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Puppetry in film, the evolution of CGI

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by Darksidehearts, Sep 28, 2017.

  1. Darksidehearts

    Darksidehearts A calm state of mind is proof of skill and mastery
    Staff Member

    Nov 13, 2012
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    Assistant Psychology Prof. at USF
    Rhode Island, United States

    I had just gone to bed a few moments ago when I got myself up to post this. I had an old thought running through my mind (for some reason) last night. It's something that I wanted to share here last year. I don't know why it's suddenly important to me but out of all the thoughts in my head right now, at least this one is pleasant. I don't expect much of a response as it's not something important to talk about. I also apologise if I wasted your time. This is a more subjective topic. It doesn't matter what I think or feel, I'm curious what other's take might be on the matter. Here were my thoughts.​
    - - - -

    Puppetry in film can give a characters a more “realistic” feel. They are something that exist. Something with range of emotion and personality. Something tangible we can connect to as a viewer. Compared to digital creations, puppets provide a physical face to the voice. However, that depends on the creativity of the puppeteer and it's overall utilisation. I feel much of the same can be said for CGI as well. Many speak ill of computer generated imagery due to how artificial it can appear. While I agree that CGI is being used too much in place of reality for modern day films, I also appreciate the purpose for it. To take the place where reality cannot. The main point of any character is to reflect not just the words alone but their feelings to the viewer. We don’t always need to see a facial expression in order to understand a character but, it does go a long way to connect the audience when it comes to film. Film itself, is a visual media by nature. CGI has advanced. Improving to the point of that possibility, that “realistic” feel. In this case; both the puppet and computer generated figure deserve equal understanding.

    Take a look at a person’s face when conversing with them, you’ll notice complicated animation that can’t be translated simply. A person’s eyes may tell when they’re happy or upset. Even if they don’t express these thoughts into words. Minor twitch movements of someone’s eyebrow tell when they’re thinking. A piercing stare, to bring your attention in response to something you’ve said. Yoda’s conviction, his words are further expressed by the complicated animation in his face. This is evident with the CGI. Though, the puppet shouldn’t be discredited. There are limits to how much expression a puppet can convey but this one does indeed show quite a great amount of range and delivers the message in it’s own manner. To me, both are very much equal in the way they relay the points of emotion and personality.

    I’m not one for speaking from only an aesthetic point of view without taking the rest into consideration. I won’t lie, I was that kind of person at one point in my life; but today, I can’t do that with any sincerity. In the prequels Yoda is modeled for this particular time in his life. At least, that was the inspiration I imagine. At that point in the story he’s a “younger” Yoda. In the (future) original films, he’s much older. The choice of inserting the CGI version back into the first prequel film a few years later may have been a decision for creative, visual continuity. Yoda was still capable of combat in part due to his ability for force augmentation (despite his age) but it would be hard to animate that properly with puppetry. Taking that into consideration, they probably figured he should maintain the CGI look in the first film, otherwise it would be hard to translate for new viewers who’ve seen the next films and other media. To question which one looks better is hard for me. The time and effort into making that puppet should be appreciated because it looks complicated. To me, they did a wonderful effort of making it look alive. At the same time, I also appreciate the work done with the CGI. The amount of detail done in Yoda is impressive. In the end, I like them both and believe they work on different levels. Then again, I tend to think too deeply on things :P

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