Puppetoon is a registered trademark of Arnold Leibovit Productions Ltd. All Rights Reserved © 1987.
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.
Within this site you will find (among other things) more information on Pal, a filmography, lots of behind-the-scenes images and information, coverage of some exemplary Puppetoons (including lots of images and over 12 megs of movies and sounds), and more... as with the other main sections of Animation of Heaven & Hell in 3-D!, this site will change and grow periodically, so stop back often!
As usual, if you have any corrections/contributions to make, they are welcome.
This page was first posted December 1, 1996.