Friday, March 09, 2007

Nintendo - A Digital Puppetry Pioneer

Most people don't know this, but Nintendo is something of a pioneer in the field of digital puppetry. Since 1994 they have been using a system they call MIRT ("Mario in Real-Time") to have many of their iconic characters like Mario appear at trade shows and in-store promotional events. The clip of MIRT in action above shows everyone's favourite Italian plumber bashing Sony, doing a Jack Nicholson impersonation and re-enacting a scene from Star Wars.

The earliest version of MIRT was a facial tracking system that ran on a Silicon Graphics super computer, but over the years the technology has been refined to the point where puppeteer Charles Martinet (the voice of Mario, Luigi and many of Nintendo's other characters) is able to work off a laptop at home and virtually perform characters all over the word. Charles briefly discusses his career as Mario & the gang in this short interview with from last summer.

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