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Jason Segel talks The Muppets and his inspiration

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by foxa, Aug 30, 2010.

  1. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Don't get me wrong. I very much want that too. But with well-done, beautiful looking photos/artwork. NOT with ugly generic-looking, expressionless, cringe-inducing poser photos accosting my eyes on every street corner. And given the Muppets' track record with their merchandising/branding/promotions, the odds of that turning out to be the case is a little too nervewracking.
  2. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    And NPH is one of the hugest Muppet Freaks himself. I can't see him not ending up with a cameo - i'm sure he'd probably be visiting the set regardless! Can you just imagine how insanely cool it must be on the set of HIMYM with two of the entertainment industry's Muppet Freaks starring on the same show? And of course, just in the beginning would have been wickedcool enough - now with one of them playing such a big part in their latest major project, i would love to be a fly on the wall on that set!
  3. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    There's an important difference between what happened at the beginning of this thread and the latest discussions. The "off-topic" discussions have been used as examples to compare and contrast what might happen with the Muppets' project with actual past examples of other franchises. So it's still very much in the same direction, even if the driving's on the access road rather than the freeway.
  4. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Might I add that continually telling people to stay on topic is in itself off topic. :p As long as the thread subject is touched on somewhere in each post there shouldn't be an issue with other conversations introduced along side it. And constructive criticism is a part of the forum. It isn't bashing. It makes for a much more interesting conversation than if everyone agreed with everything, had the same tastes or kept quiet if they didn't. Forums are conversational. There's no need for such a heavy hand and this thread hasn't come close to being muffined yet.

    Now, back on topic (because I believe that every post should have some part that talks about the new Muppet film).

    On the subject of posers in advertising of the film, I think most of the current spreads have been rather attractive and remind me of the old Muppet Magazine spreads. I still don't see why they don't devise some sort of knucked hand armature to go inside the Kermit poser. Some of the Kermits used on those old mag covers were unfortunate and I agree that many photo Kermits these days appear the same way too, but the cast aside from Kermit and Piggy have looked pretty good in the current poser form.
  5. The Muppaphone

    The Muppaphone Well-Known Member

    Kermit and captain hammer team up to thwart the evil and ingenius plans of Dr. Horrible perhaps? tee hee :D
  6. Duke Remington

    Duke Remington Well-Known Member

    I very greatly appreciate your sympathy, my friend. I really do.

    And it continues to break my heart further when under-rated films get slammed continuously. :cry:

    Again, I just cannot agree with that. Screw innacuracies! It's only an animated film made for entertainment purposes, not to serve as a history lesson.

    Also, this is not the first time that this story got "romanticized", even in animation. For instance: there's one WB Merrie Melodies cartoon made in 1938 starring Egghead called "Johnny Smith and Poker-Huntas", which also distorted the whole true story (most people probably don't know about that particular short, since it has mostly been kept locked away in the vault for ages, due to racial content). If more people knew about the existance of films like that, more people would probably relax about the whole thing and keep quiet more often, IMO.

    Poca, Hunchback, Hercules, Mulan and Tarzan are all classics as well and deserve to be regarded as part of the second Disney feature animation renaissance period of 1989-1999 as well, in addition to Little Mermaid, Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and Lion King.

    And, Dr. Tooth, just because you're an animation student does not give you the right to be so pompous, mocking film and TV titles in every other post.

    I will continue to remain a staunch defender of all those under-rated films until my dying day.

    I'm not flaming anybody, nor is it my intention. I'm just expressing my own personal opinion with the hope that I'll be understood and respected.

    Okay, you can all start slamming me now. This odd-one-out/odd duck/outcast his protective armor on already... :(
  7. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Are you a child?

    I have EVERY right to say a crap film IS a crap film. It was a crap film, I'll die saying it's a crap film... it IS a crap film.

    It was a poorly written piece of reconstructive historical fluff and high preachiness with NO ENTERTAINMENT VALUE WHATSOEVER! I disposed and loathed every second of it, and the only find I get is one of the voice actors has become one of the most racially intolerant people of all time.

