Caruso grew up in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where he attended the School on Magnolia, an early Cleveland-area alternative high school. He was active as a musician, and was one of the founding members of the band the Suburban White Boys. Later, he formed part of a duo known as the Stretch Links, which released two full-length cassettes and has recently produced a series of podcasts. He left the Cleveland area for San Francisco, where he attended San Francisco State University and began working as an independent video director.
Early in his career, Caruso co-founded Commotion Pictures, a San Francisco-based film production company, with Andrew Linsk. There, he directed nearly fifty music videos and began his commercial career. In addition, he represented a roster of directors and shared Executive Producer responsibilities. His music industry clients and artists included Warner's Green Day, A&M's Soundgarden, Virgin's John Lee Hooker, Columbia's Public Enemy, and Island's PJ Harvey. He directed commercial spots for: Sega, Time Warner, Taco Bell, and Levi Strauss. Commotion produced marketing films for Pacific Bell, Sega, Crystal Dynamics and others.
After leaving Commotion Pictures, Caruso was recruited to Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), George Lucas's special effects company. With ILM's Commercial Production (ILMCP) division, he directed spots for Coors, DirecTV, Disney, Kraft, Motorola, and Sprint He directed music video titles for actor/musician Will Smith, winning awards for "Men In Black" and "Will2K". In collaboration with ILM's Academy Award winning animators and special effects artists, he directed several character animation projects. Robert garnered many industry honors at ILMCP including a Clio, London International Advertising Award, Anicom Animation award, MTV Award, Billboard Magazine Award and Grammy nomination.
Caruso has garnered praise and success for his comic approach, innovation, and animation. His off-beat perspective and wry humor have brought acclaim to client's commercial spots, music videos, and film. Recently, he directed commercial productions for Clorox, Nestlé, Sprint, and Verizon. His collaboration includes film, music, and sports talent - creating memorable work with celebrities, as varied as actors James Earl Jones, Will Smith, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jamie Foxx or sports figures, such as skateboarder Tony Hawk, basketball star Shaquille O'Neal, and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
- Grammy Award Nomination Will Smith's "Will2K" music video
- 1st Place at Anicomm Awards: Hefty "Gingerbread Man" Animation
- Finalist Australian Effects & Animation Festival: "Gingerbread Man"
- Bronze from Clio Awards: Visual Effects for Hefty "Gingerbread Man"
- Gold from London Effects & Animation Festival (LEAF): Hefty "Gingerbread Man"
- Best Commercial from London International Advertising Awards: Hefty "Eskimo"
- MTV Awards: for Will Smith's Men In Black, music video
- Web site of Robert Caruso – JustHappy.com
- Early Green Day music video Co-Executive Producer by Robert Caruso, "Longview"
- "Men In Black" music video (director)
- "Just Cruisin'" music video, starring Will Smith, (director)