The George Pal Puppetoon Site : 1996-2000
0n May 20, 2000, the Puppetoon Site was shut down by request of Arnold Leibovit, the current owner of the Puppetoons. For the benefit of those who have not yet seen or fully perused the site, the original intro follows; the rest of the site is gone.
If only for
his unforgettable feature films, such as The Time Machine, War of the Worlds,
When Worlds Collide, and tom thumb (to name a few), George Pal will be remembered
as one of the most gifted directors of fantastic cinema in history. Ironically,
this popularity as a feature-film director usually overshadows Pal's great
contributions to the field of stop-motion animation.
Pal's Puppetoons (he coined the word from a combination of "puppet" and "cartoon") started as soft-sell advertising films in Europe. These short films were so much fun to watch that theaters soon billed them in the lobby and played them for free (that is, without the advertisers paying for screen time). Eventually, Pal and his wife (Zsoka) fled the horror of the Nazi invasion, moved to Hollywood, USA, and was able to make the Puppetoons without advertisements, instead being sponsored by Paramount Pictures.
These "toons" were made with beautifully-carved wooden puppets, usually using Pal's invented "replacement technique", which involved a separate puppet (or puppet part) for each motion, rather than hinged parts. A single walking sequence, for instance, could involve 12 pairs of legs for one character. During the peak of Puppetoons, an average feature would use 9,000 puppets. Crazy? Maybe... but the effect is spectacular, and it has many benefits in common with computer animation (such as changeable perspectives and unlimited re-use of a finished model) which is only gaining real strength almost 50 years later.
This page was first posted December 1, 1996, and closed on May 20, 2000.