Supermarionation

Supermarionation (standing for super marionette animation) is a television and film production puppetry technique using marionettes suspended and controlled by thin wires that are connected to internal mechanisms that allow for synchronized mouth movements for dialogue and other functions. The puppets' eyes are also controlled electronically. Because this system cannot convincingly show walking, most of the presentations take place in settings that allow for vehicles and other mechanical transportation systems.

The control mechanisms were originally placed within the puppets' heads, which meant the heads had to be disproportionately large with respect to the bodies, like many comic strip characters. Beginning with Captain Scarlet, a new type of puppet was designed, with a correctly-proportioned head and control mechanisms in the chest, connected to the mouth and eyes by narrow rods through the neck.

The term was coined by Gerry Anderson, possibly in imitation of Ray Harryhausen's stop motion technique, Super Dynamation.

Examples of Anderson's 'supermarionated' television shows include;

A later show, Terrahawks, used differently-designed puppets, mostly controlled from beneath using a system called Supermacromation.

A recent US television advertisement for the Orbitz online travel service is styled to suggest supermarionation, though whether it could correctly be called by the term is open to question.


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