Will Vinton Out at Vinton Studios

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Six months after selling a majority interest in his company to Nike chief Phil Knight, Will Vinton is out at the 28-year-old animation studio that bears his name. According to a spokesperson for the company, Vinton -- who last held the title of chairman -- was one of five people laid off during a round of staff cuts last week at the Portland-based studio.

Will Vinton founded Vinton Studios shortly after winning an Academy Award in 1975 for Closed Mondays, a stop-action short he co-created with Bob Gardiner. After trademarking the term "Claymation," Vinton went on to create a splash in the ad world with the well-known "California Raisins" campaign, which debuted in 1986, and by bringing M&M candies to life in the first installments of the longrunning campaign for M&M/Mars and BBDO/New York.

In the last year, the company has gone through a series of changes. A year ago, Vinton acquired Denver-based cel animation house Celluloid and integrated its operations into its Portland headquarters. Last October, Nike CEO Knight acquired a majority interest and a seat on the board of the company.

Vinton president and CEO Jeff Parnath had not returned calls at press time.

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