Monday, November 28, 2005

Welcome to Machin-X!

Welcome to Machin-X, my new blog about digital puppetry. This site grew out of the PuppetVision Blog, my other puppetry blog.

Where I try to use PuppetVision to provide quick, daily snippets about all the goings-on with puppetry in film, video and digital media, the goal of Machin-X is to provide an in-depth look at theories, tools and applications of digital puppetry.

What is digital puppetry?

Well, there's a bit of debate about that. Some people call 3D animation digital puppetry, but it's not - animation involves creating the illusion of movement frame-by-frame whereas puppetry involves manipulating objects in real-time to create the illusion of life where non exists. Likewise, the term has also been applied to motion capture, which is sort of puppetry, but not really (more on that in an upcoming post hopefully).

I define digital puppetry - at least for the purposes of this blog - as the manipulation and performance of digital objects and characters in real-time using a mouse, joystick or some other kind of input device. The forthcoming Jim Henson series Francis? That's digital puppetry. Machinima? That's a homebrewed form of digital puppetry. This is definitely digital puppetry too.

With the notable exception of the Jim Henson Company, Disney Imagineering and a few smaller players there hasn't been much serious exploration of digital puppetry outside of the academic realm. One of the biggest reasons for this I think is a lack of good tools. Even today if you wanted to do sophisticated work with digital puppetry you need to have at least some knowledge of programming and scripting languages as well as 3D modeling and animation software. One exciting development has been the aforementioned Machinima, which I'll be talking more about very, very soon.

I hope you'll enjoy this new blog. If you use RSS (click here for an explanation), the site's feed is located at If you have questions or comments please drop me a line at puppetvision [at] gmail dot com. If you're working on or know about a digital puppetry project I'd love to hear about it!

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