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Travis Knight: Telling Stories that Matter
Text by Zoe Zhao Photographs courtesy of Infotainment China Media


Travis Knight takes the puppet of Kubo to the Palace Museum during his Beijing promotion of the film Kubo and the Two Strings. In this film, Knight exhibits his ability to control the overall pace of a production.  Knight and the audience at the Chinese premiere of Kubo and the Two Strings. As a director, Knight combines things he has loved deeply about the movies ever since he was a child: epic fantasy, animation, heroic stories, and the transcendent art and philosophy of Asia.  A poster for Kubo and the Two Strings.

Kubo and the Two Strings definitely had a good start in 2017. After the film was nominated for the Best Animated Feature Film and Best Visual Effects prizes at the 89th Academy Awards in January, it also won Best Animated Film at the 70th British Academy Film Awards in February. The film revolves around a young boy named Kubo, who has magical powers and whose left eye was stolen. Accompanied by Monkey and Beetle, he must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

The film, with Cindy Lin from Infotainment China Media as its Chinese distributor, hit China’s big screens on January 13, and is expected to run until March 12. A 3D stop-motion fantasy action-adventure film produced by LAIKA Entertainment, an American stop-motion animation studio, Kubo and the Two Strings marks the directorial debut of Travis Knight. Previously better known as LAIKA’s lead animator, Knight has shown his ability to control the overall pace of a production in this film.

Knight was born in 1973 in Hillsboro, Oregon, U.S.A. While many people have suggested that he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as the son of Phil Knight, founder and chairman of Nike, Inc., he wanted to take a different road. In 1993, he released his rap album Get off Mine as Chilly Tee, as well as a single of the same name. Soon, however, Knight realized that instead of becoming a successful rapper, he was more interested in stop-motion animation, an animation technique that physically manipulates an object so that it appears to move on its own. Knight went back to university before joining LAIKA in the late 1990s, where he quickly devoted himself to the trade. He later went on to serve as the company’s lead animator, president, and CEO. What does Knight have to say about Kubo and the Two Strings? How does he generally view LAIKA’s work? What are the special features of LAIKA? With these questions in mind, China Pictorial sat down with Knight to find out more.  

Stills from Kubo and the Two Strings.



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