Legend of the Claw

Legend of the Claw

Shailyn Farmer
by shailynfarmer on 1 Jun 2021 for Rookie Awards 2021

Legend of the Claw is an animated short film I created for my senior thesis at Ringling. I am responsible for all aspects of the film, from preproduction to final render. The film is about a little girl who wins a plushie from a claw machine, and discovers the claw is more evil and greedy than anyone ever knew.

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Legend of the Claw - Short Film

The film has yet to be released and is privately shared for the judges, but please enjoy some teasers as well as development work created over the process of this film!


My film’s inspiration was a claw machine I played all the time when I was younger at one of the many ice rinks my parents dragged me to for my brother’s hockey games. The claw machine had so many plushies in it, and I just wanted one so I could have a friend at the rink. Every time I played, I lost, until one day the plushie dropped into the prize chute and I could finally hug it; it was the best day of my life, ever! In the film, I wanted to highlight that struggle of beating the claw machine, with a touch of fantasy, and tell a story about a girl discovering the claw machine is alive, and never, ever lets go of its plushies.

The Claw

The claw was a challenge both technically and conceptually. A lot of thought went into how it would emote, how it would be introduced in the story, and how that affected the overall design. I debated if it would be more physical and mechanical, or more magical and imagined. Was the monster really there, or was it just imagined by the kid? This greatly influenced how the eyes were designed, specifically if they were mechanically attached or floating. There was also the challenge of rigging the claw in order to have the right controls necessary to animate its snake-like movements. I ended up using a mixture of template rigs from Advanced Skeleton, motion paths, and hand-done rigging.

Exploration Sketches


I redesigned the girl later in development in order to fit the story which had simplified from its initial version. I stylized her clothes to look more real world than they originally were while still keeping some of the fantasy and medieval qualities that were present in the film. She was designed to be youthful and appealing so we all can relate to her, put ourselves in her shoes, and remember what it is like to play the claw machine as a kid.

Girl Redesign Sketches

Early Concept Work

Additional Design Work

I also updated the plushies later in development, and made them inanimate instead of animate, in order to fit the simplified story, as well as not break my back as a solo film. They were designed to be round, friendly, and adorable, and something we would want to win from a claw machine. This also served a rigging purpose so I would not need to worry about deformers or animating floppy parts, which helped reduce some of my workload.

Early Concept Work

The Sword in the Stone / Excalibur game was created later in development as a combination of a number of design and narrative ideas. The challenge was to create a convincingly playable arcade machine that incorporated all the roles I would need it to serve, as well as be visually clear and appealing. I referenced old grip strength arcade games, as well as modern "test of strength" games, in order to visually explain the sword pull mechanic. I designed the knight guarding the sword to be realistic, but generic enough to be believable it was made for an arcade machine. 

 Thank you!

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