Bent Image Lab

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BENT IMAGE LAB (or BENT) is a production company and animation studio specializing in content development, television, commercials, music videos, short films, interactive media and visual effects for feature films. Located in Portland, Oregon, with additional production in Cadiz, Spain, the company was founded in 2002 by partners David Daniels, Ray Di Carlo, and Chel White.[1]

Beginning in 2010, the studio began the production and development of television projects, most notably in the form of holiday specials for the Hallmark Channel.[2] Joining BENT in 2015, former Development Executive at LAIKA and Production Executive on the R-rated animated feature film Anomalisa,[3] Trever Stewart is currently working with the studio in the development of long form film and television projects.[4][5] In 2015, BENT directors Joshua Cox and Solomon Burbridge started a division of the company called Design Lab, dedicated specifically to contemporary design work for clients. Their work includes a re-branding campaign for Cartoon Network. SInce 2014, the studio has also been developing augmented reality.[6][7]


Bent Image Lab is known largely for its stop motion animation, CGI/computer animation and multi-technique projects.[8]

One notable example of a BENT stop motion project is "Blue Christmas" (a.k.a. "Santa and the States")(season 30, episode 8),[9][10] 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.[11] The short is a parody of the 1964 holiday TV special "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," produced by the Rankin/Bass productions company. Bent Image Lab has since replicated the stop-motion style of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" in television advertisements for AT&T, AFLAC, Bing and in a series of 2014 holiday promos for CBS commemorating the 50th anniversary of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."[12][13] In 2016, the studio produced a ten-minute remake of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" as a 4D attraction film for SimEx-Iwerks.[14] Another significant stop motion project is Jingle All the Way (TV special), a holiday special for Hallmark Channel. In reviewing the 2011 television holiday programs, Mike Hale of The New York Times called Jingle All the Way (TV special) " far the best of the bunch."[15] Other notable BENT stop-motion productions include director Rob Shaw's ongoing "Rats" segments for the IFC show “Portlandia”,[16] with Saturday Night Live cast member Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, as well as commercials for Honda, Gatorade, Lux, OfficeMax, Kelloggs, Tinactin, and an anti-smoking campaign geared towards children for the Washington Department of Social and Health Services.

BENT's computer animation work can be seen in the 2015 Annie Awards[17] nominated Polariffic, directed by Rob Shaw, as well as in their commercials for Nike, Coca-Cola, Koodo,[18] and Chips Ahoy.[19]

The company is also known for its visual effects work in motion pictures and television, as seen in four films by Gus Van Sant and NBC's Grimm (TV Series),[20] and its animated children's television specials for Hallmark Channel, including Jingle All the Way (TV special), Polariffic and “Hoops&Yoyo’s Haunted Halloween." 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,[21] 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[22] series during the mid-90s, and in the music video for Big Time[23] by Peter Gabriel (1986).

Bent co-founder Chel White is an independent film director who began making films in the mid-1980s. His short films include, "Choreography for Copy Machine (Photocopy Cha Cha)," "Dirt," "Magda" and "A Painful Glimpse Into My Writing Process (In Less Than 60 Seconds)."[24] Among White's notable commissioned projects are his 2006 music video "Harrowdown Hill" for Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke,[25] and the 2007 short film, "Wind,"[26] commissioned by the climate change awareness group, Live Earth.[27] Narrated by Alec Baldwin,[28] "Wind" uses a poem by Spanish poet Antonio Machado[29] as a metaphor for humanity's lack of planet stewardship. 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.[30] Since 1999, three of Chel White's short films have screened as part of the Sundance Film Festival[31] ("Dirt," "Choreography for Copy Machine," and "Passage"). His other festival screenings include the Berlin Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, SXSW Festival, Ottawa Animation Festival, Annecy Animation Festival, Hong Kong International Film Festival, and Edinburgh International Film Festival.

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"[32] (2007), and (2008) "Milk".[33] He has been Executive Producer for Bent Image Lab since its inception. He has also co-directed several of the company's commercial productions.

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 animated television shorts for IFC's Portlandia,[34] television specials for Hallmark, and commercial campaigns for Gatorade,[35] Koodo Mobile, and Kellogg's, as well as music videos for They Might Be Giants, The Uncluded and Aesop Rock. 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.[36]

Bent director Solomon Burbridge's work includes short, mature-themed segments for MTV, and commercials for MasterCard, Cadbury, Arrowhead and U.S. Navy. He has been a director at BENT since 2007.

Argentine-born director Carlos Lascano is an accomplished filmmaker known for his short films "Shadow of Blue," A Short Love Story in Stop Motion" and "Lila." He is represented in North America by Bent Image Lab.


Bent Image Lab and/or its directors have won Clio Awards, Bessie Awards, Promax BDA awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, Telly Awards, a Rosey, and several awards from the Chicago International Television Awards.[37] Two commercials directed by Chel White (OfficeMax "Santa's Helper," and Fila "Mashburn") were included in the program The Art and Technique of the American Television Commercial: The AICP Show at MoMA[38][39] and are included in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Film festival awards include 'Best Television Program for Adults' from the 2012 Ottawa International Animation Festival for Bent Image Lab director Rob Shaw's "Rats" (stop-motion segments for the IFC hit show “Portlandia”), Best Short Film from the 1998 Stockholm International Film Festival for Chel White's "Dirt," Best Animated Short for Rob Shaw's "The Machine" from the 2010 Atlanta Film Festival, and the Grand Jury Prize for Best Animated Short for White's "Magda" from the 2004 Florida Film Festival. Chel White's music video "Harrowdown Hill"[40] for Radiohead's lead singer Thom Yorke won Best Music Video in the 2007 SXSW.[41]

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[42] (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[43] 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 current (or former) Bent Image Lab directors[edit]

Commercials produced by Bent Image Lab[edit]

Bent Image Lab's roster of directors[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


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