Animator (and puppeteer) Pete Paquette recently gave a talk to fellow animators at Blue Sky Studios about how he uses puppetry to inspire his animation. Using the example below, he explained puppet anatomy in computer animation “rigging” terms and used the clip below as an example of how talented puppeteers can get an amazing range of expression from a “rig” that’s much simpler than what most 3D animators have to work with:
Here’s some of Pete’s notes on this scene:
What’s particularly interesting to me about this clip is the dynamic between Kermit and Fozzie. Fozzie knows Kermit is smarter than him. He knows that Kermit won’t buy into his elaborate stories, so he uses physical contact to push his ideas on Kermit, keep him away from the situation and somewhat bully the smaller frog into leaving.
A noteworthy acting choice that is virtually non-existent in animation is the play with Z space to push the performance:
0:48 “I am gonna shift the scenery??”
2:03 “or I get fired!!”
2:08 “That’s not smoke.”
2:13 “Jet exhaust.”
I had never really thought much about the fact that as puppeteers (especially in on-camera puppetry) we tend to use Z space quite a bit and animators don’t. As I’ve said many times before, animation and puppetry are very similar art forms and I think puppeteers can learn a lot by studying animation theory, and vice-versa. This is just one more great example of that.
Pete has a number of other valuable insights about the scene above, including the good use of “poses” throughout, which I believe is one of the key elements in great puppetry. Be sure to check out the entire post on his blog.