    Pocahontas is the reason people hated Disney Princess movies . Animaniacs rightfully slaughtered it as a preachy, unwatchable, formulaic waste of good animation.

    you like it, FINE... don't insult me with your obvious attitude towards anyone who says different. Everyone hands everything I like its own butt on a silver platter, but I at LEAST have the common decency to move on and change the subject.

    God, you are an overly sensitive one. And I;m putting you on ignore now. GOoooooood Night!
  8. dmoss

    dmoss Well-Known Member

    Putting my neck on the line here, as I didn't read all of the posts within this discussion, but is this the kind of world Jim Henson was promoting? Are we taking what he worked for and believed in, and making it real by saying things like this?

    What if he is in fact a child? Jim said, "The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children."

    Think on that.
  9. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    I gotta agree about Pocahontas. Sorry, but it just didn't do it for me, plus I saw it on the big screen about 7 or 8 times. I had to. I was working at a drive-in movie theater the summer it came out. I was stuck in the ticket booth in this town way out in the sticks with little to no way to entertain the kiddies. That's the reason the place was packed. To the parents, Disney film=way to keep the young'uns quiet.

    So I gave it a fair chance. Several. I just didn't dig it. To me it was "didn't the Little Mermaid sing this already?" If it had been the Lion King, that's different. I really enjoyed that one. It was a much better film overall.

    About those advertising posters Disney's (hopefully) going to do for the new film. The Disney execs or the Muppet poser/photo people NEED to read Danny Horn's article about Kermit he did a while back. It's an excellent example of how Kermit can look awful if he's not posed and positioned just right, especially the head. Would someone there have a MR Kermit poser they could practice taking pictures of before using the real puppet?

    Also, the new group Muppet photo has one oddity that sticks out right away. I don't think I've ever seen Dr. Teeth take off his hat. He just looks weird without it on.

    Convincing John
  10. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    There's a difference between being child-like and childish. The poster is clearly overly sensitive, and has a history of flaming everyone who slightly offends him when he no doubt skims halfway through the posts. There's nothing wrong with liking a movie, but there's ALSO nothing wrong with not liking one.

    And Might I add, I'm not saying "teh Movie is the stupids," I'm slamming it CRITICALLY.

    I might as well give it a real run down.

    The characters were flat and one dimensional, the comic relief of the non-talking animals was weak, the acting was almost Star Wars 1 wooden, the music was manipulative and syrupy (and those are the good songs), the villain was unnecessary and stereotypical, and even if banality dictated, they could at LEAST have given him a funny sidekick, the Native American spiritual world seems like a cartoonish caricature, rather than a respectful insight, they basically tore the same arranged marriage subplot from Aladdin, and it was already cliche by then (but it WORKED in Aladdin). And I could overlook any of that if it wasn't so heavy handed.

    There was virtually nothing to be liked by myself in that movie. I've seen 90% of legit Disney movies (not counting theatrically released cheapquels) and I've more or less liked thgat 90% of them... This was one of the two I found to be dull and unlikable, right allong side the snoozefest Dinosaur.

    But it shouldn't MATTER what I think. he likes it, and that should be good enough for him.

    Pompous... really.. the nerve.
  11. BobThePizzaBoy

    BobThePizzaBoy Well-Known Member

    I have agree with Drtooth, Pocahontas is a really disappointing film. I don't hate it as much as he does, Alan Menken's score was probably the most redeeming quality of the movie and some of the voice acting is satisfying, but it moves far too slowly and hastily put together as a result of Jeff Katzenberg's insistence on making what he viewed as an "Oscar-worthy" drama. Disney got much better with balancing drama and their traditional fare with The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  12. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Ah, Katzenberg... the same guy who wanted Toy Story to suck.
  13. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Or better still, don't use the posers unless absolutely necessary for the shot. They don't work. The only thing worse than an ugly lifeless poser photo is a ubiquitous ugly lifeless poser photo.
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Makes me wonder... What about developing hand shaped armatures? There's clearly something up with having the puppeteers stand there all day getting the right light and angle for a photo... but what if we put the actual puppets (or special photo puppets made similar to the actual puppets) on something like that, shape the hands from the outside to shape the mouth, and use that as a photo? it would make Kermit look a LOT better.

