No Right Answer: Puppets vs CGI

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Puppets vs CGI

Puppet creatures in movies will always look rubbery and odd, and CG creatures will always have that shimmer and clipping issue. But which one holds up better, years down the line? The boys pit puppetry versus computer graphics to see which creatures are best in life.

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Gollum was the perfect combination of puppet and CGI. Gollum was amazing. This should have been a tie.

Good to see Kyle win one, finally. Whenever Chris wins, he seems to get on his soapbox and brag about how awesome he is. Kyle, especially this time, almost seemed sympathetic to the other side. Either way, amusing dynamic; I'm starting to like the show more and more.

Plus, aside from the George Lucas episode, usually the "right" answer is "both".

I was on the side of CGI until "Hurricane Gonzo".

tl;dw, but ...
Puppets look better and hold up longer: e.g. look at The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It looked horrible and would have looked ten times better if they had used puppets.

As mush as I hate seeing too many cgi these days but I have to agree with Kyle (CGI can do stuff that even puppets cannot). To be honest thought shouldn't it be Puppets AND Models vs CGI? I mean they used models miniatures for cities/ building going to be destroyed before CGI came around.

I have always been on the puppet side... No-matter-what, CGI will always look, well.. CGI...
Whereas puppets are the real deal..

One of the reasons i liked the old Star Wars movies better than the new ones..

I prefer the look of puppets, not to mention the interaction between them and the actors is 'real'; they can see exactly what the puppet looks like because it's right in front of them.

CGI is a difficult one to add in this way. Without a doubt it's certainly more convenient and can add all sorts of effects (no shit, that's what it's for), but almost always looks weird when there's interaction.

I still think the first Jurassic Park is the best use of CGI though. It had puppets too, but the blend between them is seamless.

CGI can look dated for some movies but puppets (unless its a muppet movie) always look dated and a little creepy. imagine in Jarrasic park had been made with puppets

BgRdMchne:
tl;dw, but ...
Puppets look better and hold up longer: e.g. look at The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It looked horrible and would have looked ten times better if they had used puppets.

They DID use puppets in Fantastic Mr. Fox.

zombie711:
CGI can look dated for some movies but puppets (unless its a muppet movie) always look dated and a little creepy. imagine in Jarrasic park had been made with puppets

Again, this movie DID use puppets. The T. Rex head was a puppet, the Triceratops was a puppet, the velociraptors had puppets, the Dilophosaurus was a puppet, the baby raptor was a puppet.

Anyways, without puppets, we wouldn't have this beauty.

Soviet Heavy:

Anyways, without puppets, we wouldn't have this beauty.

Or this

Really, you only need to watch the first two Alien films and The Thing to understand that puppets fucking rock.

Puppets always look as fake as CGI models for any living thing and CGI has gotten very good at making Non-living/organic things over the years frankly unless I was making a movie with shit budget, I'd probably focus most or all my effort on CGI unless it was simply imperative that a real actor interact the with object.

Chris wins for "In Heaven, Star Wars 1-3 is made with Jim Henson."

CGI does have PIXAR, and against anyone else - easy win.

But. Jim Henson.

Could you EVER do the Muppet Show with CGI? Would you even DARE?

image

Really?

BgRdMchne:
tl;dw, but ...
Puppets look better and hold up longer: e.g. look at The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It looked horrible and would have looked ten times better if they had used puppets.

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was stop animation, which is basically puppets, and no CGI. Good job.

BaronOfStuff:
I still think the first Jurassic Park is the best use of CGI though. It had puppets too, but the blend between them is seamless.

Seriously, this is the way to go. Slither also did a pretty good job, in places, of blending puppets and CGI. There are some scenes in Slither that I was certain was CGI and ended up being puppets.

Well technically (I promised myself that I would never use THOSE words) mo-cap IS a form of puppetry; So they don't count in this argument.

They should have asked "Hand animated" CGI vs Puppets?

OT: Personally I love puppets because they are ACTUALLY THERE (Chris said it and I agree) and this allows the actors to give a better performance.

image

Azuaron:

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was stop animation, which is basically puppets, and no CGI. Good job.

I guess that shit claymation looks a lot like shit CGI in motion. Straight puppetry would have looked better.

It takes a human touch to get the movements right.

Screw puppets vs CGI
They just proved Jim Henson was the second coming of Jesus!!!

