Robert Leon Benfer, Jr. (born December 18, 1987) better known by his pseudonym Knox, is an American claymator, animator, musician, director, producer, writer, editor, and actor.
Benfer was born on December 18, 1987, in Hinesville, Georgia. His father, Robert Benfer Sr., was a detective, author, and soldier, perhaps most famously known as the author of the book Silently We Defend, and was based at Fort Stewart during this period. His father was appears in 2 videos, "ICE CAVE" and "PARIS". In 1988, Benfer and his wife, Janeese Schoelzel, moved to Germany, where his sister Nikki was born. At age 2, Benfer's parents got divorced and he moved alongside his mother and sister to Kerrville, Texas. In 1994, Benfer's mother became engaged to Curtis Schoelzel, and moved to Schertz, Texas, where Robert spent the remainder of his childhood and Benfer and Schoelzel gave birth to Jakki Schoelzel and Jill Schoelzel. Robert was also diagnosed with a condition that has the potential to cause him cancer and as a result has been hospitalized multiple times over the course of his early life and teenage years while he was in the beginning stages of his career.
In 1995, Benfer began to attend Schertz Elementary School. While attending the institute, Benfer met Sammie Penrod, who would become his close friend and costar in many of his films. At age 6, Benfer acquired an interest in filmmaking and from age 7 to 12, used his parents' video camera to film short films alongside his sister, Nikki. At age 15, Benfer would develop an interest in stop motion by watching Celebrity Deathmatch, which would later inspire him to make tributes to the show known as "NG Deathmatch", and he began to post claymation short films on animation outlet Newgrounds, going under the pseudonym "Knox". His pseudonym was largely influenced by childhood friend Sammie Penrod, who originally suggested in high school that the two would form a band entitled "Stigma". However, Benfer pointed out that they "never made any music", prompting Penrod to suggest changing the band name to "Knox"; however, the concept was quickly dropped by the two.
Several of Benfer's early films were notable for starring clay characters resembling blue humanoid blobs. Although these designs were initially used for practice, their popularity among the Newgrounds community prompted him to make it his trademark. Another notable style of Benfer was his tendency to replace the letter "c" with a "k" (for example; his claymations were billed as "klaymations").
These small animations were the first of many Knox clay animations. At this time, there were very few clay animations on Newgrounds.com, as Newgrounds was accommodating to animations rendered entirely within Flash, the software the website singularly supported. Because of this, Robert was able to open a whole new door for future stop motion creators all over the internet, and hundreds of people followed in his footsteps, many becoming popular, though Knox maintained his reputation as the leader of the movement.
He posted 45 short films on the Internet in 2003, and won 35 awards for them on Newgrounds. In 2004, Benfer created some of his most successful clay animations, including Glass of Water, Sniper Time!, and Rubber Ducky of Death. His first attempt at turning his internet success into a career was releasing a DVD of his short films entitled Knox in a Box.
At the end of 2004, after the success of his first DVD, Benfer decided to adapt his series into a feature length movie entitled Klay World: Off the Table. The film was released in 2005, and earned him over $80,000.00, marking the beginning of his professional film career.
The KlayWorld shorts degraded in quality and would eventually be regarded as bland and repetitive by his original fan base. Although the general formulae remained relatively the same, the overall mood has drastically shifted from being based around slapstick to almost strictly dialogue. Another detail that could have contributed to the shift in the series was the fact that in all of his shorts prior to KlayWorld: Off The Table, Robert never scripted any given episode but rather animated them and delivered improvised voice acting during post production.
Between 2005 and 2008, Robert would announce several other feature length films as the releases of his online animations became increasingly scarce. The first of these movies was Villain, a more professional clay animation movie. Robert initially began work on this film by producing two minutes of footage on his own. He was then offered a larger crew, professional actors, a studio and funding for the movie. The deal fell through when Robert suffered massive financial losses as a result of not filing the income tax's of KlayWorld: Off The Table's profit to the I.R.S. and as a result had lost a large fraction of his money, although the exact amount was never confirmed, it's been rumored to be $50,000. The loss forced him to put the project on a long term hiatus.
Robert simultaneously announced plans for a sequel to Klay World: Off The Table, entitled "Klay World 2". He intended this film to be the end of the Klayworld series and stated the release date as late 2008. Productions ended with the creation of the YouTube partnership Program which allowed him to be paid directly for his shorts. Having a new motive to continue the series, he cancelled the film.
In 2008, Robert announced his first live action movie, Lakeside has no Lake. This was to be about a group of friends who set up a website claiming that their hometown, Lakeside, was haunted. Robert tweaked the plot and it became Joe Cam, a film about a person who uses a webcam to broadcast his entire life on a livestream 24/7. Though his fans initially had doubts about Joe Cam after the stream of unsuccessful movie plots, Robert released a trailer for the movie in June, showing over two minutes of footage proving that the movie was indeed in the works. However, because actor Sammie Penrod, the movie's antagonist, had relocated, the film's production was brought to an abrupt halt due to issues of driving distance conflicting with shooting schedules. As a result, Robert would be forced to put another film on hiatus.
Robert then resorted to making another film requiring even less to create than Joe Cam, The Fracktaplots. This was a sock puppet science fiction film that was released in 2010. The film was heavily criticized by fans for it's premise but the film was somewhat redeemed when it became apparent that Econoline Crush would supply the movie's leading theme song; Surefire.
Shortly after, Robert would later make the mistake of changing his website design and company name from "KnoxsKorner.com" to "BadIdeaPictures.com" resulting in many of what was left of his old fan base to revolt and cease to continue following his film career entirely. Robert later ditched "BadIdeaPictures.com" and made the website "TheBenfer.com" as a blog of which he rarely updates and updates only for the purposes of promoting new DVDs.
On November 12, 2012 Robert announced the final episode of Klayworld, to which the internet community responded in outrage. Three days later he followed the news with an in-depth explanation for his decision to end the series.
The first video posted on Robert's YouTube channel was "Hand Guy" posted on June 20, 2006. As of late April 2013, it has just over 80,000 views. In 2007 Robert started posting his claymations, most notably the Klay World series that he had made since 2004. These videos, which had previously earned him much attention on Newgrounds, became popular on YouTube, with Klay World: Pancake Mines garnering over 5 million views (as of April 2013). Robert continued to make these animations alongside his live-action movies and regularly posted them on his channel. In June 2013, the final episode of Klay World will be posted, marking the discontinuation of the series. Robert continues to post live action videos.