Saturday, 17 January 2009

Paul Fierlinger "The Alphabet Song" (Sesame Street)

I featured a classic piece by Paul Fierlinger a week back. Mention Paul’s name to those who know their animation and they will reference his work for Sesame Street. He made thirteen episodes of the celebrated Teeny Little Superguy and, in his own words, also “several dozen films teaching every letter of the alphabet, all numbers from One through Ten”. Today's movie is The Alphabet Song. Sing along yourself as Paul has his higher case letters towering above tiny people dwarfed by Stonehenge-type monuments, or beaming from a flashing lighthouse, or illuminating an urban skyscape. He features the singer bashing out her country and western lyrics, or the more hip musicians hammering tambourine and microphone. His locations excite the imagination and, I swear, after playing the short to my class they were humming the song for the duration. (Now, get them to using the alphabet properly .....) Typically Paul uses cel animation with watercolour backgrounds and jucose sketches in pencil. However I did read of his means of speeding up the process of animating an all-devouring television series by "wrapping cels around transparent plastic cups, so that a movement cycle could be achieved by simply rotating the cups. This also allowed Fierlinger to use a kitchen counter and assorted dishes and kitchenware as props." (Muppet Wiki)

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