alec Baldwin,[12] the film uses a poem by Spanish poet Antonio Machado[13] a metaphor for contemporary society's lack of planet stewardship. The English translation of the poem was by Robert Bly. The film features a solo piano rendition of Tschaikovsky's "Morning Prayer" performed by Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale,[14] as well as time-lapse photography by Mark Eifert. Along with eight other Live Earth commissioned films, "Wind" made its world premiere in the opening night program of the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival with keynote speaker Al Gore.[15]

Bent Image Lab co-founder and executive producer Ray Di Carlo got his start in the film industry working on special effects in feature films. His first project was The Abyss (1989), where he came on as Lead Man for Donald Pennington. More recently Di Carlo produced visual effects for "I'm Not There"," "Paranoid Park"[16] (2007), and (2008) "Milk".[17] He has been Executive Producer for Bent Image Lab since its inception. He has also co-directed several of the company's commercial productions.

Bent director Rob Shaw has been with the company since 2005. He is known for his ability to mix different forms of media such as stop motion animation, CG, live action and 2-dimensional animation. He has directed commercials for clients including Koodo Mobile, Guitar Hero, TetraPak and Kellogg's, as well as music videos for They Might Be Giants, The Uncluded and The Apparitions. His animated short film, The Machine, a modern day cautionary fable about humans and machines, won Best Animated Short from the 2010 Atlanta Film Festival.[18]

Bent director Jun Seo Hahm's[19] work is showcased in a series of odd and original micro shorts called "Karnival,"[20]


Bent Image Lab and/or its directors have won Clio Awards, Mobius Advertising Awards, Promax BDA awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, Telly Awards, a Rosey, and several awards from the Chicago International Television Awards.[21] One commercial directed by David Daniels and two commercials directed by Chel White (OfficeMax "Santa's Helper," and Fila "Mashburn")[22] were included in the program The Art and Technique of the American Television Commercial: The AICP Show at MoMA[23] and are included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Film festival awards include Best Short Film from the 1998 Stockholm International Film Festival for Chel White's "Dirt," and the Grand Jury Prize for Best Animated Short for White's "Magda" from the 2004 Florida Film Festival.

Two music videos by Bent Image Lab directors were awarded Best Music Video in the SXSW Festival. These are Daniel Garcia's music video "Me-I"[24] for TV on the Radio (SXSW 2008), and Chel White's video "Harrowdown Hill"[25] for Radiohead's lead singer Thom Yorke (SXSW 2007).

Visual effects[edit]

Bent Image Lab has created visual effects for feature films since 2006. The company was in charge of visual effects for film director Gus Van Sant's films Paranoid Park[26] (2007), To Each His Own Cinema (segment: First Kiss)" (2007), Restless and the Academy Award winning Milk (2008), as well as title effects and animation on director Todd Haynes' film, I'm Not There (2007). Chel White acted as Visual Effects Supervisor on all four Van Sant films.

In 2006, Chel White directed the music video for Thom Yorke's song "Harrowdown Hill." Along with his team and co-founders at Bent Image Lab, White pioneered the Smallgantics technique that was used for the first time in the "Harrowdown Hill." video. An incarnation of Smallgantics was also used in the Bent production of "Hidden Formula," a commercial for Coca-Cola (directed by Daniels and DiCarlo)

Music videos by Bent Image Lab directors[edit]

Commercials produced by Bent Image Lab[edit]

Bent Image Lab's roster of directors[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Three Artists Get Bent (The Formation of Bent Image Lab)". Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^, David Gianatasio,2007-12-31, Retrieved on 2009-03-17
  6. ^, Stop Motion Works, copyright 2000-2004. Retrieved on 2009-03-17
  7. ^ "history of strata-cut". Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  8. ^, Tim Reckart,2008-08-26, Retrieved on 2009-03-17
  9. ^ "Sky Society Biography". Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  10. ^
  11. ^, MSN, list of films commissioned by Live Earth, Retrieved on 2009-03-17
  12. ^
  13. ^ "translated by Robert Bly (originally in Spanish)". Retrieved 2009-03-17. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Sky Society Press Kit for "Wind."". Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  15. ^, Anonymous Author,2007-04-26, Retrieved on 2009-03-17
  16. ^ "2007-06-25". Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  17. ^, NY Times, full credit list, 2008, Retrieved on 2009-03-17
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "2007 List of Winners at Chicago International Television Awards". Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  22. ^, Sky Society, List of Notable works by Chel White, Retrieved on 2009-03-17
  23. ^ "The Art and Technique of the American Television Commercial: The AICP Show at MoMA, 2005". MOMA. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  24. ^ "List of Winners at South by Southwest Film Festival". March 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-17. [dead link]
  25. ^ "List of winners at South by Southwest Film Festival". 2007. Retrieved 2009-03-17. [dead link]
  26. ^ "List of Credits for "Paranoid Park"". Retrieved 2009-03-17.