    Still, what's worse than a poseur? Photoshopping a poseur where they shouldn't be.
  15. Convincing John

    Convincing John Well-Known Member

    I wondered that myself. Kermit's head is basically a mitten with either Jim or Steve's hand inside doing the expressions.

    Check out what I found. You can get them on Amazon or in an art supply store. Artists use these wooden hands to make sure they get the proportions right. Like you said, can't something like this be invented for photo shoots? It wouldn't take much to have the photo people say "Hey, Steve. We gotta do a picture of Kermit thinking and looking up. How would that look with just your hand?" Steve could position his arm and hand where they should go, then the photo people would fix the fake arm to match, then put a real Kermit puppet on it. If Steve's not there, then at least study footage, photos, etc.

    The posers from the Muppet Show days didn't look too shabby, but I think that's because they used the actual puppets for at least some shots. The Muppet Movie one of Kermit in the director's chair, plus the one of Kermit with his arms folded (a popular pose from the late 70's--see Kermit's mantlepiece in "Polliwog Ways") didn't look too bad. Obviously Jim was there back then and if something looked off, he would've went "wait a minute, let's fix this here."

    I agree, the Photoshopped Muppets just don't look right when just thrown together as a collage. All the Muppets need to be in the same shot together in order to make it believable. Otherwise, it just doesn't look right. When a collage is made, lighting is different from different photos, plus sizes can be off, too. A prime example of this is the Cookie/Herry pictures parodied in your drawing.

    Obviously, Louis Mitchell at SW puts in a lot of effort with the poser photography and Big Bird or Elmo or whoever don't turn out looking strange. Is it because of certain lighting they use at SW? Do they just care more about how the characters should look in still photos?

    If Disney reads this thread, well, here's my suggestion. It wouldn't hurt to ask Steve or Louis for their imput. Heck, even Frank might have a few words to say. Even though he's retired from Muppeteering, the guy knows the characters and how they should look. Get Michael Frith's imput, don't ignore Don's Magic Triangle, find photos or film of Jim or Steve performing. There's so much hard work that goes into these characters. The photos help advertise them. They should be done with care, not sloppiness.

    The Muppets are making a comeback, yes, but fer crying out loud, don't screw up the publicity photos. The same goes for merchandise, which is a whole other kettle of fleece. Fisher Price got it right with their plush Kermit in 1978. Rowlf looks even better! Years later...this came out. Blechh.

    Convincing John
  16. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    This is primarily a Kermit issue. Some of the poser pics have looked okay. There were even wonky ones in Jim's day yet there haven't been many good ones since. I think they should use a hand model. My guess is that the merchandising department believes photographic symmetry to Kermit's face is more appealing than true personality, but in my experience that's just not the case. :)
  17. theprawncracker

    theprawncracker Well-Known Member

    That Kermit... he's such a poser. A real phony froggy.

    This post has been brought to you by...
    Nothing at All Industries
    A Division of Completely Pointless, INC.
  18. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    A total am-FIB-ian.
  19. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    Something like that... yeah. But maybe a bit more durable, and specifically tailored to being manipulated from inside a puppet (they still have to slip the thing on)... and of course, built up to get at the right angles.

    Kermit's expressions lie in his hand shape. A lot of the other posers can live without that (though some need to be rebuilt, simple as that) but Kermit... Kermit has a slight skew in his face from where the hand points. That gives him more personality.
  20. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    I'd say arm-shaped support is a step in the right direction but ultimately they won't solve the problems as they run much deeper than that and would be a case of addressing the symptoms rather than the cause.

    Before Henson really developed the poser puppets, most of the earlier photo shoots were done with the real puppets...either on an arm or in large cast shots, with them on stands. Yet even those shots with Muppets on stands with no arm in them looked better than most poser photos.

