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The Greatest Puppet Work in Film History

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

Submitted for your approval.

 

(Click to animate)

 

gizmo.gif

post #2 of 41

Aaaaaaand now I have to rush home to watch Gremlins.

 

Adorable. Makes my heart melt everytime.

post #3 of 41

Kermit riding a bicycle in The Muppet Movie disagrees with you, but there's a case to be made here.

 

A ridiculously adorable case.

post #4 of 41

Does the marionette work in Anders Klarlund's Strings count?

In one of the battle sequences a marionette does a forward-freakin-roll and thrusts his sword forward. I've never seen anything like it.

post #5 of 41

The Empire Strikes Back Yoda.   End of discussion. 

 

post #6 of 41

I've always been in awe at how great everything about the Skeksis was in THE DARK CRYSTAL.

 

Skeksis-784891.jpg

post #7 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ratty View Post

The Empire Strikes Back Yoda.   End of discussion. 

 



That rubbery face? They did a fine job, but never once did it reach the levels of ecstatic brilliance that Gizmo does.

post #8 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Ripoll View Post





That rubbery face? They did a fine job, but never once did it reach the levels of ecstatic brilliance that Gizmo does.



 Gizmo never has to deliver major chunks of expository dialogue and have us utterly believe it. 

post #9 of 41
Thread Starter 

No, but everyone who looks upon Gizmo instantly falls in love. They bested God. God offered baby kittens and bunnies and slow lorises, and Chris Walas said "Fuck that, Mogwai". All God could do was hang his head in shame.

 

EDIT: And Mike, that marionette work is fucking incredible. Marionettes kind of blow my mind. 

post #10 of 41

It is isn't it? I tried showing some friends but Team America was too fresh in their minds. Matt and Trey have a lot to answer for. 

post #11 of 41

I've always wondered just how Audry II was accomplished. Damn thing moved like it was actually supported by muscle and lip syncs to music perfectly. I figured it was a miniature animatronic puppet but its done so seamlessly and then people interact with it directly in a few scenes that I'm tempted to think it was a full scale pneumatic monstrosity.

post #12 of 41

I'm glad someone brought up Strings.  Amazing work.

 

Also agree with the Skeksis.  And several creations from Labyrinth.

post #13 of 41

Strings is it's own - quite incredible - beast when it comes to puppetry.

 

It's hard to disagree with Patricks initial piece of evidence - hard not to have your heart melt while we're at it. Gizmo slays me every time.

 

The skeksis are fantastic but for the best of The Dark Crystal I'd look to Aughra personally.

 

Personally tho, I gotta say Frank Oz's Yoda work in Empire may win out for me. During the initial meeting, the moment Yoda drops the facade of being a mischevious little critter of Dagobah and literally becomes a Jedi master before our eyes, is basically extraordinary.

post #14 of 41

I must confess that while I loved Gremlins...

 

..I never really liked Gizmo that much. Far from looking cute and adorable, I always found him kinda gormless looking, in the worst possible way. Cute noises though, I'll grant you!

 

 

 

 

I'll get me coat.

post #15 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sentinel Red View Post

I must confess that while I loved Gremlins...

 

..I never really liked Gizmo that much. Far from looking cute and adorable, I always found him kinda gormless looking, in the worst possible way. Cute noises though, I'll grant you!

 

 

 

 

I'll get me coat.

You're clearly using english words, but the order in which you've assembled them makes little to no sense.  I'm concerned.
 

post #16 of 41
Thread Starter 

 

GIVE IN TO THE DELIGHT!

post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zweit View Post

I've always wondered just how Audry II was accomplished. Damn thing moved like it was actually supported by muscle and lip syncs to music perfectly. I figured it was a miniature animatronic puppet but its done so seamlessly and then people interact with it directly in a few scenes that I'm tempted to think it was a full scale pneumatic monstrosity.


My father convinced me that the plant was, in fact, real but was only acting that way. In truth he was a friendly plant.

I refuse to believe anything to the contrary.

post #18 of 41

Yes, Audrey II was full scale. It even performed on the Oscars.

 

post #19 of 41

Some of Audrey II's reaction shots are AMAZING. When Seymour chides him and he kind of chews his upper lip...that puppet's a better actor than most of the people in TWILIGHT.

post #20 of 41

I think it helps that Audrey II doesn't have eyes. It is an amazing puppet, but the gaze is one of the hardest things to get right, it seems.

post #21 of 41

I'm sure I remember reading that when filming Audrey II they slowed the film rate down when filming then sped it up to match the soundtrack. Rick Moranis had to sing his songs slower to accomodate, I would kill to see footage of that.

post #22 of 41

While not a "film," I'm going to go with Farscape.  The effects work in general for that show, and the puppetry accomplishments specifically, was insane when you consider it was a basic cable (I think) show.  I have a hunch it was a labor of love for the producers.

post #23 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zweit View Post

I've always wondered just how Audry II was accomplished. Damn thing moved like it was actually supported by muscle and lip syncs to music perfectly. I figured it was a miniature animatronic puppet but its done so seamlessly and then people interact with it directly in a few scenes that I'm tempted to think it was a full scale pneumatic monstrosity.

See below.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike's Pants View Post

I'm sure I remember reading that when filming Audrey II they slowed the film rate down when filming then sped it up to match the soundtrack. Rick Moranis had to sing his songs slower to accomodate, I would kill to see footage of that.

Yeah, they slowed the music down and lip synched to it on set. Then sped it up when composited/edited. Worked like a friggin charm.

 

Love this thread idea BTW, PR. I am the Pastor of Muppets after all. I'll have to think on it, but Gizmo, Audrey 2, Yoda, and Dark Crystal cretures are top contenders for sure.
 

