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Cable Control Puppets vs. Radio Control Puppets

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by muppetfan89, Aug 29, 2009.

  1. muppetfan89

    muppetfan89 Member

    Which do you prefer?

    I personally prefer, cable controlled puppetry because to me it's form of traditional puppetry. What I mean is that, it's a simple type of puppetry, just like marionettes, hand puppets, etc. It requires the strong skills of a puppeteer to control it.

    whereas, radio controls can be pretty complicated and don't use the skills of a puppeteer, I think. To me, it's almost like driving a remote control toy car or airplane (which in some ways it is).

    your thoughts?
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    When you say cable controlled puppets, I think of a puppet like Goggles from Kermit's Swamp Years, which Joey Mazzarino had a little contraption with a switch on it connected to a couple of blue cables running up into the puppet to turn its eyes left to right... is that what you mean?
  3. muppetfan89

    muppetfan89 Member

    yes, or something more elborate such as the characters in Dark Crystal, which most were controlled mechancially (i.e. cables, wires, etc.) and not all electronically, such as radio controls.
  4. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    AH, I see... I'm afraid I haven't gotten THAT advanced in puppetry just yet myself... I mean the closest thing I've ever come to working with puppets like that are simply stringed marionettes, lol.

    I've seen how they work radio controlled animatronics before, and it doesn't look too great, though sometimes they DO use the skills of puppeteers; I've seen some mechanisms that are like electronic gloves, and certain finger gestures create certain facial and eye expressions.
  5. muppetfan89

    muppetfan89 Member

    yeah, that's true. I don't know. I guess I'm into old fashioned arts, such as traditional puppetry, traditional animation and things of that nature.
  6. I prefer cable operated because it's more control. The problem I have with technology involved with something artistic is it dillutes artistic involvement. Even if it's a variable speed motor, it's still limiting the artistic process, even if just slightly, and limitations and art go together like oil and water.
    This is also why I hesitate to say "digital puppetry". It's not really puppetry, but for the sake of someone understanding what it involves, yeah ok, I guess the name is the most accurate but it doesn't sit right with me. Similarly, CGI is definately not animation in my opinion, but I digress.

    The amount of times I've seen a medium sized radio controlled puppet and thought "you could fit an arm in there and move the head with a hand..". Same with big animals or creatures not moving around. They should be man powered. Motors are either too jerky or too rigid and spottable from a mile away.

    I can understand the use of servo operated puppetry for something like a mask on a costume that is going to be walking around. That's fair enough and the only reasonable way of doing it when both arms of the person in the suit have to move, but most of the time it just seems to be lazy thinking.
    I think it was Underworld's use for the faces of the werewolves being cable operated, but the servos moving them were located in the upper back, along with the battery packs. That's thinking outside the box and a clever way of reducing weight in the head for better performance.
  7. muppetfan89

    muppetfan89 Member

    You took the words right out my mouth. That's exactly what I was trying say and that EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you!

    I also don't like radio controlled puppets that might to use one's puppetry skills, because at the same time, I feel the way you do, "they could've just done..."

    however, while the battery pack in a walk around puppet is clever, I do feel that character could easily be a hand puppet and then use full body for wide shots when the character is running or walking. however, if someone felt that movement and talking should be combined then there are ways around that by using mechancial puppetry. They could either:

    1. put a strap or a bar attached to the mouth by cables, so when the performer talks the mouth starts to move.

    2. put a performer in the suit and have cables run through the back and out to a little controller so when the puppeteer moves the control, the cables move the mouth. Then the cables could be hidden on camera or just edited out afterwards, just like how in Muppet Treasure Island, where they removed the arm rods digitally.

    However, there's still the question of getting the eyes of a walk around character to move. Most would say, they should be radio controlled. however, you could just do the same things I mentioned abovem particurally the second opinion.

    When there's a will, there's a way.
  8. SesameKermie

    SesameKermie Member

    What you said has merit, but I also think that things like the Henson Digital Puppetry System (I think I got the name right) help overcome that. Since the 'user interface' (to borrow a term from programming) works more like a traditional hand puppet, It does allow for better performance of a radio-controlled character.
  9. Sidebottom

    Sidebottom Member

    I think there's just as much puppetry skill involved in operating a radio-controlled puppet. Especially if you're using a waldo-like device that's based on a "mitten" -- you can't tell me there's no puppetry skill involved in performing a Doozer.

    And even without that kind of input device, even if it's just joysticks and what have you, you still need to know what to move, and in what way, and when, to bring the character to life. And that's puppetry skill no matter what the medium. Someone who knew nothing about puppetry would do a lousy job manipulating a radio-controlled puppet, just as he would do a lousy job manipulating a hand puppet.


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