Is Puppetry A Form Of Animation

SweetShop209

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I saw this article from the website Toughpigs that mentioned how Muppet performers are not voice actors. As mentioned in the article, they do provide unique voices, but they also do quite a bit of physical work in order to give great performances. Some examples include Frank Oz actually being underwater to do Piggy's number in The Great Muppet Caper, Steve Whitmire & Eric Jacobson being inside some sofa chairs when guest starring on a talk show as Kermit and Piggy, or Caroll Spinney being inside the Big Bird suit for almost 2 hours during a parade in Australia.

This makes one wonder if puppetry can be considered a form of animation. On the one hand, it's not uncommon for these puppet shows to have the puppet characters interacting with live action humans, and thus the actors would need to be more physical in order to make their interactions feel genuine. On the other hand, there are some projects that do question this. Take for example, The Book Of Pooh and Scooby Doo Adventures: The Mystery Map. While they do use puppeteers, the voice work for the characters is still done by the regular performers, such as Jim Cummings, John Fielder, and Ken Sansom for the former, and Frank Welker, Grey DeLisle Griffin, and Matthew Lillard for the latter. Plus, unlike other shows that use puppets, these two projects use traditional animation voice directors (Ginny McSwain and Collette Sunderman respectively). Plus, there have been some cases where puppeteers do voice work in non-puppetry projects. For example, Stephanie D'Abruzzo (who was Kessie in TBOP and Velma & Shirley in SDATMM) has done voice work for shows that are obviously animated (Wallykazam and Welcome To The Wayne), while David Rudman did voice work for a show he co-created (Nature Cat).

What do you think?
 

Low Spark of Lyman

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The article doesn't appear to be opposed to classifying puppetry as animation, only with classifying Muppet performers (among others in puppetry, I imagine) as voice actors. And then the problem is not so much the label per se as it is that it's only one part of a Muppet performer's job. Bringing Kermit the Frog to life is different from bringing Bugs Bunny to life, in that there are more roles for someone like Jim Henson than someone like Mel Blanc. Nothing wrong with that, of course, just that only one category has voice acting as a primary job.

It seems puppetry is, or at least can be, deemed a gray area in regards to life action vs. animation, if not an independent category. On the one hand, it deals with human performances, but it also has the performers themselves off-camera. Where does one put that?
 

The Overlord

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I saw this article from the website Toughpigs that mentioned how Muppet performers are not voice actors. As mentioned in the article, they do provide unique voices, but they also do quite a bit of physical work in order to give great performances. Some examples include Frank Oz actually being underwater to do Piggy's number in The Great Muppet Caper, Steve Whitmire & Eric Jacobson being inside some sofa chairs when guest starring on a talk show as Kermit and Piggy, or Caroll Spinney being inside the Big Bird suit for almost 2 hours during a parade in Australia.

This makes one wonder if puppetry can be considered a form of animation. On the one hand, it's not uncommon for these puppet shows to have the puppet characters interacting with live action humans, and thus the actors would need to be more physical in order to make their interactions feel genuine. On the other hand, there are some projects that do question this. Take for example, The Book Of Pooh and Scooby Doo Adventures: The Mystery Map. While they do use puppeteers, the voice work for the characters is still done by the regular performers, such as Jim Cummings, John Fielder, and Ken Sansom for the former, and Frank Welker, Grey DeLisle Griffin, and Matthew Lillard for the latter. Plus, unlike other shows that use puppets, these two projects use traditional animation voice directors (Ginny McSwain and Collette Sunderman respectively). Plus, there have been some cases where puppeteers do voice work in non-puppetry projects. For example, Stephanie D'Abruzzo (who was Kessie in TBOP and Velma & Shirley in SDATMM) has done voice work for shows that are obviously animated (Wallykazam and Welcome To The Wayne), while David Rudman did voice work for a show he co-created (Nature Cat).

What do you think?

Puppetry is not animation, but I think they are related fields, something in-between animation, and live-action.

I think that article is a bit defensive because in say Dark Crystal Age of Resistance, only a few of the characters are voiced by the puppeteers, like the Scroll Keeper and the Ordmentalist, most of the characters are voiced by actors (Taron Egerton, Simon Pegg, Mark Hamill, Jason Issacs, Nathalie Emmanuel, etc). I think both the puppeteer and the voice actor is important in making those characters come alive and I think they hired some famous people (mostly from Game of Thrones) to be in this series as a selling point. Just like an animator and a voice actor add elements to make a character come alive in animation, a puppeteer and a voice actor combine their talents to make these puppet characters come alive.

I heard Dark Crystal Age of Resistance was going to be an animated series, till Netlifx made it a puppet show to honor the movie. Would an animated series have been better than what we got? Not sure, if I do appreciate sticking close to the feel of the film. I like animation, but I also like puppets.
 

Red Arrow

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Puppetry is live-action. It is literally in the word: live action. The hands inside the puppets are performing (action) in front of the camera (live).

It's a bit like how stop-motion can be done with photos of real humans. Then it's still stop motion.

There is absolutely nothing animated about a puppet. Puppets are 3D objects that you can hold in your hand, just like human actors, unlike the original Looney Tunes drawings, or the digital Regular Show drawings, or the photos made for Shaun the Sheep.

Live-action Hollywood movies often get dubbed. Not just in different languages, also in American English. Sometimes the director wants the actors to say their lines again in a different way. So asking if something is animation or not has nothing to do with voice-acting.

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Fone Bone

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Puppetry is live-action. It is literally in the word: live action. The hands inside the puppets are performing (action) in front of the camera (live).

It's a bit like how stop-motion can be done with photos of real humans. Then it's still stop motion.

There is absolutely nothing animated about a puppet. Puppets are 3D objects that you can hold in your hand, just like human actors, unlike the original Looney Tunes drawings, or the digital Regular Show drawings, or the photos made for Shaun the Sheep.

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Your post is better than mine because you actually explained why the idea that puppets are animation is untrue. I couldn't go beyond a sentence because the idea of the topic frustrated me so much. Kudos to you.
 

Low Spark of Lyman

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Instead of animation, I think puppetry can be seen more as akin to a cartoon, instead of realistic fiction. However, live action features can be cartoonish as well (e.g. The Three Stooges). Plus, live action can be blended with both puppetry and animation (e.g. Sesame Street/Who Framed Roger Rabbit)...except the former can directly interact with live actors; animation, not so much. Another sign of which of the two puppetry has more in common with, it seems.

I think the closest we have to puppetry as actual animation is George Pal's Puppetoons series.
 

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