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Yoda: CGI vs Puppet

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It's been a while since I've watched ESB, so I just sat down and finally watched my bluray copy. I have to say that as a fan of all six films (they each have their flaws, but I try and love them anyways), the original Puppet is slightly underwhelming to me.

Some of the scenes with him are very well done, typically close up talking shots. Scenes where he is not the focal point are pretty disappointing though. It is hard to understand why, with as many things as they attempted to fix, they couldn't make Yoda look less like a floppy ragdoll during a lot of Lukes training.

I have a lot respect for the original films and film making techniques, but I do feel that it is perfectly acceptable to replace outdated effects... 

For a lot of people, the replacement of the TPM puppet with the CGI version was a welcome change.

Without fear of being bashed (and please people, don't bash opinions on this) does anyone think that the Yoda in the OT could be replaced in a way that would improve the films? Keep in mind, this is assuming the CGI is done well and is well integrated not to stand out.

Some people call them Force Ghosts. I call them Midichlorian Swarms.

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nightstalkerpoet said:

I have a lot respect for the original films and film making techniques, but I do feel that it is perfectly acceptable to replace outdated effects... 

...

For a lot of people, the replacement of the TPM puppet with the CGI version was a welcome change.

The new puppet was rather atrocious.

Without fear of being bashed (and please people, don't bash opinions on this) does anyone think that the Yoda in the OT could be replaced in a way that would improve the films? Keep in mind, this is assuming the CGI is done well and is well integrated not to stand out.

Without bashing your opinion, I think your premise is flawed. CGI characters stand out. Even in the PT, they didn't entirely mesh. Forcing it into a movie from 1980 isn't going to be any better.

There are different problems with CGI Yoda to be considered.

If the puppet Yoda walked in front of the couch right now, I would recognize it as a tangible moving object, even if he looks a bit puppety. If the second did, it would be more like a cartoon. Not even the cloth and hair pass for real. That he could bounce around like Roger Rabbit - while looking the part - would not constitute an improvement to me.

If your question is simply whether it is technically possible to insert a CGI rabbit Yoda (for good or ill) over the actual Yoda with a similar relative integration as the PT, I imagine it would be a painstaking task, but possible. I honestly do not see how forcing that kind of blatant CGI into ESB could improve it. Especially when you say the closeups on a puppet were very well done. So I agree with doubleofive ^

The blue elephant in the room.

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based on the digital bits, lucas reportedly gave serious consideration to replacing the puppet, but was talked out of it.

puppet yoda in OT occupies space and looks tangible.  for a good chunk of the PT, he does not.  in bails ship he looked pretty good.  and on kashyyk.  The fight in Episode II was probably the only true pop-culture moment in the PT, but that was just a gag to bring the house down.

replacing yoda in OT would be meaningless.  he was filmed specifically based on what the puppet allowed at the time. so what if he had to piggyback luke during the training?  it made for an interesting scene.  in the 2004 commentary, lucas said nowadays he would have yoda bounce along side luke.  i'll let you decide which is better.

I am fully expecting lucas to one day replace it.  at that point, the tide will really turn against him. In the commentary he candidly admits that yoda carried ESB.  He says those scenes on dagobah were deliberate and not flashy but we were so fascinated with yoda AND how he was brought to life.  Maybe he was hoping for the same thing with jar jar, but it didn't work.

 

click here if lack of OOT got you down

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Anyone in here a really skilled puppeteer and/or latex artist? Anyone ever thought about replacing PT CG Yoda with a physical puppet?

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nightstalkerpoet said:


It's been a while since I've watched ESB, so I just sat down and finally watched my bluray copy. I have to say that as a fan of all six films (they each have their flaws, but I try and love them anyways), the original Puppet is slightly underwhelming to me.

Some of the scenes with him are very well done, typically close up talking shots. Scenes where he is not the focal point are pretty disappointing though. It is hard to understand why, with as many things as they attempted to fix, they couldn't make Yoda look less like a floppy ragdoll during a lot of Lukes training.

I have a lot respect for the original films and film making techniques, but I do feel that it is perfectly acceptable to replace outdated effects... 

For a lot of people, the replacement of the TPM puppet with the CGI version was a welcome change.

Without fear of being bashed (and please people, don't bash opinions on this) does anyone think that the Yoda in the OT could be replaced in a way that would improve the films? Keep in mind, this is assuming the CGI is done well and is well integrated not to stand out.


I'm not an alcoholic. However, sometimes I suffer a negative reaction to an outside source and just feel like burning the negative emotions away with a blitz of booze.

This is one of those times.

STRANGE

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nightstalkerpoet said:

Without fear of being bashed (and please people, don't bash opinions on this) does anyone think that the Yoda in the OT could be replaced in a way that would improve the films? Keep in mind, this is assuming the CGI is done well and is well integrated not to stand out.

A digital Yoda would always stand out, it's unavoidable, the movie is 32 years old. (some guys may just like the look of a digital creature over a muppet, but that's a different thing)

 

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walking_carpet said:

 so what if he had to piggyback luke during the training? 

