Teeny Little Super Guy Teeny Little Super Guy

Bored out of my mind in lockdown last year, I started doing stop-motion experiments using things I had at hand. I wish I’d seen Tom Sloan’s video on the making of Teeny Little Super Guy back then: his resourcefulness would have given me ideas.

For those who don’t remember: Teeny Little Super Guy was an animated segment on Sesame Street starring a bloke who lived on a plastic cup and dispensed sound advice. Created by Paul Fierlinger, the character debuted in 1982 and ran for 13 installments. Sloan animated on the series, which combines drawn animation and stop motion. In a new Youtube video, he reflects on its very DIY production:

Sloan shows how the Super Guy was transferred and painted onto cel, then cut out and taped onto the cup. He runs through some of the everyday items he and his colleagues repurposed: spoons, wires, sticks, cardboard boxes, and the like. Archive photos give a flavor of the shoot, which took place in Fierlinger’s studio and home outside Philadelphia.

The production, with its cels and old Bolex, might seem quaint, but Sloan’s explanations are more useful than ever. The rise of smartphones, tablets, and animation apps have made stop motion very accessible. For those wanting to give it a try, it makes intuitive sense to start by using household objects and materials. Teeny Little Super Guy was made four decades ago, but most of Sloan’s pointers still apply today.

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