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How They Bring Muppets to Life

They’re just puppets right? How hard can it be to make a movie with them? Harder than you think. Check out this behind-the-scenes look from the latest muppet movie:


The muppet known as Walter is puppeteered by not two – but three virtual actors. Blue screen or green are used to insert visual effects.  

Making the Muppets
The Muppets were the brainchild of the late Jim Henson, the term comes from the combination of the words ”marionette” and “puppet,” Henson began using the term during a interview back in 1956 and it stuck.

To create a muppet, an artist uses a variety of materials, first craving the shape out of foam – then adding a skin for texture, for example a muppet may be covered with fleece, felt or even yak hair. Performers are hidden while puppeteering the character, although in the case of larger muppets, like Big Bird, a puppeteer could be inside a costume. The muppets are low-tech Hollywood visual effects that have been refined over time.


Muppets creator Jim Henson (middle) played Ernie and Frank Oz (right, the voice of Stars Wars’ Yoda) played Bert on the classic Sesame Street

Muppets develop their character over time, or “organically,” according to writer Michael Davis. Puppeteers may pass a character around, sharing and exchanging ideas for characters with others in the Henson puppeteering troupe, said Davis, the muppet is ”test-driven, passed around from one member to another in the hope of finding the perfect human-Muppet match.”

In 2004, The Walt Disney Company bought the Muppets (they do not however own the Sesame Street characters), and The Muppets Studio. And thanks to that purchase, The Muppets (who were a television staple in the 1980′s), are making a comeback – a recent big-screen production led by Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother) was a hit with fans and critics.

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