The Progression of CGI = No More Muppet-esque Films?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brad_W, Dec 17, 2001.

  1. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

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    After getting my copy of The Dark Crystal/Labyrinth 2-pack (not 2-pac), I've noticed that there really isn't anymore films that are entirely or mostly "muppets." After watching The Making of The Dark Crystal I realized how much of an artform this really is/was and how fantastic these films can be for children and us adults.
    I know that puppeteering (sp?) is occasionally used for films like... well, really just Star Wars, but what about great films using elaborate sets and puppet designs? I want them back. I fear this artform is lost. I know there are kiddie shows that use "muppets," but I am talking about films. CGI is great and I love it (for the most part, it can be totally over-used), but I would like to see "muppet" movies again.
    How do you people feel about all this?
     
  2. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

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    I love The Dark Crystal and would enjoy seeing more "muppetized" films. They have a certain charm to them that you just don't get with CGI.
     
  3. StephenA

    StephenA Screenwriter

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    I miss the use of "muppets" in movies too. But I fear it pretty much died with Jim Henson. Nobody could pull it off as good as him.
     
  4. Chris Lynch

    Chris Lynch Stunt Coordinator

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    Personally, I will be very sad if puppeteering goes the way of the dinosaur. Labyrinth, Dark Crystal, the list goes on. Classic films that I believe cannot be reproduced with CGI.

    Along the same lines, I am terribly afraid of the CGI Yoda in the next Star Wars. It's not that he won't look real, because I'm sure ILM will do an EXCELLENT job. The problem is, I'm used to seeing puppet Yoda, and I'm afraid I won't be able to look at him in CGI and believe he's really there. Like my subconsious won't be able to let go of the puppet. So that isn't really George Lucas' problem, but rather my own. I guess I'll deal with it.

    BTW, TV's "Farscape" still features some excellent puppet work, as the Henson machine is one of the driving forces behind the show. I love it and recommend it.
     
  5. Mike St.Louis

    Mike St.Louis Supporting Actor

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    For me the problem with CGI is that it still doesn't look quite right. Something about the light, shadows, textures, whatever screams out COMPUTER GRAPHICS.

    And yet I find that Yoda in the first trilogy is much less distracting. Its a real object that the actors are interacting with and the lighting and shadows are correct. It may be low tech but a rubber Yoda was far more effective than a state-of-the-art Jar Jar.

    The creatures that the Jim Henson company created for Farscape are very good. The art is not dead.
     
  6. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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    I like the puppetry, too. I find the "spokes-shrimp" from the new Long John Silvers commercials more realistic and entertaining than many of the characters in "The Phantom Menace."
     
  7. Brennan Hill

    Brennan Hill Stunt Coordinator

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    I heard that John Malkovich is considering giving up acting to focus on puppeteering. [​IMG]
     
  8. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    Brian Henson said he wants to do another Labyrinth/Dark Crystal movie VERY soon, possibly after the next muppet movie he said.
     
  9. Keith Yatsuhashi

    Keith Yatsuhashi Stunt Coordinator

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    There's still Farscape....Long Live Farscape!
     
  10. Tim Campbell

    Tim Campbell Agent

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    I think the correct usage of cgi should be a combination of all things. Models, pupeterring and Cgi together. Those guys in the rubber masks look a hell of a lot better than some cgi stuff. However Shrek was pretty amazing
     
  11. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

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    If you are talking about make-up effects and costumes vs. CGI just take a look at the difference between An American Werewolf in London versus An American Werewolf in Paris. The former was awesome and had great effects and the latter was replaced with CGI and was very lame.
    I would really like to see Brian Henson do some type of Dark Crystal 2 (although I don't see how he could continue or prequel the film), but at the very least a film like The Dark Crystal. I enjoy both mediums, however I still would like to see both still used for film purposes today.
    I have never seen Farscape and wouldn't mind doing so. However, I am talking mostly about film here. When was the last real "muppet-like" movie? Neverending Story 3? I haven't even seen that one. I think the last big "muppet-esque" film was... well, I don't even remember.
     
