Will Vinton is a veteran animator and the creator of the Claymation© animation process. One of Vinton's earliest shorts, Closed Mondays
, won a 1974 Academy Award; his studio was later nominated for four other Academy Awards and numerous television Emmys. Vinton's 1980s commercials for California Raisins
were a smash hit and the all-singing, all-dancing Raisins became a pop culture phenomenon. In 1999 Vinton co-produced and animated a new TV series, The PJs
, starring comedian Eddie Murphy
. In October of 2002, Nike chief Phil Knight
became the majority shareholder in Will Vinton Studios. In April of 2003, after disagreements with Knight, Vinton resigned from the company's Knight-controlled board of directors and then was fired from the studio. He began his own new production company, Freewill Entertainment, and in 2004 joined the Art Institute of Portland as artist in residence.