This reminds me of the Extra Credits episode "Graphics vs Aesthetics" in that the puppets which hold up the best are stylised (Muppets) and the ones that don't are more naturalistic (Labyrinth). Same goes for CGI, but filmakers overshoot their tech and aim at naturalism before it's ready. Pixar know how to make the most out of this limited medium, with heavy stylisation.

Also, we need to be working on a giant, inflatable, decoy chicken. In case of Hurricane Gonzo.

Chris, poor show. All you had to do was mention John Carpenter's The Thing, and you'd have got an instant win.

While I appreciate there will always be some things CGI can do that animatronics can't, I still sit firmly on the side with Stan Winston and Jim Henson. Animatronics will always have that real tangibility that simply eludes CGI. Even Avatar, with it's $300 million effects budget, couldn't get rid of that glossy, uncanny-valley CG sheen.

It's funny that people always bring up Lord Of The Rings and Jurassic Park to defend CGI, as both those films relied rather a lot on actual physical effects to create the visual magic. Jurassic Park, while having IMO the best CGI of any film to date, used animatronics for all the key iconic scenes involving the dinosaurs (the T-Rex attacking the jeep, the dying Triceratops, the Velociraptors in the kitchen). Without Stan Winston, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park wouldn't have looked anywhere near as realistic. As for Lord Of The Rings, it's the non-CGI effects that hold up the best. The miniature sets they used for all the large fantasy cities and fortresses, the excellent prosthetic work on the orcs and Uruks. The CGI of Lord Of The Rings has actually dated rather badly, including Gollum. While it was impressive for the time, nowadays that hallmark CG intangibility is as clear as day on things like Gollum, the Cave Trolls and the Oliphants.

Compare that to The Thing, the go-to example of animatronic genius. Nearly 30 years on, and the special effects in the film are still nigh-on flawless. There's only one scene in the whole film where it's obvious the alien isn't real, and it's the one scene that used stop-motion animation instead of animatronics. Everything else is a work of puppeteering genius, and it still to this day looks unbelievably (in the best sense of the word) realistic. Mandatory Thing scene below:

Other examples? The Xenomorphs from the Alien series. The first two films have some of the wierdest, most terrifying alien creatures ever commited to celluloid, and not a scratch of CGI was used. Perhaps the most emotionally affecting example: ET. A film that managed to break the hearts of millions of kids (and parents) around the world, and the main character was played a a legless child in a suit, and a team of 14 puppeteers working in unison behind the sets. Again, ET is an alien who still looks realistic (and endearing) even to this day.

And there are more: Predator. An American Werewolf In London (with it's genre busting transformation effects). The Dark Crystal, which created an alien, mystical, beautiful world every bit as fantastical as Avatar, and quite a bit more tangible. With modern technology and engineering, there is practically no limit to what animatronics and puppets can do. Which is why I'm so happy that the new Hobbit films will focus more on animatronic creatures than the LOTR trilogy, according to Guillermo del Toro (before he left, of course).

WHAT!! No mention of Gerry Anderson. This needs to be rectified!


This is from 50 years ago!

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Chris, poor show. All you had to do was mention John Carpenter's The Thing, and you'd have got an instant win.

While I appreciate there will always be some things CGI can do that animatronics can't, I still sit firmly on the side with Stan Winston and Jim Henson. Animatronics will always have that real tangibility that simply eludes CGI. Even Avatar, with it's $300 million effects budget, couldn't get rid of that glossy, uncanny-valley CG sheen.

It's funny that people always bring up Lord Of The Rings and Jurassic Park to defend CGI, as both those films relied rather a lot on actual physical effects to create the visual magic. Jurassic Park, while having IMO the best CGI of any film to date, used animatronics for all the key iconic scenes involving the dinosaurs (the T-Rex attacking the jeep, the dying Triceratops, the Velociraptors in the kitchen). Without Stan Winston, the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park wouldn't have looked anywhere near as realistic. As for Lord Of The Rings, it's the non-CGI effects that hold up the best. The miniature sets they used for all the large fantasy cities and fortresses, the excellent prosthetic work on the orcs and Uruks. The CGI of Lord Of The Rings has actually dated rather badly, including Gollum. While it was impressive for the time, nowadays that hallmark CG intangibility is as clear as day on things like Gollum, the Cave Trolls and the Oliphants.