  12. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    CGI is definitely not to the point where it can look truly lifelike...yet.

    I definitely prefer, say, Yoda from ESB/ROTJ than the Yoda in TPM. It doesn't look quite right in TPM.

    The few stills I've seen from Ep2 give me more hope. It's been 3 years and isn't there that law that says computer power doubles in 18 months? So computers should be 4X as powerful since Ep1, hopefully the new Yoda will look more organic.

    Regardless, the muppet-esque method had a certain charm that will be missed if it does go the way of the dodo.
     
  13. Richard_D_Ramirez

    Richard_D_Ramirez Second Unit

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    Because CGI is cheaper to work with and the ability of CGI to do things puppetry simply can not, I believe CGI will send puppetry the way of the Dodo bird, much like what films and television did to vaudville. It's unfortunate, since at this point, CGI does not provide that same feel of "physicality" (sp?).

    Puppetry in serious films is a lost art.

    8^B
     
  14. Tim Campbell

    Tim Campbell Agent

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    They still use real objects to get spacial motion on cgi charachters. They had the Jar Jar guy get in the blue suit and everything so they can get the refernce points for the computer. Do you think they would still doe this for Yoda?
     
  15. Richard_D_Ramirez

    Richard_D_Ramirez Second Unit

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    I'm not sure if they'll do it for Yoda, Tim. If they do, hey, more work for Warrick Davis! [​IMG]
    BTW, what your describing is totally different than puppetry. With puppetry, those "real objects" are an end result of what's shown on-screen. No CGI to mask them over.
     
  16. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I just picked up The Miracle Maker: The Story Of Jesus today for the kids so they can learn more about the true meaning of Christmas. Anyway, it uses the same kind of approach as was used in Chicken Run, plus the story is great. Alas, I do see this being used less and less, except is family-oriented films.
     
  17. Chris Lynch

    Chris Lynch Stunt Coordinator

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    You know, an even better example may be that of Jabba the Hutt. He looked downright creepy in ROTJ, ever so plasticine in TPM, and absolutely awful in ANH-SE. Sure, it took four guys to operate analog Jabba, but god it was worth it. And as for CGI being cheaper, Why would George Lucas care?[​IMG]
    Okay, so, I'm assuming the only complaint about puppet creatures is the mouth movements, because they seem to have mastered everything else. So why don't they try puppets with CGI mouths? If they can do it with dogs and cats on TV ads then certainly they can manage to do that with Jabba. You get the realism of a puppet, with the believablity of articulate mouth movements.
    BTW, I think the Yoda in TPM was still a puppet, but just a different one. He was made to look a little younger. AOTC is supposed to feature a CGI Yoda, however.
    And my vote for worst CGI in a major motion picture in recent past undoubtedly goes to The Mummy Returns.
    I would like to state for the record that I have faith in CGI, someday it is gonna rock. But I still like puppeteering as well.
     
  18. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    CGI today is used as a cop out and a cheap alternative to physical props.

    I saw the Star Wars Ep. 2 trailer and the CGI effects still look hokey.

    The Phantom Menace looked sterile and more like a video game than a movie to me. Very distracting. Like the main actors were sucked into really good PlayStation 2 software rather than living, breathing, physical worlds.

    Even Harry Potter and The Mummy Returns were poorly excecuted in the CGI department and these are brand new movies.

    CGI has not evolved since Jurassic Park (hell, that even looked better than some special effects movies today and it came out in 1993!) because it's allowed to stagnate and not improve. It would cost Hollywood too much money. Money they are more willing to put into marketing and PR. The animators are falling into the cheap and dirty mind set too.

    Dan
     
  19. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

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    I would have to say that there was some god awful CGI used in Harry Potter. Especially during the scene with Harry and the Giant... guy.
    Watching The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth made me miss the excitement and awe that I felt as a youth watching the majestic muppet action. I know that this artform is dying, but would love for children these days to experience the fantastic that is muppet films.
    And definately a puppet Jabba over a CGI version.
     
  20. cafink

    cafink Producer

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