The Jim Henson Muppets (including Sesame Street) are so simply designed and masterfully manipulated, that you look at them as characters and NOT just foam/fleece/fur. Eye focus is a major contributor, the Magic Triangle, etc. As is vocal talent. They live and breathe for sure. A major departure from what was the norm pre-60s (see Bill Baird and wife's work, etc). Much more natural.

 

I think Jabba the Hutt is wrongfully maligned and I appreciate the ambition of large-scale puppets that require multiple puppeteers. See also, Falcor from NEVERENDING STORY.

 

I really dug the puppetry in the bonus short, HIGGLETY PIGGLETY POP, on the WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE blu. Nice combination of old school with new. Very much tonally and aesthetically similar with the Jim Henson STORYTELLER series. Speaking of WTWWA, I wish there was some behind the scenes on the creatures from that flick. I wanted to see the evolution of those combo-FX, experiments, failures, etc.

post #24 of 41
Quote:

Originally Posted by DARKMITE8 View Post

 

Love this thread idea BTW, PR. I am the Pastor of Muppets after all. 



How many years at the Muppet Seminary did you have to spend before graduating?

 

When do you become a Muppet Cardinal?

post #25 of 41

Counterpoint:

 

B00003CWPL-025.jpg

post #26 of 41
Thread Starter 

On a different side of things, I just saw The Red Balloon for the first time and the personality they were able to give a featureless levitating rubber ovoid was incredible. I'm sure it was done with fishing line or something similarly simple, but it never once felt like the balloon was being dragged, it always felt like it was floating on it's own accord. Really great work.

post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlord View Post

While not a "film," I'm going to go with Farscape.  The effects work in general for that show, and the puppetry accomplishments specifically, was insane when you consider it was a basic cable (I think) show.  I have a hunch it was a labor of love for the producers.



Considering that the producers were the Henson Company, I'd say your hunch is correct. It's the scale of the work on Farscape that astounds me. Very rarely did that show stoop to depicting aliens merely as humans with bumpy foreheads.

 

Other picks: The Thing. Jabba. The Vogons. E.T. The Queen in Aliens was essentially a giant rod-puppet. But yeah, Audrey II is a singular accomplishment. Not just the lip-sync, but the individual vines.

post #28 of 41

Muppet Seminary, sounds like a Stephen King book. Wasn't there supposed to be a sequel to Dark Crystal in the works?

post #29 of 41

Interesting thread.  Speaking of Chris Walas, how about Clark Nova and Mugwump from Naked Lunch?  Not the most impressive array of movement, but surely they get props from a design standpoint and were voiced perfectly.  "Sexual ambulance, did you say?"

post #30 of 41

I love this thread solely because it reminded me that I need to watch Strings.

post #31 of 41


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Overlord View Post

While not a "film," I'm going to go with Farscape.  The effects work in general for that show, and the puppetry accomplishments specifically, was insane when you consider it was a basic cable (I think) show.  I have a hunch it was a labor of love for the producers.



Well, that was the Henson company, after all.

 

Between the prosthetics, make-up and puppetry they nearly always pulled off on a TV budget, it was pretty amazing. They didn't have to resort to merging the cuteness of infants and kittens to make Farscape's Pilot a completely believable character.

 

I still remember being blown away by a bartender in one episode that was a guy in thick prosthetics but also engulfed in a huge spider puppet with moving legs. All to serve drinks. :)

 

Anyone who appreciates the work of Henson's Creature Shop has to have seen Farscape. Especially seasons 2-4 are the pinnacle of their craft, even as everyone else was rushing to spend big bucks on shitty CG.

post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrTerwilliker View Post

Wasn't there supposed to be a sequel to Dark Crystal in the works?


Love the username, Dr. T. Last I heard, Genndy Tartakovsky was going to do a sequel... in CG. I'm fine if that doesn't happen.

 

 

Meanwhile, today would have been Jim Henson's 75th birthday. All bow.

post #33 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hammerhead View Post


Love the username, Dr. T. Last I heard, Genndy Tartakovsky was going to do a sequel... in CG. I'm fine if that doesn't happen.

I heard the Spierig Bros from DAYBREAKERS took over, but not much else since.

 

post #34 of 41

The Farscape love in this thread pleases me.  Carry on.

post #35 of 41
post #36 of 41

No love for the first Teenage Mutanat Ninja Turtles? Those faces in the first movie show a a great range and still hold up today.

post #37 of 41

Nice to see that there are still masters at work in the practical-effects field:

 

post #38 of 41
Killer Klowns from outer space deserves a mention
Edited by dilla7 - 2/23/13 at 5:11am
post #39 of 41

Being John Malkovich for its meta-puppeteering commentary at the very least.

post #40 of 41

Hellboy II has some amazing puppet work especially in the "Alley". Mr. Twink is a masterpiece too. Anything by DelToro generally uses practical over CGI and it's brilliant stuff.

post #41 of 41
Been revisiting Labyrinth alot lately. My daughter loves it and Ive been using characters to inspire some art work. Such a wide variety of creative techniques, puppet sizes and shapes, and various designs. Kudos to Froud and the Henson team. Also for Terry Jones in seeing some of the concept art and writing sequences around many of the fun creatures Froud doodled. That offered a cool challenge to Henson's Creature Shop.

The helping hands (simple!), the Fireys (blue/black-screened), Ludo (huge!), Hoggle (suit and RC features), and hundreds more.

So much fun cutting-edge craft on display here.

http://youtu.be/EEOpymTMj8s

http://youtu.be/2DPU2w_XCAk

http://youtu.be/Dcg9ssRwpfE
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