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Brian Henson is Chairman of The Jim Henson Company and an award-winning director, producer, writer and performer. Most recently, he created "Stuffed and Unstrung," an off-Broadway puppet-based variety show geared[…]

Puppetry is one of the oldest art forms, and its effect can’t be replicated with 3D digital animation.

Question:rnWith the world going digital, what is the future of puppets?


Brian Henson:  It’s arncompletely different thing that you’re trying to do with a puppet.  It’s, or at least usually in ourrncompany, usually a puppet is made of felt and its eyes are often, you rnknow,rnwhite plastic and it’s stuffed with foam rubber or stuffing and that’s rnpart ofrnwhat it is, that’s what makes the puppet funny.  Andrn when you’re doing the puppet, if you’re doing a puppetrnof a goat, well, it’s not actually a goat that’s playing the scene, rnwhat’srnfunny is it’s a goat that’s made out of yellow felt and foam rubber and rnpingrnpong ball eyes, and that’s part of what the entertainment is.  If you were to rip the arm off therngoat, there would be cotton wool that comes out, not blood.


Andrn that’s notrnsomething you can copy with 3D digital animation. That’s specific tornpuppetry.  So I don’t think, Irnthink there will always be a place for puppetry.  3Drn animation, I think people were asking the same questionrnwhen we were doing animatronics through the ‘80’s and ‘90’s when we werern doingrnanimatronic characters.  Well, wernwere building puppet characters, but you were meant to believe if you rncut them,rnthey would bleed, with “Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth”andrn more recently, “Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy,” or “WherernThe Wild Things Are,” those are characters that are meant to be closer rnto thernillusion of living, breathing characters. rnAnd I think animatronics has been largely replaced, and certainlyrnenhanced by 3D digital animation.


Butrn I think thernplace for puppetry, the simplicity of what you’re doing with puppetry...rn well,rnyou can’t beat the simplicity of a puppet and a camera and there you arern andrnyou’re done.  So I don’t thinkrnpuppetry is going anywhere fast.  Irnthink it’s one of the oldest art forms in the world and I think it will rnstillrnbe going strong.

Recorded on April 8, 2010