    What is it that gives Muppets "life"? The puppeteer. How do puppets that usually don't have any type of facial features still manage to look happy, sad, confused, contemplative, etc etc? Via the skill of the puppeteer and their knowledge of how to move them and pose them in front of a camera. Poser Muppets by their nature can't take advantage of that...they have to be manipulated by the outside. The best poser photographer just doesn't have the appropriate tools to create something that has that same amount of life and expression. This is why poser photos always look dull and fakey. They're not only shooting understudy "stand-in"'s but ones that have been overly-Botoxed...incapable of registering emotion.

    But even though that's the root of the problem, there are still other factors in play. (After all, that still doesn't explain why puppets on stands with no arm inside giving them expression still look better than posers)

    Part of the problem is with the construction of the posers...the stuffing inside, the generic expressions they're built with. Though they may be a close match, they look different and the difference is always worse.

    And at this point, i'm going to say something very unpopular and i'm about to lay major criticism on a longtime valued employee of Henson. But John E. Barrett's whole style of photography is just a poor fit with the Muppets. Sure the guy's been in charge of poser photography for decades and he's been entrusted with that task, has had exhibits of his work and won numerous awards and while the photos themselves may be well-done as photographs, they still do not compliment or capture the essence of the Muppets. The problem is that his entire style is based on both trying to make something fake look like something real as well as trying to make it "fit" into the square peg of 2d still image...the latter is why Kermit has traditionally been the worst looking poser year after year, rebuild after rebuild. Both photographer and poser builders try to make his unusual head shape look more "head-on friendly" - looking more like a cartoon drawing simplification, hence what always ends up being that flat-head look.

    Poser photography, under Barrett's watch, is a method of making substandard already poor-looking Muppets try to duplicate the real things. But the end result is that so much emphasis is placed on the artifice that they miss capturing the soul of what they're trying to duplicate. The photography "expert" frequently misses the larger picture, so to speak. As Cantus the Minstrel would say, Barrett "looks, but he doesn't see."

    It doesn't matter if the photo in question is full-body or from the waist up. Actually those waist-up photos are worse because they really highlight how they aren't the actual Muppets they're trying to pass them off as - you can see how bad it was from the debut issue of Muppet Magazine. The cover had that flathead generic "fixed expression" Kermit that would plague the poser Kermit's for decades and a very ugly Fozzie (which looked really bad compared to the puppet version that existed at the time). Within those pages, article after article just looks "bad" or "wrong" with the worst being the Vet's Hospital feature where they do a quasi cartoon with photography serving as the panels instead of drawing with the poser Muppets posing with Susan Lucci. The Muppets look stiffed and well..."posed" instead of full of life. The whole essence of the photos are too focused on trying to serve as a substitute that they miss what makes the real things the special things they are.

    Barrett was too good at his task. Unfortunately his task itself was all kinds of wrong; a fool's errand and ill-defined. His work was akin to those who photograph food for menus, commercials, and print ads - they rarely use real food because real food melts under lights, have visible grease, etc. There's a whole side-industry in "food" photography that's designed to make the viewer desire the food pictured. But you sure as heck wouldn't want to eat what's in the picture because it's not real. Poser photos are equally as "un-appetizing". They may make the subject matter look idealized and more "appealing" but they take away the whole basic elements that made people desire what's supposed to be represented in the photographs to begin with.

    Should poser photography be done away with? No, there was after all reason for its creation - to get certain types of shots one couldn't get with the real Muppets. But they should be reserved for those cases. The ratio needs to be reversed...instead of over 90% of Muppet photos being done with posers, it needs to be the other way around. It needs to be a tool in the overall arsenal, not the entire toolkit itself.

    They also need some skilled photographers to add a fresh perspective and re-invent the wheel, undoing all of the damage that Barrett's "leadership" has done. His apprentices learn his technique and style which draws them further away from the actual true source that it's supposed to be representing.

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