Furlough brings about a creative endeavor

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Seal Beach father and son, Teddy and Liam Szegvary are pictured with the set for their Claymation special, Spider and Snakey Save Christmas. Courtesy photo

Seal Beach father and son create Claymation series

A father and son team in Seal Beach have found a new way to bond and occupy their time during the pandemic shutdown. But what started as a fun and creative way for the two to spend time, might just blossom into a viral online series.

Teddy Szegvary and his five-year-old son, Liam, have created a Youtube series based on the adventures of Spider and Snakey, two Claymation characters that are based on hand puppets that Teddy used to entertain Liam since he was a toddler. Spider and Snakey have taken on short activities, such as flying kites and playing frisbee, but the videos have grown from shot one-minute shows, to the most recent episode, “Spider and Snakey save Christmas,” which runs more than six minutes.

“It was a big undertaking, for sure,” Ted said of the Christmas episode.

Claymation is the art of using clay figures and filming them in time lapse photography. The figures and moves slightly in each segment, to make the figures move when the video plays at regular speed. Claymation blossomed in the ‘60s and brought about features such as “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

Ted works in media, creating videos and websites for the auto industry, so the move to creating Claymation shows was a natural fit. After the pandemic slowed work, he had time to start the project with Liam, a kindergartener at McGaugh Elementary School. Liam is heavily involved in the process, from moving the characters, to creating sets and doing the voiceover.

“He’s usually quite involved,” Ted said of Liam.

The idea really began on a family trip to Canada more than a year ago. Ted and his wife Jaime moved to California from Canada five years ago for work. Liam watched a popular kids show called “Tumble Leaf.” Ted looked up the show and was amazed to find that it still uses some old-school Claymation techniques. Liam was hooked on the show and received a Claymation kit from Santa in 2019. When the shutdown hit this year, Teddy and Liam decided to use the time to start making videos.

“For him, it’s so neat to move stuff and see it come to life,” Ted said. “It’s so much more fun for me too.”

The duo have produced eight videos so far, some also getting voiceover help from family members in Canada. Now that the big Christmas show is behind them, Ted said they are starting work on the next episode. They are aiming to keep the episodes short to allow for the short attention spans of small children. However, they will try to maintain a more consistent story line.

“We definitely want to keep pushing it and adding more characters,” Ted said.

There has been some media attention and it seems to have helped as the Christmas show has ballooned to more than 5,000 views on Youtube. It was also picked up by Seal Beach TV-3 and has been shown on their schedule. It is scheduled to be shown today at 5:01 p.m. and several more times in the coming week. (See schedule on page 4)

Ted said production of the show is likely to last as long as Liam is interested in working on them. However long the show goes on, and regardless of where it goes, the time spent on production has been the biggest reward for Teddy and Liam.

“We know how much time we got to spend making it,” Ted said. “It’s been a really great way to spend this furlough time.”