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John Korty

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John Korty (b. 1936) is a film director and animator who contributed many animated inserts to Sesame Street during the 1970s and early 1980s, through his San Francisco studio Korty Films. His segments, which included the recurring series Thelma Thumb, were distinguished by his unique cut-out animation method, which Korty dubbed Lumage (short for Luminous Image).

For Lumage, Korty used a synthetic fabric known as Pellon, which was then snipped and sprayed. Dialogue for the segments was often improvised around the assigned educational theme. In addition to various improv actors, child performers were often used on the soundtracks, including the younger sister of future director David Fincher. In visualizing these tracks, individual elements of character parts were then assigned to animators to arrange and re-arrange, laid against pre-dressed backgrounds, and shot frame by frame, like stop-motion. The production crew included designer Harley Jessup, later to work at Pixar, and writer/cartoonist Brian Narelle, who occasionally wrote for other Sesame Street skits as well.

In 1984, Korty released a long-gestating feature-length showcase for the Lumage technique, Twice Upon a Time. Korty has also worked extensively in live-action, directing several independent features and the Emmy Award-winning TV movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman prior to Twice Upon a Time. Following the financial failure of that film, Korty moved into live-action directing exclusively, helming the Star Wars franchise spin-off The Ewok Adventure (due to Korty's friendship with George Lucas), and assorted other TV movies.

Partial Filmography

Picture Title/Topic Earliest Known Appearance Description
Thelma Thumb recurring series See article for details
Q: Quiet Episode 0597 Q for Quiet.
Umm... butterfly
Caterpillar Episode 0666 A caterpillar convinces a bird not to eat her, but to watch her perform a magic trick. The trick? She turns into a butterfly and flies away!
Fox and crow
The Fox and the Crow Episode 0666 A retelling of the Aesop's Fable, sung as a folk ballad.
Pat the Pilot Episode 0796 Pat talks about the letter P.
Pride Day Ceremony Episode 2254 A nervous boy is waiting to describe his proudest accomplishment, and is initially unsure of himself next to other impressive students. He finally proudly acclaims his achievement, tying his shoes all by himself.
What's Inside the Street Episode 2401 A bird (James Cranna) talks to a girl about what's inside the street. When she questions his credibility, he stammers, "A little worm told me!"
Angry Annie Episode 2495 A small girl vents her rage at the world, frustrated by the problems of everyday life, until her younger brother offers her part of his orange.
Joes Play Ball Episode 3140 A montage of boys, all of whom are named Joe, saying what their favorite sports are. The last one turns out to be a girl named Joanne.


  • Jessen, Taylor. Final Cut-Out: The Making of Twice Upon a Time. Animation Blast #9, 2006.

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