It’s all pretty cool: She’s 25. Her title is puppet fabricator. She wears jeans to work and she works at a place called the Stoopid Buddy Stoodio in Los Angeles.
“That’s fun to put on insurance forms,” laughs Edmonds-native Bryn Fraker.
One of the TV shows she’s involved with just won an Emmy. Last month, “Robot Chicken,” an adult stop-motion animation series that airs on cable, earned the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-Form Animation.
“That was fun and surprising,” Bryn says. “This is just where I work every day so it was really validating for the studio to get that kind of recognition.”
What she does for a living likely requires an explanation.
Bryn helps fabricate quirky characters — what the industry calls puppets — for stop-motion animation that appears on cable TV, Netflix, film, advertisements and the online streaming service, Crackle.
“Most people probably remember Gumby. In the early days of stop-motion animation, clay was used to create characters. But clay is hard to work with,” she says. “It’s difficult to keep clean, fingerprints especially, and it morphs under the lights.”
So these days, stop-motion animators use more forgiving materials.
“First we make a metal structure called an armature, like a skeleton. Then build on that, adding silicone.”
She explains that stop motion is the oldest kind of animation because it’s so simple. “For instance, I can take a picture of a spoon. Then I move it slightly and take another picture. At 24-frames-per-second, the spoon moves.”
Bryn acknowledges stop-motion animation is somewhat of an anachronism in the age of CGI (computer generated imagery). “When CGI came out, people in stop motion said, ‘Oh my God, we’re dead.’ That didn’t happen although it’s definitely a niche market.”
She’s paying her dues in L.A., learning various aspects of the industry. “When I first started, I made a lot of puppet armatures. I spent six months lashing wires together making armatures for the Netflix series, ‘Buddy Thunderstruck.’”
And that’s fine with her. “This is my career passion.”
It seems as though this kind of work was meant to be. “I was always an artistic kid,” Bryn remembers. “My parents met at art school and they encouraged me. At Meadowdale High School, my teacher Claire Beach ran a little clay-animation class that I took on a whim.”
Turns out, it was a good fit and she went on to study animation in college.
Getting jobs in the industry has been a goal realized and she has her eye on moving up to become lead fabricator eventually.
Bryn also produces fine art — pen and ink drawings of coral reefs that she assembled into a self-published coloring book: “Under the Sea: A collection of coral reefs to color.”
“That was my mother’s idea,” she says. Mom is Tracy Felix, who co-owns the ARTspot shop in Edmonds.
Bryn plans another book, focusing on underwater life of the Northwest. “I grew up in Edmonds so I care about that.”
Meanwhile, she’s living the dream. “I’m making a living doing something I love.”
— By Connie McDougall