We're always hot on the trail of the world leaders when it comes to visual effects. However, as much as we can rant and rave about present and future releases, it’s often worthwhile to be reminded of memories from the past, to gain some perspective, and appreciate exactly how far we’ve come…
You can forget multi million pound CGI projects for the time being, because today we’re talking about ‘Supermarionation’.
With the recent news that Thunderbirds creator and ‘Supermarionation’ pioneer Gerry Anderson has come into ill health, we thought it would be more than appropriate to pay homage to a man who created some of the most notorious children’s series, not to mention visual effects of a generation.
As well as Thunderbirds, you will remember other Anderson creations… Joe 90, Stingray and Captain Scarlet (all of which were broadcast in their original form more than 20 years after their creation) and naturally, you will remember the crude use of strings that hoisted your heroes into action on a weekly basis, creating some of the most ‘edge of your seat’ television of your youth.
The wires that we never saw (!) were connected to sound synchronised solenoid motors inside the puppets, which controlled their mouths that moved, ever so realistically to the recorded dialogue that the voice actors had previously put together. Ever wondered why their heads were so disproportionately large? Despite such cutting edge technology however, Anderson unveiled in an interview with the Guardian just a year ago, that making the shows was never plain sailing, saying “I hated working with puppets ... they can't walk, they can't do anything!”
In the same radio 5 interview, Anderson had unveiled plans for a new technology clad Thunderbirds series “It will certainly be modernised, it will be a brand new show, keeping all the main characters, all the machines and all the locations. Everything will be changed, updated, with all the mod cons… It will have all the elements that made Thunderbirds popular in the first place but will be made with today's technology, today's thinking and today's pace”
"Hold on" I can hear you thinking, "wasn’t there a Thunderbirds movie made not some time ago?" There was indeed, back in 2004, and to the dismay of loyal Thunderbirds fans worldwide… the motion picture was described fondly by Anderson as “the biggest load of *EXPLETIVE* I have ever seen in my life”
With Gerry’s recent health issues (we hope he gets better) there has been little speak of confirmation of a new Thunderbirds series, and understandably so. I suppose we can only hope that someone somewhere, will be busy dragging this timeless classic, by the strings if you will, into the world of VFX.