A style of television and film production created in the 1960s by British production company AP Films.

The electronic marionette puppetry was dubbed “supermarionation” by its creators Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, who used it extensively for TV series and a few feature films. Most of the marionettes displayed on screen had lip movements that were electronically synchronised.

Supermarionation puppets at the National Media Museum, Bradford

APF’s first production, The Adventures of Twizzle, used puppets made of papier-mâché with painted eyes and mouths. Each puppet was controlled using a single carpet thread. Gerry Anderson and Arthur Provis, the founders of APF, wanted to make Twizzle in the style of a feature film, with dynamic shooting and lighting. To this end, three-dimensional sets were used instead of traditional flat backgrounds and puppeteers Christine Glanville and her colleagues operated the marionettes not from the studio floor, but from a bridge about six feet above it.

Model of Thunderbird 2 used in the children’s television series Thunderbirds and the film Thunderbirds are Go! On display at the National Media Museum, Bradford. / Image: Wikimedia Commons

The term “Supermarionation” was coined during the production of APF’s fourth series, Supercar, whose final 13 episodes were the first to be credited as being “filmed in Supermarionation”.

Websites: scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk


 

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