Compare that to The Thing, the go-to example of animatronic genius. Nearly 30 years on, and the special effects in the film are still nigh-on flawless. There's only one scene in the whole film where it's obvious the alien isn't real, and it's the one scene that used stop-motion animation instead of animatronics. Everything else is a work of puppeteering genius, and it still to this day looks unbelievably (in the best sense of the word) realistic. Mandatory Thing scene below:

Other examples? The Xenomorphs from the Alien series. The first two films have some of the wierdest, most terrifying alien creatures ever commited to celluloid, and not a scratch of CGI was used. Perhaps the most emotionally affecting example: ET. A film that managed to break the hearts of millions of kids (and parents) around the world, and the main character was played a a legless child in a suit, and a team of 14 puppeteers working in unison behind the sets. Again, ET is an alien who still looks realistic (and endearing) even to this day.

And there are more: Predator. An American Werewolf In London (with it's genre busting transformation effects). The Dark Crystal, which created an alien, mystical, beautiful world every bit as fantastical as Avatar, and quite a bit more tangible. With modern technology and engineering, there is practically no limit to what animatronics and puppets can do. Which is why I'm so happy that the new Hobbit films will focus more on animatronic creatures than the LOTR trilogy, according to Guillermo del Toro (before he left, of course).

With mentioning Guillermo Del Toro, I'm surprised that you didn't mention his fantastic Hellboy or Pan's Labrynth animatronics.

BgRdMchne:
tl;dw, but ...
Puppets look better and hold up longer: e.g. look at The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It looked horrible and would have looked ten times better if they had used puppets.

I can't tell if you're joking or not. They DID use puppets.

BgRdMchne:

Azuaron:

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was stop animation, which is basically puppets, and no CGI. Good job.

I guess that shit claymation looks a lot like shit CGI in motion. Straight puppetry would have looked better.

It takes a human touch to get the movements right.

It's not claymation either. Just...stop.

Great Kermit the Frog.

I should point out that if we starved the actor we may be able to get a good performance out of him (well maybe not), but it wouldn't last 3 movies especially ones as long as LOTR.

BgRdMchne:

Azuaron:

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was stop animation, which is basically puppets, and no CGI. Good job.

I guess that shit claymation looks a lot like shit CGI in motion. Straight puppetry would have looked better.

It takes a human touch to get the movements right.

Right, because shit puppetry is any better. I think the point you should be getting from Fantastic Mr. Fox is that shit looks like shit no matter what the format.

Well done CGI (Pixar), well done puppetry (Henson), and well done stop animation (Coraline) can all look beautiful. They all require different goals and aesthetics to work properly, and will never look good when used poorly.

drummond13:

BgRdMchne:

Azuaron:

The Fantastic Mr. Fox was stop animation, which is basically puppets, and no CGI. Good job.

I guess that shit claymation looks a lot like shit CGI in motion. Straight puppetry would have looked better.

It takes a human touch to get the movements right.

It's not claymation either. Just...stop.

And stop-motion is not puppetry, either. This stop motion is essentially claymation with dolls.

Mmm, it is very much a question of finding the balance, of which to use for a particular situation and of pouring the effort into whichever choice you go with.

CGI needed to win, How To Train Your Dragon and the Incredibles couldn't exist otherwise. Puppets have a good niche though, just as Wallace and Gromit does. Both would lose their charm if too many other things tried to steal their niche

What! No mention of CG Yoda Kicing some ass on the big screen in Episode 2 and 3!

I think I speak for everyone when I say that Jim Henson left us too soon.

"I nominate Avitar, just to see it loose." *cringe*

OT: Puppet Yoda beats CGI Yoda any day, but Andy Serkis is definitely kickass.

Farscape was a great example of how puppets can deliver excellent performances.

Everyone's mentioning The Thing, yet no one has mentioned the epicness that is David Cronenberg's The Fly remake:

WARNING: Many layers of WTF incoming:

ViciousTide:
What! No mention of CG Yoda Kicing some ass on the big screen in Episode 2 and 3!

Which then raises the point that the CGI model only looks any good when they have an excuse to apply a liberal amount motion blur.

I was sure they were going to mention the hulk movies. Imagine the last one with a puppet... yeah, i thought so.

Stop-motion beats both puppets and CGI.

http://youtu.be/U9kmjW73-v4

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