 

Honestly, I would hate to see Yoda jumping around in the OT, and think that riding around on Luke's back works fine. I'm simply saying that if you watch some of the scenes, you can see him flopping around (when Luke flips, etc) like a stuffed animal. I meant more for scenes such as those. 

Though personally, I wouldn't mind a CGI Yoda who was limited to being an overlay for the puppet. 

 

Some people call them Force Ghosts. I call them Midichlorian Swarms.

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IF Lucas properly preserves, restores, and releases the OT, then I wouldn't care if he [also] made a special edition that replaced Luke with a CGI Justin Bieber.  Until then, the thought of more changes to the OT is just upsetting.

The movie was made in 1977 and represents the state of the art in 1977. Why can't some people just accept that?  Do want to "improve" King Kong (1933) too?  And for that matter - of all things in ESB, YODA not good enough??

"Close the blast doors!"
Puggo’s website | Rescuing Star Wars

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Puggo - If this were in Fan Edits, would it make more sense?

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I don't think he should be replaced, but I do think he can be given some minor alterations digitally (something like TESB Revisited), to remove some of his obvious puppetness(?).

Regarding digital Yoda standing out or looking cartoonish, I disagree. He doesn't completely blend in, that's true, but some shots (in my opinion) already show that it is possible:

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^What I came here to say.  Some minor CGI adjustments like the Revisited project would probably do the trick (ie mouth movement, stabilizing the more floppy movements, and minor touch ups like that).

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Mrebo said: CGI characters stand out. Even in the PT, they didn't entirely mesh. Forcing it into a movie from 1980 isn't going to be any better.

 

If you consider the way that Jurassic Park presented CGI dinosaurs, does it seem more viable? I understand ESB is an older film, but JP is an example of CGI coexisting quite well within a realistic film setting.

And I have an idea for how to make any new effects Lucas does decide to add fit in better with the original films:

Rather than adding things into the film digitally, CGI elements could be rendered seperately from the film. Those sequences could then be filmed as animation with the cameras originally used to shoot the films. The filmed CGI elements could then be composited into the film in the same way the original special effects were.

Some people call them Force Ghosts. I call them Midichlorian Swarms.

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Been a while since I've watched what Adywan has done with Yoda. I'll have to take a look again.

Some people call them Force Ghosts. I call them Midichlorian Swarms.

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I'm with Puggo. As long as the original is properly restored, I wouldn't mind some tweaking by Lucas. But I would prefer it to be minimal and not intrusive (something Lucas is not a master of).

The movie Where the Wild Things Are used CGI to great effect in order to give the monsters believable facial expressions. Something similar could be used for Yoda.

You know of the rebellion against the Empire?

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At first it seemed like a good idea to replace the pervert looking puppet from TPM, but the results leave much to be desired. The CGI Yoda moves way too fluidly, I especially miss the puppet's head movements when he says "No more, no less".

As for ESB, I think that film is perfect, nothing would improve it.

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 (Edited)

Now that I've read through all the posts here, I've come to see a resemblance between the TPM Yoda puppet and Samuel L. Jackson. Does anyone else see this at all?

STRANGE

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Alexrd said:

Regarding digital Yoda standing out or looking cartoonish, I disagree.

It is slightly hyperbolic to call the CGI Yoda cartoonish. But looking at even the best pictures of CGI Yoda, it does look much more like a skillfully done painting than a photograph. He never actually looks real. The work is impressive and CGI is achieving greater realism. For the PT, it works, so far as it can.

The blue elephant in the room.

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Frank Oz is a skilled master of puppetry.  To replace his work in the OT with CGI would be sacrilege (I thought it was bad enough that Lucas replaced his work in TPM, but the puppet itself was pretty awful).

 In the OT, Yoda was clearly intended to be a purely philosophical character –a wise mage and guide for Luke.  It was not until Lucas made the PT and discovered the near-limitless potential of CGI that he decided to change the character and make him more physical. 

This was arguably a change for the worse.  These movies have shown, maybe above all else, that Lucas performs best when his creations are subject to physical restrictions.

 

 Spoiler free for the ST

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So...that guy + bluescreen = another part of PT:R? One can dream.

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^ Yes please!!

 Spoiler free for the ST

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nightstalkerpoet said:

Mrebo said: CGI characters stand out. Even in the PT, they didn't entirely mesh. Forcing it into a movie from 1980 isn't going to be any better.

 

If you consider the way that Jurassic Park presented CGI dinosaurs, does it seem more viable? I understand ESB is an older film, but JP is an example of CGI coexisting quite well within a realistic film setting.

And I have an idea for how to make any new effects Lucas does decide to add fit in better with the original films:

Rather than adding things into the film digitally, CGI elements could be rendered seperately from the film. Those sequences could then be filmed as animation with the cameras originally used to shoot the films. The filmed CGI elements could then be composited into the film in the same way the original special effects were.

Jurassic Park actually used animatronics extensively, especially in interactions with people.  I'm not saying it sure never be done, as I am not so turned off by CGI as much of this site is.  I'd probably agree with Puggo on this as well.  But I do feel that at the present, CGI still lacks some of the realism of puppetry (while obviously excelling it in some aspects).  That is why I prefer a sort of hybrid, with the puppet forming the basis and the CGI simply improving without replacing.