View Full Version : CG vs. Muppets

6 July 2002, 01:55 AM
This is a question which addresses one of the largest differences between the originial and prequel trilogies. In the prequel we have ALOT of CG enemies and aliens, most of which vary in quality from passable to obviosly fake (Dexter Jettster comes to mind). Also, CG quickly becomes dated when new technoology is used and quality increases across the industry. If you look at the CG everyone thought was groundbreaking 5 years ago, it looks quite bad now. This trend will likely continue.
On the other hand, the originial trilogy featured puppets and make-up, that for the most part look just as good today as in the 70's. Not that a preson couldn't tell a puppet from a person, but Jabba the Hutt and Yoda are great examples of what I'm saying. But then again, your opinion may vary, and so comes this poll: Which do you prefer? CG or muppets?

6 July 2002, 07:27 AM
really depends. in some situations where the creature is fairly stationary puppets work better.. in otghers puppets wouldn't work...

classic example the yoda fight scene.. they could NOT do that with a puppet

Colin Jaed
6 July 2002, 10:45 PM
Personally I think that CG right now is good, but you have a good point about technological advances. I think Yoda and Jabba were better as puppets. I think CG should be used sparingly to enhance the "live action". George Lucas enhanced the original three here and there using CG, and I liked it. I agree that Yoda's fight scene was great, and could not have been done with a puppet, but CG still leaves something to be desired. So we all go out and buy the video or DVD, and then in a few years buy it again when he retouches it, and then a few years later...ad nauseum?

8 July 2002, 09:39 AM
he'll eventually get it right though- through trial and error of technology. :raised:

my vote was for the puppets. then again, if i saw the remade ones first, then saw the original, i'd 'thank the maker' for the redone ones. depends on what you were exposed to first. Whatever you saw first would become the staple- thus the measuring bar decides how you will percieve things.

ex; your parents tell you this round, shiny red fruit is an orange. You go to preschool and ask for an orange and are horrified by the icky yellowish fruit on your plate. You insist this is not an orange and it is a cruel joke. You persist until learning otherwise what people call it.

btw; the previous has never occured to my knowledge. my apologies if anyone reading this had parents this cruel.

Kas'ir Faywind
8 July 2002, 10:05 AM
Depends as well. If you have a character that doesnt move around a hole lot and talks more i think puppets are better.

But When you have these massive cities i think it is economically and better looking to do a futuristic type city with cgi. Also if you have a character that moves alot ie yoda ep 2 you have to do cgi to get those effects.

Reverend Strone
8 July 2002, 04:13 PM
As someone in the effects business I can tell you from my perspective the decision on technique should be based on using what's best and most economical on a shot by shot basis. Usually, this does happen, but sometimes you'll get someone who successfully champions a particular technology beyond its actual merit, influencing the decision, and you get a result that relies overly on one technique to the detriment of the whole.

There'll always be a push and shove of philosphies when you're dealing with technologies that overlap, but it helps drive effects forward to new heights.

Peace and love for all, and great spfx- that's my hope for the Universe.

8 July 2002, 06:58 PM
For me, both puppets and CGI require approximately similar levels of suspension of disbelief. It takes as much imagination for me to believe a CGI construct is actually Yoda as it does for me to believe a hunk of latex with Frank Oz's hand up its rear end is actually Yoda.

I hear a lot of people say that they think miniatures and motion-control are somehow more substantive and tactile than CGI. I think that CAN be true in certain cases, but I don't think it's true as a general principle. For example, I find the podrace in Episode I to be much more "real" and visually smooth than the speeder bikes of ROTJ -- and while I'm sure I will be drawn and quartered for this, I also found the battle scenes in Episode II to be more exciting and solid than the Hoth battle in ESB. Don't get me wrong, though, both are great in their own right and on some level it's unfair to compare them (though, by bringing up this CGI vs. puppets debate, that's exactly what we're doing.)

I think CGI and puppets are both a means to an end -- to tell a story or create a character. I think that whichever way seems most seamless and efficient is the method that should be used. I have many fond memories of stop-motion and puppetry (Dark Crystal remains one of my favorite films), but I found the CGI Yoda equally as compelling.

9 July 2002, 06:53 PM
Oh, please this is easy. Think about the Jabba puppet in ROTJ and then think about the CGI one in StarWars Special edition. "Ouch, somebody stepped on my tail ! " All that scene needed was Bea Arthur singing along.

proxima centauri
9 July 2002, 07:04 PM
It mainly depends on the rendering of the character. Some are well done and fit seamlessly with the rest of a scene, some clash.

One think I believe has been said already is that when a character mounts a beast, it rarely works out well, in Ep. 2, this is blatant. In Ep. 1, it is not as bad with the Gungan warriors, but I think this is the limit of CG for the moment. I mean Legolas with the Troll in LOTR FOTR is beyond BAD.

The film makers should not put CG for the sake of it. It should be to enhance a movie, not to make it lose credibility.

13 July 2002, 02:10 AM
I much prefer puppets, but must concede the Yoda fight scene to CGI.

I'm just looking forward to Count Dooku vs. Miss Piggy. The Sith don't stand as chance :D

14 July 2002, 02:49 AM
hmm .. wouldnt the Skeksis be .. "cool" in SWRPG ? even thou a little bit to much mixed with other stories but still :)...

then would be a little like the hutts . controlling .. enslaving etc.etc.etc.

30 July 2002, 07:30 AM
i loved "The Dark Crystal" as a kid.

i saw it again recently and was... put off a bit.

30 July 2002, 07:39 AM
I like the substance of having the puppet in the scene because I still don't think the technology is good enough to simulate things like clothes and hair or to get the lighting just right, but I would not mind seeing CGI used to animate the face of the puppet, like they did in the rerelease of E.T. I don't think that Yoda should have the articulation of a guppy.

30 July 2002, 07:45 AM
I still like the Dark Crystal. I think it holds up surprisingly well -- I am still impressed by the technical complexity and skill that went into that film. A film entirely without human characters (i.e. no star power), and there are only one or two instants where I feel suspension of disbelief waver a bit.

And there are moments where I still wonder "how on Earth did they do that?"

The story is a bit stock in places (another prophecy, another Chosen One, yawn), but on the whole, I think it remains one of the most unique fantasy movies ever made -- and there aren't many of those.

1 August 2002, 08:33 PM
CGI can be great looking, depending on how much time is put into the animation of that one character. The issue becomes the lack of time to spend on every CG character used in a movie. Spend too much, and the characters, while great looking, become pointless, as the movie takes too long, and people lose interest in the project. The film might never see light of day, or may end up taking up so much time and money that it will require a huge success at the box office to be worthwhile.

Until CGI animation can become great looking with a minimal amount of time invested in it, puppets should remain in use. However, if they can afford to spend time on a CGI character, and make him look good, such as Yoda in Episode II, then do it. Have only the well developed and important characters be CGI, and have all other background or minor characters be puppets.

4 August 2002, 11:30 AM
I still have to go with puppets due to the "human equation." Sure, a human may draw the characters or use the program to create something, but it still won't have the same amount of feeling that a human operated puppet has. Once again Jabba comes to mind. The ROTJ Jabba was menacing. The Special edition one just wasn't believable.

12 August 2002, 04:30 AM
My vote is for Muppets. :) Just think of what they could do now if they'd been working on them as long and as hard as the CG. There's a very good chance that if Lucas were to remake the "old" movies, that Chewbaca would be a CG character, and that would just be wrong.

I had to laugh at dgswensen's comment about the "typical" plot line to The Dark Crystal though. Another prophecy, another chosen one, how dull. Well that's basically the plotline to Star Wars... :)